Descent into Chaos: How the war against Islamic extremism is being lost in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia
Allen Lane, $65 hb, 484 pp
Two months ago, I was in Islamabad to address an international conference on suicide terrorism. The Pakistani army was engaged in heavy fighting with the Islamic militants in the Pashtun-dominated northern Pakistan, bordering Afghanistan. The security situation was deteriorating. Senior Pakistani intelligence officers were worried that it would lead to an escalation of suicide attacks. Their assessment was supported by the other government officials, including doctors working in the region, who told me of the widespread perception among Pashtuns that the predominantly Punjabi Pakistan army was committing genocide of the Pashtun nation and was thus turning the population against the army. The aerial bombings by Pakistani helicopter gunships and the US-NATO drones were causing many civilian casualties.
I heard reports of suicide bombings spreading to other cities in the country. Ten days after I left Islamabad, the Marriott Hotel where I had been staying was destroyed by a devastating suicide attack. Since then there has been a marked increase in daily suicide attacks in Pakistan. The news from Afghanistan, where the Australian army is fighting the insurgent Taliban, is becoming bleaker by the day.