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Landscapes of Writing

Collected Essays of Bapsi Sidhwa

Series:

Bapsi Sidhwa

Edited By Teresa Russo

This book is a collection of essays by international writer Bapsi Sidhwa gathered for the first time in one edition by Teresa Russo, with a foreword written by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Deepa Mehta. Landscapes of Writing: Collected Essays of Bapsi Sidhwa provides a writer’s perspective on issues of South Asian literature, linguistics, poetry, and views of political events and globalization. In the first part of the book, Bapsi Sidhwa discusses her childhood, family life, and how she became a writer. There is also a revised essay detailing how her book Cracking India became a film by Deepa Mehta. The second part of the book focuses on her thoughts concerning war, terrorism, and how to achieve peace. This collection includes two letters, demonstrating her local and nationalistic perspectives to a larger view of an interconnected world.

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Chapter 18. Who Are the Taliban?

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· 18 ·

WHO ARE THE TALIBAN?

June 19, 20151

I was in Pakistan when we heard that a new Afghan faction, the Taliban (religious students), were rapidly gaining ground in various parts of Afghanistan. They had the support of Benazir Bhutto’s government and of the Americans at the time. After the devastation of the Soviet invasion and the mayhem caused by the warring factions and warlords, in its aftermath, the young Taliban zealots appeared to represent the rule of law, security and stability. Seen as saviors by the Afghans, their authority was welcomed, and in district after district weary Afghan men willingly surrendered their arms to the Holy Warriors, many of them still in their teens. Within months the Taliban had established control over most of Afghanistan. In their zeal to protect the women in a country left without roofs or walls, they all but buried them alive in blue tent-like burkas.

War Orphans

The Taliban are largely Afghan war orphans. Talib means student; and Taliban is its plural. Sons of the freedom fighters, who died in the war against ← 127 | 128 → the Russians, the Taliban grew up in refugee camps in Pakistan. No one in the U.S. believed that the Soviet Empire would collapse as swiftly as it did. The Americans had planned on bleeding the Soviet Union by creating generations of Afghan warriors. Trained in the military camps set up in Pakistan by the Americans...

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