Sunday, April 11, 2010

REVIEW: Pakistan at Knife's Edge

Pakistan at Knife's Edge
M B Naqvi
ISBN 9788174367907
Pp 264

Pakistan at Knife's edge is veteran journalist M B Naqvi's understanding of contemporary Pakistan and the directions the country could take or ought to. From the sacking of the chief justice of the Supreme Court, Iftikar Muhammad Chaudhry, by General Pervez Musharraf, to the return of Benazir Bhutto and her assassination on 27 Deceber 2007, the book traces the lawyers’ agitation to the general elections in 2008, and also the rise of a more vocal civil society.

M B Naqvi focuses on the lawyers’ movement for judicial autonomy and reinstatement of democracy and derives great hope from it, the movement has become a locus for a more broad-based demand for democracy raised by civil society. So Pakistan is poised at knife’s edge: which way will it go? A human rights activist and fervent supporter of liberal democratic dispension, Naqvi presents a compelling blueprint for the future of the country.

Witness to Pakistan's history Business Standard
Few journalists can claim to have a career that spans the entire life of their country. M B Naqvi (1928-2009) covered every twist and turn of Pakistan practically since it was created. Born in Amroha, near Lucknow, Naqvi moved to Hyderabad in Sindh and began work as a reporter with Indus Times in the 1950s.

He never looked back. Naqvi Sahib, as he was known, died literally with his boots on and his pen in hand, writing his last column days before he died at the age of 81 in November last year, leaving behind the complete manuscript of his book Pakistan At Knife’s Edge.

The book is a comprehensive look at all that has happened to Pakistan in the past 60 years, and what each event of the past could mean for the future. Readers not as well versed with those events could be baffled by the speed with which Naqvi dashes between the decades, recounting events of Partition and the creation of Bangladesh before diving into a chapter about the “restoration of judiciary” movement that brought down Musharraf. Naqvi’s recounting of his country’s history may resemble the roller coaster his nation has experienced but at no point does he lose the thread of history, a history he lived everyday in newsprint. He also never loses his idealism, or his belief in democracy, in better relations with India, and his vision for Pakistan, not as a cat’s paw for world powers but a responsible and respected nation.

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