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War and Exile Through the Musicians’ Eye: Professor John Baily’s account of four decades of Afghan music (book review)

 “Music is essential for the very survival of man’s humanity.” In the opening lines of his book ‘War, Exile and the Music of Afghanistan’, John Baily motivates his research with this quote from fellow ethnomusicologist John Blacking. For the author, who spent more than four decades researching and performing the music of Afghanistan alongside Afghan […]

Under the Mountain: A pre-emptive Taleban spring offensive in Shindand

Throughout March 2016, Shindand district in Herat province witnessed heavy fighting. Clashes between two rival insurgent groups were followed by a string of ANSF military operations. With substantial help from Quetta, the local pro-Mansur Taleban group has swept away a pro-Rasul outfit that had recently proved less aggressive towards the government. This new outbreak of […]

Afghanistan in World Literature (IV): Weird Tales from the Frontier

Throughout the last couple of centuries, the way foreign authors, both novelists and scholars, have portrayed Afghans has had an impact on how Afghanistan itself is perceived. One such writer, a bestseller in his day, although now less well known, is the 1920s-30s fantasy and adventure writer, Robert E Howard. His novels stand out, says […]

The Other Transfer of Power: Fahim’s death and Massud’s succession

Until the elections of 5 April, the demise of Marshal Mohammed Qasim Fahim constituted the single major political event of 2014 in Afghanistan. His death directly affects the internal politics of a large group of Afghans: all those living in the north-eastern quadrant of the country. Tracing the political ascent of Fahim and assessing the […]

Elections 2014 (6): Two types of security in the Shomali

The Shomali plain is the plateau spanning north of Kabul to the Salang. A fertile and comparatively rich area of the country, it also features strong political-armed networks dating back to the mujaheddin time. Fabrizio Foschini came back from observing the election in the Shomali with mixed feelings. The success achieved by Afghan security forces […]