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Struggle with Militant Islam

books Updated: May 21, 2012 15:14 IST

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Author: Zahid Hussain
Publisher: Penguin Books India
Imprint: Viking
ISBN: 067008123X
Format: Hardback
Price: Rs 395

Pakistan has been home to the world’s most dangerous terrorists. Osama Bin Laden himself is believed to be hiding close to its border. After 9/11, Pakistan’s leader, a former army radical, General Pervez Musharraf, took an astonishing about-turn, and pledged his support for America’s ‘War on Terror’.

But as veteran Pakistani journalist Zahid Hussain reveals in this compelling book, Musharraf’s new position is not as straightforward as it seems.

Hussain describes for the first time in detail the incestuous relationship between Pakistan’s jihadis and its all-powerful military intelligence agency—the ISI.

In the 1980s, the ISI exploited the fanaticism of jihadi warriors to fight Pakistan’s proxy wars for it in Afghanistan, and later in Kashmir. In pursuing this strategy, the military acted as midwife to the birth of a murderous jihadi culture which went on to consume it.

Based on exclusive interviews with key players, Hussain reveals how Musharraf took the momentous decision to support America’s war against the Taliban, whom Pakistani intelligence had helped to power in the first place.

He also describes with devastating detail the blowback unleashed by the jihadis when their former allies turned on them. Musharraf, Hussain demonstrates, is living on borrowed time.

<b1>Hussain uses his unique access to penetrate the jihadi networks, and to probe their operations, sources of funding, and relationships with trans-national groups like Al Qaeda.

He traverses the treacherous mountain passes of Waziristan, the officers’ mess tables in Rawalpindi and the sectarian madrassas of the Punjab to explore what challenges Musharraf faces, and investigate whether he has the power (or political will) to prevail.

With a resurgent Taliban inviting US airstrikes on Pakistan’s Afghan border, the impossible contradictions of Musharraf’s position have intensified.

The outcome of Pakistan’s struggle with radical Islam will have grave implications not only for the ideological climate of the Middle East, but for the security of the world. Frontline Pakistan shows for the first time how the most crucial battle of the ‘War on Terror’ is being fought, and who is winning.