The March of Folly in Afghanistan: 1978-2001

The March of Folly in Afghanistan: 1978-2001

Product ID: 9945

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Author: Jagat S Mehta
Publisher: Manohar
Year: 2002
Language: English
Pages: 2002224
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8173044619


The assassination of President Daud and the proclamation of Democratic Republic of Afghanistan in 1978 may well mark the beginning of the era of twenty-first century international terrorism. The book also shows how US and Pakistan are suffering the blow-back of their earlier miscalculations. Afghanistan has been truly a Long March of Folly.

Rational alternatives were rejected independently but formed a reinforcing quadrilateral of misperceptions by the USSR, USA, India and Pakistan. It led to the remilitarization of the subcontinent and the assembling by CIA of Islamic fundamentalists in Pakistan. India stood marginalized.

When the soviet forces finally withdrew in 1989, the United States callously abandoned the country to civil war and desolation. Pakistan then recruited the Talibans and helped overrun Afghanistan and in its wake, imposed a medieval religious polity. Some of these imported jehadis also planned the WTC attack of 9/11.

Jagat S. Mehta was foreign Secretary when the crisis erupted. He reveals in this book how through prophylactic diplomacy, he sought to prevent the adverse fallout on the subcontinent. The reprint of sixteen papers written between 1981 and 1997 demonstrate his persistent anxiety; they also contain a reasoned outline for the return of Afghanistan to its No-aligned personality.

Mehta did not anticipate 9/11 but in the chapter written after the attack, he analyses the multi-faceted dimensions of terror. The United States has to play the leadership role but it has to be principled not parochial. Afghanistan remains a geographical extension of South Asia and this means both India and Pakistan have the highest stake in its rehabilitation and viability; both must first adjust to the logic of harmony and functional cooperation with each other.