Understanding The Pashtuns

Pak-Afghan corridor is one of the most restive places of our globe. More so the tribal areas of Pakistan and the adjoining areas across the Durrand line in Afghanistan. This region has come to limelight since late 1970''s when Afghanistan was invaded by former USSR.

Name of the book: THE PASHTUNS—The unresolved key to the future of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Author: Abubakar Siddique

Publisher: Random House India

Pak-Afghan corridor is one of the most restive places of our globe. More so the tribal areas of Pakistan and the adjoining areas across the Durrand line in Afghanistan. This region has come to limelight since late 1970's when Afghanistan was invaded by former USSR.

And ever since then, this region has been engulfed by fighting and instability.

One tribe which during past thirty five years has caught the limelight is Pashtuns. For critics this tribe has become the den of "terrorists", while as for its sympathizers this tribe has now become the symbol of resistance. "THE PASHTUNS —The unresolved key to the future of Pakistan and Afghanistan" has been written by Abubakar Siddique with the context of understanding this very tribe.

The author has made an attempt to throw light on the various domains of Pakistani tribal problems and Afghan crisis.

In order to have better understanding of the region inhabited by Pashtuns, Abubakar Siddique delves into the history. He has tried to bring forth the historical background under which this tribe emerged and how Islam came to rule the hearts of this tribe, and how this tribe from hundreds of years has been playing an important role in the making and unmaking of empires.

In this book the author extensively writes about the emergence of Taliban in Afghanistan and tribal areas of Pakistan. He argues that it isn't religion alone which has influenced Taliban (even though acknowledging that it has been a dominant factor), rather tribal traditions have also been playing an important role in their policy making. He has tried to argue that Taliban alone don't represent the political ideology of Pashtuns, as has been mostly propagated. Rather, there has been tussle within Pashtuns on this issue.

Even though a major chunk of talibs belong to this tribe but fact remains that a good number of Pashtuns are adversaries of this movement as well.

Abubakar has extensively tried to explain the three broad streams of militant movements operating in this region –TTP, Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network. Even though there may be some ideological connection between these three streams but fact remains that they are working almost independently of one another and have hardly any coordination with one another.

Besides this the author has also written about the emergence of Marxist thought in Afghanistan and how and why it failed.

The emergence of Salafist thought particularly in Kunar region has also been discussed extensively. Another important fact put forth by the author is that Afghan Taliban continues to be considered as their "strategic asset" by the military establishment of Pakistan. And as per the author, Afghan Taliban know this fact very well and mostly don't try to cross the boundary made by Pakistani military for them. And also that Pakistani military establishment has been playing the Taliban card very well to make itself relevant to the discourse going on in Afghan region.

Belonging to "liberal" class of Pakistan, Abubakar's conclusions many a times show his inherent bias towards religious movements. But then this much of benefit of doubt must be given to the author. After all a man's writings somehow do show his ideological leaning and Abubakar's case is no different.

But overall the author has done a commendable job in trying to understand the region inhabited by this great tribe. A well researched book, it is a must read for those who wish to have better understanding of the Afghanistan and Pakistani tribal areas.

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