Iqbal Malhotra, who is a personal friend of the Afghan Ambassador in New Delhi, Mr. Masood Khalili, began planning in April 2001 to bring the real identity of the Northern Alliance to the notice of the world. The world believed the Taliban had overrun almost 90 percent of Afghanistan, and that they had a mind of their own. As The New Great Game shows, this was far from the truth, and the stakes for absolute physical control over Afghanistan were much greater.
Right from the time of the 19th century, Great Game, first identified by Rudyard Kipling in his book Kim, Afghanistan has been at the centre of great power rivalry. In the 21st century, the players, the prize and the playing field of the New Great Game have changed. The New Great Game has evolved out of the ethos, rules and parameters of the Old Great Game.
Commander Ahmed Shah Masood took a personal interest in this project, and the Islamic State of Afghanistan provided the AIM Television crew with all manner of logistical assistance in making this series a success.
The crew arrived in Afghanistan at dawn on August 5th by helicopter gunship from the secret Afghan airbase of Farkhar in Tajikistan. Their first port of call was Khodja Bahauddin. From there they traveled to Ay Khanom and Chah-e-aab. Because of the heat and dust, the camera equipment and satellite phone were damaged, and, on the 8th of August, they were flown back to Dushanbe. Thereafter, on the 9th of August, after repairs to the camera and satellite phone, the crew flew directly to the Panjshir Valley. Using Panjshir as a base, they motored to Bagram airbase and the Shomali plains. From Panjshir they flew with Commander Masood to the important Northern Alliance base of Ferkhar where they interviewed him on camera.
Commander Masood is very candid in this interview about the people behind the Taliban and their intentions. It was because of his voicing these concerns and identifying them during his visit to Europe in the summer of 2001, and again to the AIM Television crew, that those very forces planned the sophisticated assassination. They viewed him as their greatest enemy after the United States of America.
During the course of filming, the AIM Television crew, on a number of occasions, was in the line of fire. At Ay Khanom they were 3 kms from the frontline. At Bagram airbase, while driving around the inner perimeter road, they were 20 yards from a Taliban tank. The tank mistook their vehicle for being a Taliban pickup, but the crew lived to tell their tale.
This film on Afghanistan is dedicated to Commander Ahmed Shah Masood, who was truly the last warrior of the free world and not only fought the Taliban on the ground but also fought to enlighten the world of the nature of the enemy it faced and the goals the enemy was working towards.
The Last television interview of Commander Ahmed Shah Masood recorded at Khodja Bahauddin, Afghanistan on August 13th 2001 before he was assassinated on September 9th 2001 and excerpts from it never before telecast, are now included as part of a film on Afghanistan called "The New Great Game: The River of Destiny".
Iqbal Malhotra, Chairman and Producer of AIM Television Pvt.Ltd, a New Delhi and Bombay based Television Production house has scripted, directed and produced this 56-minute English language documentary on Afghanistan called The New Great Game: The River of Destiny. The anchor of the series is John Elliott, currently correspondent in India of Fortune. Previously, he was the India correspondent of The Financial Times.
The AIM Television team was the last television team in the world to film an interview by Commmander Ahmed Shah Masood. He was assassinated on the 9th of September in 2001.