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By Muhammad Hanif
16th May, 2012
CNo: 02, Civil D, 11PWCIV3570
Introduction…………………………………………………………………………………..Page 3 Summary……………………………………………………………………………………….Page 4 Report……………………………………………………………………………………………Page 5 Conclusion………………………………………………………………………………….….Page 7
This report deals with the summary, main points, idea of the novel A CASE OF EXPLODING MANGOES, written by Muhammad Hanif. The novel reimagines the conspiracies and coincidences which lead to the death of Pakistan’s longest serving military dictator General Muhammad Zia ul Haq. How all the characters in the real life of the dictator were connected and how all of them wanted to get rid of the man who was using Islam as a veil to his rule over this country. The novel also gives an insight into working of inter-services intelligence, Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency. Ironically all the characters in this novel aren’t fictitious and are real life characters with the same names and professions. The author also gives us an inside experience into the lives of people at the helm armed forces of Pakistan, their way of living, talking, behaving, eating and their way of day to day life. This is a master piece in the Pakistani literature as it keeps the person bonded to read the novel till end.
A first novel of the first order--provocative, exuberant, wickedly clever--that reimagines the conspiracies and coincidences leading to the mysterious 1988 plane crash that killed Pakistan's dictator General Zia al-Haq. At the center is Ali Shigri: Pakistan Air Force pilot and Silent Drill Commander of Fury Squadron. His father, one of Zia's colonels, committed suicide under suspicious circumstances. Ali is determined to understand what or who pushed his father to such desperation--and to avenge his death. What he quickly discovers is a snarl of events: Americans in Pakistan, Soviets in Afghanistan, and dollars in every hand. But Ali remains patient, determined, a touch world-weary, and unsurprised at finding Zia at every turn. He mounts an elaborate plot for revenge with an ever-changing crew (willing and not) that includes his silk-underwear-and-cologne-wearing roommate; a hash-smoking American lieutenant with questionable motives; the chief of Pakistan's secret police, who mistakenly believes he's in cahoots with the CIA; a blind woman imprisoned for fornication; Uncle Starchy, the squadron's laundryman; and, not least of all, a mango-besotted crow. General Zia--devout Muslim and leering admirer of non- Muslim women--begins every day by asking his chief of security: 'Who's trying to kill me?' and the answer lies in a conspiracy trying its damnedest to happen...Intrigue and subterfuge combine with misstep and luck in this darkly comic book about love, betrayal, tyranny, family--and a world that unexpectedly resembles our own.
The novel starts with the investigation being carried out from the trainee cadets at PAF Academy due to the reason that a trainee cadet and an aircraft are missing. The writer gives us an inside view into the life of the trainee cadets, how they live, behave and what is the behavior of officers towards them. The chapters of this novel intermingle between Zia and other characters that are coincidentally linked to the death of the dictator. Zia would get up every day for fajr prayer and would recite holy Quran before the prayer and then would ponder over the verses he had just read discussing them with his chief security officer and other men. Zia would use Islam to protect and prolong his military rule. Even after the first meeting of corps commanders after the coup Zia was using Islam in that very meeting to control his soldiers. He would later change the motto of army to Jihad fi Sabeel ullah from Unity, faith, discipline and thus bringing Islamic rule in the land of pure. The story moves on with Zia’s security moving onto Tier 5, the five layers of security as there are credible proofs with ISI of Zia being assassinated but by whom, it remains un ascertained. All the people related to Zia in his rule come under scrutiny. Different layers are joined together to catch the culprit. Interrogations from Ali Shigre, the trainee cadet, president of sweepers association and Zainab bibi start and these are what are covered in the book and these all three form the basic part in the assassination of Zia. Ali shigree is charged with trying to steal an air force aircraft and trying/ intending it to ram into presidents house. The interrogations move on and it is proved that he intended doing so but nothings happens to him as being the son of colonel Shigri, the right hand man of Zia in Afghan war he is let go free. Also this is made possible due to a change in command in ISI and the cases opened up by the old command are just being finished. Later in the story it is revealed that Colonel Shigri dies due to suicide. The reason is that during afghan war he is ordered to bring $25 million from Afghanistan and leave his wounded and dead shoulder behind. Deeply grieved at this situation he just suicides. The president of sweepers association is caught, investigations move on, nothing is proved against him but instead of letting him free he is shot and killed by interrogators thus showing the ruthless way of ISI. But that man is in the end involved in killing of Zia but ISI is unable to find any clue regarding his involvement. Now the main part of the story is Zainab Bibi. The blind women charged with adultery under the hudood ordinance. Her prayers are eye opening as she prays against Zia and how Zia ignores all international pressure and gets her convicted. Her letter to sweeper’s union president which later unfolds all the mystery about how all people were involved in killing Zia and how all of them succeed. How all of the characters involved in getting Zia killed succeed.
Also this novel unravels the character of the silent soldier, General Akhtar Abdul Rehman, how he defeats soviets and just keeps a close eye on Zia ul haq even when he is the ISI chief and just keeps watching his own boss through spy cams. The story moves on with Zia going to Bahawalpur to watch the Abraham Tanks demonstration and their failure in acheiving their targets. After this demonstration there is a parade by trainee cadets of PAF and again Shigri boy is in the parade after freeing himself from ISI’s handcuffs. He while in Parade just drops his poisoned layers sword on Zia and manages to get Zia slightly injured and manages to just make the poison pass into Zia’s blood and the poison is really a powerful one. And Zia starts to beat profusely and the poison on sword passes into his veins. Thus Shigri boy takes his revenge of his father’s death though a suicide but a suicide due to Zia and his orders. Now the super fit C-130’s are loaded with mangoes from Bahawalpur. The finest mangoes are loaded and Zia calls a mango party of his top generals, American ambassador and other important people aboard his C130. But in one of the mango crates is a bomb planted by the same president of sweepers association on the orders of Zainab Bibi. The letter of Zainab to Sweeper unfolds it mystery here. Now when Zia is boarding the air craft Shigri can see signs of drowsiness on Zia and these are the first signs of the poison giving its effects. Thirdly the planes air conditioner is filled with a poisonous gas most probably on orders of ISI Chief as he is upset due to his ceremonial promotion and not getting what he wanted. The plane flies in air and after hop diving in air for few minutes comes crashing to ground and blasts on its impact with the ground. Thus killing Zia, his top generals, American Ambassador and thus bringing an end to a most disastrous period in the Pakistani history.
The novel reimagines the ironic coincidences into the killing of Zia ul Haq. How four to five different characters were involved in killing Zia ul Haq and how all of them succeed in getting him killed. The main points we get from this novel are: Zia was a coward man and who used Islam as a veil to protect himself and his government. The ruthless way of working if ISI. How it works above the law, has no rules of intraactions and can do anything in the land of pure.
The lives of cadets at armed forces. How they are taught obedience, and made to live their lives according to set patterns. The corruption within the army and embezzlement of billions of funds of the Soviet war.
Islamization of Pakistan and its army. The judicial system of Pakistan and its sub service to the rulers. Use of Jihadi Elements by Pakistan and America to achieve results and fight a war against soviets. Internal hand along with foreign hand in killing of Zia ul haq and other top generals.
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