Frontier of Faith: Islam, in the Indo-Afghan Borderland
C. Hurst (Publishers) Limited, 2011 - Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Pakistan) - 256 pages
Frontier of Faith examines the history of Islam, especially that of local mullahs, or Muslim clerics, in the North-West Frontier, a largely autonomous zone straddling the boundary of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Haroon's book is also highly relevant to the present, given that it deals with the area said to be the hiding place of Al Qaeda and its local allies. The Tribal Areas was established as a strategic buffer zone for British India, but the impact of colonial rule was minimal. The autonomy that resulted emphasized the role and importance of the local mullahs, who jealously protected the powers they accrued to themselves. After Partition in 1947 the Tribal Areas maintained its status as an autonomous region, and for the next fifty years the mullahs contributed to armed mobilizations, in return for which nationalist actors protected their vested interest in regional freedom of manoeuvre. Thus the Frontier became the hinterland of successive, contradictory jihads in support of Pashtun ethnicism, anti-colonial nationalism, Pakistani territorialism, religious revivalism, Afghan anti-Soviet resistance, and latterly anti-Americanism. Frontier of Faith is thus essential reading for all those wishing to understand the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderlands today and the role played there by the mullahs and their allies.
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