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The Great Game in Afghanistan: Rajiv Gandhi, General Zia and the Unending War

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At the height of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, a complex multinational diplomacy had proposed setting up a coalition government in Kabul as a solution to the 'Afghan problem'. Even as all sides worked on the coalition, the US took steps that India considered a 'stab in the back'. With the help of the official papers collected by US ambassador John Gunther Dean and At the height of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, a complex multinational diplomacy had proposed setting up a coalition government in Kabul as a solution to the 'Afghan problem'. Even as all sides worked on the coalition, the US took steps that India considered a 'stab in the back'. With the help of the official papers collected by US ambassador John Gunther Dean and conversations with Ronen Sen, Rajiv Gandhi's diplomatic aide during those crucial years, the author recreates the falling apart of the India-US cooperation and the catastrophic effect it had on South Asian history.


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At the height of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, a complex multinational diplomacy had proposed setting up a coalition government in Kabul as a solution to the 'Afghan problem'. Even as all sides worked on the coalition, the US took steps that India considered a 'stab in the back'. With the help of the official papers collected by US ambassador John Gunther Dean and At the height of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, a complex multinational diplomacy had proposed setting up a coalition government in Kabul as a solution to the 'Afghan problem'. Even as all sides worked on the coalition, the US took steps that India considered a 'stab in the back'. With the help of the official papers collected by US ambassador John Gunther Dean and conversations with Ronen Sen, Rajiv Gandhi's diplomatic aide during those crucial years, the author recreates the falling apart of the India-US cooperation and the catastrophic effect it had on South Asian history.

22 review for The Great Game in Afghanistan: Rajiv Gandhi, General Zia and the Unending War

  1. 5 out of 5

    Conrad Barwa

    This is a flawed book for several reasons. Firstly, its not well organised, the author spends a lot of time speculating and basically endorsing the view that foreign intelligence agencies were involved in Zia's death through a plane crash, namely Mossad or the KGB at the beginning of the book and then goes into the main topic of Afghan-Pakistan relations during the 1980s Afghan war and then concludes by returning to Zia's death without any proper conclusion. More seriously, the book relies on an This is a flawed book for several reasons. Firstly, its not well organised, the author spends a lot of time speculating and basically endorsing the view that foreign intelligence agencies were involved in Zia's death through a plane crash, namely Mossad or the KGB at the beginning of the book and then goes into the main topic of Afghan-Pakistan relations during the 1980s Afghan war and then concludes by returning to Zia's death without any proper conclusion. More seriously, the book relies on an extremely narrow number of sources: mainly the papers and autobiography of John Gunther Dean, US Ambassador to India from 1984 to 1988, Jamsheed Marker Pakistani Ambassador to the US during the same time and Shahid Amin, Pakistani ambassador to the USSR and interviews with Ronen Sen, Joint Secretary in the PMO and Rajiv Gandhi's principal advisor on regional security issues and India's nuclear project. The paucity of other sources, both in terms of the far too brief references and published material as well as other interviews with actors at the time make this a very distorted account. Indeed, the author basically reiterates, rather uncritically Dean's account of the narrative and is basically a defence of much of Dean's analysis at the time as well as the positions he took (at considerable career cost to himself it must be said). While not necessarily incorrect in itself, in terms of conclusions, it does make it a shallow book in terms of substance. Secondly, there is an overblown emphasis on the role and significance of India's role as a regional power and as an interlocutor between the US and USSR over the Afghan conflict; this is coupled with an exaggerated sense of Rajiv Gandhi's importance and ability as an international statesman and diplomat. While some of Rajiv's ideas were laudable, the authors bias in favour of Gandhi becomes cringeworthy at times. The blunt truth is that the US and Pakistan did not take India too seriously at the time and used India for their own convenience; hence the so-called ''betrayal'' by the Reagan administration of Rajiv's peace initatives to reach a settlement to the Afghan war is nothing more than realpolitik and entirely in line with US aims to win the Cold War and defeat the USSR.

  2. 5 out of 5

    abhinav singh

  3. 5 out of 5

    Harish

  4. 5 out of 5

    Rajesh Aluru

  5. 5 out of 5

    Prasenjit

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kanishk Singh

  7. 4 out of 5

    Salil Malik

  8. 4 out of 5

    Neeraj Kholiya

  9. 5 out of 5

    David Soler

  10. 4 out of 5

    Prashant

  11. 5 out of 5

    Uzair Surhio

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rishav Dhar

  13. 5 out of 5

    Roshan

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kyle

  15. 4 out of 5

    Dylan Marshall

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sushmita

  17. 5 out of 5

    Shahid

  18. 5 out of 5

    Abdul Rehman

  19. 5 out of 5

    Hemant

  20. 4 out of 5

    Noumaan Anwer

  21. 5 out of 5

    Twitter

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sardar Sudduzai

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