ahaaan nice section....
laiken yaar boooks k liye plugin ki zarurat hay aur yhi kam khrab hy... gif main hoti to mza ata
Oh, lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud!
I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!
A Heavy Weight of hours has chained and bowed
One too like thee: tameless, and swift, and proud
Yaar Notorious kaheen say Atezaz Ahsan ki "Indus Saga and the making of Pakistan" ka to suragh nikalo.
commoner added 5 Minutes and 13 Seconds later...
Paindo insanoon ki koi kisam nahin balkay aik KAIFIYAT ka nam hay jo kisi par bhi kabhi bhi tari ho sakti hay
Last edited by commoner; 06-25-2008 at 08:07 PM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
Whether President Musharraf's book is full of lies or not, we'll never know for sure but I can say one thing for sure - it is one of the most gripping books I have read this year. He gives a very detailed account of all the critical things that have hapenned in Pakistan politics in the last 10 or so years starting with the Kargil conflict. It is as expected a very accessible reading, almost conversational in style. His writing has a distinct lack of guile and he is not afraid to discuss highly controversial issues such as his military coup or his decision to not give up his military powers in 2004 as he had earlier promised. His explanations though are not always convincing. If you like mystery novels, you would love the chapters where he explains in detail how Pakistan's intelligence services tracked down and then arrested a number of most wanted terrorists. It's literally a day-by-day and in some cases (like the chapter on his military coup) a minute-by-minute detail of events. Once you pick it up, you won't be able to put it down.
What I don't like about the book is its annoying and overdone bravado, numerous repititions (sometime ridiculous to the point that even the same page is pasted in multiple places to describe the same event multiple times leaving the reader turning the pages to make sure he is not reading the same chapter again) and sometimes just way too much self-promotion. The fact that it is gripping doesn't mean that it is flawless. In fact it has a few major flaws and contradictions. What I find quite amusing is that Mr. Musharraf contradicts himself in so many places without ever noticing it. In the chapter on Kargil conflict, for example, most of the evidence he lays out in painstaking detail actually implicates Pakistan as the instigator. But he being totally oblivious to that, keeps on browbeating about how brave his soldiers were and how India had forced them unwittingly into the conflict. In places, he criticizes somebody for doing something in one chapter and two chapters later he describes how he did essentially the samething at a later time.
I get a distinct feeling from reading this book that Mr. Musharraf has a deep disregard for bureaucracy, politicians and in general of any form of civilian administration. He hammers home this point at several occassions in the book not the least of which is the way he continuously refers to the 1990's decade as the "dreaded decade of democracy" in Pakistan. There is a general consensus among Pakistani intelligentsia that Zia's 11 years dictatorship caused more long-lasting harm to every institution and indeed the very social fabric of Pakistan than any other government in the history of the country with the excpetion of Yahya Khan's short-lived regime. Yet while Mr. Musharraf spends a lot of ink vilifying each democratically elected prime minister all the way from Mr. Bhutto to the last government of Nawaz Sharif, he is unduly reserved in his criticism of Zia's regime and of Zia-ul-Haq himself. You get a sense of military brotherhood when he talks about Zia and even about Yahya Khan - I find that most disconcerting. Also I find it propagandistic given the simple and undisputable fact that Pakistan for most of its tumultous political history has been under one military rule or another and democracy has never been given sufficient time to flourish in the country.
The numbers Mr. Musharraf quotes to prove how his government has turned around the economy are very impressive. Mr. Musharraf's government is currently in the midst of major economic scandals and some of the statistics he so proudly quotes in his book have been disputed by non-partisan institutions and experts. However, overall you do get a sense and I think quite rightly so that his government is doing a better job than any other government in the last decacde or so in Pakistan especially when it comes to economy and freedom of the press. He also discusses at length his plans to strengthen democratic institutions in Pakistan and to provide women means to prosper politically, socially and economically in a male-dominated Pakistani society. Whether he is sincere in his plans or not, he is certainly the first head of government in Pakistan post-Bhutto who at least has identified the true causes of failure of democracy in Pakistan and has a pragmatic plan of action to correct those failures. I get the feeling that some of his ideas in this regard have been inspired by Farid Zakaria's writings on democrarcy and freedom. In any case, his plans seem practical and I hope he remains sincere to his words and actually succeeds in implementing them hopefully by taking a more inclusive approach.
I especially enjoyed reading Mr. Musharraf's views on the so-called clash of civilizations. His thoughts though not original are insightful and expressed in a logical fashion. He goes on to present his personal ideas on how to resolve the Israeli-Palestine problem. He does the same for the Kashmir conflict. In both cases, I was struck by the pragmatic nature of his ideas. It would have been more comfortable for him to take extreme positions on both of these issues. Such extreme rhetoric would have resonated well with the majority of Muslim masses all over the world. Instead by his candor and logical stance, he shows that he is indeed sincere about resolving these issues and is actually pursuing a viable plan of action. Like most Pakistanis, I have no illusions that Mr. Musharraf would be able to resolve any of the two issues. I do think, however, that he might be able to institute a new way of thinking and perhaps even a process in place that might help resolve these issues several years down the road.
The secular intelligentsia in Pakistan may be divided into three broad groups as far as their views on Musharraf's regime are cocerned. First is group of intellectuals who will oppose his regime regardless of whatever it does. This is the group of individuals who believe that democracy is not just a means but an end in itself and thus a dictatorship benign or otherwise must cease to exist. They have some very valid points and most of their views cannot be discounted. The other extreme is the group that believes that democrarcy is a foreign idea and can never flourish in the socio-cultural environment in Pakistan. This group has some valid points too though theirs are based more on how democratic regimes have fared so far in Pakistan. As such at times they sound too short-sighted. There is fortunately a steadily growing third group of intellectuals in Pakistan who are willing to give Musharraf's regime a chance. This is largely a breakaway from the first group. This is the group of individuals who were very skeptical of Musharraf's regime early on but were refreshingly surprised to see that his regime is not marred by the same ills that had characterized prior military governments. For example, his is the first dictatorship in Pakistan's history that has not only tolerated but actively encouraged freedom of speech and expression. Even Pakistan's democratically elected governments have a shameful record in this regard. Mr. Bhutto, for example, was known to use sometimes brutal and humiliating means to quiesce leaders of the media, Mr. Sharif's government would stop all government advertisements (a major source of a newspaper revenue) for those newspapers that openly criticized his regime. Both had a tight control on television and radio and never allowed any difference of opinion to surface there. No point discussing the prior military regimes as they were just outright savage when it came to even a slight difference of opinion. Similarly, Mr. Musharraf is doing a lot more for the rights of women and minorities in Pakistan than the prior regimes. In this and many other regards, Musharraf's is a more democratic regime than Pakistan has seen in its history i.e. if you subscribe to the point of view that the foremost objective of democracy is to provide social, political and economic justice to the people regardless of their race, gender or ethnic background. Mr. Musharraf's record is mixed when it comes to ethnic minorities, the Bughti crisis being the case in point. However, in my opinion the jury is still out on this one. Mr. Musharraf's regime just like his book is not perfect, in fact it's full of flaws but at least there seems to be a genuine attempt to correct the damage done by the successive regimes before him. Nevertheless, this group is running out of patience. Everytime Mr. Musharraf twists the constitution to suit his needs, he loses support among the people in the third group and that support is vital to his government's survival. Pakistanis have a lot to be pessimistic about, what the poeple need is an optimistic piture of the future and tangible progress towards it. This optimistic future doesn't just have justice and economic prosperity but also provides the Pakistanis the ability to elect their own representatives including the head of the state. Mr. Musharraf needs to do a lot more in this regard and he needs to do it fast as many of his supporters are turning back into cynics.
The book is written mainly for international readers and mystery and suspense fans of all backgrounds and I think both groups will enjoy it immensely. The main objective of the book seems to be three-folds - (a) promote Mr. Musharraf as the great secular leader of the Muslim world essentially the 21st century Attaturk and prove that he is the best thing that could happen to not only Pakistan but to the world at large (b) improve Pakistan's image in the eyes of the international public and prove that Pakistan is doing its very best in fighting terrorism and last but not least to emphatically counter the views that India's lobby routinely spreads against the country. I think Mr. Musharraf succeeds in achieving these objectives with varying degrees of success.