Javid Ahmad’10 has been searching for a solution to the world’s problems since he was a child.
As an Afghan war refugee, he was surrounded by a steady stream of bad news. Ahmad spent his formative years in a Pakistan refugee camp, after his family fled the country when the Afghan Civil War erupted in 1992.
“From little formal education to daily violence and abject poverty … these problems personally affected my own life and that of my family,” he says.
By the time he entered college, Ahmad was firmly committed to studying human rights. After starting at a Pennsylvania university, he transferred to Beloit in 2008 and became one of the college’s first Weissberg Scholars, majoring in international relations with a focus on human rights.
“Javid was an outstanding student. It was clear from the first time I met him that he was going to be a superstar,” says Beth Dougherty, Manger Professor of International Relations at Beloit. “He had a very clear focus and knew what he wanted to do. He wrote his senior thesis on U.S. aid to Pakistan and it seemed pretty clear that he was going to be a major policy analyst.”
While he was a student at Beloit, he held internships at the embassy of Afghanistan in Washington, D.C., researching human rights and writing analytical reports. While studying abroad, he also interned in Brussels, Belgium, for NATO.
“To me, mixing up that academic and that practitioner side was really important. This is how it is, this is how you define it, and this is how we apply it,” says Ahmad.
In 2010, he accepted a job at the German Marshall Fund, then left after two years to begin a graduate program in global affairs at Yale University that focused on security and counterterrorism. He often wrote opinion and analysis pieces for publications, including The Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and CNN.
He looks at terrorism from the 30,000-foot level, then zooms into the complex subject. The Middle East region, particularly Afghanistan, requires a more concerted effort on the part of the country and its international partners, like the United States, to address the problem.
“ … Terrorism is complex because it manifests itself in different forms and has a strong local and international connection, which, I think, remains somewhat under-examined. I learned over the years that while there is no silver bullet solution to addressing the issue, it is important to understand the underlying factors that drive the phenomenon before crafting appropriate, customized solutions to address it,” says Ahmad.
Currently, Ahmad is balancing several jobs focused on different aspects of counter-terrorism work. He’s a senior policy advisor to Afghanistan’s minister of finance, where he works on policy and strategy that address money-laundering and the financing of terrorism. He has two non-resident fellowships at the Modern War Institute at West Point, where he advises U.S. military and civilians on security issues in Afghanistan, and the Atlantic Council, where he advises on future programming to meet challenges in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
He’s realistic about the complexities of the problems in the region, but remains committed to looking for the answers.
“I have no idea what the future holds, but I hope I’m able to remain engaged in issues pertaining to that region. There are voices that still need to be heard,” he says.