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Pakistan's Drift Into Extremism: Allah, then Army, and America's War Terror Paperback – October 2, 2004
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Top Customer Reviews
The writer is clearly sympathetic towards minority Muslim groups in Pakistan especially Ahmedis and Shias but provides specific and credible instances of crimes committed against these communities. Also explains how Blasphemy laws are biased against Christian minority. He also severely criticizes Pakistan army for its interference in politics and intelligence agencies for how they groomed and sponsored terrorist groups. In comparison he has been somewhat soft on Pakistani police which he remains associated with as per his bio in the book.
The best part of the book is about General Musharraf and how he is handling Pakistan and the war on terror - he has mixed opinion about Musharraf's capability to make a real difference in the long run. He argues that moderate political parties and revival of real democracy is the only way things can be improved.
Final remark - its an academic book I believe but is written like a thriller - its difficult to put it down once you start reading. Highly recommended for anyone who wants to know how Pakistan is progressing (or digressing) and how intriguing is the history of Pakistan-US relations.
I have just one suggestion and one criticism for the writer - he could have given more detailed profiles of the Islamic parties that Pakistan inherited in 1947. Secondly, the book requires a chronology of important political events of Pakistan for the Western readers. But despite these limitations, the book is head and shoulders above other contemporary works on the subject.
Abbas has an entertaining, feisty writing style. His sympathies and condemnations are both spread liberally, which makes for less obvious bias than you will encounter most places. The work is very good in that respect.
One of his main points, and the one most salient for my own interests, is that Islamic fundamentalism in Pakistan has been allowed to thrive because of incompetent rulers and failing institutions. As presented, it seems credible.
He deftly handles the Kashmiri issue and makes it perhaps the central motivating factor for Pakistani foreign policy.
Overall it's a good read and short at around 235 pages.
Also decent academic credentials.
Ironically, the way the author chooses to narrate Pakistan's history explains why the country is in such a pitiful state right now and why it was dismembered in 1971.
The author starts off with a threat that Pakistan will self-destruct and in the process do some damage to its neighboring countries, unless USA and India accommodate Pakistan's views on various issues. These kinds of threats have become fashionable among "moderates" in Pakistan over the last 10 years, while the extremists are waging jihad.
The author is completely infatuated with Pakistani army officers. The book is littered with descriptions of the personal traits of hundreds of army officers with adjectives like tall, laid back, easy smiling, courageous, honest, stocky, comes from a good family, dashing, etc. The fact that 240 pages of a country's history refer to hundreds of army officers says something about its culture and priorities.
The basic principles of parliamentary democracy (e.g. leader of the majority party becoming the Prime Minister), don't seem to be completely sensible in the author's view. E.g. the author implies that there is nothing unreasonable about Bhutto wanting two Prime Ministers for Pakistan - one for the East Wing and one for the West Wing - after elections in 1970 in which Mujib won a clear majority in the National Assembly. The military and West Pakistani politicians taking such ridiculous positions is what caused the country's dismemberment.
Finally Pakistan's obsession with Kashmir is one of the main reasons for its sorry state. The author unwittingly conveys that in this book. There is no mention of India's point of view in the Kashmir dispute while he repeatedly refers to "India's oppression of Kashmiris".
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