Mohsin Hamid in Time:
It has been some time since I was as happy as I was on the night after Pakistan’s Feb. 18 general election. Mine was perhaps a reckless joy, temporarily distracting me from the very real troubles that Pakistan faces. But as I spoke to friends and acquaintances, both here in London and in my hometown of Lahore, I realized that the sense of euphoria I was feeling was widespread.
Pakistan is sometimes described by the international media as the most dangerous place on the planet. That has always seemed to me to be an irresponsible exaggeration: there are other countries whose citizens are far more likely to die of violent causes. But certainly Pakistan is a troubled land, suffering from illiteracy, poverty, terrorism and the bite of rapidly increasing prices, especially of food. The Feb. 18 election has not solved those problems. Yet Pakistanis are justified in allowing themselves a sigh of relief. Indeed, the entire world should be breathing a little easier now, for Pakistan suddenly looks a lot less frightening than it did.