15 June, 2021

Amu Darya Flows In South Asia

From Gen Zia’s unchecked Islamisation to drug abuse and a rampant gun culture, Pakistan was deeply affected by USSR’s invasion of Afghanistan

Photograph by Alamy
Amu Darya Flows In South Asia

The nine-year Soviet military int­ervention in Afghanistan (Dec­ember 1979-February 1989) led to a multi-dimensional conflict and not merely, as this book’s­ title suggests, an Afghan-Soviet war. It was a ‘holy war’ against an occupying power and a Communist Afghan government perceived to be un-Isla­mic, if not anti-Islamic. It also became a decisive engagement of the Cold War. For Pakistan, which not only helped the Mujahideen, but was an active participant in a war that provided an opp­ortunity to acquire benefits, but at long-term costs. Imrana Begum’s main interest is on this last aspect: the widespread and continuing consequences of the conflict on Pakistan. She covers them comprehensively and competently. She also dwells on developments in Afghanistan that led to the Soviet intervention.

The Soviet move came at the fag end of a year (1979) that recast West Asia. It witnessed the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Saddam Hussein’s elevation to Iraq’s presidency, radical Islamists’ attack on Mecca’s Grand...

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