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Complex Security Dimensions

Lt Gen Syed Ata Hasnain

By Christine Fair
Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2014, pp. 268, £22.95


Reviews of books about an adversary army can sometimes be misleading and biased. Strongly resisting that temptation I read Christine Fair’s 347 page long book with increasing fascination and also discussed it once in a session at CLAWS with Christine Fair herself in the panel of speakers. That is when I learnt that she had spent almost eight long years researching what she finally produced in this book. Right at the outset it needs mention that the book does not exactly cover the Pakistan Army with glory and not many in the khaki uniform may want this book as part of their collection. Yet, what is fascinating is the fact much of the consultation that Christine did to write the book was with Pakistanis and used reference material from Pakistan’s National Defence University’s Library in Islamabad. The author has been extremely courageous with her analysis and her deductions without feeling constrained by the assistance she received from the Pakistan establishment.  Only a labour of love can produce a work of such clarity on as complex a subject as the Pakistan Army and sub-themes of Pakistan’s security dimensions. For Indian security experts it is primarily a confirmation of their own assessment about the dysfunctional state of Pakistan’s ruling establishment, the out of proportion power that the Pakistan Army wields and the reasons for this. For a scholar warrior of the Indian Armed Forces this is a ready-made reference book to pursue further the study of the Pakistan Army’s psyche and mindset, a subject of focused interest at most times. The strategic establishment in India and the Armed Forces depend largely on analyses of some other seasoned writers such as Stephen Cohen and Ashley Tellis, reports from field formations and of late many inputs from officers who have served with Pakistan Army officers in the UN missions across the globe. Christine Fair’s book adds to this repository with a different set of sources and interestingly many of them from the US research establishments and Pakistan’s own military literature.  From Fair’s research and extensive analysis emerge a few facts. Some of these reinforce Indian belief and some are innovatively novel. Examples are given below: • Pakistan’s physical size, its loss of East Pakistan, inability to match India’s resources and the latter’s progress towards higher global status drive a frustration which forces upon it ...

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