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Afghanistan Week 2022: Possibilities in a Sea of Trouble? Afghanistan’s Past, Present and Future


Well over a year after the Taliban took power in Kabul, Afghans face a grim future. After two decades of US-led intervention, enormous international investments, and efforts to build a democratic state, secure basic human rights, develop Afghanistan and reduce poverty, Afghanistan is facing crisis at multiple fronts.

Although civilian losses have been reduced, international sanctions have worsened the economic and humanitarian crises, leaving an estimated 90 percent of households unable to secure enough food for themselves

In addition to their massively repressive practices towards women in particular, the Taliban have struggled to manage internal tensions, get their government into gear, fight internal armed threats, and have not gained international acceptance.

The need to understand the sources of, and the potential ways out of, the country’s predicaments is more urgent than ever:

  • What is the present-day state of affairs in Afghanistan?
  • What brought the country to this point?
  • What are the possible paths ahead?

International recognition of the Taliban regime is a distant prospect. Western states and neighbouring ones differ in how they engage with them. At the same time, the space for outside influence on the regime’s policies could very well be shrinking.

For Afghanistan’s growing diaspora, as well as for civil society actors in the country, the question of how to engage, and at what risk, is existential. The contestation over girls’ access to education, which also plays out within the Taliban, is illustrative of what is at stake.

A solid understanding of the Taliban’s social and political roots, its ideological foundations, its conception of the ideal Islamic state, and relations with neighbours and the international community is a prerequisite for identifying avenues for dialogue and leverage and for assessing where positive change is possible.

The Afghanistan Week is a bi-annual event where politicians, journalists, academics, and activists from Afghanistan, Norway and beyond come together to address key issues facing the country, as well as to stimulate debate about, and understanding of, Afghanistan in Norway. Hosted since 2014, the main events of the Afghanistan Week take place from 14 to 17 November, with events hosted in Oslo.

The Week is organized by the Norwegian Afghanistan Committee (NAC), the Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI), the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) and the Nansen Centre for Peace and Dialogue (NCPD), with support from Norad and Fritt Ord.

YouTubeSee our seminars


See our events from 14-18. November here: Seminars


Karim Merchant is currently a freelance consultant on policy, programme and project development and management in the fields of rural development, humanitarian assistance, conflict-sensitive development and peacebuilding. Over the last 23 years, Karim has worked in Afghanistan with local civil society organisations, INGOS, UN Agencies, donors and the several previous Afghan governments. He lectures on Fragile and Conflict Affected States and Peacebuilding and continues to support policy and programme design initiatives for Afghanistan.

Nazifa Jalali is from Zabul, Afghanistan, living in Harstad, Norway. She has worked in 28 provinces of Afghanistan with national and international NGOs. She has traveled to several countries and participated in many political talks with the Taliban as the Afghan women’s representative. One of those talks was the Oslo talk. WILFP – Afghanistan has made a documentary about Nazifa’s Activities in Afghanistan.

Arne Strand has a PhD in Post-war Recovery Studies through which he studied coordination of humanitarian assistance in complex emergencies. His research focuses on aid coordination, forced migration and reintegration, peace building and security sector reform and humanitarian and development assistance.

Strand has been team leader of several evaluations and research programmes in and on Afghanistan. He has extensive management experience from NGOs and research institutes, and has also been involved in developing management and professional capacities of Afghan NGOs and peacebuilding organisations.

Haroun Rahimi is an Assistant Professor of Law at the American University of Afghanistan and a Visiting Professor of Law at Bocconi University School of Law. Rahimi’s research focuses on economic laws, institutional reform, Islamic finance, and divergent conceptions of rule of law in Muslim and modern thoughts, and religious authority. Rahimi has also collaborated as an independent consultant with several research firms and policy think tanks conducting policy research on institutional development and good governance in the South Asia context. Rahimi was a visiting scholar at the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT) in Rome. More recently, Haroun Rahimi has become Global Academy Scholar at MESA.

Andrew Watkins is a senior expert on Afghanistan for the U.S. Institute of Peace and has worked in and on Afghanistan in a number of roles. He was previously the senior analyst on Afghanistan for the International Crisis Group, where he researched and published reports and commentary on the country’s conflict and politics. He was also an analyst of insurgent groups for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and studied the Taliban as an independent researcher. As an advisor to humanitarian organizations based across the country, he traveled widely and conducted extensive field research. He also served as a liaison with local security forces for several years.

Mr. Karokhail is the Director and co-founder of The Liaison Office (TLO) established 2003 in Kabul, Afghanistan. Under his leadership, TLO has grown into one of Afghanistan’s premier research, peace-building and livelihood NGOs. Karokhail is strongly committed to engaging customary and state institutions to promote good governance, access to justice, livelihood improvements and civil society across Afghanistan. Prior to co-founding TLO, Karokhail worked with the Swiss Peace Foundation (swisspeace) to develop the Afghan Civil Society Forum and as Afghanistan Country Manager for Unilever during the Taliban regime. Karokhail received his MBA from Preston University in Islamabad and Peshawar, Pakistan and was a visiting research fellow at the Centre for Development Research (ZEF) in Bonn.