Scholar showcases Afghanistan, Taliban history in seminar

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By Jason B. Hogan

Phi Theta Kappa’s Honor Satellite Seminar Series featured an expert on Afghan history and the Taliban.

The  Oct. 30 seminar, a live broadcast of author Tamim Ansary, was devoted to the origin of the Taliban and the state of the country since the Taliban’s hold on the government was released.

Ansary, an Afghan-American, is the author of “The Other Side of the Sky,” which recounts the memoirs of a young Afghan girl who was injured on her way to school in an attempt to find a shortcut through a mine field.

Phi Theta Kappa’s topic for scholarly exploration this school year is “Gold, Gods and Glory: The Global Dynamics of Power.”

Ansary’s lecture, “Afghanistan After the Taliban,” incorporated the history of the Afghan region as well as a possible future for its citizens.

Since the 17th century, the British and Russians fought over claims to lands within the region, and at the end of the 1800s, a treaty was signed that formed the border that is now the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, Ansary said.

He spoke of the Cold War from the mid-1940s until the late 1980s that consisted of 50 years of military build-up by the Russians and a new foe, the United States.

“The Cold War dynamics are the same between Russia and the United States,” Ansary said, in reference to the British and Russian conflict known as “The Great Game.”

“The royal family used the strife to bring money and economics into the country,” Ansary said. “It helped bring the country into the 20th century.”

Technocracy, control of government, society or industry by an elite technical expert, created a class society through the Cold War, Ansary said.

“They become more westernized, but the lifestyle remains Islamic,” Ansary added. “The country becomes divided into city and rural areas in the ’70s.

“Through technocracy, groups began to form,” Ansary said. “And, in 1978, there was a success in the killing of the royal dynasty. The ideology of communism started.”

The U.S. funded Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, which thought the real conflict was with the Western world, Ansary said.

“The last communist regime falls in 1990,” Ansary said. “The people begin to destroy the cities and kill each other.”

Ansary said fundamentalist Islamists were in hiding throughout the destruction period and made their move with students they had been training.

The group began to outlaw anything Western.

These Islamists and students formed the Taliban.

Ansary writes a monthly column for Encarta.com and his work has appeared in various other publications.

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