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Australia-Afghanistan relations: Reflections on a half-century

Speakers Dr William Maley AM and Ambassador Wahidullah Waissi

Please join ASPI for the launch of the new report Australia-Afghanistan relations: Reflections on a half-century by Dr William Maley AM. 

It is now fifty years since diplomatic relations were formally established between the Commonwealth of Australia and the Kingdom of Afghanistan. Superficially, the two countries might seem to have little in common.

Nonetheless, there is more to unite Australians and Afghans than one might think at first glance. Even before the Australian colonies federated, Afghans made their way to Australia to provide transport by camel in Australia’s inland. By the time of the 2016 census 46,800 Afghans were living in Australia. And since 2001, more than 25,000 members of the Australian Defence Force have served in Afghanistan. Recent years have brought Australia and Afghanistan far closer to each other than ever before in their history.

This study explores some of the key dimensions of the development of this relationship. Since 2001, the state-to-state relationship has developed additional dimensions – diplomatic, military, developmental, and humanitarian – which have been augmented by significant people-to-people ties despite all the difficulties that surround travel between the two countries. Yet for all this, what ultimately binds the two countries together is that Australia has a strong interest in seeing the transition in Afghanistan that was inaugurated in 2001 – a complex mixture of statebuilding, institutional development, economic change, civil society activism, and enhancement of human rights and freedoms  – continue down the broad path that was laid out at that time. A failure in Afghanistan is likely to involve serious adverse strategic consequences for Australia.

The launch will feature remarks from Dr William Maley AM and H.E Wahidullah Waissi, Afghanistan’s Ambassador to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. 

A drinks and canapes reception will conclude the event.    

Speakers

Dr William Maley AM

Dr William Maley is Professor of Diplomacy at the Asia–Pacific College of Diplomacy at the Australian National University.

Ambassador Wahidullah Waissi

HE Wahidullah Waissi is Ambassador of Afghanistan to the Commonwealth of Australia since March 2017.