Monday, March 20, 2017

The Unravelling: Pakistan in the Age of Jihad

Pakistan was conceived as a safe haven for South Asian Muslims (where they could practice unhindered their uniquely liberal and celebratory Sufi brand of Islam) by a British-educated stiff upper lip Shia lawyer whose vision was decidedly secular and modern. But it has long since abandoned its founder Jinnah’s blueprint. A blind guttural dislike of its neighbour, and once sibling, India (mainly because of the unfinished business of Kashmir) and a Saudi fed drift into Sunni Wahabbi extremism has transformed Pakistan into almost a lost cause, with the world fearfully watching its nuclear stockpile. The turning point was the anti-Soviet Afghan war of the 80s, where American (+ Saudi) money and weapons, and Pakistani shelter and training, spitefully created the monster jihadi machine. The book “The Unravelling: Pakistan in the Age of Jihad” by former American diplomat John R. Schmidt once stationed in Islamabad, lightly glides over America and Saudi Arabia’s direct responsibility in messing with Pakistan, but otherwise details in very fine print the cumulative muddle Pakistani state and society has progressively and inexorably drawn itself into. A scary read, the book ends with conjecturing about the aftermaths of a nuclear war in South Asia, almost relishing the cataclysmic details.

No comments: