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Showing posts from March, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: Cutting Edge PAF: A Former Air Chief’s Reminiscences of a Developing Air Force (2010) By Air Chief Marshal (R) M Anwar Shamim

Update: ACM (R) Anwar Shamim passed away on 04 Jan 2013 after a prolonged illness

Thanks to Kaiser Tufail for the review copy

Published inDaily Times 27 Mar 2010

Reviewed by Afrah Jamal

Of late, there have been numerous occasions to visit the hallways of Pakistan Air Force (PAF) history. Pioneers adorn the walls while historians glower from a corner, trying to reconstruct these men’s stories. Men who went up in a blaze of glory, men who left a trail of controversy, and men who went on to lead quiet lives in the suburbs, they are all in there somewhere. Missteps aside, each of them contributed towards making the air force what it is today.

Written under duress, the Air Chief Marshal buckled under his daughter’s pressure and broke his silence about life in the PAF. The title suggests that his autobiography focuses more on the professional achievements of the service than the controversial aspects of his tenure. However, the slew of allegations and ‘bizarre rumours’ about him and his wife hav…

BOOK REVIEW: Karachiwala: A Subcontinent Within A City / Author: Rumana Husain

Published in Daily Times / March 20, 2010

Reviewed by: Afrah Jamal

A small fishing village from 1838 emerges as a major cosmopolitan city 100 years later and becomes the fastest growing city of the world by 2010. Karachi’s rapidly changing skyline denotes visible signs of progress whereas its prominence in the global marketplace is a clear indication of its rising stature. Beyond the smog-filled sky, ongoing construction, law and (dis)order and political divide lies the gateway to the real Karachi and its key can be found somewhere among the settlements.

Most of us have sketchy knowledge of exactly how many ethnicities reside in a city that has a tradition of hosting migrant communities ever since 1947. For many, the happily ever after had ended by the late 1970s. It is difficult, nay impossible, to ignore the fact that the idea of diversity has since been wedded to discord and its once cherished ethnic heritage has been upstaged by ethnic strife. Over the years, the city of lights has…

BOOK REVIEW: The Al Qaeda Connection / Author: Imtiaz Gul

Thanks to Liberty Books for the review copy

Thanks to Imtiaz Gul for Reposting the Review on his Webpage

Published inDaily Times /March 13, 2010

Reviewed by: Afrah Jamal

An updated/revised version of this book that includes data from March 2009-2010 will be available from June 2010 under the new title of "The Most Dangerous Place - Pakistan's lawless frontier."

Today, the landscape has been transformed into a hunting ground as the showdown between the military and militants gets underway and retaliatory strikes against the public intensify. While attempting to curb insurgency within its borders, Pakistan’s security forces have been accused of stage-managing militant outfits that once served as counterweights against traditional enemies. Never disarmed, and left unguided, these heat-seeking entities latched on to a new target.

Ever since the region tested positive for militancy post-9/11, there has been a lack of consensus regarding, well, just about everything. Many continue…

BOOK REVIEW: What If By K Yousaf

Thank you Hira M. Ahmed for the review copy.

Published in Daily Times / 6 March 2010

REVIEWED by: Afrah Jamal

It is the end of the world. Or so it appears to the disaffected, disenchanted and disenfranchised youth caught up in an endless cycle of confusion, tormented by a myriad of real and imaginary problems and terrified by the prospect of rejection. Unfortunately for them, life has plenty of curve balls in store and each generation gets its fair share. Here, we have a fairly typical high school/college/university experience presented in high definition (HD) format — that attempts to explore the dual identities carried by the new generation of young Pakistanis, a generation secure in its new found freedom but also confronting an immovable and cunningly designed wall of resistance put up by traditionalists.

The theme is simple. The setting could be anywhere. In this book, it is Islamabad seen through the eyes of one music aficionado, Asad, a newbie at his university and an outsider i…