A film adaptation is right now underway. The story is narrated by the lazy and disrespectful Ali Shigri. The story takes after Ali Shigri, a junior officer in the Pakistani Air Force, attends the Pakistani Air Force Academy with his kindred cadets and their teachers—a cast of brilliant characters that are very likely insane. The bore teacher, the hash-smoking American Lieutenant Bannon, referred to everybody as Loot, wears excessively Old Spice cologne.
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Plot summary[ edit ] The central theme of the book is a fictitious story behind the real life plane crash which killed General Zia , president of Pakistan from to , about which there are many conspiracy theories. Shortly after a smooth take-off, the control tower loses contact with the aircraft. Witnesses who saw the plane in the air later claimed it was flying erratically, before nosediving and exploding on impact, killing all 31 on board. Zia had ruled Pakistan for 11 years prior to his death.
Lazy, irreverent Ali Shigri narrates the story. Ali attends the Pakistani Air Force Academy with his fellow cadets and their instructors.
His best friend is Baby O, his roommate and lover, who enjoys imaging himself to be Jonathan Livingston Seagull , the title character of the Richard Bach novel.
Over the course of the book, the general grows ever more suspicious of those in his inner circle until he is driven utterly mad by his own paranoia.
He fights with his wife and takes every opportunity to leer at non-Muslim cleavage. In one subplot, General Zia sentences Zainab, a blind woman, to death by stoning for being the victim of a gang rape. For condemning her, Zainab calls down a curse upon General Zia. The curse is picked up by a sugar-obsessed crow. OBL works for Laden and Co.
Constructions, making this a clear reference to, and a cameo by, Osama bin Laden. But Baby O concocts a new plot to kill the General by crashing a plane kamikaze-style down on top of him. He even goes so far as to steal a plane for the job, but in doing so, he accidentally lands Ali in prison at Lahore Fort, a torture center.
While there, Ali listens to the screams of his tortured fellow prisoners and talks via a hole in the wall with the "Secretary General" who has been in solitary confinement there for nine years.
Meanwhile, Major Kiyani appears on the scene, intending to torture Ali. Suddenly a change in ISI command takes place, and Ali is freed in time to avoid torture.
Upon his arrival back at the Pakistani Air Force Academy, he learns that he has been chosen as part of the squad that will perform a silent drill salute for General Zia.
After the silent drill salute, General Zia boards the doomed Pak One. The novel does not confirm whether or not Ali was successful in his attempt to assassinate the General. Or was it an explosive planted in the mangoes by the All Pakistan Sweepers Association in revenge for the death of their general-secretary at the hands of Major Kiyani? Or perhaps was it any of his confidants, each with their own secrets and motivations?
The book even speculates that it was the work of the CIA. He controlled the tremendously great ISI and falls resentfully second in importance, command, and control to General Zia ul Haq. The ISI with its government agent systems and the measure of financing makes General Akhtar an exceptionally well off and hazardous man.
As ISI is in charge of piping the assets and weapons to the Afghan mujahidin, the book indicates that every one of these assets are not given to the mujahidin. The millions are occupied somewhere else, to people with great influence, chief among whom General Akhtar.
Global Politics[ edit ] The book reveals the self-contradictory nature of American policy in the Middle East during this time. Much time is spent discussing the joint US-Pakistan effort to support Afghan mujahideen guerilla fighters against Soviet forces in the s.
As we are reminded, the US enthusiastically collaborated with General Zia to finance, train, and supply the Afghan mujahideen in their insurgency. It was Zia who permitted the shipment of American arms and billions of American dollars to the rebels, and who allowed the border regions of Pakistan to be used as their haven and training base.
Hanif highlights the irony in America wanting to purge the world of one type of authoritarianism by cultivating another. By propping up an unhinged dictator like Zia and conspiring with violent radicals, Hanif believes that the US demonstrates that it will manipulate any weaker actor it can into being a pawn in their foreign policy strategy.
Islamism[ edit ] Throughout the book, Zia remains convinced he is guided by Allah and feels he is receiving ominous messages straight out of the Quran predicting his demise. During his presidency Zia was credited for the Islamization of Pakistan. He was committed to enforcing his interpretation of Nizam-e-Mustafa "Rule of the prophet" Muhammad , i.
Real persons appearing as characters[ edit ].
A Case of Exploding Mangoes
These are external links and will open in a new window Close share panel Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Hanif said security agents seized stock from his publishers and bookshops Award-winning Pakistani journalist and novelist Mohammed Hanif says copies of his best-selling satirical novel A Case of Exploding Mangoes have been seized. It was first published in English over a decade ago to critical acclaim. Hanif said security agents seized stock from his Karachi publishers and bookshops in Islamabad and Lahore. Who seized the books? They just took away all copies of the book," he told BBC Urdu. It looks like they want to scare the few people who still want to read old books. The BBC contacted the Pakistani military but has so far received no response to allegations that members of its intelligence service were involved.
A Case of Exploding Mangoes: Urdu edition novel seized in Pakistan raids
Published on Sat 31 May As a thriller, the novel has plenty of reassuringly familiar characters, such as the intelligence agent who "runs the world with a packet of Dunhills, a gold lighter and an unregistered car". Military aircraft stunts provide gizmo glamour Hanif is a trained airforce pilot. In this account of his botched missions, Junior Officer Ali Shigri, would-be assassin, is a convincingly klutzy semi-hero.
The late dictator
In the final months before his suspicious death by plane crash , Pakistani dictator General Zia ul-Haq grows increasingly paranoid. Ali Shigri, a Pakistan Air Force junior officer, meanwhile finds himself being interrogated after his close friend Obaid dies while stealing a plane from the base at which both are training. Features a very short cameo by Osama bin Laden. Body Horror : Plenty to spare.