Crossed Swords: Pakistan, its Army, and the Wars Within Hardcover – May 23 2008
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The strength of his book derives from his interviews with serving and retired military officers...Nawaz has penned a book which will become a standard reference on the Pakistani army for years to come. Dr Ahmed Faruqui RUSI
About the Author
SHUJA NAWAZ was a newscaster and current affairs producer with Pakistan Television from 1967 to 1972. He covered the 1971 war with India on the Western front. A graduate of Gordon College, Rawalpindi and the Graduate School of Journalism of Columbia University, he has worked as a journalist for The New York Times and the World Health Organization, and as a Division Chief at the International Monetary Fund and as a Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency. He has also been Editorof Finance and Development, the multilingual quarterly of the IMF and the World Bank, and has written and spoken widely on military and politico-economic issues. He lives in Alexandria, Virginia.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This is the most comprehensive-detailed account of the history of Pakistan and fills in a lot of history that was skimmed over in some of these other works. I consider it an essential part of anyone trying to learn, in depth, about the nation.
However, all of these books share 2 common issues for Westerners though.
1. These works all sorely lack maps and graphical representation of data. This title and many like it are presenting a tremendous amount of information about a region and people that many of the readers are not in any way familiar with. I find I need to keep Google maps open and make copious notes while reading these titles just to keep track of some of the events, especially when they describe battles...
Also some charts laying out the power structure of the government and the relations between the political parties, mullahs and military would've made understanding some of the information a lot easier to comprehend.
2. More pictures of the people/places being discussed in context. I understand these are scholarly texts but modern printing technology affords these writers many bells and whistles that were not available to their predecessors. Knowledge transfer would definitely be improved by some of the above mentioned features.
Nawaz discusses a wide range of topics which have been poorly recorded by western historians. The 1947 and 1965 Indo-Pakistan Wars over Kashmir are explained in detail. Of particular interest is his analysis of the 1971 war and the crisis leading to the birth of Bangladesh (Sheikh Mujib's civil disobedience movement, "Operation Searchlight", and India's intervention). This bloody episode and its repercussions are crucial to understanding the modern history of the region.
The book is also excellent at describing how the Pakistani military progressively took power from the political establishment after independence. The different stages of this process are well-documented by the author. He notes the unresolved murder of Pakistan's first PM, Liaqat Ali Khan, and reviews Ayub Khan's military coup in 1958. Khan combined the offices of president and prime minister in a new constitution which was rubber-stamped by the judiciary (the "Doctrine of Necessity"). Nawaz vividly chronicles the struggle for power between Zia ul-Haq and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. The ascent of Zia, execution of Bhutto, and rise of fundamentalism in the security services, are all depicted as landmark events that consolidated the army's hold over power. The ensuing transition from an overt military dictatorship to a facade of 'parliamentary democracy' is well explained, and covers the administrations of Benazir Bhutto (whose later assassination is noted but not discussed), Nawaz Sharif, and Pervez Musharraf. "Crossed Swords" also draws attention to the army's international relations, and provides an excellent discussion of Pakistan's nuclear program and its mastermind: A.Q. Khan.
Furthermore, Nawaz shows the military to be a complex institution that often stands in stark contrast to Pakistani society. It's leadership is mostly secular, well-educated and extremely wealthy. In sum, the very opposite of the average man on the street. It is riddled with competing factions who value ethnic and community ties above loyalty to the state. To achieve its great wealth and political influence, the army has forged foreign alliances and indulged in widespread corruption. The author draws attention to how pensions, real estate, and military contracts play an essential role in the army's racketing of state funds. He also emphasizes the importance of the military's political propaganda, and how the armed forces repeatedly pass themselves off as the guardians of Jinnah's legacy.
In conclusion, "Crossed Swords" is an impressively well-researched and authoritative study. In my opinion, it's one of the most important works on Pakistan's military history in years. Given the all-powerful influence of the army in Pakistani society, this book should be considered essential reading.