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Most thorough overview of the events leading up to the Af-Pak crises we are facing today. A must read for anyone interested in the region. Provides a rare perspective on the events in the region.
Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid is a friend and supporter of Afghanistan¿s president Hamid Karzai. Rashid warns that Afghanistan is facing state collapse, Pakistan is in meltdown, and the five Central Asian states are dictatorships. He claims that the most important thing in the world is to rebuild these nations. He shows that President Karzai¿s regime depends on warlords and drug barons, who are backed by the CIA. Britain¿s forces there are supposed to be helping to cut opium production, but their policy of paying farmers to destroy their opium crops has been `disastrous¿. Opium production soared from 4,000 tons in 2005 to 8,200 in 2007. Half of this was grown in British-occupied Helmand, where the rest of Afghanistan¿s opium was sold. The USA is allied to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, which are al-Qaeda¿s main sponsors. The USA has given more than $10 billion to Pakistan¿s President Musharraf. Bush backed him even after he tore up the constitution, sacked the judges, imprisoned more than 12,000 people and muzzled the media. This `created immense hatred for the U.S. Army and America¿. The USA¿s torture of POWs has further increased this hatred. As Rashid writes, ¿By following America¿s lead in promoting or condoning disappearances, torture, and secret jails, these countries found their path to democracy and their struggle against Islamic extremism set back by decades. Western-led nation building had little credibility if it denied justice to the very people it was supposed to help. It could well be argued that over time Islamic extremists were emboldened rather than subdued by the travesty of justice the United States perpetrated. The people learned to hate America. ¿ The deterioration of human rights in each country became linked to that government¿s proximity to the CIA.¿ So the USA¿s wars have increased the al-Qaeda threat, particularly in Pakistan. Rashid also notes that US interventions have failed in Yugoslavia and East Timor and made a hell-hole of Iraq. And then - after all this - Rashid calls on the USA, not to get out of the region, but to get deeper in. More sanely, he also calls on the peoples of the region to take responsibility for moving their nations towards democracy.
Descent into Chaos , Ahmed Rashid, Allen Lane,2008.ISBN No .978-1-846-14175-1 Ahmed Rashid acquired fame and became darling of the west when his book on Taliban was published in 2000 or so.Descent into Chaos is another bestseller as far as publishing statistics is concerned.It is a tragedy that the West,guardian of the present worlds intellectual property projects what suits its political and social interests and stifles what it finds ¿ politically unacceptable¿.Seen in this background what Ahmed Rashid writes is acceptable to the west.Possibly because what he says fits hand in glove with western perceptions about how to shape the future. As normal the book has some factual errors.Some insignificant some not so insignificant and some which not have escaped the sagacity of a known Afghanistan hand like Ahmed Rashid. The Ghilzai revolt started not in 1701 as stated on page.7 but in 1709.The Durranis did not move the capital to Kabul in 1772 as stated on page.7 but in 1774 if we agree with Sayed Qasem Reshtia a great Afghan historian or 1775 if we believe Louis Dupree who is concerned the most reliable western historian.On page.8 Ahmed Rashid states that the British tried to conquer Afghanistan three times.This is not correct.It happened twice if we include the English East India Company and once if we include the Second Afghan War of 1878-80.In the Third Afghan War it were the Afghans who tried to attack India and miserably failed and the British launched some very local offensive actions at Spin Boldak and Khyber Agency to push back the Afghans.On page.9 Rashid promotes Major General Naseerullah Babar to lieutenant general rank.On page.11 he states that for first time in 300 years the Afghan capital Kabul fell in non Pashtun hands once Ahmad Shah Masud captured it.This is quite incorrect.The first time Afghanistan¿s capital fell in Non Pashtun hands was once the Persian Qazalbash Nadir Shah captured Kandahar the then capital of Ghiljai Pashtuns on 24 March 1738 some 224 years before 1992 and Kabul on 29 June 1738 again some 223 years and some 10 months before April 1992.In any case we must remember that Kabul was a Hindu province for a long time in twelfth century and a Mughal Indian province for some 200 plus years long before 1992.On page 17 Rashid states that the Pakistani FC managed Pakistani artillery and communications.This is factually incorrect.The FC hardly has any artillery and the Afghans did not require any training in communications.In any case the Afghans had a much larger number of ex Afghan Army gunners with Mujahideen quite capable of handling all types of artillery guns of Soviet vintage available in Afghanistan.Rashid seems to be very friendly with US officials who throughout his narrative keep on telling him so many things,like on page.18 US officials tell him that Al Qaeda was responsible for USS Cole.On page.34 Rashid states that ¿ the British conquest of Northwest India was aimed solely at providing security from marauding Afghan Baloch and Pashtun tribes¿ .This assertion is factually incorrect.The British company English East India Company¿s conquest of North West India comprising modern Pakistan was done in response to invasion of Sikhs of British territory in 1845.At that time the Sikhs were controlling all major Pashtun cities like Peshawar,Bannu ,Kohat,D.I Khan etc so the question of the Pashtun, Afghan or Baloch simply does not arise.Musharraf was not commissioned in the field artillery as stated on page.45 but in the ¿ Self Propelled Artillery¿.On page.45 Rashid states that in 1971 Musharraf commanded an SSG Commando unit which went behind the enemy lines.In 2002 I interviewed Musharrafs Commanding Officer in 1971 Brigadier Iqbal Nazir Warraich who confirmed that Musharraf was a sub unit commander under him and Musharraf¿s sub unit was not used behind enemy lines.On page.52 Rashid states that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was the ISI¿s investigative arm.This is also factually i