Abhisar Sharma’s Eyes of the Predator

Facebook account of Abhisar Sharma says about him- “ I m an Author Journalist. I won the Ramnath Goenka Indian express award for the Hindi TV story of the year for 2008-2009. I cover external affairs/national political stories for the channel and anchor the flagship program of Aajtak telecast at ten pm DASTAK”.

Again Abhisar presents his book in the following way- “What does it take to kill the most dangerous man of South Asia- An act of God. The Eye of the Predator is chase set in South Waziristan to eliminate Baitullah Mehsud, the man whom the TIME magazine called ‘one of the two most influential men of Pakistan’. A dangerous conspiracy- the threads of which extend from the CIA headquarters in Langley to the Nevada Desert, from Kabul to the badlands of South Waziristan, the wild west of the East.” He tantalizes our senses by saying- “Hold your breath the Predator is about to strike”.

ICMLive calls him- “A firebrand journalist, an eloquent debater, an international affairs expert and now an author” while Hachette books, the publishers of the book present it with these words- “ The Eye of the Predator is an arresting account of an unlikely group of men who slept with the enemy in a desperate bid to fight the monster of Pakistan”. A review by Palki Sharma for IBN Live comments- “A promising debut. Sound research spiced up with an interesting plot and characters. A seamless interweaving of fact and fiction. Do read!”

I personally came to know of the book and Abhisar through our mutual friend, Ramdutt Tripathi, the BBC correspondent for Uttar Pradesh, who invited us at the book-reading session in Lucknow. I and wife Nutan attended it and were fortunate to have met Abhisar who was also kind enough to provide us a copy of the book.

Having gone through the book, now I am in a position to comment upon it. I won’t exactly call it a review of the book but these are more in the nature of my passing thoughts after having read the book.

The first thing that comes to my mind is that the saying “appearances can be deceptive” holds absolutely true in Abhisar’s case. If one meets him and talks with him, one invariably finds him an extremely decent, well-mannered, serene and quite person, one who would possibly not even harm an ant. Yet, the topic he has chosen is among the most violent, gory, bloody and tormenting. Could it have something to do with multiple layers of personality as envisaged by Freud in his psychological interpretations?

The second thing is that though the book consists of about 350 pages but once you start reading it, there is something in it that makes you get stuck to you and it would not let you leave the book midway. This only seems to imply that the readability index of the book is pretty high. If we take an analogy with the movies, we might term it as a racy (and juicy) thriller. The book is formally divided into three parts with 25 chapters with an epilogue, which brings out the situation emerging in the aftermath of the killing of Baitullah. But I personally find this division into three parts incongruent with the the way the story has unfolded.

There are a large number of real-life and well-known characters in the novel and Abhisar has tried to do justice with each one of them, particularly regarding their presentation, their mannerisms and the dialogues put in their mouths. Yet there are occasions when one feels as if the dialogues are being put forcefully and the person-dialogue fit is missing to the appropriate extent. I felt this happen the most in Mullah Omar’s case.

But the point on which Abhisar really seems to have scored, other than in his efforts to keep it highly readable and engrossing, is in his analysis of the real-politic in the most treacherous battle-grounds of the world today, where facts and fiction often get submerged in each other in such a dicey fashion that one tends to get swayed away by them in equal measures, feeling cheated and confused in the end. Abhisar, through his fine journalistic abilities and his in-depth understanding of the matter, has been able to bring out these facets to quite some extent.

The book also holds its merit for all those related with law enforcement, modern crime, security matters, intelligence, espionage and counter-espionage because it provides a deep entourage through these circuitous mazes of high flux, where response on the real-time basis is the requirement of the day and any minor lapse may change the situation completely.

I end my observations with reproducing the last lines of the book, which in a way, sums up the story of the book-“Baitullah’s death and the events that unfolded later created a charm between the new-found allies, all of whom were now clearly working against each other’s interests.
They may have killed Baitullah Mehsud, but his ghost still hovered over Pakistan.”

Good job, Mr Abhisar.

Writer Amitabh Thakur is IPS, Currently at IIM Lucknow.

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