Pakistan: a Hard Country

From The Telegraph:

Pakistan_summary_1861193f The crisis in North Africa and the Middle East has driven Pakistan out of the headlines, but this is surely only a temporary lull. Cursed by nuclear weapons, home to al-Qaeda, victim of several raging insurgencies and notorious for a chronically unstable political structure – most Western experts continue to view Pakistan as the most dangerous country in the world. So this book by Anatol Lieven could hardly be more timely. Lucid and well informed, he deals carefully with all Pakistan’s well-known problems. And one of the joys of this nicely written volume is that it avoids the hysteria and partial judgment that disfigure much contemporary writing on the subject.

Above all, it emanates a deep affection bordering on love for unfortunate, beleaguered, magical Pakistan. Lieven’s research takes him to an army cantonment in Quetta, boar-hunting in the Punjab and to a stay in Taliban-dominated Mohmand Agency on the North West Frontier. Lieven, a former foreign correspondent who is now professor of terrorism studies at King's College, London, talks to just about everybody who counts: farmers, intelligence officers, judges, clerics, politicians, doctors, soldiers, jihadis. In the course of this journey he demolishes the neo-conservative narrative that Pakistan is dominated by a mortal struggle between virtuous modernity and rage-filled Islamist conservatism. He insists that Pakistan is not – as Western intelligence agencies, journalists and think tanks believe – a country on the brink. We needn’t worry too much about its nuclear weapons falling into the wrong hands. Pakistan is not about to be taken over by Islamists.

More here.