Richard Melson

October 2006

Pakistan book

Pakistan: Between Mosque And Military

by Husain Haqqani (Author)

It is an eye opener and troublesome to know what really goes on in the mosques and their connection to terrorism.

This book is both troublesome and worrisome for the reader, but I can think of no better qualified source to write from the perspective of inside of this regime and government.

When I began this book, my knowledge of Pakistan was the sum total of various sound bites, short conversations with Pakistani co-workers and articles I had read. This resulted in a vague and conflicted perception. Such is no longer the case. The time spent reading Haqqani's book has acquainted me well with the personalities, issues, history and indeed the phenomenon which is Pakistan.

This outstanding work provides the kind historical analysis only available from someone who was there to live the history of which he speaks. As an advisor to three of Pakistan's prime ministers, an acquaintance or personal friend of several influential generals, and as Pakistan's ambassador to Sri Lanka, the author writes with authority from first hand knowledge. He provides a close-in view of the personalities, relationships and complicated intrigue behind many of the events which comprise the story which is the history of Pakistan.

Concerning political intrigue: I think it's fair to say that since its inception, Pakistan has taken that phenomenon to a new level. The interplay and opposition between the military (whose aim is always to control the government), the civilian government (who at times dares pursue ends unsanctioned by the former entity) and the islamist extremists (whom the former seeks to manipulate to help them control the latter) results in a pervasive and ongoing tension. The media is correct to speak of Pakistani politics as "shadow games". Indeed, much goes on in the shadows, behind the scenes where none are supposed to see. The military - and intelligence service (the ISI) exercise an amazing ability to manipulate events, perceptions and ultimately the sentiments of the masses in order to further their own agenda. While reading the book, I expected the level of shenanigans to eventually subside into a fairly smooth running government... Although on the surface, Pakistan has had such periods, the background intrigue never ceases.

The author is amazing in the level of detail he is able to provide. His long personal involvement with the players and institutions of which he speaks, as well as his learning, enable him to present a cogent and engaging account of a complicated subject which - in other hands - could easily be cumbersome and a burden to read. Instead, I found my interest never at a wane. The book reads like a good novel - except it's true. Once again my personal perspective is vindicated: why read fiction when so much of human history is "stranger yet"..... ~!! For those who wish to understand the phenomenon which is Pakistan, I heartily recommend this book.

Pakistan: Between Mosque And Military, September 22, 2006

Mr. Haqqani's views about his mother country are very dubious. The only question I have for the author as he served in some very corrupt governments as their partner...What has he done for his home land? Nothing!!! This book in waste of time.

Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military, July 11, 2006

This is quite simply the best book on Pakistan that has ever been written, for it finally pierces the veil of deception which the Pakistani military has succeeded in drawing over the true nature of its long-term strategy. The book documents in great depth and detail that behind its "deny, lie, smile" foreign policy, Pakistan's military has: 1) Fomented and conducted a vicious insurgency in Kashmir; 2) Supported anti-American jihadist Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and the Taliban to first conquer and now destabilize Afghanistan; 3) Nurtured and manipulated Islamist parties to help destabilize and dismiss elected majorities in the Pakistan parliament; and 4)Used these same Islamist factions as a recruiting base for terrorism directed against India and Afghanistan, creating a threat to the West as well.

Author Haqqani doesn't address the issue of how America let Pakistan get the bomb. Let's hope he is working on another book to deal with that US foreign policy fiasco!

Between Mosque and Military should be read by Secretary of State Rice, and the book's findings should lead to a change in our policy toward Pakistan.

This is a well researched book and offers a new perspective on Pakistan's history and politics. Haqqani's main thesis is that the Islamists and the military in Pakistan have always found it beneficial to cooperate with each other. The main reason for this relationships dates back to the creation of Pakistan when the circumstances forced the early leaders of Pakistan to adopt a tripod strategy. The pillars of that strategy were Islam, hatred against India and reliance on American aid. Haqqani argues that this strategy has not changed over time. In conclusion, he asks the American policy makers to stop assisting the military in Pakistan and help Pakistan move from an ideological state run by the mullah-military alliance to a functional one run by the people of Pakistan.

The major weakness of the book lies in its conclusion. It appeals to the American policy makers to do some thing to solve Pakistan's problems. It is the same mistake that Pakistan's military dictators have always made and that the two exiled Pakistani leaders (Mr Nawaz Sharif and Ms Benazir Bhutto) are making now. Rather than appealing to the people of Pakistan to rise up to the occasion and to understand that if Pakistan becomes a democratic, liberal and progressive state they are the ones to directly benefit, Haqqani seeks the solution in the Capitol Hill and the White House.

The problem is that a majority of Pakistanis is still not fully convinced that a truly democratic Pakistan will serve their interests better than the one run by mullah-military alliance. However, it is for this very reason that scholars like Haqqani should come forward and tell the people of Pakistan what is good and what is harmful for them. The scholars should educate ordinary Pakistanis and show them what the propaganda machinery in Pakistan is not letting them see. In the same vein, it will be a good idea to publish an Urdu translation of this book and make it available at a low price in Pakistan so that more Pakistanis can read and benefit from Haqqani's research.

I think Indian intellectuals should read this book... There are some perspectives explained in length that are essential to understanding the Pakistani position...especially the times and events of the Paritition... of how Pakistan came into being - a very insecure and resource-starved young nation. Indians so often fail to appreciate this fact.

Pakistan book

October 2, 2006