FRONTIER OF FAITH
Frontier of Faith examines the history of Islam, especially that of local mullahs, in the North-West Frontier, a largely autonomous zone straddling the boundary of Pakistan and Afghanistan, from the late nineteenth century to the present. Haroon’s book is also highly relevant to the present, given that the area in question is now said to be the likely hiding place of Al Qaeda and its local Afghan and Pakistani 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 emphasised the role and importance of the local mullahs, who jealously protected the powers they accrued to themselves. After the partition of India in 1947, the Tribal Areas maintained its status as an autonomous region in both the Afghan and Pakistani imaginations and cartographic descriptions. The mullahs contributed to armed mobilisations over the next half century, in return for which nationalist actors protected their vested interest in regional autonomy. Thus the region became the hinterland of successive, contradictory jihads in support of Pakhtun ethnicism, anti-colonial nationalism, Pakistani territorialism, religious revivalism, Afghan anti-Soviet resistance, and latterly anti-Americanism. Haroon s book 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.
Publisher: HURST & CO