A Dif­fer­ent Nar­ra­tive

Southasia - - Book Review -

which per­vade the in­ter­na­tional and re­gional me­dia. Pak­istan, some say is world’s most dan­ger­ous coun­try while oth­ers hold that it is a failed state im­plod­ing from within. Of­ten these de­scrip­tions omit a plain fact that there are 180 mil­lion peo­ple liv­ing in the coun­try who lead their reg­u­lar, ir­reg­u­lar lives amid the chaos and rapid trans­for­ma­tion that is tak­ing place. One can ar­gue about the tra­jec­tory that the coun­try may take but its dy­namism is hard to ig­nore.

Lieven is also not just an­other starry-eyed vis­i­tor to Pak­istan and dis­plays his rel­a­tive fa­mil­iar­ity with the coun­try. For sev­eral years, Lieven re­ported on Pak­istan while work­ing for The Times. Af­ter his jour­nal­is­tic ca­reer, he switched to academia at the ro­bust so­ci­ety, its kin­ship net­works and in­grained means of re­silience. The other rea­son for Pak­istan’s vi­a­bil­ity is the Army, which Lieven views, in a less un­fa­vor­able light than most writ­ers on Pak­istan. A host of Pak­istani in­tel­lec­tu­als have crit­i­cized him for the ‘ ro­mance’ with Pak­istan’s armed forces.

Lieven has a right to project the mil­i­tary ma­chine as he sees fit. While do­ing so, he does soften the over­ar­ch­ing role of Pak­istan’s se­cu­rity es­tab­lish­ment and how for decades it has ( mis)gov­erned and led the coun­try. The mer­i­to­cratic cul­ture, ef­fi­ciency and keep­ing-the­coun­try-to­gether ar­gu­ments on the Army re­ceive more at­ten­tion than what Pak­ista­nis have been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing in terms of a co­er­cive and

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