Sunday, May 08, 2011

Pakistan & America - A Case of Exploding Mangoes?

Conspiracy theorists can be assured of never being out of work if they stick to Pakistan as their subject.
Osama Bin Laden, arguably the world's most potent symbol of organized terror, has been finally taken out  by America in a covert operation deep inside Pakistan's army cantonment area of Abbotabad.
That America did not find Pakistan trustworthy enough to share with them the details of this mother-of-all-operations is a humiliation Pakistani establishment is finding hard to shrug off.
Did Pak Army know about Osama holed up in such a close proximity? Did they simply ignore it? Or did they actively abet his hiding? Is it a double-game Pakistan is playing, keeping both the fundamentalists and the Americans happy? Or is the Pak civilian establishment unaware of the agenda their Army is pursuing, which means that after all, it is again the forces (now in cahoots with the mullahs) who are running Pakistan? Does that mean America should not take Pakistan's servility for granted now?      
While theories and their rebuttals keep surfacing and this curious master-protege relationship which America and Pakistan share touches another low, I am suddenly reminded of a very brilliant book - A Case of Exploding Mangoes, which is an incisive satire on the Pakistan establishment (read Army), set in the time when General Zia-ul-Haq was the President of Pakistan. General Zia was only the third  Pakistani army chief who had overthrown a democratic government via a coup but he went a step ahead and appointed himself the President. It was in his regime that an enforced Islamization of Pakistani society started and the Army gained in their nuisance value like never before.  
"A Case..." is the debut novel by Mohammed Hanif, a one-time Pak Airforce pilot who left to pursue a journalistic career and is presently the BBC Urdu Service Chief in London.
The book has at its core the real incident of the plane crash which killed General Zia and the American ambassador among a few others and spawned quite a few conspiracies then.
Written in first person from the perspective of the protagonist Ali Shigri, a junior army officer, "A Case..." is a thriller, which weaves loose strands of all these conspiracies, and then some, whipping up a delightful read with a biting black humour and pithy dialogue.
Each of the conspiratorial strand is a real and distinct possibility, leaving the reader guessing and gasping. And as I said above, beneath the comic style lies a very realistic backdrop of power-hungry & paranoid army generals with a terrific power over the civil society of Pakistan in the name of democracy and sharia.  
With summers around, and mangoes in full supply, this is one book you should surely read, specially if you are an average Indian with even a little interest in our friendly neighborhood Pakistan. 

1 comment:

Yashu Vyas said...

Now Pakistan must change the name of the towm from Abbotabad to Abetabad !!!

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