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By Ethan Casey

Casey updates his knowing of the Pakistan adventure and units it inside a context of contemporary and modern heritage. He humanises household politics, attitudes in the direction of the West and India in addition to the Kashmir and Afghanistan concerns. His literary reportage demystifies the uneasy position Pakistan occupies in an doubtful international.

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They are going to Pahalgam for the trekking,’ he said, deadpan. We stayed the night at Aroo, a meadow that climbs the right side of the valley just off the road, where a week later two Brits would be kidnapped. ) I awoke early next morning and stepped out of the tent several times to watch the sun’s progress down the western slope as it rose in the east. I felt appropriately insignificant among these mountains, but I also felt the profound, uncomplicated peace of mind and spirit that one feels only when truly at home: the birds, the wildflowers in the high meadows, the alpine scents, the sound of running water and the thin chill air evoked a place in southern Colorado where I had spent some of the happiest times in my childhood.

There it was as we rounded a bend among houseboats and trees, big and white with the Tibetanlooking pitched roof, the three-story new building of Naipaul’s second visit, dominating its little lake neighbourhood. ‘I don’t think the Leeward will open again,’ said Haji. ‘Those hotels were only open when there was a rush, all these Indian tourist-es. ’ We docked and walked through a back yard to a room off a narrow corridor. The room was dark and unadorned. Lying on his side on a mattress on the floor beneath blankets, a cloth cap on his head for warmth, was Haji Mohammed Sidiq Bhat.

Their grievances had merit. Unfortunately, the man able to articulate them was Altaf Hussein, a former taxi driver turned power-hungry and unscrupulous demagogue, described to me as ‘almost Hitlerian’ in his ability to whip up crowds. The organisation he founded, the Mohajir National Movement or MQM, burst onto the scene in 1984 and made its first 52 Pakistan Book 21/7/04 5:52 pm Page 53 THROUGH THE LOOKING-GLASS big splash with a rally held in 1986. The Afghan war meanwhile flooded Karachi, and the rest of Pakistan, with secondhand American and Russian weapons.

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