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Showing posts from February, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: HOME BOY Author: H M Naqvi

Thanks to Liberty Books for the review copy

Published in Daily Times / 27 Feb 2010 under the heading: Asphyxiation of the ‘American dream'

Reviewed by Afrah Jamal

Nine-eleven (9/11) fiction can be a high wire act; making it the centrepiece is a temptation many newcomers might succumb to. Several things set H M Naqvi’s debut novel apart from other books of the same genre, books that draw upon 9/11 for inspiration. The author, by comparison, never allows that instance to eclipse the stories of his central characters or their fractured world even when the lengthening shadows reach out to swathe their lives in momentary darkness. Consequently, the boom is muffled, and instead of a sudden fall into chaos, the descent is slow. In Home Boy, H M Naqvi grapples with the complexities of a new world order and the communities caught in the throes of this change.

Seen through the eyes of Shehzad aka Chuck, it captures the full spectrum of an immigrant’s life in the US by introducing three boys …

BOOK REVIEW: The Inheritance: The World Obama Confronts and the Challenges to American Power

Published in Daily Times / 20 Feb 2010

Reviewed by: Afrah Jamal
Author: David E Sanger

Today, US Vice President Biden believes that American foreign policy is once again respected in the world. While the new face of this policy - composed of something old, something new & something borrowed - unveiled a year ago was prelude to Obama’s uphill battle to regain military/political high ground, fallout from the old policy is the dominant theme here.

‘Inheritance…’ is a dramatic playback of events that follows parallel timelines to determine how certain parts of the world were shaping during ‘Iraq’. David Sanger has logged 7 years covering the White House and uses insights gained during his time as Chief Washington Correspondent for New York Times to ascertain the opportunities missed by one president, identify forthcoming challenges for the next and explore options still left in the smouldering ruins of disastrous decisions. He uses solid arguments based on interviews (on/off record) …

BOOK REVIEW: POLITICAL IMPRESSIONS

Thanks to Dost Publications for the review copy

PUBLISHED IN DAILY TIMES / 13 FEB 2010

Many would call it a wasteland where governments and old problems get recycled, institutions never get a chance to evolve and good intentions remain unrealized. Against such a backdrop, some people have an unerring sense of direction which brings moments of clarity in an otherwise murky scenario. Dr. Aftab Ahmed may have possessed such ability. Political Impressions is a collection of his articles that have appeared in prominent English dailies over the years.

21 articles, spanning 13 years from 1987-2003, have been arranged in three sections. They give readers a brief glimpse into the life of founding fathers who visualized a secular Pakistan, a reality check about headline making events of the time, topped off with proposed reforms to avert the slippery slope brought on by what can only be classified as a policy of benign neglect. Separately, they represent a well grounded analysis of Pakistan’s p…

BOOK REVIEW: Palestine Peace not Apartheid (2006)

PUBLISHED IN THE POST

Former U.S. President, Jimmy Carter makes a courageous debut in the literary circuits as a proven champion of one of ‘the’ most controversial of subjects. ‘Designed to spell out the only clear path to permanent peace & justice in the Holy Land’ what part, if any can this book play in the salvaging of a currently skewed ME policy?

This president’s long term association (as broker of the Camp David Accords-Framework for Peace in the ME 1978) with the Middle East makes him well aware of the prospects of peace and limitations in the way of good intentions in this conflict ridden region. Now, taking on a different role as an observer and consultant with ‘political leaders, academics and private citizens’ , Carter, in my opinion, manages to give both issues as non-discriminatory a treatment as they can hope to receive. You would think otherwise though judging from the furor generated from this publication.

The book does its best not to let interest of the world w…

BOOK REVIEW: DIARIES OF FIELD MARSHAL MOHAMMAD AYUB KHAN 1966-1972

Reviewed by: Afrah Jamal
PUBLISHED IN THE POST AUG 29, 2007

Books allow people to have their say. Diaries express what they actually meant. Therefore, every prominent personality must stray from the path of political correctness and leave behind a diary. One way to regain an insight into the defining moments of our history post ‘65 War would be through the diaries of Pakistan’s first military ruler and first C-in-C, Field Marshal M. Ayub Khan, who also authored the book, ‘Friends. Not Masters’. The personal lives of public figures are always intriguing; while their contemporaries indict/acquit them on consequences of their actions, diaries give individuals a rare shot at swaying the upcoming generation of juries. Recorded during the uneasy calm before an inevitable storm brewing on the Eastern horizon and Indian front, the entries, spanning 7 years from September 1966 - October 1972, are replete with shrewdness and candor of a narrator who observed the events initially as a key player…

BOOK REVIEW: The Prince - Secret Story of the Worlds Most Intriguing Royal Prince Bandar Bin Sultan Author: William Simpson

PUBLISHED IN THE POST MAY 24 ,2007

Reviewed by: Afrah Jamal

How a little known Middle Eastern fighter pilot came to wield such influence over Presidents, Prime Ministers and Senior Government Officials?

Intrigues are not always within the confines of the palace even if the instigator happens to be a royal. Bandar Bin Sultan answered his calling of a fighter pilot, performed diplomatic duties as a Prince and crossed the threshold to a world of Intrigue when required, a world where the East and West unite when bound by common interests.

William Simpson’s biographical account of Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, son of the Saudi Defence Minister, revisits well known historical events, directing attention towards the unacknowledged facts of history and hitherto unseen involvement of a Prince in matters of national (Saudi) interest and international significance.

Though a Prince, Bandar Sultans beginnings were anything but ‘Princely’ but the controversy shrouding his birth could not bar this e…

VIEW: WOMEN in the PAF: AN ENSEMBLE CAST

PUBLISHED in HILAL (Pakistan Armed Forces Magazine) Feb 2010

By Afrah Jamal

Progressive - Conservative - Contemporary - Professional; separately these terms could apply to any service; together they were reserved for just one - the PAF.

Pakistan Air Force has kept in touch with its roots through its glorious traditions and kept up with the changing times with innovative thinking. Oftentimes, traditions that made it stand apart have also stood in the way of, well - progress. Consequently, the service nimbly skipped past the one proposed change that was going to have a profound effect on the lives of countless young girls and would forever alter the way society perceived their womenfolk.

Before 1994, Lady Officers were a rare sight in the PAF. So rare in fact, that when male cadets donned wigs to represent the female species in annual variety shows, nobody wondered why. By 2010, women have become an indispensable part of the service. While, PAF was no stranger to a woman in uniform, a f…

BOOK REVIEW: Quiet Diplomacy: Memoirs of an Ambassador of Pakistan / Author: Jamsheed Marker

PUBLISHED IN Daily Times /February 06, 2010

REVIEWED BY: Afrah Jamal

Jamsheed Marker belongs to an exceptional cadre of Foreign Service officers entrusted to keep things on an even keel on the diplomatic stage. Providence chose him to fill the void brought on by a sudden influx of newly independent nations and the subsequent need to expand diplomatic service during the 1960s. A stellar career in fostering global diplomacy as the longest serving ambassador has earned him a special place in history.

This veteran Pakistani diplomat has a striking resume. With ten posts and nine accreditations, his name appears in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the only person to have served as ambassador to more countries than anyone. He took his curtain call when Pakistan declared him Ambassador at Large in 2004, and has been on the faculty at Eckerd College, St Petersburg — Florida as Diplomat-in-Residence. He ended his tenure with a wry observation, ‘the batting card on the scorecard to M…