This is a beautifully written book. The author has managed to describe a complex region with surprising clarity and provide a perspective rarely seen. True to its title, the book really is a journey which begin with the author’s personal experience of growing up in Pakistan and then watching the nation evolve over decades – all through the eyes of a courageous journalist. This is a must read book for anyone wanting to understand Pakistan and the myriad of factors that have defined the nation today.
Absolutely the best account of the last quarter centuries’ events in Pakistan and the ongoing struggle to bring women’s issues to forefront and it shows how difficult it is to bring about change in attitudes in an Islamic society. Nafisa Hoodbhoy’s first hand reporting give the reader an insight not only to one woman’s personal experiences, but to events as they unfolded for millions of Pakistani people under constant military control. Aboard the Train illustrates how difficult it is to bring about a Democracy in a culture steeped in centuries of traditional feudal practices including female infanticide, rape as a political weapon and social control mechanism reinforced by law and religion, and marriage to the Quaran. Nafisa is both an observer, writer, documentarian, and an agent of change and a free thinker in a world highly intolerant of women who dare to cross traditional boundaries. We are fortunate to have her as our eyes and ears of the epoch changes that have occurred in the region from the rise of the Taliban, the end of the cold war, the election of Benazir Bhutto and her assassination. She portrays the corruption, the male insiders club of Pakistani journalism, and the constant threat of censorship, both self imposed by legitimate fear and official government manipulation of the press. For the West to truly understand the world that is evolving in Pakistan and Afghanistan today, one surely must read this book. Nafisa Hoodbhoy has risked her life many times to have written such a gem, we should all be proud of her sharing it with us now. Hopefully it will inspire many more women journalists around the world to see how one woman can really make a real difference every day, in every keystroke.
I read this book straight through without putting it down. It truly is a gripping first person account of Nafisa Hoodbhoy’s experiences as a reporter and the nuggets of information she unearthed. These nuggets illuminate the inside machinations that led to the current situation in Pakistan. As someone who grew up in Karachi, the book is a tour of many of the events that occurred and why. The formation of the MQM, the ethnic wars in Karachi, Benazir’s grip on power as a Prime Minister and many other moments are explained through information gained by reporting. This book is a must read for all reading Pakistanis and Pakistani watchers.
Hoodbhoy shows how Pakistan’s social fabric changed from a pluralisticand tolerant to an ideologically driven corrupt culture. The seeds of narrowlydefined fundamentalist ideology were present when the country was born ofpartitioned India in 1947. Those germs of intolerant ideology found fertileground in the feudal culture of rural Pakistan. With army jumping into thepolitical fray in 1950s, corruption took root among the armed forces, and the opportunityfor the country to become a viable nation was doomed. Today, practically Pakistan is a failed state, almostbankrupt and balkanized among different ethnic groups.
Its’ a must read book.
This book reveals inequities and injustices of an impoverished nation. The author is bold and brave and writes courageously about her experiences and brushes with danger. She is Pakistan’s younger version of America’s Helen Thomas who has been challenging the establishment over contentious issues for decades. Her book is very well written, reads well and is very informative. I recommend it highly to anyone who wants to learn more about today’s Pakistan.