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Making Of A Jehadi


Kiran Doshi


By Omar Shahid Hamid Pan
Macmillan, New Delhi, 2015, pp. 300, Rs. 399.00

VOLUME XXXIX NUMBER 10 October 2015

The Spinner’s Tale is a confusing title for this book. The Making of a Jehadi would have been a more apt title for it. It begins with an improbable scene. A master terrorist who has tried—twice—to kill the president of Pakistan is transferred by the police to a hole in a desert, that too near the Indian border (instead of being locked up in Kot Lakhpat jail, or any other maximum security prison, or shot-while-he-wastrying-to-escape on the way to one.) What is more, he is left there, in the hole in the desert near the Indian border, in charge of a bunch of rural policemen who have never before seen a jehadi, let alone kept watch over one. But forget the slip. Read on. For the book is a thriller. And thrillers are always welcome, those on the Indian subcontinent specially so, for they are rare as diamonds. Moreover, this one has much to commend it. For one, it is written by the author of The Prisoner, also a thriller, and a bestselling one at that. For two, it is on an intriguing subject, the journey of an intelligent young man (the Spinner of the title) from the best school in Pakistan to the top of the jehadi pyramid in the country. Three, it is fairly competently written and, as behoves a thriller, moves along at an exciting clip (except during what can only be called commercial breaks, the sex scenes.) Four, its vignettes of Karachi, a city that the author obviously knows well, and its portrayals of Pakistan’s policemen and their ways, give it a fair degree of authenticity and depth. Its forays into the lonely world of desi students abroad, the hopeless world of aam log in Pakistan, and (more gingerly) the even more hopeless world of Pakistani politics, all also ring true. And its ending is terrific, simply killing. Be prepared, nevertheless, when you have finished reading the book, to feel somewhat cheated, at least disappointed. It may take you a moment or two to locate the cause of the disappointment, for it lies hidden in the very structure of the plot of the book. Consider these. The master jehadi’s father is a government officer. His mother hails from Pakistani Kashmir. He is sent to the best school in Pakistan, where the elite of Karachi send their children, boys and girls. His ...


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