THE PAKISTAN US CONUNDRUM: JIHADISTS THE MILITARY AND THE PEOPLE THE STRUGGLE FOR CONTROL By Yunas Samad

Review

 

This book is an important contribution for its theoretical and contextual discussion of a country that remains poorly understood by social scientists. It explores issues of central importance to the study of Pakistan, including—especially—in-depth discussions of the rise of Jihadi Islam; the impact of the Afghan war on politics, religion, and society; the role of emergent forms of ethnic identity in moments of violent conflict in present-day Pakistan; and the nature of violence in the country more generally.

(Magnus Marsden, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, author of Living Islam: Muslim Religious Experience in Pakistan’s North-West Frontier )

Yunas Samad’s study challenges much received wisdom. It takes us through a thicket of complexities and ambiguities with clarity, insight, and more than a few surprises. We encounter American misperceptions and counterproductive actions, along with an illuminating assessment of the Taliban and al-Qaeda, well rooted in the daunting complications of Afghanistan and Pakistan’s border regions before and after 9/11. The analysis of Pakistan is especially rich, covering politics and fraught relations with the United States, under military and elected governments; the army’s crucial importance; the economy; the role of religion, ethnicity and regionalism; relations with India; and the problem of Kashmir. Timely and careful, this analysis is impossible to ignore.

(James Manor, School of Advanced Study, University of London )

Yunas Samad’s careful exploration of the relationship between Pakistan and the United States exposes the inconsistencies and wishful thinking that lie behind the strategies of the West in central and South Asia. It reveals the roots of jihadism and explains, precisely, why it has proved so difficult to contain.

(David Washbrook, Trinity College, Cambridge )

An important book that needs to be read for its deep understanding of Pakistan’s history and its analytical brilliance on the country’s contemporary social and political situation. It challenges the internationally sponsored security-driven agenda for the region and provokes us to think seriously about Pakistan and its people with empathy and in solidarity. In doing so, this study shows a way out of the current quagmire by encouraging the deepening of democracy and initiating meaningful social and economic reforms that benefit the people of Pakistan.

(Kamran Asdar Ali, South Asia Institute, University of Texas, Austin )

 

About the Author

 

Yunas Samad is professor of South Asian studies at the University of Bradford, England. He is the author of A Nation in Turmoil: Nationalism and Ethnicity in Pakistan, 1937–1958 and coauthor, with Gyan Pandey, of Fault Lines of Nationhood: Cross Border Talks.

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