Ahmed Rashid

Author, Descent Into Chaos

Descent Into Chaos: The United States ad the Failure of Nation Building in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia

About the Speaker

Ahmed Rashid, a Pakistani journalist and author, has been the Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia correspondent for the past twenty years for London’s Daily Telegraph and The Far Eastern Economic Review, until it recently closed down. Rashid also writes for the Lahore, Pakistan newspaper The Nation. He is a regular contributor to BBC Online, The International Herald TribuneThe New York Review of Books and The Washington Post. He has lectured widely around the world on Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central and South Asia.

Rashid is the author of three best-selling books including Taliban, which was translated into twenty-six languages, sold over 1.5 million copies in English alone, and is a course book at 200 American and British universities. His next book, Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam in Central Asia, has been translated into sixteen languages and is also a course book at more than 100 U.S., British, and Japanese universities. Penguin published his latest book, Descent into Chaos: U.S. Policy and the Failure of Nation Building in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia, in June 2008.


Rashid has addressed numerous universities, think tanks, and international meetings around the world and has won many awards in Britain, the U.S., and Pakistan, including the the Nisar Osmani Courage in Journalism Award, given by the Human Rights Society of Pakistan.

Rashid is a member of the advisory board of the Soros Foundation’s EurasiaNet, a scholar of the Davos World Economic Forum, and a consultant for Human Rights Watch. In 2004, he was appointed to the board of advisors to the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva.

At the invitation of the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, he became the first journalist to address the UN General Assembly in New York in September 2002 and the first journalist to address NATOambassadors in Brussels in September 2003.

After the 2001 war in Afghanistan, he donated one third of his book earnings to set up the Open Media Fund for Afghanistan, which has distributed nearly U.S. $400,000 in start-up funds for newspapers and magazines all over Afghanistan in all the Afghan languages.

Ahmed Rashid was born in Rawalpindi, Pakistan in 1948, and was educated at Malvern College in England, Government College University, Lahore and at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge University. He is married with two children and lives in Lahore.