BY Harsimran Kaur ON July 01 , 2021 IN BOOK REVIEWS, THE NINE LIVES OF PAKISTAN/DECLAN WALSH/NON-FICTION
The protuberance of Pakistan on the global map is of a country with incendiary issues of territorial conflicts, maiming the constitutional set-up by wearying military coups, ushering the Taliban and other terrorist outfits to perform undesirable activities and having an indissoluble relation with Kashmir as if betrothed to a bride. The book “Nine Lives of Pakistan” goes beyond the cliché to introduce a Pakistan where lives stand at an edge shuddered by their intransigencies to the sharpened bigotries.
Declan Walsh’s decade long journey in covering some of the controversial lives in Pakistan brings forth a striking reality of their political turmoil, social impassiveness and economic deprivation. The tour from Islamabad to Rawalpindi to cutting deep impressions in remote areas like Shaunder Pass and Quetta, to finally cornering the pot-boilers of Karachi, Declan Walsh’s research is impressive, put forward with an impeccable writing style and fastidiousness.
The book unlocks many enigmas shinning bright to illuminate the oppressed minds, and reeling a spirit of liberation and conviction. Jinnah, known for his immaculate pride and impeccable taste and breeding, founded Pakistan as a sheltering carapace to secure the Muslim identity. Pakistan—the land of pure—was a magical dream, not a hair out of its place. But, as the inner conflicts grew stronger—military uprising fomenting civilian disorder, the call for jihad taking precedence, minorities like, Pashtu, Baloch walking long to embrace freedom and a simple act of voicing opinions termed as blasphemy made Pakistan a shattered dream of twisted chronicles.
Declan Walsh’s tet-a-tet with Abdul Rashid Ghazi gives an honest account of the Red Mosque incident. Known for infiltrating the Afghan fighters, the Red Mosque was rampaged by the Pakistani Army to oblige its Chinese counterparts, creating uproar of political mistrust. Liberators like Kamal Khan—a Pashtu Pathan and the audacious Asma Jahangir worked as the country’s front liners to condemn the invasive tendencies of waging the holy war and engendering vigilantism. Salman Taseer, a quintessential tycoon turned politician, was murdered for non-justifying blasphemy of helping a Christian woman. The author meets colonel Imam—whether he dies as a patriot or a deceiver is a big round question!! Finally, a meeting with a Pakistani Spy opens a can of worms for the author about his own expulsion from Pakistan.
The book reverberates a discordant rhythm of warfare and anomalous conflicts that have embroiled Pakistan for decades. Declan Walsh has assiduously penetrated into the lives of the purist to give a real account of the country’s munificence and meanderings. The eloquence is unmatched and the fervour with which it is written is applaudable.