on 18 May 2012
Against the backdrop of the 'War on Terror' this masterful analysis is firmly rooted in a long standing engagement with, and understanding of the microcosm that is Pakistan. Moving away from a journalistic to a scholarly analysis 'The Pakistan-US Conundrum' moves the debate from a profound understanding of the tensions in Pakistan's relationship with the US to proposing lasting solutions for regional stability that favour democratic consolidation and an institutionalised two tiered approach to peace negotiations with India.
Professor Samad argues that the discourse of the 'War on Terror' has encouraged a monochromatic world view that sees the world in simple terms of 'them and us' by the United States. Samad analyses competing definitions of terms such as 'terrorism' and 'jihad' and shows how competing definitions have been employed to serve the ends of those using them. Professor Samad comes into his own as a social historiographer in section two of the book 'The Revenge of History' which sheds light on the relationship between the secular and religious elites and a general turn to Islamisation in Pakistan.
Professor Samad demonstrates through historical analysis that any solution to create and maintain stability must involve the people of Pakistan through the strengthening of democratic institutions. The people of Pakistan are by no means a homogenous group and the book has a running thread of examining the differences and similarities between the rival, and in some cases allied, ethnic groups. Other determinants of a stronger Pakistan would include a decentralised Afghan state with the dominant Pukhtun group at its core and an institutionalised peace process with India.
Although times change fast in the world of Pakistan politics, this book will remain highly relevant to anybody who wants to get an understanding of how Pakistan got to where we it is today in it's policy positions both at home and abroad. The book is of special relevance to scholars who wants to understand exactly what influences affect the behaviour of Pakistani politicians and agencies of state at the regional, national and international levels.
on 7 June 2012
Many have recently written about the crisis of Pakistan, or the problem of US-Pakistan relationship, but these works mostly offer a limited, security-centric perspective. On the contrary, Yunas Samad, an academic, adopts a holistic, inter-disciplinary approach to analyse the various intricate aspects of this paradoxical relationship. The book helps us understand the factors behind the recent breakdown of US-Pakistan ties. Some of them are internal to Pakistan, including the existence of a Mullah-military alliance, the Army's domination of politics and foreign policy, and the consequent prevalence of security paradigm in Pakistan's India and Afghan policies. The book also adopts a problem-solving approach, arguing for a long-term US engagement with Pakistan that should aim to lift its people out of acute economic stagnation caused by galloping defence spending and neo-liberal capitalism. Peace with India is identified as another important precondition for civilianisation and democratisation of Pakistan. The author does distract from the main subject in some parts of the book, but these distractions do not in any way limit the academic value of his exceptional work.