Implications: Regional Perspectives on the US Withdrawal from Afghanistan

Asia Beyond the Headlines Seminar Series, Fall 2021

A panel discussion held via Zoom on Friday, September 10, 2021. 


Shirin Jaafari, Reporter, The World, USA

Shubhanga Pandey, Chief Editor, Himal Southasian, Sri Lanka

Nasim Zehra, Author/Columnist; National Security Expert; Senior Anchor/Analyst, Channel 24, Pakistan; Associate, Harvard University Asia Center


James Robson, James C. Kralik, and Yunli Lou Professor, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations; Harvard College Professor; Victor and William Fung Director, Asia Center, Harvard University

Co-sponsors: Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University and Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute, Harvard University 

Shirin Jaafari is a reporter for The World, a public radio program based in the US. Her reporting focuses on the Middle East and Afghanistan. Most recently, she was in Afghanistan to cover the US withdrawal. Shirin has also reported from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates. Before joining The World, Shirin worked for the BBC in Washington DC.

Shubhanga Pandey is the chief editor of Himal Southasian, a digital publication of South Asian politics, history, and culture. He has also written for other publications, including The World Politics Review, London Review of Books, Jacobin, and The Caravan.

Nasim Zehra is a national security specialist and a prominent journalist. As a columnist, television host, and teacher, with extensive experience in the development field, she writes and lectures widely on national security and global politics. She is the author of From Kargil to the Coup (2018). Ms. Zehra has been a Fellow and is currently an Associate at the Harvard University Asia Center. She was also a visiting lecturer at the Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad; National University of Science and Technology; and at the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University. Ms. Zehra has served in an honorary capacity in the following committees/positions: the President‘s Advisory Committee on Foreign Affairs and national security (2001), member of Kashmir Committee ( 2002), and Pakistan‘s Special Envoy on UNSC reforms for Canada & Latin America (June 2005). Ms. Zehra holds an MBA from Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, and a Master’s degree in Law & Diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, USA.

James Robson is the James C. Kralik and Yunli Lou Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations and the William Fung Director of the Harvard University Asia Center. He has served as the Chair of the Regional Studies East Asia M.A. program. He teaches East Asian religions, in particular Daoism, Chinese Buddhism, and Zen, as well as the sophomore tutorial for concentrators. Robson received his Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies from Stanford University in 2002, after spending many years researching in China, Taiwan, and Japan. He specializes in the history of medieval Chinese Buddhism and Daoism and is particularly interested in issues of sacred geography, local religious history, and Chan/Zen Buddhism. He has been engaged in a long-term collaborative research project with the École Française d’Extrême-Orient studying local religious statuary from Hunan province. He is the author of Power of Place: The Religious Landscape of the Southern Sacred Peak [Nanyue 南嶽] in Medieval China (Harvard, 2009), which was awarded the Stanislas Julien Prize for 2010 by the French Academy of Inscriptions and Belles-Lettres and the 2010 ToshihideNumata Book Prize in Buddhism. Robson is also the author of "Signs of Power: Talismanic Writings in Chinese Buddhism" (History of Religions 48:2), "Faith in Museums: On the Confluence of Museums and Religious Sites in Asia" (PMLA, 2010), and "A Tang Dynasty Chan Mummy [roushen] and a Modern Case of Furta Sacra? Investigating the Contested Bones of Shitou Xiqian." His current research includes a long-term project on the history of the confluence of Buddhist monasteries and mental hospitals in East Asia.

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