Labor of War

Books by Maniza Naqvi

This has been a decade of bombardment of non-fiction books focused on inventing and imagining Pakistan and on burying it under these explanations. In addition to these titles from 2001 to 2011 there has been a proliferation of prolific instant experts explaining Pakistan and what should be done in and to Pakistan.

Type in “Pakistan” in the search bar on and an instructive number of non-fiction titles come up. I stopped at 51 afraid that along with getting nauseous because of the titles I would get carpal tunnel. Some of the titles sound like pulp fiction with words such as “deadly embrace” or “hard” or ‘deep inside” or “to live or perish” or “deception” or “reconciliation” or “duel” or “soldiers of god” and, dangerous, most dangerous, frightening, failed, chaos, or hard and so on but alas disappoint. Interestingly, though only three came up listed for Pakistan as novels. The impressive number of novels by Pakistani authors can be found by typing in the names of the authors or the titles of the books.

The Pakistan flag also comes up, in stock at a discounted price down from US$2.40 marked down to US$1.60 four by six inches.

On the basis of this list alone there have been about five books per year. The Lonely Planet Guidebook for tourists on Pakistan comes up as well. However, this narrative of war and violence in these 51 books provides another kind of guide book on the yearly trend of where it is moving towards geographically and politically. Title 5, released in 2004 and written by Bernard Levy (yes now of Libya liberation fame and yes the so called philosopher) and title 50 by Peter Bergen (the media anointed expert on terrorism) released June 2011 fresh after the story in Abbottabad on May 1, 2011 doesn’t come up under Pakistan but chapter 15 is devoted to belaboring the point, it is called Pakistan: The New Base.

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