The interconnected nature of food and politics in Pakistan

Jason Burke in Guernica:

ScreenHunter_09 Oct. 04 15.05 Not much happened in Islamabad in 1998. Not much happened in Pakistan, in fact—or at least not much that troubled editors, viewers, readers, or policy makers in Europe or the United States. The country had slid inexorably away from international attention since the end of the war fought by the mujahideen against Soviet troops in neighboring Afghanistan almost a decade before. Most media organizations covered Pakistan from India. It was not a big story. The rediscovery of Pakistan and Afghanistan would come, with breathless haste, on September 12, 2001.

Just behind my apartment in Islamabad that year was a plot of land covered in mimosa trees, wild cannabis, and scrub. It was a graveyard, and though no one tended it or came to grieve at the dozen or so mounds of earth that lay among the rubbish under the trees, no one built on it either—though the potential for profitable development of such a prime piece of urban real estate was high. To one side of the graveyard was the substantial embassy of North Korea, to whom, it was whispered, Pakistan sold blueprints for nuclear bombs. These rumors were later proved to be at least partially true. Watching the embassy were two plainclothes intelligence agents, who usually sat on the pavement in the shade below a eucalyptus tree and read popular local-language newspapers. I knew them quite well after a while, and they smiled sheepishly when we greeted each other.

On the other side of the graveyard was the home of Benazir Bhutto.

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