acknowledge the debt I, and indeed Pakistan and the Mujahideen owe to the Silent Soldier,
General Akhtar Abdur Rahman. I served under him for four years at the height of the war, but he
carried the enormous responsibility for the struggle against what was then the Soviet superpower,
for over eight years. I call him the Silent Soldier because of his great humility and modesty. Few
people, apart from his family knew him as well as I did until he was assassinated, along with
President Zia-ul-Haq, in the plane crash in August 1988. At one blow the Jehad lost its two most
When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979 President Zia sent for General Akhtar, who
had recently taken over as Director of ISI. At that time nobody in authority in Pakistan, and
certainly no overseas government (including the US), thought the Soviet military might could be
confronted. Afghanistan was written-off as lost. The only person within the military to advocate
supporting the Jehad by Pakistan, and the only person to come up with a plausible plan for doing so,
was General Akhtar. He convinced the president that no only was it vital to Pakistans interests to
fight the aggressors, but that there was every chance of defeating them. Some years later Zia was to
say to him, you have wrought a miracle, I can give you nothing worthy of your achievements. Only
God can reward you.
After WW II, there was a first phase of Islamic anti-colonialism that saw the independence of former British, French, and Dutch colonies. This was characterized by secular socialist and capitalist regimes that replaced the initial transitional governments installed by the departing colonial masters. Nasser of Egypt would be a good example, having replaced King Farouk in 1952. Sukarno, Boumediene, In Afghanistan, this phase culminated in the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan from 1978 to 1989.
The new parties and leaders were generally nationalist and especially in the case of socialist repudiated political and economic dominance by the West. However, secular socialism is thoroughly European, so this phase did not repudiate the intellectual and cultural values of the West.
However, the second phase began in the 1980s, partly influenced by the Carter/Reagan program to use Islamism against Communism, that involved the repudiation of the West's secular and cultural values. The Shiite radicals, Egyptian Brotherhood, Al Qaeda, and the several branches of Islamic State are only the most radical features of a general trend that returns the societies of countries from Africa's Atlantic Coast to Malaysia's eastern island to traditional Islamic religious and legal principles.
This is probably clearest in the center, where Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States had always maintained fundamentalist Islamic value, and where Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan have all evolved a long way towards Islamism from the days of Bülent Ecevit, Mossedegh and Ayub Kahn.
I would expect that the 1.8 billion strong Islamic countries will continue to converge on a new Islamic social and political model and gain cohesion as they do.
This should result in the clarification of borders between the Islamic world and the Hindu, East Asian, European and African Worlds, although the last is most problematic.
This should also result in less incentive to attack the other civilizations on the part of Islamists who are now more secure in their religious and cultural future, and more guarded against outside the Islamic World.