After 9/11 many of us who had followed Afghanistan over the years wondered who would emerge as the new leader of this beautiful yet tragic land, a country filled with warm, welcoming people, yet all but destroyed it seemed now after over two decades of war. It seemed, however, without a doubt, at least to this observer, that the only person who could logically and truly lead Afghanistan, based upon ethnicity, tribal ties, family standing, national acceptance, and hard-fought military experience, was the one-legged, Abdul Haq, the great Mujahideen leader of the 1980s who led attacks against the Soviet Union in and around Kabul.
Haq, a burly, strong willed, incredibly courageous and very warm person, filled with life, was killed in Afghanistan in October 2001, as he led a band of men into the country to rally tribal leaders, military commanders, and common citizens against the Taliban. Newspapers told us the tragic news of his death, but could not tell us why. Hamed Karzai emerged as the new leader and the world moved on.
Lucy Morgan Edwards, a remarkably intrepid and perservering journalist, former U.N. official and aid worker, has done what no other journalist has done, and that is to dig deeply into this story to find out who killed Haq, why he was killed and who ordered his death. In doing so, following in the best traditions of good, solid journalism, she takes us on her journey of exploration deep here into Afghanistan and its tribal culture, and also introduces us to an array of characters from America, Europe and Afghanistan and explains, through her observations, and interviews, with, among others, Joe Ritchie, Haq's American friend, who grew up in Afghanistan and Ken Guest, a courageous British author and camerman, who knew Haq well, what went on behind the scenes to arrange for a new leader to lead the country. It is a tragic story, one filled arrogance, betrayal, back-stabbing, crime, corruption, deceit and confusion. It is a fascinating, riveting, story, too that takes place in Pakistan, the U.K., Italy, and America, and, yes, it is an important story. Because what happened during this period, as Mrs. Edwards makes abundantly clear, has brought us to where we are today.
There were many times that I didn't want to put this book down. I marked up pages and took notes. There is much information in here, both for the casual reader, and for those who follow and care deeply about Afghanistan. I strongly recommend this book.