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Susquehanna Alumnus, Former NATO Translator, to Discuss Future of Afghanistan

Published on March 15, 2013

Afghanistan geopolitical affairs analyst Baktash Ahadi will discuss “Development Prospects in Afghanistan” March 21 at 7 p.m. at Susquehanna University, in Fisher Hall’s Faylor Hall. The talk is free and open to the public.Baktash Ahadi

America will end its combat role in Afghanistan in 2014 and transfer military and political responsibility to the Afghan government. To better illuminate what lies ahead, Ahadi will address the forces and trends at play—from a historical, political, cultural, economic and geopolitical perspective—that affect Afghanistan and the region at large.

Ahadi fled Afghanistan for Pakistan with his parents and brother in 1984, eventually gaining sponsorship from a relief organization that brought them to Carlisle, Pa., in 1986. After graduating from Susquehanna in 2005, Ahadi, now a U.S. citizen, went to Mozambique as a volunteer for the Peace Corps. He then enrolled at Johns Hopkins University to pursue his graduate degree in international studies with a concentration in global security studies.

Before he completed the program, however, the Department of Defense hired him to serve as a translator in Afghanistan. He was assigned to the International Security Assistance Force and, along with his father, spent three years translating both language and cultural differences between Americans and Afghans. His role included serving as a liaison among the special forces, the U.S. Agency for International Development and locals who were developing schools, clinics and wells—in addition to training Afghan commandoes.

“Although we’re very American, we’re still very Afghan,” Ahadi said in a December 2012 interview with the Carlisle Sentinel. “We have a specific skill set. We speak languages that are very crucial to the war effort, and so we thought to ourselves ‘who better else to do this job than us?’ I personally felt it was a part of my obligation as a U.S. citizen and an Afghan to be a part of this effort.”

The talk is sponsored by Susquehanna’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Department of Political Science, and University Relations.

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