USF Hosts Petraeus, Experts on Afghanistan and Pakistan

International event will explore security, governance and public health issues




By Vickie Chachere


TAMPA, Fla. (March 18, 2010) The University of South Florida will host more than two dozen of the world’s leading authorities on Afghanistan and Pakistan for three days of discussions on the challenges and opportunities in one of the world’s most volatile and important regions, Wednesday through Friday, March 24-26.


The event will include an hour-long conversation with U.S. CENTCOM Commander Gen. David H. Petraeus at 3 p.m. on Friday, March 26, in the Oval Theater of the Marshall Student Center.


The general’s talk, as well as other conference discussions, are free and open to the public, but seating is limited. Those interested in attending are asked to RSVP at


“The importance of Afghanistan and Pakistan to American national security is irrefutably profound,” said conference co-organizer Mohsen Milani, chair of USF’s Department of Government and International Affairs and an internationally renowned scholar on the region.


“There are thousands of American troops stationed in Afghanistan, and Pakistan is a nuclear power. In three days of intense discussions, our invited experts, who come from a truly diverse academic and career backgrounds, will analyze the challenges faced by these two countries and their ramifications for the U.S. national security and interests.”


USF is organizing the conference as a means of advancing discussion on the development of future regional policy. Attending the event will be contingents from U.S. Central Command, the U.S. diplomatic corps, scholars, students and concerned citizens.


Experts also will explore the connection between security interests and the dire healthcare situation in both nations.


“Public Health plays a major role in creating a stable Afghanistan-Pakistan region,” said conference co-organizer Tom Mason, an epidemiologist in USF’s College of Public Health. “Without good health, people are not only susceptible to disease but also to manipulation. By addressing health needs we can achieve recognition as a caring society, which is committed to providing care to all.”


Five panel discussions will feature scholars from diverse backgrounds. Experts from the U.S. Army War College, the Rand Corporation, the Carnegie Endowment, Boston University, the Ministry of Health in Kabul and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be among the panelists.


Kevin McGurgan, British Consul-General in Miami, will make a presentation at Wednesday’s opening session. Former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ronald Neumann will deliver Wednesday’s keynote address: “What We Can Achieve in Afghanistan: A Realistic Appraisal.”


On Wednesday, panel discussions will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Gibbons Alumni Center and will explore governance in Afghanistan and present regional perspectives from Islamic movements, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.


Thursday’s discussions will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Marshall Student Center’s Oval Theater and will concentrate on Pakistan’s relations with Afghanistan, Russia and Iran; the role of tribes in Afghanistan and the status of women in Afghanistan.


Friday, the focus moves to public health at 9 a.m. in the Marshall Student Center’s Oval Theater with a wide-ranging discussion on maternal and child health; water security and the future direction of U.S. health services in Afghanistan.


The conversation with General Petraeus will conclude the event. 


Members of the public planning on attending the general’s talk should be advised that no purses, bags or backpacks will be allowed in the theater and seating is limited. The general’s talk also will be broadcast live at on


A complete schedule of events can be found here.




The University of South Florida is one of the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of only 25 public research universities nationwide with very high research activity that is designated as community engaged by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.  USF was awarded $380.4 million in research contracts and grants in FY 2008/2009. The university offers 232 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The USF System has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 47,000 students on institutions/campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.