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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A war between a state and a nation
Zahid Hussain, senior editor at Newsline in Pakistan, has the credentials and compassion to cover issues relating to Pakistan and the prose to keep your attention riveted with brevity and analysis.

It is a waste of time to keep identifying individual leaders of terrorism and eliminate them, claims Zahid. You can cut the scorpion's tail; it would develop a new...
Published on December 11, 2010 by T. R. Santhanakrishnan

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3.0 out of 5 stars I have not yet read this book
Forcing a review to have a minimum number of words is silly and stupid. so there so there so there!
Published 17 months ago by Bernard


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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A war between a state and a nation, December 11, 2010
By 
Zahid Hussain, senior editor at Newsline in Pakistan, has the credentials and compassion to cover issues relating to Pakistan and the prose to keep your attention riveted with brevity and analysis.

It is a waste of time to keep identifying individual leaders of terrorism and eliminate them, claims Zahid. You can cut the scorpion's tail; it would develop a new one.

Your perspective gets challenged and widened when you read Zahid Hussain.

The war in Afghanistan is a war between a state and a nation; not a state and a state. The US is at war with Pashtuns. A third of the Pashtuns are in Afghanistan (comprising 42% of the Afghan state). Two thirds of the Pashtuns are in Pakistan (comprising 15% of the Pakistan State). The Talibans are substantially Pashtuns.

Pashtuns do not care about the political boundaries between Afghanistan and Pakistan. They move freely from one to another. Pashtuns are governed more by the tribal leader at village level than by the shura council at the national level. This makes it easy for a tribal leader to hold complete sway over his terrain (and use the village for opium cultivation). This makes it quite difficult to set in place a national government that can he held accountable to good principles of governance.

The Pashtun theology is a combination of the two most radical schools of Islam: the Deobandis from India and the Wahabis from Saudi Arabia. This theology acquired political power because of two reasons: US (to settle score with Russians) and Saudi Arabia (to get the extremists in the Kingdom out of the Kingdom and be busy with something else) used theology to rally radicals to wage a proxy war. Unfair exploitation by tribal leaders and war lords seeded the need for an uprising. The Talibans stood up; provided relief but brought in new miseries.

The US strategy is flawed:

One: US cannot fight the Pashtuns in half the land; and stay restrained from extending the fight to the other half (because it is in a different state; a nuclear power). The Pashtuns are free to use their territory in Pakistan for rest and recuperation and for keeping the ambers alive and recruit fresh talent.

Two: US cannot rely on Pakistan to maintain its supply line; and deter Pashtuns from retreading to safe havens in Pakistan or hound them out of such safe havens. US has to appreciate that Pakistan is running with the hare and hunting with the hound here. Pakistan military would offer symbolic wins (to merit the aid and equipment) but not substantial wins (that eliminate the power of Taliban). Pakistan believes it is better off in the long run to retain friendship with the Taliban by emphasizing shared religion and shared interests.

Three: US cannot "drone down" a few tribal leaders and think it can win the war. There are enough Hakimullahs to succeed on the death of Baitullahs. Each drone kill ends up creating a few hundred new terrorists.

Pakistan's strategy is flawed too:

One: Pakistan thinks there are good Taliban and bad Taliban. Truth: There is one Taliban. You cannot befriend Sirajuddin Haqqani and eliminate Hakimullah Mehsud. They work together. They support each other. The Afghan Pashtun cannot survive the US army had it not been for the hospitality and safety provided by the Pakistan Pashtun.

Two: Pakistan thinks that the Pashtun fundamentalists, the Al Qaida fundamentalists and the Punjab fundamentalists are different silos that are not integrated; that one can be a friend serving interests in Kabul, another a small price to dispense with for aid from US and the third a tool to wage a proxy war. Reality: They communicate. They share a mission. Al Qaida thrives in Pakistan; most of its new recruits come from Sind and Punjab. The Lal Masjid priest Abdul Rashid met and was inspired by Osama Bin laden.

Three: Pakistan thinks it is good strategy to train and nurture theology driven fundamentalists to achieve the purposes of the State. Pakistan has ended up creating two forces that it cannot control increasingly: (a) disloyal members of its own army and intelligence services going "rogue" and (b) fundamentalists turning against the State of Pakistan. In effect, Pakistan has created a Frankenstein monster.

Four: Pakistan has attempted too often (and without success) to buy peace by ceding concessions to theology driven fundamentalists. Each time such a concession was given, the fundamentalists have used the window to regroup, recruit, re-equip and strike back with a greater force.
Zahid Hussain presents the picture with excellent insight.

Solution: Pakistan has to recognize that it is dealing with a scorpion and cutting the tail is not solution enough
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The scorpion's tail, December 3, 2010
By 
CH Cumming-Bruce (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
If you want to understand Pakistan, this is clearest account yet of what makes the situation there so dangerous. What comes through is that this is being told by someone who has been reporting the story for years - he knows the players and he's covered so many of the tragedies himself - he's really got the T-shirt. What's depressing is that it's clear that the attempt to weaken the Taliban using assassination by drones is having the opposite effect - even when they get the right people, instead of women and children, the dead leaders are just replaced, new recruits join, and even the anti Taliban public turn against the US - that's the scorpion's tail.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A crash course on Pakistan's turbulent history, February 8, 2011
By 
Media Man (Minneapolis, MN USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
I picked this book up on a whim in an effort to better educate myself on the ongoing turmoil of the Middle East and the involvement of the U.S. government. It only took me a few pages to realize that like many other Americans, I knew very little about what's happening in Pakistan and Afghanistan on practically every level. Our country gets involved in so many conflicts around the world and I always find myself struggling to keep up. Sad but true. Despite the grim situation the country is in and has been for decades I found myself overwhelmed with a wealth of information. Everything from the infiltration of militants of nearly every echelon of the Pakistani government, the growing levels corruption, the repeated U.S. aid and drone strikes just to name a few. The author, Zahid Hussain, is a native of Pakistan currently living in Islamabad where he sees the internal conflict daily. As a correspondent and journalist he has interviewed top militant leaders and witnessed Pakistan's ongoing struggle first hand. Here are my thoughts on this highly thought provoking and informative book;

Pros

+ Presents pure fact and offers little to no bias or personal opinion regarding government policies and actions.

+ Details just how intricately interwoven both Afghanistan and Pakistan are with militant insurgents on nearly every level.

+ Provides numerous pros and cons for U.S. intervention in helping Pakistan fight the insurgency.

+ Explains how U.S. Drone strikes are beneficial as well as detrimental to fighting the ever-growing insurgency.

+ Book contained a map of both countries detailing the key areas discussed. Being very unfamiliar with the areas this was an invaluable reference for me in gaining a clearer understanding of what the author was discussing. At times, a more detailed map would have been even more helpful.

Cons

- Author is so familiar with the people, places and factions that he assumes the reader is on the same level, which was not true in my case. Hence, exactly why I was reading this book.

- Use of abbreviations was extremely prevalent in the book and often times only spelled out once. I found it difficult to remember them all. A glossary would have been invaluable.

Zahid Hussain refers to the fight against militant insurgents as "The Scorpion's Tail." Drawing upon the belief if you sever the scorpion's tail will it grow back and be just as dangerous? As Drone strikes continue to cripple leadership in both al Qaeda and Taliban groups are things just getting worse? Is the fight actually helping or are the flames being fanned even further to create more anti-American sentiment than ever before? There were many times while reading this book I became outraged at all factions involved in this struggle and how poorly things have been and are being handled. However, setting personal feelings aside I found this book to be extremely informative and eye-opening on multiple levels. Journalists like Zahid Hussain are a rare commodity and we as a people would do best to hear the evidence they present to better understand ourselves as human beings rather than governments, religious factions, militant insurgents, oil companies or soldiers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The "rest" of the story, January 18, 2011
This book is what Paul Harvey said "the rest of the story". This story explains the story behind events we see in Pakistan. I think any thinking person who will read this book then find sleeping a little difficult. You will see a nuclear armed Pakistan that does match the image we want.

The book covers both the history of Pakistan plus recent events over the past few years. I think everyone will have seen these events on the news as the last story before the broadcast runs the daily feel good story of the day. However this book will give you the rest of the story. The book starts out with a good history of the nation. You will see then how the history of the nation really shapes events today. It covers the story of the Swat valley invasion, the terrorist attacks, the assassinations and more. You will see how the western press has minimized these events in the interest of time. An how these events were much more serious and extensive than the news said. Normally that would be just another day in the third world. However this third world nation has nuclear arms. That is what will keep you up.

A great book for any serious student on world affairs.
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1.0 out of 5 stars What exactly is the point of this book?, September 14, 2013
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Hmm...

The take home here is that the old guard of the Al Qaida comprised of a bunch of disaffected Arab and Central Asian Islamists is being replaced by a new generation of highly educated, militarily trained Pakistanis ... and that this shift is detrimental to US security, and to global and regional stability. But actually the whole new Al Qaida movement is wracked with self-contradictory impulses, and it is likely to leave more dead Pakistanis behind than Americans, Afghans, or even Indians.

Okkkkkaaaaayyyyy - Aah... Paging Dr. Obvious, Paging Dr. Obvious... why is this well known fact suddenly the subject of a book?

The book confirms some of the conclusions that I have reached in my own deep dives into the myriad ailments of Pakistan, i.e.

- The Pakistani state lives in a constant (self-imposed) fear of extinction - this psychosis is collectively shared by the government, the media and everyone else who wants to think this way/

- This fear leads the Pakistani state to constantly make deals with the devil. All of these deals rebound on the Pakistan state - reinforcing the same fear that led to the deals in the first place.

- Absent any mechanisms for true accountability, the cycle of fear perpetuates leaving a trail of dead people in its wake.

- And a bunch of observers write all manner of self-serving accounts of the "troubled times in Pakistan".

- And some miserable chump like me actually buys such books and reads them only to discover that whatever is written there is already published in much greater detail elsewhere.

Seriously, my money would have been better spent on the modern classic "How to Avoid Huge Ships" by Capt. Trimmer!
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3.0 out of 5 stars I have not yet read this book, February 16, 2013
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This review is from: The Scorpion's Tail: The Relentless Rise of Islamic Militants in Pakistan-And How It Threatens America (Hardcover)
Forcing a review to have a minimum number of words is silly and stupid. so there so there so there!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, January 24, 2013
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This review is from: The Scorpion's Tail: The Relentless Rise of Islamic Militants in Pakistan-And How It Threatens America (Hardcover)
This book has allowed me to see the U.S. relationship with Pakistan in a new light. We too often believe the mass media in every news story about what is going on in Afghanistan and Pakistan but not the people who haved lived through it. The Scorpion's Tail is a great read with a little more insight to the history of US/Afghan/Pakistan relations and the amount of support the insurgency is getting from a nation that is given so much international funding from the U.S. specifically. Good read and thank you.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Why the US is in for a long and hard ride in Afghanistan and Pakistan., June 18, 2012
By 
Kevin M Quigg (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Scorpion's Tail: The Relentless Rise of Islamic Militants in Pakistan-And How It Threatens America (Hardcover)
Whether it is Bush or Obama, the United States is faced with an unpleasant task. Do we negotiate with a bunch of medieval killers (the Taliban), or stay the long hard road and try to defeat them militarily? The Pakastanis don't want to face this choice and have chose the negotiating route, although in probability, it is the route we will go down. In the meantime, there are Americans and civilians dying. There is no quick solution. Hussain shows that the Taliban, al Queda, and other fundamentalists all share the same hatred of Americans. When drones kill killers, they complain because we are violating their sovereignty, and when the drones kill civilians, there is a blood debt. I guess they didn't think 9/11 was a big deal, since they blame the Zionists for that massacre, or else say it was a conspiracy. Either way, the United States faces two unreliable allies and feckless politicians not wanting to face the terrorism of the Taliban.

This is an interesting though disturbing reading. It is scary to believe a Taliban government ruling both Pakistan and Afghanistan. This book shows it is a very real possibility.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pakistan for Dummies, June 16, 2011
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Excellent book! This is a great read for all knowledge levels of Middle East relations. If you don't have much knowledge of the Middle East and our relations with Pakistan this will completely fill you in not only what is happening currently but also the 20th century. It is also a great book if you are well educated in current affairs and find yourself somewhat frustrated with Pakistan and question why they do not do more to help Allied Coalition forces in the destruction of the Taliban on the Af-Pak border. It definitely changed my opinion of Pakistan as our allies and gave me a different review and respect for them, especially after realizing they have been at war with terrorism right there with us, but in their own country. Also, not sure if the book was updated but some of the reviews I read before I bought the book complained about it being hard to remember locations and regions throughout the entirety of the book. My book came with a map of Pakistan and important surrounding regions right in the beginning so it was a great help to occassionally flip back to and put the pieces together. Would recommend this book to anyone interested in everything going on in our world today.
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1 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars the scorpion's tail, November 24, 2010
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a poorly written and poorly thought out book. you need to have a detailed map of the countries and regions burned into your head. author also assumes you are already aware of all the foreign named persons in the book. don't buy it unless you are a geography expert and student of islam.
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