Karachi, March 10: Journalists, writers, poets and political activists heard Nafisa Hoodbhoy speak about the final updated edition of her book, `Aboard the Democracy Train, Pakistan Tracks the Threat Within,’ at an event held at the Karachi Press Club on Friday.
Moderated by senior journalist and anchor person, Mujahid Barelvi, the audience also heard from former assistant editor of Dawn and writer Zubeida Mustafa. A 20 minute presentation about the book by the author was followed by questions and comments from the audience.
The author said that while her original book was published in 2011 by Anthem Press, London, the updated edition was reprinted in 2016 in hard cover by Paramount Books, Pakistan, and is now available in leading book stores around the country.
She said that the story begins when Gen Zia ul Haq’s plane explodes in 1988 and she is deputed by Dawn newspaper to cover the bid by Benazir Bhutto to become the first woman prime minister of Pakistan.
In response to critique about her coverage of ethnic conflict of the 1980’s, she said that “without prejudice toward any ethnic group,” her day-to-day reporting in Karachi’s hospitals had exposed her to the deep sense of insecurity suffered by Sindhis in the aftermath of the September 30, Hyderabad carnage case.
The author said that the third section of the book views Pakistan from the US, when both nations entered an uneasy relationship after the events of 9/11. It includes narrations about the tenure of former Gen. Pervaiz Musharraf and first hand meetings with Benazir Bhutto in Washington DC – shortly before the aspiring prime minister was assassinated.
The author said that she decided to expand the book and have it reprinted in Pakistan in 2016, to address the policy shift in the army that finally acknowledged that the `enemy within’ was a bigger threat than India.
According to her, this last chapter, written from Washington, captures the somersaults that Pakistani politicians made to fall in line with the military’s decision to eliminate the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan. It further encapsulates Pakistan’s drift away from the US, and realignment with China.
In his remarks, Mujahid Barelvi said that the author has been a `hard core’ news reporter. Despite the `dry’ nature of the subject, he said she had made the book readable because of an engaging style.