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Aboard the Democracy Train: A Journey through Pakistan's Last Decade of Democracy (Anthem South Asian Studies) Paperback – April 1, 2011


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Product Details

  • Series: Anthem South Asian Studies
  • Paperback: 268 pages
  • Publisher: Anthem Press (April 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857289675
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857289674
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,588,405 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Hank Werlin - Absolutely the best account of the last quarter centuries' events in Pakistan and the ongoing struggle to bring women's issues to forefront and it shows how difficult it is to bring about change in attitudes in an Islamic society.


Arifa Khandwalla - I read this book straight through without putting it down. It truly is a gripping first person account of Nafisa Hoodbhoy's experiences as a reporter and the nuggets of information she unearthed.


Yasmin -The book is absolutely great. It shows how it is so difficult to get good governance and true democracy in Pakistani orthodox society.

Shabnam Lutfali -Hoodbhoy shows how Pakistan's social fabric changed from a pluralisticand tolerant to an ideologically driven corrupt culture.


Azhar Salahuddin  This is a beautifully written book. The author has managed to describe a complex region with surprising clarity and provide a perspective rarely seen.


‘…A remarkably readable and anecdotal account of events in Pakistan. […]Hoodbhoy provides an excellent perspective to a foreign reader of life in Pakistan when, in spite of many dichotomies and contradictions, people co-existed in relative harmony. […] The forte of ‘Aboard the Democracy Train’ is its rich repertoire of anecdotes and quotable quotes. […] Told in Hoodbhoy’s racy style, politics assumes an exciting dimension.’ —‘Dawn’



‘Hoodbhoy’s lively, and at times daring, eye-witness account provides many insights into Pakistan during her sixteen years at Dawn [and] reveals complex political machinations as well as the many shortcomings of the Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif governments, including flagrant corruption… Her harrowing and riveting tale [draws its value from] the events that she reported and witnessed and which provide the key to the discordant forces battling for control in Pakistan today.’ — Muneeza Shamsie, ‘Journal of Postcolonial Writing’

Review

'A powerful and courageous voice that represents the best of Pakistan’s emerging journalism… The first insider view of developments in Pakistan on the road to democracy.' —Shuja Nawaz, Director, South Asia Center, The Atlantic Council of the United States, and author of ‘Crossed Swords: Pakistan, its Army, and the Wars Within’


More About the Author

I was born in Karachi, Pakistan to parents who were deeply invested in education and had a social conscience. The nation had been vacated by the British, even while our neighborhood still had Christians, Zorastrians and Hindus who lived together like family. My father was the secretary general of the Karachi Theosophical Society and our conversations on the meaning of life greatly influenced me. While in my 20s, I left for the US to earn a Master's Degree in History - returning to become the only woman reporter for Pakistan's leading English language newspaper, Dawn. This was a period when the serving military dictator, Gen. Zia ul Haq had suspended fundamental rights and imposed harsh laws in the name of Islam. My 16-year-career (1984-2000) coincided with the nation's whiff of democracy as Benazir Bhutto gambled to become Pakistan's first woman prime minister. It was a transformational era, when as a front line reporter I acquired access to leading politicians and places hidden from public view. `Aboard the Democracy Train' is my first book, where I have used my personae to break down and provide an insider view of the complex history and politics of my home country. Based in the US after 2,000, I have used my vantage point to inform the book about how America's involvement in Afghanistan has intersected with Pakistan's internal dynamics, in a war that has no winners.

Customer Reviews

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I read this book straight through without putting it down.
Arifa Khandwalla
This is a must read book for anyone wanting to understand Pakistan and the myriad of factors that have defined the nation today.
Michael Green
Her book is very well written, reads well and is very informative.
susan lilly

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Michael Green on May 5, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is a beautifully written book. The author has managed to describe a complex region with surprising clarity and provide a perspective rarely seen. True to its title, the book really is a journey which begin with the author's personal experience of growing up in Pakistan and then watching the nation evolve over decades - all through the eyes of a courageous journalist. This is a must read book for anyone wanting to understand Pakistan and the myriad of factors that have defined the nation today.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Hassle Whirlwhind on July 2, 2011
Format: Paperback
Absolutely the best account of the last quarter centuries' events in Pakistan and the ongoing struggle to bring women's issues to forefront and it shows how difficult it is to bring about change in attitudes in an Islamic society. Nafisa Hoodbhoy's first hand reporting give the reader an insight not only to one woman's personal experiences, but to events as they unfolded for millions of Pakistani people under constant military control. Aboard the Train illustrates how difficult it is to bring about a Democracy in a culture steeped in centuries of traditional feudal practices including female infanticide, rape as a political weapon and social control mechanism reinforced by law and religion, and marriage to the Quaran. Nafisa is both an observer, writer, documentarian, and an agent of change and a free thinker in a world highly intolerant of women who dare to cross traditional boundaries. We are fortunate to have her as our eyes and ears of the epoch changes that have occurred in the region from the rise of the Taliban, the end of the cold war, the election of Benazir Bhutto and her assassination. She portrays the corruption, the male insiders club of Pakistani journalism, and the constant threat of censorship, both self imposed by legitimate fear and official government manipulation of the press. For the West to truly understand the world that is evolving in Pakistan and Afghanistan today, one surely must read this book. Nafisa Hoodbhoy has risked her life many times to have written such a gem, we should all be proud of her sharing it with us now. Hopefully it will inspire many more women journalists around the world to see how one woman can really make a real difference every day, in every keystroke.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Arifa Khandwalla on May 27, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book straight through without putting it down. It truly is a gripping first person account of Nafisa Hoodbhoy's experiences as a reporter and the nuggets of information she unearthed. These nuggets illuminate the inside machinations that led to the current situation in Pakistan. As someone who grew up in Karachi, the book is a tour of many of the events that occurred and why. The formation of the MQM, the ethnic wars in Karachi, Benazir's grip on power as a Prime Minister and many other moments are explained through information gained by reporting. This book is a must read for all reading Pakistanis and Pakistani watchers.
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There have been many people throughout history who made the ultimate sacrifice to move us all along the road to enlightenment. Aboard the Democracy Train: A Journey through Pakistan’s Last Decade of Democracy is the story of Benazir Bhutto and her efforts to provide “food, shelter and clothing” for those in need. What makes her endeavor even more difficult is Pakistan’s inequality for women. The author is not just a journalist who did her homework but, as a woman herself, faced dangers her male peers could only imagine. Ms. Hoodbhoy did not pay the ultimate price like Benazir Bhutto, who lost her life in the pursuit of democracy, but she came awfully close.

If you are a student of history and or freedom and wonder how recent events will stand the test of time then your ticket is already waiting for you to climb Aboard the Democracy Train: A Journey through Pakistan’s Last Decade of Democracy by Nafisa Hoodbhoy. It is an extremely revealing look, not just inside Pakistan, but in Human Beings and the struggles that affect us all.
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Format: Kindle Edition
It is a concise review of pakistans' history from 1947 to recent times. Nothing mentioned that is a surprise to people familiar with the country and the region. Some of the claims made are more of a popular rhetoric without much factual basis, however, such things are impossible to prove in politics anywhere.

Writing style is nice and keeps you engaged as you read it through.
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Nafisa Hoodbhoy's book spans political events from Pakistan's independence to 2010, but focuses on the years 1984 to 2000 when, as the only female political reporter on the Karachi-based newspaper Dawn, she had a "front seat" witnessing the fraught democratic history of her homeland. Later, as a US-based academic, Nafisa Hoodbhoy closely followed Benazir Bhutto's attempt to restart the "democracy train", which almost derailed when she was assassinated. Key problems besetting Pakistan -- the widespread recourse to political and criminal violence, failing institutions, corruption, discriminatory laws and customs perpetuating gender violence, the political impasse in Balochistan and the army's nexus with Islamist groups while officially siding with the US in the so-called "war on terror" -- are explored with compassion and courage. Journalists in Pakistan are on the frontline exposing human rights violations but often suffer the wrath of what are locally known as "the agencies" - as Nafisa Hoodbhoy herself learned the hard way. Despite ongoing struggles between the civilian government, the army and the newly assertive judiciary, and Pakistan's conflicted relationship with the United States and a crippled economy, Nafisa Hoodbhoy remains hopeful for Pakistan whose civil society has not been cowed - one only hopes that her diagnosis is right.
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