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The Scoop
January 13, 2012

At last. A story out of Afghanistan that’s music to the ears.

by
George Grant

Amidst the seemingly endless conflict that continues to define Afghanistan, both in actuality and in the eyes of the world, it is encouraging to read a story once in a while that documents how some people, somewhere in the country, are actually just getting on with their lives.

As Afghanistan continues its efforts to contain a seemingly intractable insurgency in the south of the country, the National Institute of Music in Kabul is providing 140 full-time students, half of them orphans or street children, with a unique education. “We are committed to build ruined lives through music, given its healing power,” saidAhmad Sarmast, the Institute’s director, who set up the academy two years ago on the site of the old School of Fine Arts’ music department.

Music was banned under the Taliban, and the Institute’s presence at the heart of the Afghan capital serves as a reminder that there have at least been some positive developments in Afghanistan since 2001.

Indeed, it’s reminiscent of a story reported last year about a new Afghan TV series called “The Ministry”, inspired by “The Office”, which charts the lives of the inept Afghan Minister for Garbage and his eclectic staff. I also read that Afghanistan also now has its own verson of “American Idol”, which is hugely popular across the country.

There can be no denying how difficult the situation in Afghanistan remains, but given how fundamental the media is in shaping our perceptions of places and events beyond our own immediate experiences, it is important to read stories reminding us that there is more to Afghanistan than just war from time to time.

George Grant

About George Grant

George Grant was a non-resident Associate Fellow at The Henry Jackson Society. Between 2009-2012 George was a full-time Research Fellow at HJS, before moving to Libya to become Deputy Editor of the Libya Herald, the first post-Gaddafi English-language daily, and Libya Correspondent for The Times. He returned to the UK at the start of 2013 owing to an abduction threat received following an investigation he was conducting into a death list in Benghazi. His most recent report, In Scotland's Defence? An Assessment of SNP Defence Strategy, provides a comprehensive analysis of the Scottish National Party's proposals for how they would defend an independent Scotland. A frequent contributor to mainstream newspapers and broadcasters, including the Daily Telegraph, the Guardian, Al Jazeera and the BBC, George has also given briefings and evidence to Parliamentary Select Committees, UK Government departments and the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in the fields of foreign policy, strategy and defence. George holds Masters degrees in History from the University of Edinburgh and Investigative Journalism from City University, London. He is a keen squash player and runner, and an active member of his local Church in Wimbledon.

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