Pakistan: A Hard Country
In the past decade Pakistan has emerged as a country of immense importance. Large, heavily populated, strategically placed between Iran, Afghanistan and India, Pakistan has since its creation just over sixty years ago been pulled in several different, irreconcilable directions. In the wake of Pakistan`s development of nuclear weapons, Osama Bin Laden`s presence in its unpoliceable border areas, its shelter of the Afghan Taliban, and the spread of terrorist attacks by groups based in Pakistan to London, Bombay and New York, there is a clear need to understand this remarkable and highly contradictory place. Far from seeing Pakistan as the failed state often portrayed in the media, Lieven`s extraordinary new book instead treats it as a viable and coherent state that, within limits and by the standards of its own region rather than the West, does work. Lieven argues strongly against US actions that would risk destroying that state in the illusory search for victory in Afghanistan. This work is based on a profound and sophisticated analysis of Pakistan`s history and its social, religious and political structures. Lieven has interviewed hundreds of Pakistanis at every level of society, from leading politicians and soldiers to village mullahs and rickshaw drivers. In particular, his examination of the roots of popular sympathy for the Taliban in Pakistan draws on the testimony of people whose views are rarely consulted by Western analysts.