A new podcast series from BBC World Service, A Wish For Afghanistan with the BBC’s Chief International Correspondent Lyse Doucet, is set to launch on 1 September.
Lyse hears from Afghans about how the last 20 years have shaped them: their dreams for a new future, their fears that the cycle of violence will never stop.
In this podcast and radio series, Afghanistan’s story during the last two decades is recounted through the words of ten people with very different experiences. The series offers a unique chance to understand Afghanistan’s future by hearing from those whose lives have shaped events in the country, and in turn about the events that have shaped them.
In interviews in Kabul, Doha and Washington, Lyse speaks to old and young, politicians, diplomats, activists and artists. They reflect on what might have been – Kashke, a Persian word meaning ‘if only’ – and despite everything, share their earnest hopes for the future.
Episode 1, The American Envoy features Zalmay Khalilzad who was born in Afghanistan, but has made a career as an American, as a diplomat and policy adviser. He played a key role in the United States’ support for the Afghan resistance against the Soviet occupation of the 1980s.
After 9/11 and the defeat of the Taliban he was sent to Kabul as President Bush’s enforcer. Khalilzad became so influential, it was said that he, and not Afghanistan’s first post 9/11 president Hamid Karzai, was actually running the country.
Khalilzad has continued to play an active role, right up to the moment the Taliban moved back into Kabul in the middle of August. It was he who negotiated on behalf of President Trump and signed a deal with the Taliban in February 2020. In this interview he talks frankly about the mistakes that were made in Afghanistan and his personal role in them.
The first episode of A Wish For Afghanistan will be available to download on most podcast platforms from Wednesday 1 September, with following episodes released weekly. It will also air on BBC World Service on 1 September and can be listened to afterwards on BBC Sounds.