“The generals who had called Zia a mullah behind his back felt ashamed at having underestimated him: not only was he a mullah, he was a mullah whose understanding of religion didn’t go beyond parroting what he had heard from the next mullah. A mullah without a beard, a mullah in a four-star general’s uniform, a mullah with the instincts of a corrupt tax inspector.”

The book is a dark satire about the conspiracies surrounding the assassination {or death} of General Muhammad Zia ul-Haq, the President of Pakistan from 1978 to 1988. The novel is filled with political jokes that will keep you entertained, but those are only masquerades for today’s international agendas.

While exploring this political mystery, Hanif has been successful in explaining the military details through the eyes of Ali Shigri, the Pakistani Air Force pilot who is hell bent on taking revenge. It gives a comic insight into bureaucratic procedures and dealings at the highest level. Even while examining a wide range of events – from hosting an international diplomat, to details regarding how to tackle Islamic fundamentalist – the writer has not missed out on revealing the recipes of such grand preparation.

The use of the American characters such as Arnold Raphel bring to light the elements of US influence in Pakistan and the role it has played in shaping the country. In the context when our neighbor is often termed as a ‘failed state’, the book asks us to re-examine the causes behind such conditions and see the extent to which America has aided this process.

Though the case remains unsolved, the book has given us issues of power politics, military order, imperialism and Zia ul-Haq’s ‘immaculate’ character to think about.

Come join us at the next LBBD Book Club to discuss and dissect this Indian-Pakistani bestseller. 

We’ll be announcing the date, time and venue for this soon! Please keep a look out on our Facebook page for other updates.

If you’d like to join our discussion, please send us an email on contactus@lbb.in with the subject ‘LBBD Book Club’.