Beggar at Ghazi Chowk


Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Ask for Tourists, not Terrorists.

An image from the Media Gallery caught my eye today.

It is a stunning image of an area that has been at war or under threat of war for more than 6 decades now. Known for its topographical beauty, Kashmir is no longer a tourist resort. It is just another example of a land that has lost its identity to politics and all the controversy that surrounds it.

Swat has just recently faced a similar fate. Swat is inside Pakistan, unlike Kashmir, which has been disputed territory since the end of the British Raj. Swat not only had some of the best scenery Pakistani tourists had access to, but also provided some of the best fruit to the country. Incursions by the Taliban and then the Army have left the area in shambles, orchards destroyed, infrastructure demolished, people displaced or killed.

Pictures like this are both nostalgic and hopeful.

A Kashmiri boatsman navigates Dal lake in Srinagar. Indian military recently estimated that some 400 Islamic militants are waiting to cross into Indian-ruled Kashmir from the Pakistani-zone of the disputed region, and fears an upsurge of attacks. —AFP Photo / Tauseef MUSTAFA

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Why the Drones Annoy this Pakistani Novelist.

The US drone attacks have been the subject of political debate and controversy for some time now. Some say the Pakistani Government is complicit, but whatever the case, the issue has been enough to aggravate many.

Mohsin Hamid here, gives a Pakistani citizen’s view of the drone attacks as he is invited to speak in Cleveland after the release of his second book, The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Hamid writes about modern life in Pakistan, and his debut novel Moth Smoke, was an expose on life in Lahore, following people who lived there all there life, and students who come back from the United States. He’s a Princeton Grad himself (no biases).

His eloquent presentation of the argument starts at around the 7:45 mark. The rest of the speech and Q & A’s are on YouTube as well.


Mohsin Hamid is one of Pakistan’s new intellectuals that have been educated abroad, and might even currently live abroad, but are significantly expanding the country’s ‘cultural capital’. Their works are centered on Pakistani issues and life, and they themselves have become well respectd voices and ambassadors. Fatima Bhutto, niece of late former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto is also part of this movement as an author, poet and journalist. She writes regularly for the Daily Beast.