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LL.M. Student Discusses ‘Afghanistan after 9/11′

Yama Keshawerz, Wake Forest University School of Law’s first student from Afghanistan, gives a presentation on 'Afghanistan after 9/11.'

Yama Keshawerz, Wake Forest University School of Law’s first student from Afghanistan, gives a presentation on 'Afghanistan after 9/11.'

Yama Keshawerz, Wake Forest University School of Law’s first student from Afghanistan, recently gave a presentation on “Afghanistan after 9/11.” The presentation, co-sponsored by the International Graduate Programs and the International Law Society, was well-attended by faculty and staff within the Wake Forest law community.  

Donning traditional Afghan wear, Keshawerz spoke of the creation of the Taliban and how it infiltrated Afghan society and government.  He also talked about life in Afghanistan after the attacks on the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001, discussing the NATO air strikes, assassinations of government officials by the Taliban, and the presence of American troops in Afghanistan.  Keshawerz explained that although the Afghan people held different views in regards to America’s presence in the homeland, the majority welcomed the troops as they kept the Taliban at bay and provided protection from Iran and Pakistan.

Keshawerz stated that the Afghan government has found it difficult to remove the Taliban’s presence and influence since 2001 due to a number of internal and external factors. The internal factors include high unemployment, widespread corruption, a lack of rule of law, and insufficient coordination between Afghanistan and foreign forces.  The external factors, which play a greater role, include the interference of countries, such as Iran and Pakistan, who want to have influence in Afghanistan’s government and Al-Qaeda’s financial support of the Taliban.

Keshawerz, however, also sees great changes that have emerged in his home country since 9/11, which include more human rights such as freedom of speech and media, greater freedom for women, improved health care and education systems, a better economy, and a more democratic government. 

As expected, the audience had many interesting questions for Keshawerz following his presentation.  These included, “What it is like to be a lawyer in Afghanistan,?” and “How does the average Afghan citizen perceive Pakistanis?”  When one student asked Keshawerz  if he had ever faced any discrimination from a U.S. citizen because he is from Afghanistan, Keshawerz replied that he has never felt any discomfort or faced a negative situation in America.

Keshawerz came to Wake Forest as a scholar from the Public-Private Partnership for Justice Reform in Afghanistan.  He has earned a bachelor’s degree in Law and Political Science from Alberoni University and spent the 2010-2011 academic year as a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University, where he audited courses, researched rule of law in Afghanistan, and worked in cooperation with The Afghanistan Legal Education Project. 

Keshawerz also participated in the University of Washington’s U.S.-Afghan Legal Educators program in a specialized tribal criminal defense legal clinic in the summer of 2010.  Before coming to the U.S., Keshawerz worked as an administrative specialist for Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR), a company based in Houston that provides energy services to the U.S. Army and Department of Defense and employs more than 35,000 people worldwide.  He also instructed English language and legal English courses in the Law and Political Sciences and Agriculture Schools at Alberoni University.