In This Review

Defeat Is an Orphan: How Pakistan Lost the Great South Asian War
Defeat Is an Orphan: How Pakistan Lost the Great South Asian War
By Myra Macdonald
Oxford University Press, 2017, 320 pp

This is a slashing indictment of Pakistani strategy by a journalist who has covered South Asia for decades. After Pakistan carried out a nuclear test in 1998 in response to tests conducted by India, its intelligence and military leaders believed that the nuclear umbrella would give them the cover to conduct a proxy war against India built around undeclared armed operations, hijackings, terrorist incidents, and the destabilization of Afghanistan. They were right. But MacDonald shows in dramatic detail how this obsession with India (and in particular the problem of a divided Kashmir) undermined Pakistan’s democracy and economy, how peace opportunities were lost, and how Islamabad lost control of militant groups that it had initially fostered. Meanwhile, India has pulled ahead in the economic and diplomatic competition between the two countries. MacDonald also criticizes U.S. policy in the region, which has tilted toward India but not as far as she believes it should.