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  1. Leader
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    PAKISTAN: A PERSONAL HISTORY

    By Imran Khan

    The fascinating story of Pakistan, seen through the eyes of its most famous son, Imran Khan.
    Born only five years after Pakistan was created in 1947, Imran Khan has lived his country's history. Undermined by a ruling elite hungry for money and power, Pakistan now stands alone as the only Islamic country with a nuclear bomb, yet unable to protect its people from the carnage of regular bombings at home. How did it reach this flashpoint of instability and injustice with such potentially catastrophic results for the whole world?
    Recounting his country's history through the prism of his own memories, Imran Khan starts from its foundation, ripped out of the dying British Raj. He guides us through and comments on subsequent historical developments which shook the Muslim world the wars with India in 1965 and 1971, the Iranian Revolution of 1979, the Societ invasion of Afghanistan, the 9/11 terrorist attacks to the current controversial and intractable war in Afghanistan. Throughout we see these events viewed not only through the eyes of Westerners, but through those of ordinary Pakistanis.
    Drawing on the experiences of his own family and his wide travels within his homeland, Pakistan: A Personal History provides a unique insider's view of a country unfamiliar to a western audience. Woven into this history we see how Imran Khan's personal life his happy childhood in Lahore, his Oxford education, his extraordinary cricketing career, his playboy years and marriage to Jemima Goldsmith, his mother's influence and that of his Islamic faith inform both the historical narrative and his current philanthropic and political activities. It is at once absorbing and insightful, casting fresh light upon a country whose culture he believes is largely misunderstood by the West.

    Published Date: 15/09/2011
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    Maleeha Lodhi on Pakistan: Look back to move on


    Pakistan should cease to be a ‘client state' and return to Jinnah


    By Joseph A. Kechichian, Special to Weekend Review
    Published: 00:01 December 23, 2011

    .Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi served as Pakistan's envoy to the United States (1993-96 and 1999-2002) and to the United Kingdom (2003-08). Earlier, she edited The News and The Muslim, two of her country's leading dailies, and was appointed by the UN Secretary-General to his advisory board for disarmament.

    Lodhi taught at the London School of Economics, was a fellow at Harvard University and at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington DC, where she edited the volume under review. In 1994, Time magazine named her one of the hundred individuals who will help define the 21st century.

    A Pakistani nationalist, Lodhi now regrets the depths to which her country has sunk. She dedicates the book to "the people of Pakistan who deserve better" — an introduction, in a strange way, to the present problems she goes on to address.

    Needless to say, Lodhi is optimistic, and refuses to give up hope that, somehow, the realities of Pakistan — a democratic country that distanced itself from its founder's vision — will change. She foresees a day when competent leaders, who will place national interest above petty politics, will once again rule Islamabad. Towards that end, she asked some of Pakistan's brightest thinkers to rise to the occasion and not simply reiterate stale reportage. They do not disappoint as all genuinely focus on solutions.

    Many ideas are addressed by experts here, but this review will focus on two key themes: militarisation and democratisation. Historian Ayesha Jalal's essay, The Past As Present, is a laser-sharp assessment of the problem, where the Tufts University professor deciphers how a largely inept civilian leadership, along with a violently ambitious army, failed to serve the nation.


    She reminds readers how Saadat Hasan Manto, the renowned fiction writer, wrote in 1951 that proud Pakistanis were bewildered as they incredulously watched the United States arm the nascent republic to "counter the local bully on the block". "My country is poor", but Manto wondered, in the first of nine satirical letters to Uncle Sam, "why is it ignorant?" Manto knew the answer — to serve Washington and not Islamabad, but even more pertinent in Jalal's judicious reference was her observation that this question is relevant in 2011 as Pakistanis wonder about the consequences of American largesse to the Pakistani military.


    Save for generous US support during emergencies (floods or earthquakes), what amounts to civilian assistance has been little compared to massive military aid ostensibly disbursed to fight "terrorism". That Pakistan has become a client state, a theme that is thoroughly assessed in this book, ought to surprise no one. Leading Pakistani analysts have identified obliterating this scourge as key — which is one of the book's positive features.

    The second theme worthy of attention is democratisation, assessed by Akbar Ahmad, who teaches at the American University in Washington DC, and whose Why Jinnah Matters ought to be required reading in world capitals. Although Hollywood films shape most contemporary understandings of history, few recall today that Mohammad Ali Jinnah — who was portrayed as a beady-eyed leech in Richard Attenborough's Gandhi (1982) — was in fact a secularist.
    In 1947, Pakistan's founder espoused a worldly vision for his country and was willing to accommodate both Islamic and non-Islamic beliefs. Above all else, Jinnah wanted everyone to be under the law in a state that was tolerant. Regrettably, his death in 1948, barely a year after independence, meant that few lieutenants were ready to implement his vision. Instead, alternative and far more religious views dominated the political scene, as men like Abu Al Ala'a Al Mawdudi and Hakimullah Mehsud — long before more extremist elements surfaced — articulated their own religiosities as salvation.

    Various attempts to impose skewed interpretations of what passed for Islamic values have dominated the country's political agenda ever since, as military leaders successfully manipulated opposing groups through the Inter Services Intelligence. What is left of Jinnah's secularist vision today is caricature, which is truly tragic, as relations with India might have taken a different course and several wars averted.

    There is a lot more in this thought-provoking book for those who are interested to gain a better understanding of tensions on the Indian subcontinent and to decode Pakistan's complex relationships with the Gulf region. Chapters on Pakistan's nuclear policies, its economy, and bureaucratic malaise, among others, are crammed with details that demand attention.

    Lodhi's own assessments of what drove London and Washington to try to bring back Benazir Bhutto in 2007 are also useful, which confirm her contention that Pakistan has become a sorrowful rentier state that must shed this yoke. Ultimately, Lodhi hopes, and everyone wishes, that Pakistan truly becomes a "normal state" able to better look after its growing population's interests.

    Dr Joseph A. Kéchichian is the author of the forthcoming Legal and Political Reforms in Saudi Arabia (2012).
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    Weekend Edition Dec 30-Jan 01, 2011

    Leslie Noyes Mass’s Back to Pakistan

    Pakistan: Fifty Years Later

    by CHARLES R. LARSON

    Like yours truly, Leslie Noyes Mass was a Peace Corps Volunteer fifty years ago, recently returned to the country of her assignment: Pakistan. But unlike what I observed during my recent return to Africa, Mass discovered a significantly different country: more education for young children, an exploding population, and a country not nearly as friendly to the United States as it was when she was there years ago. I wouldn’t call any of these changes a great surprise, yet I found Back to Pakistan totally engaging for the contrasts I have already mentioned—plus the mirroring of some of the experiences I encountered as a volunteer in Nigeria.

    Mass was dumped in Dhamke, twenty or so miles from Lahore, with few guidelines as to what she was expected to do. Ostensibly, community development, but it was expected that she would generate her own project(s) unlike some of the other volunteers who as teachers had clearly defined tasks. Her living facilities were basic, exacerbated by her gender as an unmarried
    woman is a Muslim community. Initially, she was frustrated and angry: “Now what? I had no idea. And I was mad at the Peace Corps for botching up my assignment. But I was determined to figure out a way to work in this village.”

    Drawing on her letters to friends back home, Mass is able to provide vivid details and feelings about her initial impressions of Pakistan (and her assignment) all those years ago. Here’s a paragraph from a letter to her boyfriend (later to be her husband), dated October 19, 1962: “The Volunteers here seem to be living pretty well and though some are equally disgusted with the lack of job definition, I am the orphan of the group. No other woman is alone in a village; everyone else has, at least, a place to live and a real job. The teachers have already started teaching and the men assigned to agricultural extension and engineering projects all have co-workers. But we Community Development workers are on our own. No one really knows what we are supposed to do.” She’s upset that her attempts to reach out to women in the community are largely unsuccessful. This is no huge surprise, given the restrictions on women’s lives (and their mobility) at the time and the country’s literacy rate of 12%. But when she is transferred to Sheikhupura months later, Mass realizes that she had made significant inroads into the lives of the Dhamke women.

    Shift to 2009. Mass returns to Pakistan with several others, including people who were in the Peace Corps all those years ago. She’s been teaching for decades, earned a doctorate in early and middle school education, and retired from her job as director of an educational program at Ohio Wesleyan University. She’s a pro, accustomed to training teachers, which she and her friends will do in Pakistan for several months. They have been successful with making arrangements with The Citizens Foundation (TCF), a private organization that has set up several hundred schools across the country since the government-sponsored schools are sadly lacking. TCF has had major successes in the country, largely because of its curriculum and the dedication of its teachers who are women only.

    Mass, thus, in 2009 is part volunteer, part educational expert, part tourist, keenly attuned to all the differences in the country from the first time she worked there. The activities with TCF are totally professional, and instantly rewarding. But it is an incident related to her by Ateed Riaz, one of the organization’s founding directors, that is most revealing to Mass (and to this reader), providing the context for the country’s education and development: “A friend of mine went to the city of Medina and went to a woman squatting on the floor selling something. He negotiated with her, but she would not sell to him. She said, ‘If you like it, buy it from that other tradeswoman. I will not sell it to you.’ So he got a local to come and talk to her in her own language. She talked to the local and explained that she had already sold enough that day and that other woman had not yet sold any, so I should buy from her. The message is clear: We need to help each other.”


    The beauty of Back to Pakistan: A Fifty-Year Journey is Leslie Noyes Mass’s hindsight, combined with her insight. The book intermixes the two times instead of following a linear narrative and abounds in Mass’s first-hand reports from all those years earlier, sent as missives to her friends. Yes, I was predisposed to enjoy this book because of my own educational journey, and I confess that some of the passages describing her activities with TCF (administrators, teachers and pupils) may seem too pedantic to the average reader. But there are wonderful moments throughout the entire book, such as this one, just as Mass and her friends are going to depart from Lahore: “The schoolmaster said, in a mish-mash of English, Urdu, and Punjabi that he and all the village were happy that I had come back because it shows that not all Americans view Pakistan as a dangerous place where everyone is a terrorist.”

    Back to Pakistan: A Fifty-Year Journey
    Leslie Noyes Mass
    Rowan & Littlefield, 212 pp., $32.95

    Charles R. Larson is Emeritus Professor of Literature at American University, in Washington, D.C. Email: clarson@american.edu.