Tinderbox: The Past and Future of Pakistan

Overview

In Tinderbox: The Past and Future of Pakistan, acclaimed author and journalist M. J. Akbar traces the search for a “Muslim space” that began in the eighteenth century, and the events, people, circumstances, and mind-set that culminated in a fractured India in 1947. But why is Pakistan in danger of becoming a “jelly state,” a country that constantly quivers on the edge of instability? Akbar investigates contradictions in the nation’s modern leadership, from Jinnah’s secular ideals to the theocrats’ clear ...

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Overview

In Tinderbox: The Past and Future of Pakistan, acclaimed author and journalist M. J. Akbar traces the search for a “Muslim space” that began in the eighteenth century, and the events, people, circumstances, and mind-set that culminated in a fractured India in 1947. But why is Pakistan in danger of becoming a “jelly state,” a country that constantly quivers on the edge of instability? Akbar investigates contradictions in the nation’s modern leadership, from Jinnah’s secular ideals to the theocrats’ clear stance on creating a “sanctuary of Islam.” He also offers an intimate appraisal of the young nation’s future—including the global implications of nuclear armament and the harboring of terrorists like Osama bin Laden.

Tinderbox, a riveting and expansive biography of a nation, fills a crucial void in our understanding—even as the region’s conflicts grow to affect the entire world.

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Editorial Reviews

Daily Beast
“An acclaimed journalist gives us the one thing he can: an illuminating history.”
The Economist
“A lively read. . . . Among many recent books on Pakistan, Mr. Akbar’s stands out . . . it is a fine and detailed history of Indian Muslim anger and insecurity, spawned by the 18th-century decline of the Mughals, and the way this played out in the freedom struggle.”
Kirkus Reviews
Among the spate of recent books about Pakistan, India Today editorial director Akbar's (Have Pen, Will Travel: Observations of a Globetrotter, 2011, etc.) elegant, probing work exhibits a sympathetic insider's understanding of the complex, evolving relationship between Muslims and Hindus in the area. The author traces the early isolation and vulnerability of the Muslim community in India with the collapse of the Mughal Empire in the mid-18th century, squeezed from both sides by the increasingly numerous Hindus and increasingly powerful British. "A strange alchemy of past superiority and future insecurity shaped the dream of a separate Muslim state in India," he writes. The Muslim clergy thrived as an educated, military class, led by the moral instruction of Shah Waliullah, who propounded a "theory of distance" regarding the Hindu infidels. His idea of a separate Islamic state without dynasty was taken up by the first Muslim political party, the Muslim League, in 1906. The community's sense of inferiority rendered it ripe for the embrace of a great galvanizing leader, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, an English-educated lawyer who was embarrassingly unfamiliar with Islamic teachings. Yet it was Gandhi who won the hearts of the Muslims by insisting on carrying out his "non-violent jihad." Akbar masterly reconstructs the final tensions among the Indian Congress and Muslim League, Gandhi, the British and Jinnah, as unity broke down and partition was declared in August 1947. The struggle between a religious and secular state was just beginning, however, undertaken next by Sayyid Maududi, "godfather" of Islamic fundamentalism in South Asia, charismatic leader Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and strongman General Zia. The author concludes darkly with a contemporary portrait of Pakistan still beset by secessionist worries and religious extremism and Balkanized by Western influence. Though the chapter on current affairs yields little new insight, Akbar presents a thoughtful historical perspective, rich in detail, research and gloom.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062131799
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/26/2012
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 981,049
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

M. J. Akbar?is the editorial director of India Today and editor of the Sunday Guardian. His many books include India: The Siege Within, Nehru: The Making of India, Riot After Riot, Kashmir: Behind the Vale, and The Shade of Swords: Jihad and the Conflict Between Islam and Christianity. He lives in Delhi.

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Table of Contents

Introduction ix

1 The Age of Defeat 1

2 A Scimitar at Somanath 16

3 A Theory of Distance 46

4 An English Finesse 75

5 Grey Wolf 100

6 Gandhi's Maulanas 120

7 The Non-violent Jihad 141

8 The Muslim Drift from Gandhi 166

9 Breaking Point 190

10 Faith in Faith 217

11 The Godfather of Pakistan 233

12 God's General 257

13 The Long Jihad 271

14 Pakistan: The Siege Within 288

15 Dark Side of the Moon 314

Notes 347

Index 357

Books Cited 370

Acknowledgements 375

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