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Frontier of Fear: Confronting the Taliban on Pakistan's Border

Frontier of Fear: Confronting the Taliban on Pakistan's Border
David Gosling

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The troubled borderland of Pakistan and Afghanistan the so-called AfPak region is one of the most dangerous areas of the world. Between 2006 and 2010 David L. Gosling lived in Peshawar, the provincial capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, where he was principal of Edwardes College, a prestigious higher education college, affiliated with the University of Peshawar. In this book, Gosling describes his time at Edwardes College and the challenges and changes of his tenure. Already the first co-educational college in the province, Gosling significantly increased the proportion of female students and staff. The book also describes the early stages of Taliban growth in Afghanistan, its spill-over into the tribal borderlands of Pakistan and how a combination of Pakistan army activity and US drone strikes provoked a furious backlash by Taliban groups against civilian targets in and around Peshawar, including death threats against the author. Providing a personal account of the education and politics of this frontier region, this book offers a unique viewpoint on a part of the world which is often misunderstood."

Author Info

David L. Gosling was principal of Edwardes College in the University of Peshawar, Pakistan, from 2006 to 2010. He is a Life Member and former Spalding Fellow at Clare Hall, University of Cambridge and has held lectureships and visiting fellowships in the universities of Hull, Lancaster and Delhi and at the East-West Center in Hawaii.


'Imagine the English principal of a famous college on the North West Frontier, a place built by the British and founded by Christians. Inject a few nightmares – Taliban bombs, suicide attacks, the daily slaughter of civilians and children, and bloody US drone attacks on the surrounding countryside – and picture how this teacher nevertheless carries on, trying to instruct the Muslims and Christians in his class in the fundamentals of history, physics and economics. You come up with only one name: David Lagourie Gosling.'
Robert Fisk, The Independent

‘Frontier of Fear is about the author’s remarkable, heroic and loving work in Pakistan.’
Professor Francis X. Clooney, SJ, Director of the Harvard Center for the Study of World Religions

‘This very personal history of a great institution now facing an uncertain future raises some hard questions about Western responses to the political crises of Pakistan and its neighbours, not least a clear statement of why drone warfare is so gravely counterproductive. As one man's perspective on a complex and painful situation, it needs careful reading and pondering, specially by those who shape Western strategy in the region.’
Dr Rowan Williams, Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, Former Archbishop of Canterbury

‘A fascinating, informative but disturbing read with its descriptions of the rise of the Taliban, escalating violence in the political scene and corruption in unexpected places. What shines through is the founding commitment of Edwardes College to excellence in education and service as well as the author’s own commitment, as Principal in threatening times, to continue this with his own passionate resolution to ensure equal opportunities for women. No wonder he quotes Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can have to change the world”.’
Dame Mary Tanner, Former President for Europe, World Council of Churches

‘Every page reminds me of those dark days in Peshawar when the terrorists seemed to be moving closer and closer, and how David Gosling led the college. At the same time he was able to increase academic standards all round, especially among the women students and teachers. An important feature of the book is its portrayal of Sufi-inspired Islam which is much closer to our hearts than imported versions; there are also references to the inspiring science-based legacy of Muhammad Iqbal.’
Muhammad Jehangir Professor of English, Edwardes College, Peshawar

‘Having visited Peshawar and Edwardes College many times I can confirm the authenticity of David Gosling’s portrayal of events. He deserves great credit for his unrelenting commitment to maintaining and developing the College’s academic standards and for his stand against the corruption and nepotism which infected even the Church of Pakistan. Despite a death threat and many disappointments the author always maintains a deep empathy with the people in and around Edwardes College. He also gives important pointers towards a better understanding of the manifold problems faced by Christians and Muslims in this region.’
Gunter Mulack, Former German Ambassador to Pakistan and first German Commissioner for  Dialogue with the Muslim World

‘The book describes vividly how violence afflicted Peshawar - ……Dr. Gosling told THE that it was “important for outsiders to understand that the kind of Islam that fuels violence is imported to Pakistan from the Wahabi tradition of Saudi Arabia.”’
John Morgan, Times Higher Education

'It is a provocative, hard-hitting account full of amazing local, national and international detail. But ultimately it is also a clarion call for the radically transformative power of education, linked to a vision of hope that positive collaboration and peace must be possible.’
Ursula King, Institute of Advanced Studies, University of Bristol

Bibliographic Info

Imprint: Radcliffe Press
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co. Ltd.

ISBN: 9781784534684
Publication Date: 18 Dec 2015
Number of Pages: 288
Height: 216
Width: 138
Illustrations: 25 black and white in 16pp plates, 3 maps

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