2002, Essay

Zia to Musharraf: Impressions of Pakistan 2002

This essay on Pakistan first appeared in “On The Abyss”, a HarperCollins anthology shortly after Gen. Pervez Musharraf ousted Nawaz Sharif in a bloodless coup.

A Peshawar street; photo by cricrich in Flickr

Chacha said he was like a father to me. He would not let me go. “In any case, I don’t think the flight will leave, it never does at times like these,” he announced. “I’ll wait for you outside, you’ll come back.” An ashen, monster of a storm was flaring above Peshawar. Rain and wind were about to stir a reckless cocktail of the elements. “The plane won’t go, you’ll come back,” Chacha repeated as I bid goodbye, adamant I had to leave. Chacha’s prophecy of my return would come true, but not that day. I had appointments to keep in Islamabad. Besides, the telex lines from Peshawar had proved as unreliable as promises that one of the mujahideen groups would smuggle me across into ‘liberated’ Afghanistan via Khyber Pass. I had a pile of rotting stories to file. I had to leave. Continue reading “Zia to Musharraf: Impressions of Pakistan 2002”

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2012, Pakistan, Reportage, Telegraph Calcutta

Certificate for Nitish, Made in Pakistan

Sankarshan Thakur, The Telegraph

Lahore, Nov. 18: There’s a bequest chief minister Nitish Kumar has carried back home from Pakistan that escaped the customs authorities at Wagah.

He has been gifted so profusely over the past week by his hosts, it required a station wagon to be added to his road caravan; the aircraft hold on the final lap to Patna would probably have choked on their burden — trophy plaques, a rainbow range of traditional hats, piles of shawls and chadars, carton-loads of tomes on a shared civilisation and history.

But the takeaway that neither registered nor bleeped on the crossover X-ray ramps is what Nitish might want to treasure most from his trip — it’s endorsement from a constituency that has dogged and harried generations of Indian leaders, a certificate of recognition and respect, Made in Pakistan. Continue reading “Certificate for Nitish, Made in Pakistan”