Thursday, 13 March 2014
Mayhem in March: Agency Rules by Khalid Muhammad
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Celebrated as a ragtag force that defeated and broke the Soviet Union, no one predicted the
Mujahideen would bring with them a plague that would spread like wildfire through Pakistan in the years to follow. When the battle-worn fighters returned with no enemy or war to fight, they turned their sights on the country that had been their creator and benefactor.
From the same battlegrounds that birthed the Mujahideen, a young Kamal Khan emerges as a different breed of warrior. Discarding his wealthy family comforts, Kamal becomes a precision sniper, an invincible commando and a clandestine operative bringing intimidation, dominance and death with him to the battlefield. Ending the plague is his prime directive.
Shrouded in political expediency, hampered by internal power struggles, international espionage and doublespeak that makes Washington’s spin doctors proud, Kamal’s mission is a nightmare of rampant militant fundamentalism that threatens to choke and take Pakistan hostage. For him, the fight is not just for freedom, but the survival of a nation.
Nine months ago, the Muslim League government had won a surprising mandate across Pakistan on a manifesto that was full of promises that would be difficult, if not impossible, to deliver. One of their core promises was returning Karachi, Pakistan’s largest metropolis and economic hub, back to a peaceful existence.
Since his party’s election victory, Prime Minister Azam Shah had struggled with difficult questions on the actual implementation of his manifesto that had gotten them elected, but had never seemed to provide any clear or direct answers. One thing he had clearly demonstrated was his intense love for the cameras and media spotlight during his political events. As the opposition leader in the previous government, he had taken great pleasure in highlighting the failings and bad decisions of the sitting government. Today, however, was a different story as his government was now in power and he was regularly in the hot seat. During a tour of a children’s hospital in his native Multan, the Prime Minister was again posturing for the media. As the visit drew to a close, the newly minted Prime Minister sauntered to the podium as if he had won an award, unserious and jovial, until a staunch critic of the government posed a difficult question.
“Prime Minister, you have occupied the most powerful seat in the country for almost nine months now. Do you not see it as a failure that your government has not drafted any policy to address the violence in Karachi?”
It was not the first time it has been asked, but it was the first time the word ‘failure’ had been introduced into the public debate. As he looked around the gaggle of journalists, each thrusting forward to capture his next words on their recorders, he knew this would be the lead headline for the rest of the day, opening the door for opposition and coalition parties to criticize his inaction.
He measured his response, almost rehearsing the words in his mind before speaking. “I think it’s too early to use words like failure. When we were not the ruling party, our information was limited to what the previous government wanted us to know. Now, we have more intelligence about the situation, and I am briefed daily.”
Journalists started firing follow-up questions at him before he could complete his response. He held up his hands to try to bring the situation back under control.
“Just a minute, may I finish my response before you start your follow-ups?” he asked, trying to assert his position, but even he knew he had less than thirty seconds to finish and get away before he was cornered by the wolves stalking their prey.
“The government has had several meetings with all the stakeholders, both collectively and individually, over the past few months to ascertain the best course of action,” he continued hesitantly, knowing he had been repeating this for months now. He knew he wouldn’t win any favors by repeating himself. Just then, he felt a hand on his side and saw a note placed before him on the podium. Quickly scanning the note, he flashed a semi-smile. “Next week, we will bring everyone together to decide the final course of action.”
About the Author
When people talk about Khalid Muhammad, they talk about an entrepreneur who has helped others build their dreams and businesses. They talk about a teacher, who is dedicated to his students, both inside and outside the classroom, and they return the dedication tenfold.
Now, they talk about the author, who has written a fast-paced, action-packed spy thriller
about Pakistan, the politics, the Army and terrorism.
Born in Pakistan's troubled Swat Valley, educated and raised in the United States, Khalid returned to Pakistan almost 17 years ago and fell in love with his country. His debut novel, Agency Rules - Never an Easy Day at the Office, is a journey behind the headlines about Pakistan, the world's most dangerous place, to deliver an intense story that will challenge the reader to question what they have been told.
Connect with Khalid online
Website - http://agencyrules.com
A note from Linzé: Come back tomorrow for a guest post from Khalid on the story behind Agency Rules.