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BOOK REVIEW

Name of the Book: Bosnia-Herzegovina A Global

Tragedy

Author of the Book: Col Muhammad Nazir Shams

Published by: Saleemi Friends

Chapter of the Book: Nine

Pages of the Book: 169

Printed In: 1993

About the Author

Col Muhammad Nazir Shams is a serving officer of Pakistan Army. He is a learned

scholar who has contributed towards the literature in many folds. These include

writing of articles in Pakistan Defence Review, Pakistan Army Journal and Air

Defender. He has also written few articles in Citadel. He is a graduate of

Command and Staff College Pakistan and US Army Air Defence School Fort Bliss

Texas USA. He has also done MA in International Relations from Karachi

University.

Summary of the Book

This book is written in nine chapters in total including the introduction and

conclusion. The book generally describes the factors and circumstances leading

to the conflict and riots in Bosnia. The book starts with a chart showing ethnic

distribution in Bosnia followed by the maps of Balkans and surroundings, Bosnia

and Europe and physiography of Bosnia itself.


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The first chapter deals with introduction and geohisotrical perspective. In this

part of the book, the author has started with the geographical location of Bosnia.

It has also included the summary of Balkan wars and geographical history of

Former Yugoslavia. The chapter ends with the brief history of Bosnia. The second

chapter deals with the problem in retrospect. The author takes us to the collapse

of communism in 1990 when the major trouble started. In 1992, the first ethnic

clashes took place between the Muslims and the Serbs when the Serbs declared

a “Serbian Republic of Bosnia Herzegovina”. Chapter 3 deals with religious cult of

Bosnian Muslims. In this chapter the author has again taken us back in the

history to carry out analysis of Muslims of Bosnia and their religious status in

Europe. The author describes the origin of Muslims as converters during the reign

of the Ottoman Empire in 15th century. The author here clarifies the issue of

Muslims being declared as fundamentalists. The literacy rate in Bosnia is about

90% and they have a very liberal approach towards the religion. The objective of

Serbia is to recreate a greater Serbia and have Muslims eliminated from their

conceived homeland. The Serbs had started ethnic cleansing of Muslims.

Thousands and thousands of Muslims had died on the battle front. Apart from

this, thousands innocent people were killed brutally in the towns and cities. The

most sad part was the rapes of Muslim women by the Serb army.
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Chapter 4 deals with the attitude of Europe towards the issue. Europe is

dominated by Christians and their aim has always been to get rid of the Muslims.

Their history clearly shows their hatred towards the Muslims. So was the case in

Bosnian crisis. West was biased towards the Serbs for quite some period until the

Serbs exceeded the limits. Still the arms embargo on the Muslims only to limit

their fighting capabilities shows the biased attitude of the west. Chapter 5

suggest some options of solution and their implications. The author has

discussed the role of UN in this region and implication of no fly zone and arms

embargo on the two sides. He has suggested various options to the world

community to overcome this problem in which the Serbs are gradually destroying

the Muslim community. Another option is arms embargo on the Serbs also so the

two sides can be on equal footings. One option could be of total military

intervention by the United Nations. The peace plan was accepted by the Muslims

on 25 March 1993 but was rejected by the Serbian military leadership. The sixth

chapter deals with a very important issue which is of the role of Muslim

community. The Muslim community has generally been quite on the issue except

some of the statements by the OIC summits held at various occasions. The

Muslim community needs to be assertive in the issue. Chapters 7 and 8 deal with

analysis and lessons for the Muslim community respectively. The author has

carried out the analysis of the situation specially highlighting the Russian and

American factors. The United Nations has been unable to control the problem

inspite of its deployment of forces in the area. The war crimes committed by the

Serbs in particular need to be tried to make an example for the rest. The lessons

learnt from the Bosnian crisis are many but one lesson which need to be re

emphasized is of unity. In unity lies the strength and if we Muslims are not united

then the Christians and the Jews will keep on doing the same with Bosnians today

and may be with Kashmiris tomorrow.

Review of the Book


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The book written by Colonel Nazir Shams is a well written book recommended to

be read by young men and particularly the officers of Pakistan Army. It is written

in simple plain English language which does not require consultation of

dictionary very often. Anyone can understand the book without much difficulty.

The book is printed on a good quality paper and the text is also bold enough to

be read easily. The book starts with a beautiful coloured chart showing the ethnic

distribution of Bosnia Herzegovina. The cover of the book is designed by

Lieutenant Colonel Ijaz Ahmed Nasir. The cover bears the map of Bosnia in green

colour which is also the colour of Islam. An axe of Serbs is cutting the map into

two with blood dropping from the map and going into waste. The book includes

no of references which shows that the author has consulted many books to cover

the issue in this book. The book also includes some black and white photographs

of the area which graphically depict the areas held by the two sides. It includes

their Headquarters, installations, dumps, military build up etc. The author in the

second edition has also included the errata covering the mistakes on different

pages. An epilogue has also been added in this addition to summarize the recent

events taking place after the publishing of first edition.


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The book has certain drawbacks one of which is the sequence. The author has

been unable to write the events in a sequence. The background and the history

of Bosnia are covered in different locations under separate headings. In the first

chapter, the author has given a brief history along with the geographical

background of the area. After going into little details of the present day events in

the second chapter, the author has again reverted back to the history of Bosnia

in the third chapter. The history of the area should have been covered in one

chapter may be under different sub headings. The author has not completely

described the intentions of the Serbs and the Croats towards the Islam. At few

places, the author has mentioned about it, but giving it a detail thought is scanty.

Role of Croat in the conflict is not spelled out in detail. The general comparison of

the two sides in terms of weapons, manpower, equipment, machinery, land,

airforce etc should have been also given so as to give a general idea about the

ratio.

Overall the book is worth reading and gives a good knowledge about the recent

developments in the heart of Europe and gives us an awakening about the

attitude of west towards Islam. The young generation must study this book to

learn about the general topography, history and the clashes between the Serbs

and the Muslims.