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Frontline Pakistan: The Struggle with Militant Islam Paperback – August 1, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0231142250 ISBN-10: 0231142250

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (August 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231142250
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231142250
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,507,791 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


This book continues the excellent Pakistani journalistic tradition of writing contemporary history.

(Manvendra Singh India Today)

[Hussain] offers a detailed and persuasive account of the received wisdom on Pakistan since 9/11.

(Carl Brown Foreign Affairs)

A wonderful read that deserves to be read. Written in a dramatic narrative style, the book combines the virtues of being a compulsive page-turner with being informative.

(Vivek Balaraman Desicritics.org)

Hussain lucidly articulates the challenges and limitations faced by Musharraf... Highly Recommended.

(Choice 1900-01-00)

[A] nuanced view of the political forces at work... It's a cautionary tale with lessons for other Asian countries.

(Mary Kissel and Hugo Restall Wall Street Journal Asia)


Zahid Hussain has produced an important and informed inside look at the military and religious politics of Pakistan and the inevitably fatal inconsistencies of its President. Frontline Pakistan is also a history of our times, as seen through the eyes of George W. Bush's Washington and Pervez Musharraf's Islamabad. The future is now, and it is very worrisome.

(Seymour M. Hersh, author of Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib)

More About the Author

Zahid Hussain was born in Hyderabad in Pakistan's Sindh province in 1949. His parents migrated from India in 1948. He did his BSC (Hons) in Chemistry from University of Karachi and joined Herald magazine as senior reporter in 1983. He is now a senior editor with Newsline, and a correspondent for The Times of London, The Wall Street Journal and Newsweek. He has also covered Pakistan and Afghanistan for several other international publications, including the Associated Press and The Economist. He has won several national and international award for his reporting

Zahid Hussain has authored two books- Frontline Pakistan: "The struggle with militant Islam"(I. B Tauris, London and Columbia University, New York. 2007) and " The scorpion's tail: the relentless rise of Islamic militants in Pakistan".(Simon& Schuster, New York. 2010). The books have won widespread acclaim as seminal texts on the subject. He has also contributed a chapter " Deliberate nuclea ambiguity" in the book Pakistan and the Bomb_ published by Notr Dam University press( 1999). He lives in Islamabad Pakistan.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Doug on July 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a fact-packed but highly accessible must-read for those who wish to get a better understanding of the political turmoil throughout the history of modern Pakistan. In particular, this book emphasizes the current struggle with militant Islam and provides plenty of historical context to help Westerners better understand the struggle. A few things you can expect to learn from reading this book include the following:

* The ideological differences between several of the recent Pakistani leadership including General Musharraf, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif.

* The history of the struggle with India for the Kashmir region.

* How General Zia radicalized the previously secular Pakistani military.

* The various major Islamic terrorist groups in Pakistan (e.g., LeT, HuT and JeM) and their ideological differences.

* The infamous General Hamid Gul, his role in training the Muhadijeen to combat the Soviets in the recent Soviet-Afghan war, his heading of Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence and his support of the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden.

* Pakistan's role in the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.

* Abdul Qadeer Khan, the unscrupulous Pakistani scientist and his role in global nuclear proliferation to rogue nations such as Iran, Libya and North Korea.

This is a must read for anyone wanting to read about another significant facet of the war against Islamic terrorism.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Gilberto Villahermosa on March 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent book; well researched, well written, and a compelling read!

Author Zahid Hussain, Pakistani correspondent for the "Times of London", "The Wall Street Journal", and "Newsweek" exposes Pakistan's close ties with the Taleban and al Qaeda. Pakistan's Directorate of Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) is literally the founder of the modern-day Taleban.

Having lost control of both al Qaeda and the Taleban, Pakistan, which is under the control of President Pervez Musharraf (who has pledged his full support to the United States in the War on Terror) is running out of time.

"Despite the backing of the army and America, Musharraf is living on borrowed time,' writes Hussain. "He has spawned a system that is a hybrid of military and civilian rule. It is not a democracy."

And here lies the problem: "The war against militancy Islamic extremism can be best fought - and won - in a liberal democracy. Musharraf's authoritarian rule has blocked any hopes of a democratic process taking root."

Yet the restoration of democracy in Pakistan is not an American priority, because a leader in uniform is perceived as being capable of delivering far more than one who is democractically elected. "An army general ruling Pakistan does not trouble the West, so long as he happens to be an effective ally in the war against terror," observes the author.

Musharraf and Pakistan have been an effective ally, killing and capturing hundreds of key Taleban and al Qaeda leaders and fighters.

But Musharraf's support for the US-led war on terror, his tactical cooperation with various militant groups, and his refusal to embed a culture of democracy and accountability have intensified social, ethnic and religious differences in Pakistani society.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Vishal Sinha on June 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is a first serious effort by someone to expose the ground realities in Pakistan. I was expecting it to be a dry book but was pleasantly surprised at the content - it was hard to put it down! Zahid Hussain has done an excellent job at presenting the facts (a lot of it) and still maintain the readers interest. He provides an excellent insight on the state of affairs in Pakistan since it's creation in 1947 - the nexus of Government and terrorist organizations, and Pakistan's efforts to keep alive the Kashmir issue per its own personal agenda.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Smith on October 12, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book is a very good primer for anyone looking to learn more about this very pivotal nation in the "War on Terror". The book is basically a short history of Pakistan with a detailed accounting of that history from 2001 to 2006. This is a great work for readers to introduce themselves to this country and how it relates to the rise of radical militancy. The author does a great job hitting the major points, and giving readers a nice window into this very complex nation.

What the author does well is explaining the dichotomous society that is Pakistan, and he details the difficulties that Pakistan's leadership face in trying to bridge the gap and unite this nation of very disparate groups of people. Pakistan is a nation of stark contrasts; large modern cities with a vibrant middle class looking for a more democratic and secular state that will be more accommodating to their needs against this backdrop lies the Northwest frontier with its lawless regions full of radical madrassas funded by Sunni extremists catering to the rural poor, while the army attempts to placate both sides which ends up alienating everyone, this is the setting for one of the worlds most important battles. Pakistan has become a very important bellwether state that may determine how successful we have been in combating extremism because of the very dichotomy that threatens to rip this nation apart.

Another important element this book details is how there are no easy explanations for this extremism because the violence and extremism that emanates from Pakistan has many roots. It isn't just extreme religious violence, but instead has many causes along with focal points as well. The violence is also nationalistic, ethnic, local and foreign along with the religious components.
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