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Saturday July 13, 2024

Author gives new insight into Afghan issue

By Rasheed Khalid
June 01, 2023

Islamabad:Bette Dam, the author, journalist and a graduate from University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, specialising in Afghanistan, has said that the former Taliban leader Mullah Umar remained in Afghanistan until his death, refuting the misconception that he died in Pakistan. Speaking at “A Conversation with Bette Dam, author of Looking for the Enemy: Mullah Omar and the Unknown Taliban” organised here by the Institute of Strategic Studies (ISS), Ms Dam went on to assert that the realities surrounding Afghanistan were distorted by Western media’s narrative.

She stressed that the complete picture is rarely presented, suggesting that a more comprehensive understanding is necessary to grasp the complexities of the situation. During her discourse, Ms Dam shed light on the dominance of the Western narrative in media coverage, noting that this perspective influenced appro­ximately 80 per cent of the portrayal. She stressed the need for a more balanced and nuanced approach, as the media tended to focus on violence and portrayed only one side of the story.

Ms Dam also revealed that in 2001, the Taliban had written surrender letters to the then-Afghan leader Hamid Karzai, which were unfortunately dismissed and thus an important opportunity for peace was conceivably lost. Furthermore, she highlighted that the refusal by Rumsfeld, the US Secretary of Defense at the time, played a significant role in the subsequent unfolding of events.

Sohail Mahmood, DG, ISS, commented that her work helped demystify many aspects of Mullah Omer’s life and mission which had remained shrouded in mystery. In particular, her research provided a fresh perspective on the indigenous origins of the Taliban movement, factors for its rise in the peculiar circumstances of the civil war-ridden Afghanistan of the mid-1990s, the handling of 9/11 and its aftermaths by Taliban leadership, the troubled relationship between Mullah Omar and Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and the last days of Mullah Omar and his demise in Afghanistan.Earlier, in her introductory remarks Amina Khan from ISS emphasised that Ms Dam's nuanced approach of exploring all sides of the story contributes to a comprehensive and unbiased analysis, enabling readers to gain deeper insights into complex issues. She noted that this ability to embrace different viewpoints enhances the resonance and relevance of author’s writing in the region.