Apocalyptic Realm: JIhadists in South Asia

Apocalyptic Realm: Jihadists in South Asia, by Dilip Hiro, Yale University Press, €21.50.

Apocalyptic Realm: Jihadists in South Asia by Dilip Hiro is a book as incoherent as the title. “The dual purpose” of the book, spoken of at the beginning, is difficult to understand as it assumes standpoints that are not borne out by later discussions. The statements: “interrelated jihadist movements in Afghanistan and Pakistan have infected India” and that they “pose a serious threat to the Pakistani State,” are not substantiated in the book. The author attempts to explain many complicated issues simply, but fails. It begins with a short account of Sufism in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan but seems aimless. In general, the book does not succeed in appealing to an amateur of Southern Asia and the preoccupying central issues of the region; much less can it satisfy a more knowledgeable reader. The book deals with many serious issues in a superficial and simplistic manner – at best, it can be seen as a synopsis for further reading. Hiro draws similarities between America’s role in the war in Vietnam and its subsequent role in Afghanistan. The four paragraphs devoted to this comparison assume a detailed knowledge on the part of the reader, so the parallels drawn are unsatisfying to a lay reader. Neither the Vietnam War nor the Afghanistan issue is dealt with in a responsible manner. The book fails to tell a cohesive story and leaves the reader wondering about just what message is intended. Unfortunately, the author seems to have many lofty ambitions but lacks the coherency to achieve them.