In the year 2000, Ahmed Rashid wrote a book titled Taliban. A radical Islamist group that came to power in Afghanistan in early 1990s, the Taliban ran an already battered country to the ground. However, the story of a homicidal government didn’t matter much to a western world, for whom Afghanistan was nothing more than a former Soviet bastion. Then, 9/11 happened. The fall of the twin towers made Al Qaeda America’s most infamous enemy. The Al Qaeda trail led to the Taliban and everyone scurried around to ferret information about these outfits that had shaken the world. Rashid’s book provided the answers.
Typically, a book follows an event, adding a forensic postscript to the drama and spectacle of life and death. Ahmed Rashid’s book, written earlier, set up an unusual arc.
Why am I bringing up a story of Taliban and 9/11 in the middle of a pandemic?