From 1988 to 1991, Durrani, a three-star general, served short terms as the director of Pakistan’s military intelligence and the director of the country’s intelligence agency. In this sardonic insider account, he portrays Pakistani politics as a formless scrum in which the army, the president, the prime minister, feudally organized political parties, the U.S. ambassador, and the Saudi intelligence chief lobby and scheme with no institutional limits and no one in charge. Durrani’s account is cynical and persuasive. He contends that every major Pakistani policy decision—except developing nuclear weapons—has been a mistake, including creating a crisis in the Kargil area of contested Kashmir in 1999, knuckling under to U.S. demands after the 9/11 attacks, sending troops to quash resistance in tribal areas, and, above all, trusting the United States. He is just as hard on other countries, however—arguing, for example, that U.S. goals in Afghanistan are doomed to failure because the American presence strengthens, rather than weakens, the Taliban and weakens, rather than strengthens, the client regime in Kabul.
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