!http://ko.offroadpakistan.com/images/2008/rashid-chaos.jpg! A good overview of Pakistan and Afghan history and American involvement – and a very bleak assessment of where they’re headed. The gist of the book is that both Afghanistan and Pakistan are hovering somewhere on the point of no return, descending into chaos and bringing the whole region down with them. It’s very well researched, and the author really knows what he’s talking about – there is a lot more in the book –
It’s a brilliant, encyclopedic summary of the current situation in Pakistan. The book, just like his last book, is extremely timely, as region after region in Pakistan falls to the Taliban, and the government pulls back further and further.
Some key points from the book:
* Everything Musharraf said about moderate Islam was all a lie. He was just playing a game with the west to ensure support and funding. Sadly, America only supported him, and not the country, though to be fair, Musharraf successfully sold himself as being Pakistan to them.
* Musharraf and his lieutenants are poster boys for the old adage “Power corrupts…”
* Neocon’s are incomprehensibly stupid. Most parts thanks to them, America failed miserably in the War on Terror.
* Pakistan is now the the worlds preferred safe haven for terrorists.
* The Taliban can be beaten, but despite all the noise, no one, not even the Americans or Afghanistan, let along Pakistan, is really trying.
The problem with Pakistan stems from the Pakistani military’s obsession with beating India and their dawning comprehension that they can’t beat the Indian Army, with or without Nukes. So here we have a bunch of Army generals, living life in a fink, trying to think (most of them can only try) how to win the next glorious war.
Then, like Manna from the heavens, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, and suddenly the CIA showed the Pakistan Army the light at the end of the tunnel – Islamic extremists, who with the right training and weapons proved their worth in the field by fighting back the mighty Soviet Army!
The Islamic militant lightbulb came on, and is still burning brightly in the hearts and minds of the Army – they kept gloating over how these extremists would do against the Indian Army. And so started the descent into chaos – the Pakistan Army and various intelligence agencies funded, trained and overall led by the hand numerous terrorist groups to use in future wars.
Ahmed Rashid says this continues to this day, even as the Pakistani army rolls into battle, other parts of the Army (and agencies) are still aiding the militants. Even as the militants have escaped the trainer’s leash, the agencies are still clinging on to the vain hope that they can control them again, so while the militants destroy the country the Army goes about conducting half hearted attacks against them, while the agencies make sure the militants escape again and again.
He argues that the Pakistan Army need to give up it’s fantasies of using Islamic militants as human guided missiles. The irony is that the whole world has been after Pakistan since 9/11 to do just this, including most of the country, but the policy continues.
An interview with Ahmed Rashid about the book and Pakistan:
* “Independent: Book review”:http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/descent-into-chaos-by-ahmed-rashid-864383.html