May 30, 2020
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Unenviably Yours

Hussain's candour is commendable and, despite its warts, this book persuasively illuminates the dissonances inherent to Pakistan's current predicament.

Unenviably Yours
Frontline Pakistan: The Struggle With Militant Islam
By Zahid Hussain
Penguin/Viking Pages: 232; Rs: 395
Pakistan’s troubled trajectory since its birth has engaged the attention of many of its gifted journalists but few have been as candid and dramatic as Zahid Hussain’s maiden effort. It starts off like a thriller with President Musharraf peering through the "tinted glass windows of his speeding Mercedes Benz" at a van laden with explosives hurtling towards him. And concludes on an ominous note as he surveys the many fissures that have emerged in Pakistan’s struggle with militant Islam: "These are the faultlines from which a geopolitical earthquake could at some point erupt—an earthquake which would make the current regional security situation look positively calm by comparison." Is the Panipat carnage the beginning of the end of ‘calm’?

Hussain takes us through the genesis of what he calls Pakistan’s ‘Unholy Alliance’ between Islamic militants and the military, and dwells on the post-9/11 Musharraf dilemma: of ostensibly supporting the US in the gwot and yet pandering to the potent rightwing religious constituency. It’s a legacy he inherited from his predecessors. Hussain’s candour is commendable and, despite its warts, this is a book that persuasively illuminates the dissonances inherent to Pakistan’s current predicament.

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