Syed Mujtaba Zaidi, a regular blogger and reader of all things Pakistan, who won a copy of Agency Rules – Never an Easy Day at the Office in a competition, recently posted his review:
“Agency Rules – Never an Easy Day at the Office by Khalid Muhammad is set in a post-Afghan-war Pakistan where the insurgents have set up strong networks in the northern areas of Pakistan. The novel takes you through some harsh realities that exist within Pakistan and some unknown facts, policies and modi operandi of Pakistan’s top intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
The story revolves around Kamal Khan, a SSG commando and a specialist sniper in the Pakistan army. The novel will take you through Karachi to FATA and how the ISI deals with the internal and external threats. The novel mainly focuses on internal threat of terrorism that Pakistan is facing today and gets you through how ISI weaves intricate webs around its targets. The story also focuses on how Pak Army develops its relationships with other intelligence organizations and its contradictory role in the politics of Pakistan. Apart from its role in politics, the novel strongly looks at the aspect of how Pak Army and ISI have played a constructive role in the defence of Pakistan.
Coming to Kamal Khan, his background is of a Pukhtoon family and his grandfather is shown as a retired army officer. While the novel strongly highlights the strong professionalism of Kamal, it rarely describes his inner feelings and his own personality or his thoughts about his life/work, which normally is manifested in spy novels (I feel it that way), but I think that will be depicted in the upcoming novel of the series.
The novel also looks at the aspect of how the Pakistan Army and its politicians are largely dominated by Punjabi-speaking personnel – it is not expressed, but if you know Pakistani castes and names, you can read it between the lines.
Overall, Agency Rules – Never an Easy Day at the Office is a brilliant spy thriller which provides a thorough look of how ISI and Pak Army turn their wheels. This is also the first time a novel has been written on ISI and Pak Army and it will give you an insight in what psyche and mindset do the echelons of power posses in Pakistan. I would definitely recommend it to the spy thrillers fans and would rate it 4.6/5.”