Zaid Hamid’s Memoirs (1-5)

The Reviews

In Syed Zaid Zaman Hamid’s Memoirs (1-5) one first sees Soviet watchtowers “piercing the skyline” two months before Tajikistan’s declaration of independence.  The year is 1991 as Hamid lets loose a celebratory shot from his captured AK-47 on the Afghan side of the Oxus River.  Give those Soviet androids some music to retreat by, Sahib.  Send them packing to the sound of their own rifle.  I love it.

Several years earlier, Hamid is an engineering student in Karachi, Pakistan.  The Soviets invade Afghanistan and Hamid leaps like a tiger to the defence of his neighbors.  His loving parents let him charge off to Jihad with willing hearts to join the great incoming swell of other volunteer soldiers.  Mujahideen rushed to Afghanistan from all over the world to liberate their Muslim brothers from the scourge of tyranny.

History issues from his memory — precious and little-known.  The widely strewn myth of Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden’s involvement in 9/11 is dispelled.  Hamid details how bin Laden came to join their rag-tag band of resistance fighters in the 1980’s like many other Arabs who were given one-way tickets by their government.  Then when the war was over, these men were abandoned by their countries.  They found themselves stateless and homeless.  Osama was among them and not of the mind to hatch the sophisticated dirt that was done in his name.

Hamid modestly prefaces the writing with how he did not want to wait longer, lest the years should cloud his memory.  Based on his weekly analysis and commentary, we are guaranteed only the sharpest recounting.  As crisp as the AK-47 he shot into the morning sun.

In deft, beautiful turns of phrase, Hamid takes his reader into the wilds of a war-torn country.  Impetuous vim runneth over.  Winking at the brim.  We are treated to the light trigger of his valour.  What is courage?  How does bravery taste?  In these Memoirs, you get a sip from his cup.

Throughout his writing there runs a vein of humility that is tied to Hamid’s profound love of God.  In the rich hindsight of his maturity, he recounts the errors of his ways.  Little oversights that on the battlefield could have cost his life.  But he lives and learns as brothers-in-arms die beside him.  He questions, as does many a warrior, why did he survive?

As an outsider to this history, I see clearly why Hamid survived.  From these memoirs, his current speeches to countrymen, his in-depth analysis of breaking news, history, and political climate, Divine Providence rings as true as the clap of a rifle shot.  Hamid embodies the spirit of that “One Desert Horse” who will never bow to the prince of this world.  Like the boys in Kashmir write on their protest signs, “You can kill us, but you will never break us.”

This man can mount the leadership of his country and, like Zulfiqar Bhutto, be the tiger.  In Hamid, there is a man with firm grip on reins and sword.  His mark on the battlefield has been made.  His mettle has been proven.  Armies respect that kind of leadership.  Hamid is Pattonesque, Alexandrian, Jacksonian…  One who leads from the front and by example.  Such a man, unlike today’s installed Pakistani “milk toast,” would not back down from the maw of hell.  And armies would follow him into it at a full gallop.

In a world overrun by cowards, yes-men and corrupt politicians, Hamid is a breath of fresh air.  Like the great potentates before him, he is a skillful switch-hitter in communication.  Both a passionate orator and adroit writer, he wields a formidable blade.  His writing skills are handsomely showcased in this text.

After reading Hamid’s memoirs, I know that should the future raise him to the shoulders of Pakistan where he righteously belongs, no greater, nor more virtuous leadership will that country ever have known.


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