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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

4.8 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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$20.11 FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Temporarily out of stock. Order now and we'll deliver when available. We'll e-mail you with an estimated delivery date as soon as we have more information. Your account will only be charged when we ship the item. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.


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.


‘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’



‘…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’

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’



'Nafisa Hoodbhoy’s detailed reporting helped me look at the complex world of Pakistani politics differently. Hoodbhoy’s proximity to key players and her unique perspective as one of the few women journalists to cover Pakistan’s gripping narrative makes the ‘Democracy Train’ a great companion to the news of the day.' —Karen Frillmann, Managing Editor - Newsroom, New York Public Radio



'A story of a courageous journalist who defied conventional norms during times when very few other women were in this profession, and the country’s political environment was heavily influenced by conservative values, bloody ethnic conflict and religious bigotry. [Hoodbhoy] witnessed the making of history first-hand.' —Hassan Abbas, Quaid-i-Azam Chair Professor, South Asia Institute, Columbia University and author of ‘Pakistan’s Drift into Extremism: Allah, the Army, and America’s War on Terror’



'It was her fierce independence and commitment to her country that inspired [Hoodbhoy’s] decision to become a newspaper reporter – the only female reporter at the Pakistani daily, ‘Dawn’. Living in the United States after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, she realized that she was in a unique position to shed light on growing Islamic militancy and sectarian violence. She does so here with the irrepressible spirit that inspired her early journalism.' —Frances Stead Sellers, Deputy National Editor, Health, Science and the Environment, ‘The Washington Post’

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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: 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 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: #3,021,300 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Paperback
As a humble student of history, and as research for my book, "A Medical Doctor Examines Life on Three Continents," published by Algora of New York in 2008, I have read a large number of books. Aboard the Democracy Train is one of the most objectively analytical and well written books I have come across.
The author describes the transformation of Karachi, from a well ordered and cultured city, to the current chaotic, gang infested megalopolis of terror.
She describes how the minorities were harassed during and after partition.
She goes on to describe the political upheavals that have become the land marks of the country's , the break up of the country, take over by Zulfiqar Bhutto, his fall and execution, the Zia regime and Islamisation, emergence of ethnic politics, terrorism and fanaticism, the Benazir, Nawaz Sharif musical chairs, Musharraf dictatorship and the continued control of levers of power by the army during the Zardari tenure.
Nafisa Hoodbhoy has led a tumultuous life. As a college student she joined National Students Federation, which ever since leftist students took it over, I was one of the group, has been in the forefront of progressive movement of the country. As a female journalist in a male chauvinistic society she faced and overcame great challenges.
The book is must read for all who want to get an idea of how Pakistan has been transformed from a liberal country of its early years to the current nest of terrorists.
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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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