Ishtiaq Khan @ Thirsters / McMenamins
I thought this was a well placed punchy talk, just right for the audience, some of whom could share responsibility for getting him there, with his two kids, in the first place. This is a real Pashtun overlord with "serfs" (bad translation) and so on. Cool.
Most of what Ishtiaq had to say was new to me in detail but not in principle: some incompetent admin types had sketched a few "countries" in the wake of a failing empire and lazy North American textbooks continue sharing this Anglo heritage, another way of continuing what white supremacist Rudyard Kipling called "the great game".
The border between two of these Stans, Afghani and Paki, never mirrored the reality on the ground, and was set to expire in 100 years anyway, according to some records. The Pashtun, with a 4000 year lineage, have enough organizational memory to know that line is going (has gone) away. Not if you consult lazy American textbooks or globes or National Geographic necessarily, but that's because Americans are basically politicians at heart. They think locally and act even more locally (parochially). World-savvy USAers are somewhat hard to come by, although we had a few in that room.
Back when Medard Gabel ran World Game they'd talk about how insane was the use of distorted maps, by which they meant the physical distortion of the landmasses, such as Greenland. But equally distorted are these awkward ideas about "sovereignties" tiling the planet, with 2nd and 3rd tier "wannabe nations" in the wings (Kurdistan for example, or Tibet, which used to have more status), followed by all the virtual / cyber nations that are coming along (what the wannabes oft revert into -- and maybe find congenial).
We're swamped with national identities by this time. Yet millions fell through the cracks, with more falling through them every day. There's nothing engineeringly "sealed" about this system. It leaks everywhere, running mostly on suspended disbelief.
Washington DC is supposedly pulling out or holding back or something in 2014. I'm not sure anyone really knows what DC is doing, including DC, a joke government in a lot of ways, with the attention span of a... well, you know how I get insulting. That's just my lineage, back to Mark Twain and like that.