||VAWN HIMMELSBACH, Chic Savvy Travels
If you’ve ever dreamed of traveling through Pakistan (the Karakoram Highway, anyone?), or you’re an armchair traveler interested in a different perspective on the politics of this region, pick up a copy of Granta’s recent compilation on Pakistan.
Granta, if you haven’t heard of it, is a quarterly magazine of new writing based out of the U.K. In paperback format, it compiles articles from some of the best contemporary writers in journalism and fiction, along with poetry, photography and artwork, to create a work so compelling I completely missed my subway stop the other day while reading it.
In Granta 112: Pakistan, you’ll read about war, politics and pop culture, about the restlessness of youth and the trials of being an immigrant in a new land.
Jane Perlez, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for the New York Times, explains in “Portrait of Jinnah” how the history books are being rewritten about Pakistan’s founding father, Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
During partition, Jinnah used the rhetoric of Islam to mobilize the masses in the creation of a new nation in 1947, but never intended Pakistan to be a theocratic state. In fact, some historians are now saying he used the idea of Pakistan as a bargaining chip for Muslim majority rights within a loosely united post-colonial India. It seems Jinnah was seeking political guarantees rather than religious ones: He drank, smoked, ate pork, was unaware of the religious calendar, and had a hankering for Savile Row suits and tortoiseshell-rimmed spectacles from Paris.
In “Arithmetic on the Frontier,” Declan Walsh delves into life in Pakistan’s infamous northwest frontier region, which straddles the 1,600-mile-long border with Afghanistan and is home to most of the country’s 28 million Pashtun. Pakistan’s tribal belt has always been known as a wild west of sorts; in recent years, Taliban violence has ripped through the frontier and shaken Peshawar, the provincial capital at the base of the Khyber Pass.
Untitled, 2005, by Mahbub Shah, courtesy of Green Cardamom © Mahbub Shah
It’s a land that cannot be tamed: “Roasting hospitality, smouldering pride, cold and clinical revenge — thus it has always been among the Pashtun. Down the centuries they have stirred poets, produced legendary warriors and frustrated mighty emperors. From Alexander the Great to the Moghuls, from the British to the Soviet Union, all have swept through these lands, welcomed at first but ultimately hounded out, departing with the bitter-sweet sensation of having encountered men who do not compromise — at least, not for long,” writes Walsh, the Guardian’s correspondent for Pakistan and Afghanistan.
In “Kashmir’s Forever War,” Basharat Peer shows us a different side to the conflict in Kashmir. During partition, India gained control of the Muslim-majority state, but over the years India has eroded Kashmir’s autonomy, such as rigging elections and appointing puppet administrators. India and Pakistan have fought three wars over Kashmir; 70,000 people have died since 1990, and another 10,000 have gone missing after being arrested.
The youngest generation of Kashmiris — fueled with cable TV, mobile phones and the Internet, and exposure to political images from other conflicts around the world — have started a Palestinian-style intifada against Indian rule. “Another generation of young Kashmiris is being consumed by war,” writes Peer.
The cover art alone makes it worth picking up. Pakistan has a long tradition of decorating vehicles, from the horse-drawn carriages of the Raj to the Kohistan Bus Company of the 1920s to today’s rickshaws, city buses and commercial vehicles. Granta 112: Pakistan features artwork by Islam Gull, a truck and bus artist in Karachi, who designed the cover using the same industrial paints he uses to embellish Pakistani trucks.
Copyright @ 2011 Chic Savvy Travels
Date Added: June 12, 2011 | Comments (0)
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