The Roots of Jihadist Extremism in Pakistan (Paperback)Madiha Afzal (author)
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What explains the continued growth of extremism in Pakistan? This question is of more than academic interest, given the ongoing militant actions in that country - as well as in Afghanistan, India and elsewhere - of extremist groups based in Pakistan. Madiha Afzal has dug into the question with in-depth field research, rigorous analysis of survey data and her own intuitive understanding of the country.
The Roots of Jihadist Extremism in Pakistan examines Pakistanis' attitudes toward religion, religious minorities, and jihad, as well as the central narratives that define their views of the rest of the world. It then traces the role of education - the lack of access to it and the poor quality and biased curricula of both the mainstream education system and religious schools - in shaping how Pakistanis think, often in self-destructive ways.
Afzal looks at other factors that explain attitudes toward extremism in Pakistan. These include the role of the government and politics, especially the state's relationship with Islamist parties and militant groups; social structures and the country's ever-present conspiracy theories; religion; the loud and unruly media environment; the geopolitics of South Asia; and Pakistan's unique and tortured birth.
Pakistan certainly is not the only country where jihadist extremism has emerged and Afzal draws out the lessons from Pakistan's experience that contribute to an understanding of the roots of extremist attitudes and violent extremism globally.
Publisher: Brookings Institution
Number of pages: 240
Dimensions: 229 x 152 mm
Madiha Afzal has pulled off the rare feat of writing a well-balanced and thoughtful account of extremism in Pakistan, describing its roots and also the extent of its influence, and offering some ideas about how Pakistan can move forward to a more tolerant future.--Peter Bergen, author of United States of Jihad: Investigating America's Homegrown Terrorists
This is an important book, bringing to a foreign audience a nuanced understanding of Pakistan's challenges: how Islamization has affected society in recent decades and how institutions have responded. It's a tough and often disheartening story. Yet with diligent research and an open mind, Madiha Afzal leads us past stereotypes of violent extremists and cynical elites. She demonstrates that there is indeed a vital center in Pakistani society--and that this center can be the basis for the stability and prosperity that Pakistan could enjoy.--Cameron Munter, President, East-West Institute, and former U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan (2010-12)
Afzal explores the ways in which Pakistan's deep connections to the Islamic faith and its obsession with India shape the views and opinions of its citizens. Unlike books on similar topics, Afzal's coverage of the military, political parties (typically Islamist in nature), and civilian government introduces readers to an important side of Pakistan. Recommended.--CHOICE
A valuable guide to understanding some of the major problems and challenges facing Pakistani society and the measures required to resolve them.--Joshua Sinai, Perspectives on Terrorism
Pakistan Under Siege: Extremism, Society, and the State, by the young academic Madiha Afzal, is a remarkably clear, concise, and accessible attempt to dismantle assumptions common among Westerners about public opinion in Pakistan. . . Afzal not only gives the lie to Western stereotypes about the prevalence of extremist beliefs in Muslim countries; she also looks closely and critically at the ways in which the Pakistani government has encouraged the country's militarization and what she refers to as its "Islamization."--Ahmed Rashid, The New York Review of Books
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