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On the face of it, London Daily Telegraph correspondent Loshak's timing could not have been worse. Because his account of the Pakistan situation terminates with the events of October 1971 -- after President Yahya Khan's bloody repression of the East Pakistani disorders but before the emergence of secessionist Bangladesh as a result of the December war with India -- Loshak spends much time in the latter chapters discussing matters which are no longer moot; in addition, he sometimes proves a poor prophet, e.g., ""With India now restrained by Russia through the new mutual-defense treaty, there is little chance that India (might seek) to superimpose a military solution of her own."" But this is not to say that Loshak's analysis lacks all merit, nor that it will not interest students of contemporary Asian politics. With the experienced journalist's knack for condensing but not unduly oversimplifying the matrix of complicated, interconnected issues and events, Loshak provides a valuable overview of Pakistan's ""sad history"" -- a fledgling nation rent geographically at the outset by politically expedient partition, rent diplomatically by the problem of Kashmir (""which started the rot""), rent religiously by hatreds centuries old (""Hindus worship the cow; Muslims eat it""), and more recently the East Wing decimated not only by unprecedented floods and cyclones but Yahya's insensate subjugation of breakaway nationalism, ""a bloodbath more methodical, planned, and ruthlessly executed than any in modern times since the Nazis."" Loshak also offers some controversial, albeit convincing, assessments of the political leadership on both sides, putting down the still imprisoned Bengali nationalist Sheikh Mujib (he lacks a basic political philosophy and hasn't ""even the haziest ideas of how he would conduct a government""), sees Z. A. Bhutto who is currently forming the new Pakistani government as being distrusted by the army ""even as it uses him,"" and believes that General Tikka Khan (not Yahya) was the real strong man of the now toppled regime. Thus, despite the rather obdurate fact that Mrs. Gandhi tripped up Loshak (along with a tot of other people), this is a useful background study of what continues to be the Pakistan crisis.

Pub Date: Feb. 29th, 1972
Publisher: McGraw-Hill