The enigma that is Pakistan (book review)

By Raza Rumi

Anatol Lieven’s new book is not just a contemporary account of Pakistan, it also attempts to present an alternative narrative of what is often referred to as the worlds most dangerous country. Lieven worked in Pakistan for several years for The Times and is currently a professor of international relations and terrorism at Kings College, London. His approach, therefore, is a curious mix of hard- core research and journalistic reporting. The two intersect, disagree and at times oppose each other.

After exhaustive research and speaking to scores of Pakistanis, Lieven is quite clear that Pakistan does not deserve the oft-repeated verdict of being a failed state or the prediction that it is going to is integrate. He focuses on Pakistans robust society fissiparous and troubled as it is practising the art of resilience as an article of faith.

This is why the author, like many others, is struck by the inherent strengths of Pakistan, which are an antidote to its failures. Lieven also debunks several myths, especially those related to the scary image of Pakistans military-intelligence complex. This is, perhaps, a point of departure in his narrative that makes his work a little unpalatable for hard-nosed Pakistan bashers. Some, in fact, have criticised him for what they see as veiled admiration for Pakistans armed forces. […]