That long drought may soon be coming to an end. Two recent debut novels by Indian authors, featuring heroes from the Indian spy agency RAW and their escapades in neighbouring Pakistan, provide some welcome analysis, however fictional, of the issues that bedevil the South Asian region.
Without giving away the details of either story, let me just say they deal with topics that should be very familiar to Indian and Pakistani readers.
The name Dawood Ibrahim is notorious throughout India. Ibrahim was a Mumbai-based don who fled the country when the heat on him began to increase. He is believed to have been responsible for the Mumbai blasts of 1993. He has been sighted in the UAE on occasion but is now believed to be hiding out in Pakistan.
In The Karachi Deception, Irshad Dilawar is the thinly-disguised equivalent of Dawood Ibrahim, and the story is of a group of RAW agents who are sent into Pakistan to eliminate him. Of course, nothing is ever straightforward in a good spy novel, and there are twists and turns galore.
Both books weave historical and contemporary facts with fiction to create an engaging story. Needless to say, the villains in both novels are members of Pakistan's spy agency ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence).
1. The description of Mullah Baradar on page 76 alternates between the past tense and the present tense. It should have been in the past tense throughout.
2. On page 130 appears the line "Sadiq and him never got along well." That should have read "Sadiq and he never got along well."
3. On page 151, there is a reference to the "draft itinerary" of an important meeting. That should of course have been "draft agenda".
I did enjoy both books, and would recommend them to other fans of the spy genre as well as to those interested in South Asian politics. Here's looking forward to more subcontinental spy fiction from these and other authors. It would be good to see Sri Lanka, Burma, Nepal and China included in the ambit of future stories, since they no doubt play a role in real-life covert operations in the region.