D.Eklan Walsh began his fascinating new book on Pakistan with an account of how he came to leave the country for the first time in May 2013, suddenly and unintentionally. For those powerful men of Urdu Services Intelligence Intelligence (ISI), whose presence is felt, even when not seen, Pakistan’s nine lives.
The ISI goons give Walsh no clue as to why he is being fired, and the government officials who question him are easily removed. To find out the secret that Israr has told the story of this book as he spends nine years as his correspondent in Pakistan, first for the Guardian and then for the New York Times. The solution to this dilemma, which emerges from the turmoil, is trying to understand the tumultuous, unshakable country of Walsh.
The book is subtitled Depart from a divided nation And the author crossed the line of political, religious, racial and racist error, which through his travels collected a picture of a vast country of 220 million people and the lives of important new compelling characters. ۔
Walsh is an amazing author, with a few short lines that are a gift for capturing the impression of a place, time and environment. He knows how to calculate the extreme stress that always threatens to explode every flaw in the book. One of the things to enjoy is that Walsh puts himself in the far corners of Pakistan, in crowds, celebrations and rituals, which captivate the hearts of this land and its people.
He does not represent war. Most of the time he does not look for trouble, and it is difficult not to be jealous of all the parties and festivals to which he invites himself. He finds the big characters and makes sure that he not only interviews them, but also rests on their shoulders to experience Pakistan with his eyes and ears. These are eight of the nine lives of the title. At number nine is Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Pakistan’s controversial and complex founding father, who is a charming figure.
He has said so much about the bloody history of Pakistan that only one of the nine articles remains till the end of the book. Five of them end up in violence, either by jihadists or by security forces. “You see, this business of carnage is extremely difficult,” as one brave Pashtun politician summarizes local politics in the North West. “I haven’t seen a single woman. On the other hand, guns were everywhere,” Walsh said conditionally as he went from village to village campaigning with her.
to the end Pakistan’s nine lives, It seems almost unbelievable that the author himself escaped this experience. Only one of Walsh’s job risks is in his articles. As the number of domestic Taliban in Pakistan increased in 2006 and 2007, more and more areas became insecure, and eventually the violence intensified in the capital Islamabad. Within a few blocks of Walsh’s home, a courthouse, a UN office and an army outpost were all bombed.
Many extremist groups saw Western journalists as legitimate targets, at least for kidnappings, and on one occasion Walsh rescued the man he had hired. Hearing the voices of a group of men discussing supplies to catch Walsh, the hired man tied up the Irish journalist in a car and fled.
Nothing was inevitable about Pakistan’s involvement with extremism. After a tussle over the issue, Jinnah recommended a secular republic with his death. After the partition in 1947, Walsh says, the imams lost their morale in society, and they became somewhere between teachers and tailors in the countryside.
That all changed when a pious general, Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, hanged the democratically elected prime minister, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, in 1977 and opened the door to a “tough non-protection brand” imported from Saudi Arabia. Prince and Maulvi Zia were allowed to form their own country with madrassas.
The Soviets then invaded Afghanistan in late 1979, and instead of Zia’s Pakistan becoming an international paradigm, they accepted the West as a stronghold against communism. Jinnah’s dream of a “holy land” has been sacrificed by two beasts of violent religious extremism and militancy. “Depending on who you asked, Islam or the military should be the glue that puts this place together,” Walsh writes. “Yet, both, in their own way, seem to be turning it around.”
By the end of Walsh’s time in Pakistan, the winner of this epic struggle is clear: the ISI and the military machine behind it. “It seems to boil over a hard fact: the army always wins,” he realizes as he prepares to leave, never to return. When the ISI youth come to the door, the illusion of a democratic state melts away.
• Nine Lives of Pakistan: Bloomsbury (کا 20) has published statistics on the departure of a divided nation. Go to order GuardianBookShop.com. Delivery charges may apply.
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