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Afghan political drama hits close to home for area musician Ariana Delawari

April 12, 2011 |  5:44 pm

Ariana Last year, I profiled local singer-songwriter Ariana Delawari in a Column One after the release of her album “Lion of Panjshir,” recorded partly in her ancestral hometown of Kabul with local musicians. In the process, I had a number of interviews with her father, Noorullah Delawari, one of the leading figures in Afghan finance.

He’s the head of the Afghan Investment Support Agency and an advisor to President Hamid Karzai and a former director of the country’s central bank, where he now sits on the governing board.

Today, the Associated Press reported that Noorullah was questioned in a corruption probe regarding a commission, on which he was a member, which paid a consulting fee to Lufthansa Airlines to try to rebuild the country’s national airline, also known as Ariana. The elder Delawari denied all wrongdoing and was not arrested, and the AP wrote that “confusion surrounds the day’s events.”

Here's an excerpt from the story:

The Delawari family moved to Southern California from Afghanistan in 1970. Noorullah had recently graduated from the London School of Economics. Setara had family here, and the couple settled in La Cañada Flintridge to be close to her brothers and sisters. Noorullah became a vice president at Lloyds Bank California, but they were never far from the politics of Kabul.

After the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, their house grew crowded with relatives fleeing the violence. Ariana grew up listening to stories about their country and to the traditional music her family played at all-night dinner parties.

When Ariana traveled to Kabul in 2007 to record, she and her band were picked up at the airport:

Her father's bulletproof car jostled past wary locals and ruined buildings. At the gates of the family's home, armed guards waved them in, and soon the band was walled off from the chaos of the city. Peacocks and doves pecked in her father's aviary.

Local fans of his daughter’s music who are interested in the wider scope of her family’s long history and current involvement in Afghanistan’s finance and politics might be interested in reading more.

RELATED:

A California sound, by way of Kabul

Butchy Fuego gives Ariana Delawari's 'Be Gone Taliban' some electro marching orders

— August Brown

Photo: Ariana Delawari. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times.

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