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Monday, August 25, 2014

Book Review : ‘The Pashtuns: The Unresolved Key to the future of Pakistan and Afghanistan' by Abubakar Siddique

Having almost next to no knowledge on the Pashtun question, this book attracted me because of its title, ‘The Pashtuns: The Unresolved Key to the future of Pakistan and Afghanistan’. So, I picked it up, hoping to understand something of why it is actually unresolved and probably have a little insight into some of these critical, possibly violent issues.

In this book, Abubakar Siddique starts off with the words, ‘This book is a lifelong quest to understand my people and homeland, and a desire to see lasting peace to finally come to our valleys and mountains'. Siddique is a special correspondent for Radio Free Europe with special focus on Afghanistan and Pakistan. His attempt to understand the people of the region, to know the reasons and the factors in the disorder between Pakistan and Afghanistan forms the crux of this book.

In this attempt, Siddique sets out to establish that the reluctance of both Afghanistan and Pakistan to absorb the Pashtuns into their states, both in the political and economic factors of both their countries. This has probably led to the rise of militancy, as the undercurrent of both these relatively younger nations is probably misunderstood and thereby, misinterpreted. This could be a fault that lies with the elite of the nations.

There has been little done to understand the Pashtuns, he feels. Siddique begins to tell their story, interconnected with Taliban’s history. He does this story telling with substantial details, going into the groups and the leaders of the nations and groups. One cannot miss the fact that the entire issue has been written personally, therefore having the eye witness edge. The author also seems to have an extensive access into the region in question.

It is an attempt to understand the Pashtuns both in Pakistan and Afghanistan and how their destinies can blend into understanding the future of both these nations. This, he says could possibly work towards reaching a solution to the entire Pashtun question and therefore, a state of regional peace.

He says that an entire community cannot be blamed for the radical ideas of a few militant groups. This was his attempt at exploring the Pashtun community and getting an insider’s version of these past conflicts and understanding how they have led to the present ones.

One can read this for a variety of reasons, but I read it out of plain curiosity, which has met its match. The language is simple and easily understood and one can read it as a completely non-judgmental reader. 

Author: Abubakar Siddique
Genre: Non-Fiction
Publisher: Random House India
ISBN: 978-81-8400-607-0
Price: Rs 499 /-

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