Just last week, Indian defense minister Manohar Parrikar was seen on twitter holding a copy of Prof Christine Fair’s book Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army’s Way of War, driving home the value of her work in the international defense and political apparatuses. This was a healthy departure from the past. Some Indians and Afghans once hated Prof. Fair as she was mistaken to be pro-Pakistan maybe because she decided to gain expertise on Pakistan rather than India or Afghanistan or may be because of her extensive contacts with the men in khaki. And then her fluency in Punjabi, language of Pakistan military and police, made her even a bigger suspect and she was accused through a whispering campaign of being an apologist for the deep establishment in Pakistan. Nothing could be further than the truth. Fair has proved beyond an iota of doubt she was an American scholar in search of truth. Such scholars are never welcome in Pakistan — a rogue state in the eyes of many –, and Fair is now an undesirable person in the Islamic republic of Pakistan.
“Much of Pakistan’s defense literature is dedicated to negative depictions of India and Indians, who are almost invariably reduced to their supposed Hindu nature,” writes Fair. She says, “While some defense writers set out to construct India and Indians as perfidious and others concentrate on denigrating the strength of Indian armed forces, others try to do both at the same time.” Many in Pakistan army appear to be in self-denial India is rising and say it is “unnecessarily being pumped like a hollow balloon” with U.S. support. Some Pakistani analysts even stick to sexist views. Fair writes that one defense analyst argues India’s navy is inferior to Pakistan navy on the grounds “that it has been forced to induct women.”
Fair’s Fighting to the End, identifies Pakistan main problem is its penchant to have parity with India and win a war against its bigger neighbor in Kashmir, in spite of past lessons of starting three wars and losing all three of them in 1947, 1965 and 1999. With the tenacity of her much loved dog breed pit bull terrier, she had gone through and analyzed decades of Pakistan military literature that bares the military jawans pathological desire to counter India, which she says is not only endangering the country itself but is a destabilizing factor for the entire world. “Using extensive primary and secondary sources, Christine Fair shows conclusively that Pakistan is insecure not only for its inability to obtain Kashmir, but due to a civilizational notion that it ought to be a c-equal with India and that it should employ all means, including Jihadist violence, to obtain strategic parity with its larger neighbor. Her findings have far-reaching consequences and immense policy implications,” writes McGill University’s T.V. Paul, author of The Warrior State. Concurs S. Paul Kapur, “The book is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the security environment in this important region of the world.” Noted scholars of Pakistan origin say Fighting to the End is a valuable addition to books on the subject. Pakistan’s former ambassador to the U.S. and author of Magnificent Delusions Husain Haqqani writes, “Pakistan’s dominant institution, the army has embraced an anti-Indian Islamo-nationalism that alone can explain some of its less professional institutional decisions.” Haqqani, who was treated like a C.I.A. spy after he was dismissed following bin Laden’s killing, adds, “In her well-researched book, Fair analyzes the ideological underpinnings of the Pakistan army’s strategic culture.” Shuja Nawaz, author of Crossed Swords, writes, “Pakistan is at an historical crossroads yet again…. Fair’s penetrating critique of its mid-level military narratives, often charged with Islamist dogma, is a must-read for both civilian and military leaders, as they seek a course correction in their domestic governance and relations with friends and foes.”
In her acknowledgement section Fair writes, “I am also indebted to many Pakistanis in and out of uniform…. As well as numerous defense attaches Like Brigadier (Ehasn) Butt and many more men in uniform then can be possibly mentioned here for space and prudence.” It is heartening to see her Pakistan contacts, including the army generals’ old lady Maleeha Lodhi – eternal ambassador to the U.S. in waiting — , did not affect her objectivity about their army’s flawed vision of geo-politics. Never judge a book by its cover may be a cliché in this case: the cover of the book, published by Oxford University Press, is interesting in that it depicts the absurdity of the Pakistan general’s mindset. It shows a caricature of Pakistan’s last military dictator Gen. Pervez Musharraf on a horse with a tiger on his lap. Both Pakistani army generals and Islamists alike look upon themselves as Arab and Turk invaders who conquered India on horse backs. Fair’s proficiency in Urdu and Punjabi meant she could feel the pulse of Pakistan politics better than most Westerners do. If you like to understand why Pakistan makes so many international headlines these days, including the recent Peshawar attack, read Fighting to the End.