Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

Context and Culture

This thematic area encompasses the wide array of subjects that illustrate Afghanistan’s rich history, arts, literature and culture, and the many ways Afghan society is changing and evolving.

breakdance master class in Kabul

A Break(dance) from the Elections: The street hits the Kabul stage

payvand

As election chaos and fraught discussions over Afghanistan’s future weary even the most passionate activist, there is a fringe of Afghans only minimally concerned with politics who spend their time… breakdancing? Not the most intuitive choice for young citizens of a country where many still frown on music and dance. Or perhaps it is the […]

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Death of a Sahebzada: A story of different strands of thought in the Taleban movement

Bette Dam

Earlier this year, a radical Afghan religious leader from a family of Sufi Pirs was murdered in Quetta, Pakistan. His name was Abdullah Zakeri Sahebzada. His relationships with the Taleban’s leadership and repeated calls for international jihad had earned him the ‘Taleb’ label in some media. But Zakeri, once a mediator in the Taleban movement, had […]

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Bala Hissar, Sherpur fortress and Arg: The architecture of power in Kabul

Bill Woodburn

Throughout the centuries, the seat of power in Kabul has almost always been within the walls of a strong fortress-palace. That will continue, as whatever the outcome of the current election, the new president will continue to live in the Arg. Guest author Bill Woodburn*, retired military engineer and specialist in fortified architecture, traces the […]

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Taste the Samanak! Wishing you a Happy New Year with ancient culinary treats

AAN Team

The celebration of Nawruz, the New Year, on the 21st of March by the peoples of the region between Anatolia and Central Asia dates back some thousands of years. This year it is Afghanistan’s turn to host the Nawruz International Festival, which sees the presidents of several countries of the region gather for a joint […]

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Past Is Prologue or: A tale of two Olympics

Anthony Agnello

Shortly before a historic and emotionally laden Olympic hockey match between American and Russian athlets in 1980, the Soviet Union had invaded Afghanistan. The US, at that time, had actually already started its covert operation to support the mujahedin against the Soviet-backed regime in Kabul; it would be their fight that would finally lead to the Soviet withdrawal. In […]

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Crossing the Bridge: The 25th anniversary of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan

Thomas Ruttig

It was the last hot conflict of the Cold War: the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan between Christmas 1979 and February 1989. 25 years ago today, the last Soviet soldiers left the country, defiantly waving their banners and insisting they had not lost. A truce with Ahmad Shah Massud, the main northern mujahedin leader, had […]

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Not a "Tailless Star”: an obituary for leading Afghan intellectual Muhammad Qasim Akhgar

Thomas Ruttig

On Tuesday night (28 January 2014), with the passing away of Muhammad Qasim Akhgar, Afghanistan lost one of its leading intellectuals. Ustad Akhgar died after a long illness, only 62 years old and he died as he had lived, in more than modest circumstances. An independent leftist, author and human rights activist, who maintained his […]

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Obituary: The master of modern Pashto ghazal passes away

Borhan Osman

One of Afghanistan’s most important poets, Muhammad Seddiq Pasarly, has died, aged 85. Known popularly as the ‘Master of Pashto Ghazal’ (Pashto love poems), Pasarly also translated works by Indian poet and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore and Persian poet and philosopher Omar Khayyam for Pashto readers. AAN’s Borhan Osman has written this obituary.   What is youth? It is […]

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In memory of Dr Victor G. Korgun

Ekaterina Stepanova

When it comes to expertise on Afghanistan, not many look east. Those who did will have discovered Russian Viktor Korgun who, as we were sad to learn today, has passed away in Moscow. He was also respected in Afghanistan as shown by the invitation – as one of only few foreign experts – to a scientific conference […]

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From Alexander the Great to Ahmad Shah Massud: A social history of the pakol

Fabrizio Foschini

The flat, woollen, rolled-up hat called a pakol is nowadays one of the undisputed symbols of Afghanistan. But how such a humble garment, stemming from the remotest corners of the Hindu Kush mountains, made it to international appreciation on par with lavish silky chapans and majestic four-meter-long lungis, remains somewhat of a mystery. AAN’s Fabrizio […]

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A happy and peaceful new year!

AAN Team

Dear readers, here at AAN, we would like to wish you a happy new year. For Afghanistan, 2014 is a year of many expectations but also anxieties. May it be a year of successful transition, harmonious cooperation and real peace negotiations. We will be here to accompany you. The AAN team

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Merry Christmas!

AAN Team

Here at AAN, we’d like to wish all our readers a Happy Christmas! May your holidays, in Afghanistan as well as abroad, be peaceful.   For those who remain in Kabul and wish to celebrate in style, AAN made a trip to Flower Street in Shar-e Naw to check on the availability of Christmas glitter and […]

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