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Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military

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Among U.S. allies in the war against terrorism, Pakistan cannot be easily characterized as either friend or foe. Nuclear-armed Pakistan is an important center of radical Islamic ideas and groups. Since 9/11, the selective cooperation of president General Pervez Musharraf in sharing intelligence with the United States and apprehending al Qaeda members has led to the Among U.S. allies in the war against terrorism, Pakistan cannot be easily characterized as either friend or foe. Nuclear-armed Pakistan is an important center of radical Islamic ideas and groups. Since 9/11, the selective cooperation of president General Pervez Musharraf in sharing intelligence with the United States and apprehending al Qaeda members has led to the assumption that Pakistan might be ready to give up its longstanding ties with radical Islam. But Pakistan's status as an Islamic ideological state is closely linked with the Pakistani elites' worldview and the praetorian ambitions of its military. This book analyzes the origins of the relationships between Islamist groups and Pakistan's military, and explores the nation's quest for identity and security. Tracing how the military has sought U.S. support by making itself useful for concerns of the moment – while continuing to strengthen the mosque-military alliance within Pakistan – Haqqani offers an alternative view of political developments since the country's independence in 1947.


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Among U.S. allies in the war against terrorism, Pakistan cannot be easily characterized as either friend or foe. Nuclear-armed Pakistan is an important center of radical Islamic ideas and groups. Since 9/11, the selective cooperation of president General Pervez Musharraf in sharing intelligence with the United States and apprehending al Qaeda members has led to the Among U.S. allies in the war against terrorism, Pakistan cannot be easily characterized as either friend or foe. Nuclear-armed Pakistan is an important center of radical Islamic ideas and groups. Since 9/11, the selective cooperation of president General Pervez Musharraf in sharing intelligence with the United States and apprehending al Qaeda members has led to the assumption that Pakistan might be ready to give up its longstanding ties with radical Islam. But Pakistan's status as an Islamic ideological state is closely linked with the Pakistani elites' worldview and the praetorian ambitions of its military. This book analyzes the origins of the relationships between Islamist groups and Pakistan's military, and explores the nation's quest for identity and security. Tracing how the military has sought U.S. support by making itself useful for concerns of the moment – while continuing to strengthen the mosque-military alliance within Pakistan – Haqqani offers an alternative view of political developments since the country's independence in 1947.

30 review for Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military

  1. 4 out of 5

    ahmad afridi

    A timely read, given the recently upheld of capital by a religious mob. It helped me understands these recent events as well as a decade back the affairs with Taliban. people tracing back roots of religious fundamentalism often stop at Zia ul Haq's efforts for Islamization of state. They term it as starting point of support of fundamentalists and inflow of drugs and weapons to Pakistan which in later years proved to be lethal for Pakistan. Here Mr. Haqqani went beyond that and argued that this A timely read, given the recently upheld of capital by a religious mob. It helped me understands these recent events as well as a decade back the affairs with Taliban. people tracing back roots of religious fundamentalism often stop at Zia ul Haq's efforts for Islamization of state. They term it as starting point of support of fundamentalists and inflow of drugs and weapons to Pakistan which in later years proved to be lethal for Pakistan. Here Mr. Haqqani went beyond that and argued that this Mullah-Military romance started from the very beginning soon after independence, attributing this to the policy of Muslim league to play religion card and giving a vague picture of the new state. The role of US all along is disappointing .and more shameful is the role of prominent political leaders like ZA Bhutto for simply carrying out the agenda of mullah-military complex This book personally made me nihilistic about Pakistani politics. And my belief ,that democratic government can change the policies which have deeply harmed us , is badly shattered. A well written insightful book . Will recommend to anyone interested in understanding relations between mosque and military

  2. 5 out of 5

    Omama.

    Basically, the book sheds lights on the mainstream political history of Pakistan with a unique emphasis on relationship between Mosque and Military - Generals and Mulahs; Pakistani power groups and their interactions with each other. The book is very well researched, with several interesting insights and facts I didn't know about before i.e. the ISI's active interest in Afghanistan which began in 1973, 6 years before the USSR's invasion, Benazir's foreign policy during her first tenure, being Basically, the book sheds lights on the mainstream political history of Pakistan with a unique emphasis on relationship between Mosque and Military - Generals and Mulahs; Pakistani power groups and their interactions with each other. The book is very well researched, with several interesting insights and facts I didn't know about before i.e. the ISI's active interest in Afghanistan which began in 1973, 6 years before the USSR's invasion, Benazir's foreign policy during her first tenure, being largely curtailed by the army, it were the army generals that encouraged militant groups to operate as an instrument of Pakistan's foreign policy. The author is correct in saying that the military, with it's record of ruling Pakistan for more than half of its history, is the main problem. In the democratic phase between 1988 and 1999, the military generals continued to indirectly rule Pakistan, as the Afghan policy, Kashmir policy and the Nuclear program were strictly under the preview of the army. The negative point of the book is, at times, it feels like a boring chronology book, specially towards the end chapters. The insights are interesting, but the plot is poorly structured.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Manish Jaitly

    A very well written book. It is actually a must read for anyone trying to understand the nuances and forces at play within Pakistan. The author has taken lot of pains to research and explain the events which have made the country a hotbed of Jehadism today. It also explains how difficult it is for Pak to now turn its course, and possibly its destiny as well. All major flashpoints since creation of Pak have been described lucidly. The fact that the author was an ambassador of Pakistan to US lends A very well written book. It is actually a must read for anyone trying to understand the nuances and forces at play within Pakistan. The author has taken lot of pains to research and explain the events which have made the country a hotbed of Jehadism today. It also explains how difficult it is for Pak to now turn its course, and possibly its destiny as well. All major flashpoints since creation of Pak have been described lucidly. The fact that the author was an ambassador of Pakistan to US lends a lot of credibility to the arguments made in the book. The author says that Pakistan stands on a tripod of Islam, hatred for India and foreign help. As is obvious, these three things are insufficient for any nation prosper. This has been the situation in the country ever since its creation in 1947, which effectively implies that the country hasn't matured at all in the last seventy odd years and has been moving from one crisis to another, most of them having been created by its own govt and military. All these crisis have been discussed quite clearly and simply in the book. Just one small observation that the issue of Balochistan should've been discussed a little more than it has been to give us a clearer picture of the problems existing in the region.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ambar

    The former Pakistani ambassador to the United States (08-11), Haqqani makes a convincing case confirming some of the fears of the US, and convictions of the Indians over, at least, the last couple of decades. That Pakistani political affairs are dominated entirely by its military, which rules on what Haqqani calls a tripod of policy aims: 1) Pan-islamism and islamization as a means of justifying the existence of Pakistan and seeking leverage in the Muslim world. 2) Anti-India aggression as a means The former Pakistani ambassador to the United States (08-11), Haqqani makes a convincing case confirming some of the fears of the US, and convictions of the Indians over, at least, the last couple of decades. That Pakistani political affairs are dominated entirely by its military, which rules on what Haqqani calls a tripod of policy aims: 1) Pan-islamism and islamization as a means of justifying the existence of Pakistan and seeking leverage in the Muslim world. 2) Anti-India aggression as a means of mobilizing the population and supporting the constant threat narrative of Pakistan which allows continued military domination of the country. 3) Economic and military development sought through foreign aid, primarily that of the US, by using them as an ally of convenience and hoodwinking support while often acting diametrically opposite to US interest. Husain Haqqani goes beyond the usual analysis that starts with Zia's regime and the Afghan war and makes the convincing claim that the policy tripod has existed ever since the '47 partition and the military-mosque alliance (created by the Military by overtly and covertly supporting, initially the Jamaat e Islam and later a wide host of Islamist groups) has helped give the military an appearance of guardianship of Islam and a veneer of legitimacy (despite the lack of popular support for the hardline Islamist parties, which have never even come close to achieving legislative majority despite massive military support). Haqqani concludes that Pakistan's future lies in its shift of direction from ideological to functional state, successful parliamentary democracy and abandonment of the policy tripod of seeking military confrontation with India, aid from the US, and political progress through Islam. Haqqani, a PPP appointee, appears to have a pro-Benazir bias (never overt) but one that he does not twist facts to support and indeed one that is quite justifiable. His extensive indictment of the ISI does, however, occasionally (quite rarely, though, to be fair) descend into what can only be described as convincing conspiracy theory. All in all, an excellent analysis. Highly recommended.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bushra

    A good roudup of the role of Pakistan's military in shaping up Pakistan's politics,ideology and even it's problem. The book is somewhat surprising when it links Pakistan military's support for militant groups/Jihadists (in Afghanistan, for instance) to a recurreing pattern that has been used by them since the inception of Pakistan. The book is slightly biased towards a pro-PPP stance, but even then is an interesting read and makes many end smeet.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ruhul Arif Amit

    The author does a great job of explaining Pakistani military's stranglehold on the country and the motivations behind it. I am particularly impressed with his ability to explain the subtlety and the nuances of the forces that run Pakistan. Recommended.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    Very timely read given the Afghanistan/Pakistan focus of the U.S. Reading this book helped me to understand the military/intelligence foundation of the country of Pakistan and how those facets have always run the country and probably will so for the foreseeable future. I also did not realize that the founder of Pakistan never envisioned for Pakistan to be an Islamic state but the push for the creation of the country was rather a ethnic argument against remaining a part of India. But once the Very timely read given the Afghanistan/Pakistan focus of the U.S. Reading this book helped me to understand the military/intelligence foundation of the country of Pakistan and how those facets have always run the country and probably will so for the foreseeable future. I also did not realize that the founder of Pakistan never envisioned for Pakistan to be an Islamic state but the push for the creation of the country was rather a ethnic argument against remaining a part of India. But once the religious zealots got involved the entire evolution of Pakistan was to be forever skewed from it's original intent. This book also goes into detail on the vital significance that U.S. support has played in creating and maintaining Pakistan. The book gets dry at times, much like a textbook, but overall it truly helped me to better understand the varying ideologies and arguments that have reverberated in Pakistan from its birth to the present.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Malik Siraj Akbar

    The book points out at some important points. First, anti-Americanism in Pakistan is not a post-9/11 phenomenon. US missions have been attacked in Pakistan even before the Afghan war.So, it is absurd to link anti-Americanism to drone strikes. Second, General Zia-ul-Haq did not bring Islamization in Pakistan. He only used it as a card to gain the recognition and acceptance of the anti-Bhutto Pakistan National Alliance (PNA). Actually, PNA wanted Islamization and Zia gave it to them. Third, Ayub, The book points out at some important points. First, anti-Americanism in Pakistan is not a post-9/11 phenomenon. US missions have been attacked in Pakistan even before the Afghan war.So, it is absurd to link anti-Americanism to drone strikes. Second, General Zia-ul-Haq did not bring Islamization in Pakistan. He only used it as a card to gain the recognition and acceptance of the anti-Bhutto Pakistan National Alliance (PNA). Actually, PNA wanted Islamization and Zia gave it to them. Third, Ayub, Zia, Musharraf have all been anti-India. Pakistan's insecurity (because of India) has not diminished even after its acquisition of nukes. Fourth, the United States has not been sufficiently hard on Pakistan over its support for Kashmiri jihadist groups. It also did not object much to Pakistan's nuclear program due to its own limitations during the anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Alphaa Juliet

    one must understand, Americans will leave afghanistan, as they left it torn apart and in a mess for the neighbours to handle after USSR war 1979. What option does Pakistan have to keep the border safe ? At the same time CIA was posed hero once they fought alongside Taliban and are posed hero when they fought against Taliban. This book is a Typical example of Paid Propoganda stories have been molded and given the name of facts.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jason Marz

    Haqqani's insightful treatment of the military mullah alliance in Pakistan based on years of experience and research. Skillfully exposes the shallow Islamist foundations of Pakistan's foreign policy and domestic politics. and show how the military establishment has used militancy to promote its own interests at the expense of the country's democratic institutions.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Shafqat Mirbahar

    Very unique experience of reading book of such a person. Expected crap but impressed by the way things are explained in a totally new way which we don't find in other books. Worth reading. And to sum it up i would say "Bitter but true".

  12. 5 out of 5

    Shoaib

    Pakistans paradoxical nexus between the Military and the Islamic Fundamentalists and country establishments allegiance with the western countries including USA is very confounding for an outside observer. Former diplomat and journalist Hussain Haqqani carefully analyses the key policies the promotion of religious nationalism, hostility towards neighboring India and an attempt to secure the US support have shaped both the domestic and foreign policies of the country since inception. This book Pakistan’s paradoxical nexus between the Military and the Islamic Fundamentalists and country establishment’s allegiance with the western countries including USA is very confounding for an outside observer. Former diplomat and journalist Hussain Haqqani carefully analyses the key policies – the promotion of religious nationalism, hostility towards neighboring India and an attempt to secure the US support have shaped both the domestic and foreign policies of the country since inception. This book delivers a clear understanding of the nuances and forces at play within Pakistan and how the Military rules the country, directly and indirectly, since we gained the independence from the British. The author argues that it is not the common citizens of the country who drive the state ideology of the country but the Military’s desire to dominate the political system and to dictate the national security priorities. This book helps to clear the misconception that country was secular and pro-western in its outlook and after General Zia came into the power that Pakistan started drifting towards the Islamic ideological state. The author provides considerable evidences that Islam emerged as a decisive factor even before partition of the Subcontinent. The per-partition election campaign waged by Jinnah’s Muslim League in 1945-1946 was based almost entirely on Islamic rhetoric. In the course of it, the push to establish Pakistan became transformed, in its final stages, into a largely religious movement. The author asserts that in the foreseeable future, Islam will remain a significant factor in Pakistan’s politics. High ranks of the military will continue to seek U.S. economic and military assistance and dominating the political scene of the country. The Author concludes that Pakistan was created in a hurry and without giving detailed thought to various aspects of nation and state building and has been locked in a dysfunctional dynamic since its founding and time has come that Pakistan’s political and military elite to rectify the mistakes by taking a long-term view.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Cliff

    This is one of those, "I'm shocked it was ever written," books. Ambassador Haqqani is perhaps the highest ranking official who is, in many ways, a "defector" of sorts, openly exposing the internal politics of his home country that many would rather not have exposed. What's even more amazing was he became an even higher-ranking Ambassador (to the US) AFTER writing it. Of course, he now is in de-facto exile. His story of course is in part what he's discussing. His thesis, which I think he This is one of those, "I'm shocked it was ever written," books. Ambassador Haqqani is perhaps the highest ranking official who is, in many ways, a "defector" of sorts, openly exposing the internal politics of his home country that many would rather not have exposed. What's even more amazing was he became an even higher-ranking Ambassador (to the US) AFTER writing it. Of course, he now is in de-facto exile. His story of course is in part what he's discussing. His thesis, which I think he demonstrates extremely convincingly, is that Pakistan was never able to complete it's transition to a secular democracy, like it's founder Muhammad Ali-Jinnah wanted, and how seemingly different factions, namely theocratic Islamist groups and the military, have used each other to keep true Democrats from having too much power, particularly for very long. This is in large part because of the nature of partition left Pakistan with little but Islam as an identity, which in turn played into the hands of radicals, since authoritative democrats like Ali-Jinnah never were there to guide it elsewhere and the Military, for many complicated factors (which he documents extensively) gained and continued to gain influence over the years and decades. But since Pakistan remains (ostensibly) a democracy in its own eyes and the eyes of the world, from time to time, Democrats gain power, leading to people like Haqqani having power for a while, but all-too-often not being able to stick around long. In any event, this is a very important book about a very important region of the world. One can only hope the vice Haqqani discusses is shattered over time. In the meantime, we have a great people who, unfortunately, will never live up to their true potential.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sukanta Hazra

    This book should be made compulsory reading in India lest between Bollywood movies and iPhones we (Indians) forget that there is a country to our west whose military and Jihadi forces continue to work on the project of the conquest and conversion of "Hindustan" and willing to risk it all, the destruction of economy, people, terrorism, and a 1000 year war to achieve that purpose. Written by an insider, Pakistan ambassador to US, it gives detailed view of the mindset of the Pakistani security This book should be made compulsory reading in India lest between Bollywood movies and iPhones we (Indians) forget that there is a country to our west whose military and Jihadi forces continue to work on the project of the conquest and conversion of "Hindustan" and willing to risk it all, the destruction of economy, people, terrorism, and a 1000 year war to achieve that purpose. Written by an insider, Pakistan ambassador to US, it gives detailed view of the mindset of the Pakistani security establishment from the days of creation of Pakistan following the agenda of Pan-Islamism and the subjugation of what is viewed as "Hindu" India. In this quest they are steadfast and have used every resource available, deceiving the superpowers, setting up factories of terrorism, and ruining their own economy, destroying the fabric of Pakistan society, inviting global condemnation and wrath, everything. While the world today bears the scars of this enterprise, the primary focus was and remains India. Chilling account, well researched and documented with excruciating details of the last 70 odd years. Depressing and eye opening at the same time giving ample warning that this will continue for years to come and we have no choice but to resist this destructive force with everything we have at our collective disposal.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Adnan Arshad

    Its a good book about political history of Pakistan. Major eras of civilian & military rule have been divided into different chapters. It focuses on two major elements namely Islamization of Pakistan & relation with USA. It has been rightly pointed out that Islam is unifying force in Pakistan but now we need to move on let the system evolve freely. It explores the vested interests of Pakistani army in governance of country and why civilian leaders/politicians are not allowed to pursue It’s a good book about political history of Pakistan. Major eras of civilian & military rule have been divided into different chapters. It focuses on two major elements namely Islamization of Pakistan & relation with USA. It has been rightly pointed out that Islam is unifying force in Pakistan but now we need to move on let the system evolve freely. It explores the vested interests of Pakistani army in governance of country and why civilian leaders/politicians are not allowed to pursue independent foreign policy. Last chapters have special emphasis on Kashmir and Pakistani leaders continuous infatuation to conquer Kashmir.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rohit Raj

    A Brilliant Book !!! Anyone who wants to learn about the behaviour & nature of Pakistan needs to read this book. Hussain Haqqani has written a masterpiece on the past, present and future of Pakistan. Very rarely we stumble around a non fiction book which is written in a such an easy and interesting manner. A comprehensive book which carries details about all the events related to Pakistan. A must read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Riaz Ujjan

    Fascinating book on role played by Pakistan's military for shaping policies behind the scene and openly, quoting scores of books.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kabir Pandit

    Superb! Insightful & very well researched. It should be inducted into the history curriculum for South Asian studies and a must read for those interested in the modern history of the sub continent.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Abdul

    I feel that this book should be read by anyone seeking to learn the political history of Pakistan. Over the years, ive had to come back again and again tp this text for various reasons. I feel that this book should be read by anyone seeking to learn the political history of Pakistan. Over the years, i’ve had to come back again and again tp this text for various reasons.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Vipin Singh

    Clear insight into the military-religion cocktail pakistan is high on. A good read to understand the self defeating actions of pak.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Siddhant Dangi

    Great read to get the Pakistani perspective on the freedom movement and the current differences between India and Pakistan.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Awais Qarni rajput

    One the best book to understand the military power using in Pakistan and how Islamic government is governing.

  23. 5 out of 5

    A Man Called Ove

    This book details d history of Military and Religious interference in civilian administration (when civilians were in power i.e. :) and also d reciprocal love between d former 2. The 2-faced regimes which play victims of terrorism to USA/West and victimise India and its neighbours, the civilian efforts of lasting peace thwarted by d military/Intelligence, the inability of d mainstream PPP and PML to come together for strong democratic institutions; it gets repetitive. Also, it deals mostly with This book details d history of Military and Religious interference in civilian administration (when civilians were in power i.e. :) and also d reciprocal love between d former 2. The 2-faced regimes which play victims of terrorism to USA/West and victimise India and its neighbours, the civilian efforts of lasting peace thwarted by d military/Intelligence, the inability of d mainstream PPP and PML to come together for strong democratic institutions; it gets repetitive. Also, it deals mostly with pre 9/11 era, neglects impact of religious/political ideology itself and the writing style is a bit dry, so find difficult to rate this acclaimed book higher.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Navdeep Pundhir

    Think before you speak, read before you speak. This rightly sums up what our approach towards our western neighbour should be. We have formed strong uninformed opinions about it for ever since its inception and itis high time we read, think and then speak. Mr Haqqani's work is an impressive account of a nation's quest to define its nationhood whil grappling with war, within and without. This should be a mandatory read for all Indians who claim to understand Pakistan!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Masen Production

    SIMPLY AWESOME Many things falls into place, being an Indian its important to understand the Pakistani Psyche. This is a well written book & surely will qualify as a textbook someday. I wish it had an extended version giving insights to the present day scenario. I am sure there will be an updated sequel of the following 15 years, I can safely vouch many like me would be looking forward for it too.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Vikas Datta

    A must-read for anyone who wants to understand the country's political evolution - and travails. The revised and updated edition brings up the story to 2015 but in any case, Mr Haqqani's treatment in thorough and incisive...

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ather Sheheryar

    "Out of box approach" towards militancy. I found it quite logical. absence of official documents seems to suggest as if state is not ready for reviews.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Krishnan

    Very informative however there is a lot of repetition of the subject which gets boring after sometime and it never improves even till the end. I managed to read 7 chapters of the book...

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ankur

    This book should be read in conjunction with Decent into Chaos by Ahmad Rashid to get a deeper perspective on the Af-Pak and other issues related to the sub-continent.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Joley

    Great book, if you are nerdy & want to read about Pakistan.

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