New Release: Guns and Saffron by Alif

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Synopsis of the novel 

Yakub is a seasoned militant who will do anything to free Kashmir. His handler, Major Khaleel, from Pakistan’s intelligence service, who became friends with Osama bin Laden, during his stay in Abbottabad, wants vengeance for bin Laden’s killing. So, he devises a major terrorist attack codenamed Mission M, with the twin objective of vengeance on the West and India. Hassan, Yakub’s nephew and the orphan of a militant, is entrusted with the responsibility of fulfilling Mission M to avenge his father. Shehed, Hassan’s lover, is a strong-willed woman who tries to stop him. And Rafi is a habitual crook who is always in the wrong place at the wrong time. A tense and fascinating novel of conflict, both political and personal, and the extraordinary lengths people will go to protect those they love. 

About the Author

Alif writes to bring about change. At the same time, his novels brim with hope and have a riveting plot. In addition to Guns and Saffron, he has written another novel, The Songbirds, a literary love story that goes to the heart of what’s ailing the world today. It has received excellent reviews on Goodreads & Amazon saying that it's a great coming of age love story, which comes straight from the heart. Alif lives in London. 

Excerpts from Guns and Saffron 


It had been his single biggest regret in life that he hadn’t moved Sheikh bin Laden to another home, even as a contingency measure, though he had never imagined that America would launch a direct operation on Pakistani soil, bypassing Pakistan’s establishment altogether. Major Khaleel had taken that failure personally because, over the years, he had developed a friendship with Sheikh bin Laden. The Sheikh had been a go-getter. He had been what Muslims had needed. Somebody who could stand up against might, first against Russia, then the West. They had spent hours speaking with each other, as the Sheikh had taken his daily walks within the compound of the house in Abbottabad, pausing sometimes to look closer at the aubergines growing in the garden. Major Khaleel had also developed a fondness for baba ghanoush, a Middle-Eastern dish made with pureed aubergine. 

“Pakistan has done for me more than my home country, Saudi, has. Saudi would have handed me over to the CIA on day 1. Yet, you’ve defied the West, like I have, and given me home. That’s why, at heart, I am an Afghan-Pak. I belong here.” 

“America’s situation is like the blind man looking, in a dark room, for a cat that’s not even there. Let them scour Afghanistan for you for another hundred years.” The attacks on 9/11 was their other favourite topic for discussion. 

“A masterpiece!” Major Khaleel had said more than once.

“Flying their own aeroplanes into their own buildings. And to think that the West had thought that Muslims had been good enough only to drive taxis.” 

Major Khaleel had never seen the Sheikh ruffled in all the years he had known him. He had always been calm, smiling even. 

“Mashallah!” The Sheikh used to say often, whether it was on receiving the weekly report of the number of Western soldiers killed in Afghanistan, or upon seeing the flowers blossom in the garden. “It’s not a question of whether the Muslims will rule this world one day, but rather it is one of when.” In one stroke, America had taken out the Sheikh, right from under Major Khaleel’s nose. He had been humiliated. He had to make them pay. 


Shehed and Hassan had gone in and prayed, not telling each other what they had prayed for. After prayer, they had tied threads at the carved wall, along with the others. There had been hundreds of threads, in different colours, each representing different fears and different wishes, though all had been tied with the same hope. From there, they had walked to the steps leading out of the shrine and sat there for a long time, watching the rainbow over the trees. As had been their norm, they hadn’t spoken much, but as ever, their silence had been poignant. A glance at each other every now and then. The feeling of being together. Of belonging. Of being loved. A few hours of peace. Stolen and cherished. 


When Yakub finally gave Hassan the full details of Mission M, Hassan almost collapsed onto the chair. It took Yakub all his resolve to persuade Hassan. He spent close to an hour with Hassan to do so. If they didn’t carry this mission out, it would be practically impossible to get more funding. “Steel yourself, Hassan, as a Mujahid should. If at any moment you weaken, think of your father’s sacrifice and draw courage from it. If you fail Mission M, you will fail your father,” Yakub said, towards the end of their meeting. 


It had to be done. One minute to go. He took a deep breath and scanned the crowd. As Yakub had taught him, Hassan saw the people as objects. Big objects, little objects. Targets to be hit. Nothing more. 

Note from the Author

Set in Kashmir, Guns and Saffron tests the power of love and is a tribute to the courage of women in the face of conflict. The main reason I wrote the book is the sadness due to the immense human cost of the longstanding conflict. Even when I picked up the pen, it wasn’t easy to write because of the worry that I wouldn’t be able to do justice to Kashmir. The reason I kept going is the desire to ensure that my child inherits a better world than I did; this is the primary reason I picked up the pen in the first place. I wrote this book from the heart. Reviews so far have been heartening, suggesting that my book is an antidote to hatred. 

If my book goes even a small way in easing the pain in Kashmir, I will take solace that my writing was not in vain. 

Dear Book-lovers, this book is free on Amazon for all of May and June 2020. 

Grab your copy NOW