[Reader-list] more from Ahmed Rashid

Alok Rai alokrai at hss.iitd.ernet.in
Wed Oct 10 04:31:31 IST 2001

You might want to put this on the list:

The Guardian
Copyright (C) 2001 The Guardian; Source: World Reporter (TM)

  Tony Blair's plans for post-Taliban Afghanistan are heavily influenced
by a book that argues that the country's stability lies in a
multi-tribal government in which bordering states do not seek
predominant influence.

  The book - Taliban, Islam, Oil and the New Great Game in Central Asia,
by Ahmed Rashid - is being read not just by the prime minister but by
his personal assistant, Anji Hunter, and the director of communications,
Alastair Campbell, a man not normally taken with such tomes.
  The book is an account of the bewildering complexity of Afghan
politics, its deadly overspill into bordering countries and the malign
influence of Osama bin Laden.

  Mr Rashid, a contributor to the Far Eastern Economic Review and the
Wall Street Journal, briefly met Blair aides in Islamabad last week. His
book concludes, as does Downing Street, that the Taliban is incapable of
reform, and that, in the current crisis, it might implode due to

  "The Taliban movement is essentially caught between a tribal society,
which they try to ignore, and the need for a state structure which they
refuse to establish," Mr Rashid writes. He is convinced that the
Northern Alliance, which ruled the country from 1992 to 1996, cannot
dominate again, a view with which Downing Street concurs.

  The Alliance is in effect run by Persian-speaking Tajiks and Uzbeks,
and Mr Blair is determined that the Pashtun tribes dominant in southern
Afghanistan and north-west Pakistan are not excluded.

  Mr Rashid warns: "The fear of fragmentation in Afghanistan is forever
present and the lines have been well drawn since 1996 - a Pashtun south
and a non-Pashtun north divided by the Hindu Kush mountains, leaving
Kabul contested by the two sides."

  He suggests that the best solution lies in the regional states
surrounding Afghanistan accepting only limited areas of influence inside
the country, rather than continuing to push for their proxies to rule
the entire country.

  Tony Blair and his aides are reading Ahmed Rashid's text

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