March 22, 2018
On Tuesday, March 20th, the Embassy of Afghanistan was honored to host Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Steve Coll to facilitate a discussion about his recently published book, Directorate S: The CIA and America’s Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which resumes the narrative of Pulitzer Prize-winning Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001, and tells the story of America’s intelligence, military, and diplomatic efforts to defeat Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan since 9/11.
Afghan Ambassador to the United States, H.E. Hamdullah Mohib welcomed Coll and guests to the Embassy. Ambassador Mohib provided an update on the security situation in Afghanistan, specifically focusing on the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces and improvements within the forces since 2015. He said, “In the past few months, Afghanistan has made tremendous amount of military success compared to 2015-November 2016. Before November 2016, we didn’t have the resources to actively seek Taliban militants. They could roam around freely with their weapons, gather in large numbers, overrun districts. We didn’t have the surveillance capability to prevent that.” He continued, “But they fought with valor and proved that they will not go down easy and will make sure that the Taliban do not have territorial gain. Now that we have the support of the international community, filling the gaps where Afghan security forces lack technical capabilities and equipment, we are once again on the offensive.”
Following Ambassador Mohib’s remarks, author Steve Coll addressed guests and introduced his book before sitting down to talk with Political Counselor at the Embassy of Afghanistan, Zafar Hashemi. Coll provided insight into issues ranging from the security situation in Afghanistan, the Trump administration’s new South Asia strategy, Pakistan and China’s role in regional stability, and more. On the significant changes in the country over the past 17 years, Coll said, “Afghanistan has never had a generation like this one. Raised in a connected age, connected to the world, each other, through social media…I think its a very positive force and has great potential.”
Steve Coll is the dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University and a staff writer at The New Yorker, reporting on issues of intelligence and national security.
Click here for the full discussion.