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The Scorpion’s Tail

January 1, 2011

Zahid Hussain’s new book ‘The Scorpion’s Tail’ showcases the brief history of the rising militancy in Pakistan. The book begins with Baitullah Mehsud’s killing in the Predator drone strike in August 2009. Then it moves on to the times of Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In order to study the gradual Islamization the author revisits the inception of Pakistan and the policy of supporting militants for fighting proxy wars in 1980s and onwards. In the following chapters the author covers the 10 years of terrorism, militancy in the region including the rise and fall of the Taliban and their subsequent regrouping in Afghanistan and the emergence of Pakistani Taliban.

Metaphorically the scorpion’s tail refers to the Taliban and the militants in the book. No matter how many claims our government make about rooting out militants and terrorists from FATA, they regroup and emerge again like the scorpion’s tail grows back after being cut off. The book can be roughly divided into three main sections such as Waziristan issue, Lal Mosque episode and the rise of militancy in Swat. In between, the author connects the dots of the important historical events that took place during 2001 to 2010. Hussain discusses how these developments not only threaten America and the western countries but the interests of the military and government of Pakistan are also targeted.

The author discusses the ramification of the Predator drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal region and concludes that the high number of civilian casualties draw more and more people to the Taliban cause because under the code of Pukhtunwali, the relatives of the victims are expected to seek revenge.

The author concludes his book with remarks that a political settlement in Afghanistan is the only endgame. Afghanistan is once again standing on the crossroads of a ‘great game’. Pakistan will play its role too once the US exits and in fact, this books provides a clear view as to why Pakistan is reluctant to crack down on Haqqani network based in North Waziristan.

The author’s personal interaction and interviews with military officials, analysts, militants and victims make it an authentic account. I found this book to be a very useful addition to the list of books based on contemporary history.

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