Book review--Tinderbox / the past and the future of Pakistan ( written by myself )

View previous topic View next topic Go down

Book review--Tinderbox / the past and the future of Pakistan ( written by myself )

Post by ashdoc on Mon Aug 01, 2011 5:42 am

This book , by veteran journalist and editor of India today magazine M. J. Akbar was launched recently . I being and avid reader of anything concerning Islam and especially Pakistan ( know your enemy , as Sun Tzu warned ) , instantly grabbed it .

Opening the book , I realised that what M. J. Akbar meant by past was not just the history of Pakistan itself , but its historical roots--right from the invasions of Mahmud of Ghazni on Somnath to muslims' experience under British rule to the poet Iqbal to finally Muhammad Ali Jinnah ....

About the era of medieval muslim rule over the subcontinent , Akbar parrots the typically secular line --that hindus fared reasonably well under it.....but since he is a muslim , he cannot be expected to say anything else.

Regarding muslim experience under British rule , Akbar clearly brings out the insecurities of the muslims , especially the landed elite , about suddenly losing their privileged position as rulers of the country during mughal times and realising for the first time that they were a minority who now had to compete economically against the hindus whom they had formerly treated with contempt , and their dismay at the fact that the idolaters were actually winning the economic race !! It was this fact , which according to Maulana Abul Kalam Azad ( says Akbar ) spurred the muslim elites of north India , especially UP , to ask for Pakistan --the fact that muslims did not have the acumen to economically compete against the hindus .....and wanted a nation which had eliminated such competition .

However , regarding the rift that began between hindus and muslims during the struggle for independence ,Akbar subtly suggests that hindus were more responsible for it than muslims . He creates a picture wherein the congress , under the influence of hindu fundamentalists , refused to share power with the muslims , which led to the muslims distancing themselves away from the hindus . On the other hand , the word ' muslim fundamentalism ' does not come on his lips even once--as if it didnt exist......

On the other hand , clearly establishes that Sir Sayyad Ahmad Khan ( who established Aligarh muslim university ), a great champion of hindu-muslim unity according to historians of the communist variety , was actually the first person to ask the muslims to distance themselves from the hindus .

About Jinnah , Akbar is sympathetic to his aspirations to become leader of the Indian independence movement , which were suddenly thwarted by the appearance of Gandhi on the national scene . But he neglects to mention that it was this thwarted ambition which led Jinnah to demand Pakistan , to achieve a great historical role for himself , something denied to him by Gandhi's appearance .

Akbar rightly blames Gandhi for earning the muslims' mistrust by suddenly stopping the Khilafat movement without consulting them , thus giving up the last chance for achieving hindu-muslim unity .

It is while writing the history of Pakistan after it was actually formed that Akbar excels , to the extent that one is left asking for more--one wonders why it was relatively short . He shows , that despite the hopes of leaders like Jinnah to have a secular state , fundamentaliam was built within Pak's DNA --since Pak was formed on the basis of hate , only hate could sustain it and help it achieve a degree of unity , and successive leaders had to play the hate India card to help them survive politically .

How the wily Zia-ul-haq diverted the funds given by America for liberating Afghanistan from Soviet control to raise jihadis for attacking Kashmir is well brought out . But Akbar says that Zia's ambition was much more--to establish Pakistan as the headquarters of islamism from which islamic movements would radiate out to the other muslim countries , and the hub from which trained jehadis would be sent to spread radical islam throughout the world . Thus he envisioned a grand historical role for Pakistan and himself.....

About the future of Pakistan , Akbar talks precious little , inspite of the title of the book . He does make one prediction however--that instead of either imploding or stabilising , Pak would continue remain a toxic ' jelly state '.He says that predictions about Pak's imminent collapse are much too premature , thus belieing the title of the book again --after all a ' tinderbox ' is bound to explode into flames at some point , isnt it......

Verdict--its still a formidable read.....


Posts : 2007
Join date : 2011-05-04

View user profile

Back to top Go down

View previous topic View next topic Back to top

- Similar topics

Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum