Response to The Daily Beast’s BACKLASH

Malali Bashir

The Daily Beast today wrote on its segment BACKLASH about a response from Afghans on twitter regarding Leslie H. Gelb’s article on The Daily Beast, “To Hell with Karzai”. Without directly quoting from the article “Karzai Remarks, Not News!” The Daily Beast misinterpreted the point the I wanted to convey. In response, I would like to reiterate their point and clarify that in fact, we did not and do not support the claims made by the Daily Beast.

In my analysis of Karzai’s remarks regarding the Taliban and the United States, I argued that the media misinterpreted what President Karzai said in his speech on International Women’s Day. As I wrote, “The next hour, media outlets around the world carried his remarks in bold and some interpreted them in their own way.” Ironically, the article was itself misinterpreted by The Daily Beast. As the Daily Beast tried to understand the fury of Afghans on Twitter in response to Gelb’s outrageous article, they seem to have been in search of an alternative perspective against the one that Afghans on Twitter had; misinterpreting my article, then, the Daily Beast claimed, “ took Gelb’s side, arguing that Karzai often references invalid theories of collaboration between Taliban and NATO forces.” Yet in fact, I neither mentioned the Daily Beast remark in my article nor had I read it at the time I was writing my article.

Secondly my article did not attempt to analyze Karzai’s remark but instead aimed to offer an inside look into what Karzai had said—into what he really said. According to my article, thus, “What he said was more about Taliban hypocrisy. If you listen to his original remarks, he said that the Taliban are benefiting the foreigners by providing them an excuse to stay longer in Afghanistan because if there is violence, NATO will not leave. The primary focus of this particular part of his speech on International Women’s day was to unfold the double game Taliban are playing.”

The article points out that “This is not the first time the Afghan President Hamid Karzai gives such statements. He had made similar comments (in Pashto) during the Peace Jirga in Afghanistan in 2010”; this statement was followed by: “...but no media outlet highlighted these comments then, despite the fact that these 2010 comments are more controversial and direct than the ones he made today and yesterday.”

In response to the “invalid theories”, I would like to clarify that the article did not suggest one thing or the other but balanced the argument by explaining what the Afghans started to think about the United States’ position regarding the Taliban after 2003; Karzai’s statement echoed the Afghans’ position because he knows his people well the way Dr. Najibullah did. In an effort to explain how the idea of “doubts” regarding others’ position on something in Afghan society works, I used the quote from Sarah Chayes’s book in the article.
I would like to take the opportunity to reiterate that the I do not agree with Leslie H. Gelb for what he has written in his article “To Hell with Karzai” and the way he has tried to “interpret” the President’s remarks and his portrayal of the ethnic makeup in Afghanistan. Like most educated Afghans, I believe that dividing the Afghan people on ethnic basis will only be an effort to jeopardize the peace-keeping efforts of not only the involved-in-Afghanistan International community and the rest of the world that stands in solidarity with Afghans for democracy, development, and rebuilding of their country, but also of war-weary Afghans who have suffered for three decades.

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