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A Complex Trajectory

Priyanka Singh

By Jamsheed Marker
Oxford University Press, Karachi, 2016, pp. 193, Rs. 850.00

VOLUME XL NUMBER 9 September 2016

As a subject of study, Pakistan is primarily evocative of volatility, disarray, long held as a country that serves as physical sanctuary for violent extremist forces. Jamsheed Marker’s Cover Point: Impressions of Leadership in Pakistan does not follow a set pattern, it rather breaks away from treading the beaten track. It neither presents Pakistan’s chequered political history in pure conventional theoretical terms nor puts it across within the confines of excess security focus. Instead, Marker innovatively approaches the complex political trajectory of Pakistan in a lucid, reader-friendly account embellished with interesting anecdotes, that are quite suggestive of the author’s diplomatic acumen honed during a wide-ranging public service career. Marker’s previously published book Quiet Diplomacy: Memoirs of An Ambassador of Pakistan (2010) captured his diplomatic tryst in different parts of the world. The latest book presents a collection of his insights and observations of leaders serving at the helm in Pakistan in a span of more than 60 years, that has perennially witnessed political fluctuations between the civilian and the military. Concurrently, there has been a bitter struggle between the two over sharing of power and leadership role. At the outset, the author cautions that the book collating ‘highly subjective recollections’ (p. xx) is not intended to stir controversy. For a sequential account of Pakistan’s politics, the title of the book i.e., Cover Point, derived from cricket terminology, is rather peculiar. However, it stems from Marker’s stint as a radio cricket commentator during the 1950s, much before he embarked upon his career as a diplomat. According to him, the cover point is a strategic position on a cricket field—neither ‘near enough’ nor ‘sufficiently distant’, so as to allow an optimal holistic overview of a situation at hand (p. xvii). Marker’s career straddled across service in the Second World War, corporate sector and diplomacy. His first ambassadorial assignment came up only in April 1965 in Ghana from where he later availed the opportunity to serve in key powerful states such as the US and the USSR. Marker was a recipient of Sitar-i-Quaid-i-Azam amongst several other civilian awards of distinction. The book hinges on the author’s conviction that present-day Pakistan was far from fitting into the framework, concept and spirit of a separate state as envisaged by Mohammed Ali Jinnah. Marker unwaveringly expresses his reverence towards the Qaid-e-Azam and, later his successor, Quaid-e-Millat Liaquat Ali Khan, ...

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