At the NATO summit in London, Afghan superstar performer Aryana Sayeed gave a presentation illustrating the progress made in Afghanistan since the collapse of the Taliban regime, and urged her audience to not sacrifice the achievements made since the 9/11 attacks.
Speaking at a conference named “NATO Engages,” hosted by the Atlantic Council and others, Sayeed was introduced by NATO’s Senior Civilian Representative to Afghanistan, Nicolas Kay, who described the singer as “hugely inspirational.”
Sayeed showed images of Afghanistan—both past and present—and shared her own experience of leaving the country as a child and her return to give concerts in Kabul and the provinces following the US and NATO intervention.
“After finishing my studies, I decided to pursue a career in music, but even then, I never thought that someday I would return to Afghanistan … what actually opened my mind towards taking such an unbelievable step was the progress and the change being made inside Afghanistan by the presence of NATO and the fact that the world was finally paying attention towards Afghanistan,” Sayeed told the audience.
Sayeed said: “Of course, all these performances would not have been possible without the major security and partial peace of mind provided the Afghan forces who were actually trained and supported by NATO.”
Sayeed expressed thanks specifically to those who lost loved ones serving with NATO in Afghanistan. She said their deaths were not in vain, and, because of them, “future generations of Afghanistan finally have hope.”
The popular singer said that the opportunity to bring hope to Afghans was her motivation.
“After performing my first concert in the city of Kabul, I felt an experience--something very amazing, I felt joy, I experienced happiness and positive energy and hope and that made me realize something so important. It made me realize that with what I do I can actually leave an impact there and I can inspire and give hope to a nation that was in need of it,” she said.
“I started performing major concerts in various, different parts of the country including three major concerts in Bamiyan and I performed right in front of the Buddha statue, the very same Buddha statue that was destroyed by Taliban not so long ago and these concerts were attended by up to 20,000 people each,” added Sayeed.
She also evoked the grim memory of the Taliban regime, and her help in neutralizing it: “One of the major challenges I took upon myself was to perform in the heart of Kabul city at a football stadium where Taliban used to openly execute women by shooting them in the head.”
She called on the international community not to abandon Afghanistan, or to negotiate a peace deal that would move Afghanistan backwards.
“I do not want us to sacrifice or risk the rights of Afghan women or all achievements, or progress that has been made in that country for the past 20 years,” Sayeed said, “Women today have the chance to study, they are working, they are becoming politicians, they are becoming doctors, teachers and they are even joining the armed forces.”
Earlier in the event, NATO representative Nicolas Kay said that the post-2001 generation of Afghans was very vibrant and that the NATO alliance has been helping them in a variety of areas.
“Afghanistan is full of inspiring and courageous men and women of the post-2001 generation,” said Kay.