Lyse Doucet talks to Afghans and others about their fears and hopes for Afghanistan’s future. Afghans have a word for it: kashke, which means "if only".
If only - Lyse Doucet talks to poet, former ambassador and former Mujahideen fighter, Massoud Khalili. Now 74, he’s lived through many of the pivotal moments of 43 years of war in Afghanistan. He and Lyse reflect on the missed opportunities and the mistakes that haunt Afghanistan's recent history. And in the last of our ten part series, Lyse asks Afghans what they want for their country: their main wish, peace.
Series Producers: Louise Hidalgo, Tim Mansel, Ed Butler, Neal Razzell
Series Editor: Penny Murphy
Commissioning Editor: Steve Titherington
Series music composed by Arson Fahim
Production Coordinators: Maria Ogundele & Iona Hammond
Studio Managers: James Beard & Tom Brignell
9. The power couple
An eyewitness account from the presidential palace as the Taliban encircle Kabul.
He was the president’s chief of staff, she was the ambassador in Washington. Both were appointed by President Ghani: Matin Bek, the son of a warlord, and Adela Raz, the daughter of an intellectual. They were Afghanistan’s ultimate power couple. Matin was in the presidential palace the day the capital fell to the Taliban. He describes the moment he realised, uncomprehending, that the president had fled. The palace, he says, was “the safest place in Afghanistan” that day. Adela, in Washington, had just woken up when she realised that something was terribly wrong. “Get out now,” she told her husband. Matin’s assessment looking back on the past few years: “The government failed and I was part of it.”
8. The musicians
Keeping music alive under the Taliban - 21-year-old pianist, composer and conductor Arson Fahim and cellist Meena have both had to leave Afghanistan to continue studying and performing the music they love. Arson created the music for this series. The last time the Taliban were in power, in the 90s, music was banned; today Afghan musicians live in fear. But Arson and Meena, who have studied and composed together, tell Lyse Doucet they are a new generation - playing music is their way of protesting and they will not be silenced
7. The doctor
Living with the Taliban - the female doctor who celebrated the Taliban takeover in Kabul. Gynaecologist, ex MP, former refugee, Dr Roshanak Wardak welcomes the end of years of war which she says the Taliban's return to power has brought. War is the worst thing, she tells Lyse Doucet. But there is one important issue where she says the Taliban can’t be trusted – their assurances over the education of girls. She warns that uneducated women have uneducated children and Afghanistan will have no future without education for everyone.
6. The journalist
Holding the Taliban to account - Afghanistan’s top TV journalist was offered an interview with Taliban leaders within hours of them taking Kabul. But the editor of Afghanistan’s most popular private TV network, TOLO News, was already out of the country. Aged 33, Lotfullah Najfizada now hopes to return to carry on his work as the most successful interviewer and journalist of his generation.
A vibrant media is one of the great successes of the 20 years since the Taliban were last in power. But Lotfullah Najafizada tells Lyse Doucet the challenge now will be to maintain media freedoms and independence under Afghanistan’s new government.
5. The advocate
Forced to flee the Taliban - human rights advocate, former government advisor, feminist, Shaharzad Akbar, who knows the transformative power of education, now a refugee again. Shaharzad Akbar was the first Afghan woman to do post graduate studies at Oxford University in Britain, a student of Smith College in the US, a schoolgirl whose studies were stopped the last time the Taliban were in power, forcing her family to leave Afghanistan when she was a teeanger. Now she's had to leave again, abandoning the life she'd built in Kabul. But Shaharzad Akbar tells Lyse Doucet she won’t give up pushing for what she believes in.
Lyse Doucet is such an asset. Informed and informative, polished, brave. I’ve just found this series and it more than lives up to the excellent standards that I expected. It’s March 2022 and now I’m listening to broadcasting from Ukraine. Thank you for broadcasting the news and please come home safe and sound.
Not to be missed
An informative and moving series
Perfect but poignant
If we didn’t know what happened next , and continues to happen this would be a wonderful way of hearing about the amazing people and culture , hopes and dreams of this country . As it is it feels like a time capsule buried just as everything changed. Packed with love and care. Each episode brought me to tears , as it contrasted with what we saw in the news .
I hope and pray everyone featured is safe and happy and indeed wish that all afghans were want to be able to do more than listen to this .
I will revisit the whole series again soon , and hope lyse is able to do a second season .