Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

My Life with the Taliban

Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

My Life with the Taliban

Article excerpt

My Life with the Taliban. By Abdul Salam Zaeef. New York: Columbia University Press, 2010. 331 pp. $29.95.

Zaeef, a former Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, provides a valuable contribution to the literature on the current conflict in Afghanistan with his autobiography. He offers an unrepentant Taliban perspective on Afghan events and, as such, provides useful insights on a range of topics.

For instance, his description of immediate post-Soviet, inter-Afghan power struggles shows that Taliban antipathy toward other mujahideen-even those not directly involvedstarted early. He is dismissive of international efforts to save the famous Bamiyan Buddha statues from destruction and recounts that shortly after the 9/11 attacks, a senior Pakistani intelligence official assured him that the Taliban "will not be alone in this jihad against America. We will be with you."

But Zaeef's account is perhaps most notable for what he chooses to ignore. No mention is made of the Afghan Hazaras and other ethnicities who suffered massacres during the Taliban's reign or of the Taliban's draconian bans on everything from kite flying to female education and employment. Zaeef is busy criticizing international funding for coeducational schools in Afghanistan but has no time to condemn those Taliban who throw acid in the faces of schoolgirls or target mosque attendees with suicide attacks. …

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