Now that US combat operations in Iraq have ended, focus of war on terror has sifted to the forgotten war-the one in Afghanistan.
Following terrorist attacks on 9/11. Afghanistan became “the” target for the US as Al Qaeda-which carried out the attacks, was based in the country. But the mission lost focus soon and America was in another war, based on questionable intelligence reports which were later found to be totally false and misleading.Iraq was attacked in 2003, barely two years after US operations in Afghanistan began.
After 7 years of operation in Iraq which failed to produce desirable results and added more problems than solving any, America is out of Iraq and the President has promised that Afghan operations is of high priority now.
M. Salahuddin Khan’s SIKANDER is a fast moving novel based on Afghanistan, which shows the human face behind all those labeled “religious fanatics” and “insurgents”.
Sikandar, a Pakistani youth from a well to do family in city of Peshawar, finds himself fighting along side the Afghan mujaheddin against the Russians, in remote hills of Laghar Juy.By popular definition, it easy to assume that Sikandar and his comrades must be religious hardliners or some kind of a fanatics to get involved in the conflict.
Not so. Khan brings out the human face behind the warriors and the real challenges facing a youngster who goes from carefree life in the suburbs to life of a rugged warrior in Afghan mountains. These people are not one dimensional characters.
The author has done excellent job of presenting Sikandar, his comrades and their family as humans and not putting them into a labeled box and pretending as if they do not exist beyond these set labels. In exploring the person behind the labels, Khan has kept melodrama and unnecessary emotional situations out.
There is no attempt to gather sympathy or pity for Sikandar or his comrades and there is no attempt to glamorize the life of an insurgent. What Sikandar lacks in drama and soap opera style tear jerking situations is perhaps its biggest strength.
The characters, all of them, have real dignity and presence about them. Even the Gitmo guard who tortures Sikandar is surprisingly real and alive person. It is easy to hate him but it is also hard to ignore him as a real person facing serious judgment call. The author has presented the situation in Gitmo and the torture of Sikandar as a learning opportunity and the seriousness is not spoiled by extravagant high talk.
SIKANDER’s reader will come out understanding more about Afghanistan and its people beyond what is presented in the media-which is usually limited to describing the country as a battered war torn nation with people who live by rules made centuries ago. They will not find anger or vengeful feelings in this novel. Despite its intensity, SIKANDER is surprisingly positive novel.
M. Salahuddin Khan’s SIKANDER is a winner. Grab a copy, you will enjoy the journey.
For more on SIKANDER and the author M. Salahuddin Khan, please visit Sikanderbook.com