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4.0 out of 5 starsHow stupid are we?
Reviewed in the United States on June 28, 2018
Explains why we keep sending money and getting no results. The Pakistan military gets the billions we send and is more likely to spend some of this money to keep the bad guys causing problems so they can continue getting more money. Thank about this: if we give money to the Pakistan military and they are able to stop the violence then we stop sending money. They want the problems so we continue giving money. It’s the same old con game that Yasser Arofat of the PLO did for years. After his death from cancer his widow got 12 million dollars from his bank account. Pakistan is using the same scheme on us.
5.0 out of 5 starsComprehensive, authoritative - if totally depressing.
Reviewed in the United States on November 30, 2014
If, like me, you have been totally confused by the on-going fiasco of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan for the last 13 years - and longer with Pakistan - this book clearly lays out the seemingly unending list of policy failures by both the Bush and Obama administrations, and how hundreds of billions of dollars were poured down various rat holes. Rashid has had unusual access to all the major players on this chess board and has been very prescient in his earlier books about where events were headed. This is not a blame-game book (although there is plenty to go around), rather how well-intentioned, if totally naïve, policies failed but nevertheless continued to march on because of sheer momentum and unquestioned funding from Washington. About the only person Rashid credits with understanding the situation in the region and possibly had a strategy for a favorable outcome was Richard Holbrooke. Unfortunately, Holbrooke unexpectedly died - not that anyone in D.C. gave his ideas any serious thought as various cabals in the foreign policy apparatus were each pursuing their own agendas. Unfortunately, the hubris of the Project for the New American Century, even after lessons hopefully learned from Iraq to Afghanistan-Pakistan, remains at the center of our foreign policy - see Ukraine and probably more to come.
This is the book that the intelligent American needs today-this year, this very minute- to understand the sad political, diplomatic, military and social realities that we are finding ourselves engulfed in in Afghanistan. Ahmed Rashid's "Pakistan on the Brink" weaves together the occasionally confusing conditions of South and much of Central Asia into a subtly textured fabric, from whose stark colors we dare not distract our eyes or attention. Each of the book's chapters might be read independently of the others, but all of them tell the same tale: the betrayal of our inititives in Afghanistan by Presidential ideology and high-handedness.Betrayal by the feudal shortsightedness and cynicism of President Karzai in Kabul. Betrayal by interfering neighbor countries. And, most of all, and central to Rashid's argument, betrayal of the Pakistanis, the Afghans, and the US/NATO troops still "in country" by the imploding death star of Pakistan, its government cowardly and clueless and crawling before its military and intelligence sectors who enjoy complete power at home and who exercise unrelenting terrorism against all of their foes at home and abroad, its economy crumbling, its infrastructure unfunded,its citizens mired in poverty and corruption, and all of Islamabad's energies commited to endless, pointless war against India and preserving or ensuring a Pakistani regime in Afghanistan, care of the Taliban.
If you read only one book about Afgahanistan today, Rashid's "Pakistan on the Brink" is that one. If you would like to read another book giving a background to events in Afghanistan, I would heartedly reccmmend Rashid's equally fine book, "Taliban".
4.0 out of 5 starsThe Tangled Mess of Afghanistan and Pakistan
Reviewed in the United States on November 23, 2015
This is Ahmed Rashid’s follow up to Taliban and Decent into Chaos coving the events from 2009-2013-14. Pakistan on the Brink really ties the problems of Afghanistan and Pakistan together in this soup of dysfunction, in that Afghanistan’s failures coupled with Pakistan’s questionable foreign policy decisions of support for the Taliban mixed with eliminating those Taliban who haven’t promised not to attack Afghanistan has created quite a mess for both the Stans and the United States.
I think Rashid really hit the nail on the head in this book in that the United States as a country cannot solve Afghanistan without solving Pakistan. Given the current relationship between the two countries, such a solution does not seem likely in coming. This problem strikes me as a human problem and how do you change the thoughts and perceptions of an entity like the Pakistan Army, Taliban, or even American politicians? These are so entrenched that the situation becomes hopeless.
3.0 out of 5 starsThe book is disappointing and I hate to say this because Ahmed Rashid is a very ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 4, 2018
The book is disappointing and I hate to say this because Ahmed Rashid is a very likeable person. However, the books is extremely dull, dreary and lacking coherence. The author seems to criticise the Pakistani military establishment for distinguishing between good and bad Taliban whereas simultaneously suggesting that the only way to have peace in Afghanistan is by cutting a deal with the Taliban. This might just be sub-conscious but it shows that this hasn’t been thought through. To find this a tolerable read, you really have to be deeply interested in the subject of Afghanistan and the tragedy of the Pakhtuns that they find themselves divided between two states.
Perhaps because the author is Pakistani, he seems to be unable to see (or is unwilling to see) that the long term “solution” lies in weaning Pakhtuns away from fundamentalism promoted by the Pakistani military and towards ethnic nationalism. This means that the Pakhtun areas south of the Durand line must be unified with Afghanistan in a single unified state. This would bring the chaos and destruction to an end. But it is precisely the fear of this which makes the Pakistani military continuously fuel fundamentalism for its own ends – with disastrous consequences for Pakistan itself.
3.0 out of 5 starsThis book is well written and as far as I ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 14, 2018
This book is well written and as far as I can tell well researched. The downside really is that a lot of the text is only relevant to the time it was written, this is because it's essentially a collection of news-like articles looking at factors and situations from a specific moment in time (the time the author is writing at). If I'd have bought this book 4-5 years ago I probably would have found it incredibly beneficial to read but now things have moved on and most of it's observations about the 'present situation' or 'what will likely happen next' are no longer relevant.
If you are interested in Pakistan's recent history and its future, read this book. You will probably feel depressed after your read - although perhaps you feel like this about Pakistan already. You might develop your own ideas about the best way the country could move forward, as I did.