New Trend Magazine (

[Biggest Islamic web site in the U.S.]
P.O. Box 356, Kingsville, MD 21087.
Phone: 410-435-5000.

Disclaimer: Views expressed are not necessarily shared by editorial committee.
Responses (positive or negative) up to 250 words are welcome.
Names will be withheld on request.
Ahmed Rashid and the Mirror Image

[Pakistani Secularist who twisted the story of the Taliban and gave a "moral" purpose to the Zionist power structure for the assault on Afghanistan.]
[Excerpted from Dr. Kaukab Siddique's forthcoming book RETURN TO PAKISTAN. Any interested publishers out there?]

Most Americans cannot get through to the real Pakistan. The people they meet on arrival are Pakistan's secular elite. Every Pakistani city has a secular enclave which is a world in itself, quite satisfied with itself. The Pakistani secular elite keep up with what goes on in "the states" and often know more about America than the average American. It may not be an exaggeration to say that just about all the young and many of the older people in these enclaves look forward to the day when they can (and will) leave Pakistan to move to "the states" (or if that doesn't work out, then to Canada, or "if worse comes to worse" to England).

The secular Pakistani buffer between the American public and the Pakistani masses has had tragic consequences in the form of the U.S. assault on Afghanistan. One of the most important books which came out of secular Pakistan was Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil & Fundamentalism in Central Asia by Ahmed Rashid. Extremely popular in America, the book was picked up by the major American media and publicized worldwide. It provided America the perfect excuse for war against the Taliban.

Ahmed Rashid's book was the toast of the entire Pakistani secular establishment. He raised the specter of "Talibanization" of Pakistan (see page 187 and page 194 of the book, for instance, for his use the term). His friends in publications like Herald, Dawn and other Pakistani periodicals picked up this alarm. The Pakistani ruling class, in particular the entrenched bureaucracy and segments of the military, were infected by this fear (and image) of medressa-trained young men carrying automatic weapons who would force every Pakistani woman to wear the top-to-toe burqa and every man to grow a long beard. [The beard would be measured by "religious police" carrying a foot ruler for the purpose.]

I want to look briefly at Rashid's book to bring out its blind spots. In particular I want to show why Rashid should have been the last person western readers should have paid attention to. Taliban is a 274 page book packed with gossip, rumors, hearsay and some facts about Afghanistan. In America, we are familiar with the methodology Rashid uses. The New York Times is quoted by the New Yorker magazine and the Washington Post is quoted by Christopher Hitchens. Larry King interviews Ted Koppel and NPR refers to Haaretz in Israel. At best it is an incestuous relationship.

Ahmed Rashid admits that he got his idea of the danger of "Talibanization" of Pakistan from Olivier Roy. His guru was the Pakistani leftist Eqbal Ahmed. If that didn't work, Rashid had no qualms about quoting himself. Most of the chapters contain footnote references to Rashid's own articles in the Far Eastern Economic Review where he was a reporter for 16 years.

Rashid appears to have worked out a good working relationship with his Hindu supervisors at the Review. He gives "enormous thanks" to his editor Nayan Chanda and points out that doubts about his abilities were removed by the foreign editor of the paper, V. G. Kulkarni. [ Preface to Taliban, page x.] One cannot blame Rashid for his blind spots: his heart was not with the Islamic peoples. He tells us that his wife's name is Angeles.

He does not include even one Islamic source in his "acknowledgements." In the text he quotes some of the Taliban but out of context, and sometimes the quotes seem to be apocryphal or even fabricated.

My purpose is not to analyze Rashid's book but to let my readers see the kind of "buffer" this type of person creates between Americans and the masses of Pakistan. He produced a book which suited the needs of America's power structure. Both the front and back covers of the book have this recommendation on them: "[A] valuable and informative work." Richard Bernstein, New York Times.

Evidently, the people who run America's media loved Rashid's version of the Taliban.

2003-06-01 Sun 09:46ct