The room was what you might expect of a boys’ high school dormitory. It had all the scattered clothes, books, footballs, electronic music players, and general messiness you would find in any room occupied by active young men. These young men have come from accross the country to study English in the hopes of earning scholarships to attend university in India. On this particular day they had all agreed to take a break before the evening meal to meet a foreign visitor.
The conversation that evening covered a wide range of topics and foreshadowed many of the key issues that would emerge in 10 days of discussions with Afghan academics, students, civil society organizations, former Mujahideen, community elders, politicians, and government officials, as well as International NGOs, UN officials, and diplomats. Central to all the discussions was, of course, the evolving security situation, the role of foreign forces, and prospects for political solutions and national reconciliation.