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Frontline Pakistan: The Struggle with Militant Islam

4.4 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0231142250
ISBN-10: 0231142250
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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.


[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)

Frontline Pakistan is the first serious exposure of the rise and continuation of Islamic extremism in Pakistan. Zahid Hussain shows the links between the major jihadi groups of Pakistan, Al Qaeda, and the ISI with a degree of detail not seen in any Western writing on the subject

(Ahmed Rashid, author of Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia)

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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: 6.2 x 0.6 x 8.9 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: #1,369,663 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Paperback
Zahid Hussain's "Frontline Pakistan" charts the birth of Islamic extremist movements in Pakistan during the rule of Zia ul-Haq, and their manipulation by the secret services (ISI). This work is definitely not an in-depth study, but provides an excellent 200-page introduction to the subject. The author bases his research on a wide range of documentation, including: news articles, interviews, academic scholarship, TV bulletins, and reports issued by NGOs. Unfortunately the book contains no pictures or maps.

Events move quickly, and the rules of the game have already changed in Pakistan since this book was published. The country has witnessed the rise of a native Taliban movement, which has caused widespread factional fighting, and led to the imposition of martial law in several regions. To complicate matters, the Pakistani Taliban movement has already been linked to, and infiltrated by, the secret services (ISI). Husain predicts this current state of affairs in the final pages of his book:

"Pakistan may not be facing any imminent threat of an Islamist fundamentalist takeover, but there is a real danger of fragmentation with radical Islamists controlling part of the country."

"Frontline Pakistan" is useful to understand the relationship between religious extremism and the armed forces. When Zia embarked on his Islamist program in the late 1970s and 1980s, his real objective was not to uphold religion, but to weaken civilian government (he had his predecessor, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, executed after a mock trial). One of the ways to do this was to sponsor the birth of organizations that would discredit traditional democratic institutions. This partly explains why Islamist political parties (Sipah-e-Sahaba) and the culture of Madrasahs were developed.
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