Alive and Well in Pakistan by Ethan Casey

By Ethan Casey

Casey updates his knowing of the Pakistan event and units it inside of a context of modern and modern historical past. He humanises family politics, attitudes in the direction of the West and India in addition to the Kashmir and Afghanistan concerns. His literary reportage demystifies the uneasy position Pakistan occupies in an doubtful global.

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Yeah, it was a successful hotel before 1989,’ said Nazir. ‘I was supposed to take the management. Touriasm was most important, because in this valley 90 per cent of the people were standing on touriasm. ’ Now the family’s only business was the medical shop. Hartals, strikes, did not affect it; the shop always stayed open. Medical businesses and vegetable merchants usually were not affected by hartals. ‘Medical and vegetable,’ interjected Haji helpfully. Nazir had no plans to leave the Valley. The family’s savings were gone.

Their grievances had merit. Unfortunately, the man able to articulate them was Altaf Hussein, a former taxi driver turned power-hungry and unscrupulous demagogue, described to me as ‘almost Hitlerian’ in his ability to whip up crowds. The organisation he founded, the Mohajir National Movement or MQM, burst onto the scene in 1984 and made its first 52 Pakistan Book 21/7/04 5:52 pm Page 53 THROUGH THE LOOKING-GLASS big splash with a rally held in 1986. The Afghan war meanwhile flooded Karachi, and the rest of Pakistan, with secondhand American and Russian weapons.

Bhat’ was ‘definitely’ the ‘correct’ spelling, Haji insisted, and wrote it out in Arabic script to prove it. If ‘Bhat’ was ‘correct’, that would explain why they had changed it. And around the Valley were a great many Bhats; it was one of a small number of very common surnames. But if ‘Butt’ was incorrect, it had not been Naipaul’s mistake; that had been the spelling on the hotel’s documents and signs in 1962, as is clear from An Area of Darkness. 23 Pakistan Book 21/7/04 5:52 pm Page 24 ALIVE AND WELL IN PAKISTAN Several men sat around in a companionable semicircle; there was a hookah, and the room was smoky.

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