In the past decade Pakistan has become a country of immense importance to its region, the United States, and the world. With almost 200 million people, a 500,000-man army, nuclear weapons, and a large diaspora in Britain and North America, Pakistan is central to the hopes of jihadis and the fears of their enemies. Yet the greatest short-term threat to Pakistan is not Islamist insurgency as such, but the actions of the United States, and the greatest longterm threat is ecological change. Anatol Lieven’s book is a magisterial investigation of this highly complex and often poorly understood country. Engagingly written, combining history and profound analysis with reportage from Lieven’s extensive travels as a journalist and academic, Pakistan: A Hard Country is both utterly compelling and deeply revealing.
This book would not have been possible had it not been for the immense kindness and hospitality of many Pakistanis, who invited me to their homes and talked to me frankly about their lives and their opinions – so many that the great majority will have to go unthanked. I am especially indebted to Ashraf and Ambrin Hayat and their family in Islamabad. I hope that my prolonged stays with them did not disrupt their lives too much. Syed Fakr Imam and Syeda Abida Hussain have been most gracious hosts over the years in their various residences, and shared with me their knowledge of politics, history and culture. Najam and Jugnu Sethi have been good friends and kind hosts for an equal time. Naeem Pasha and Kathy Gannon have entertained me more often than I can remember, and Kathy has shared her incomparable knowledge of matters Afghan. Naveed and Saeed Elahi have both given most generously of their time and helped me enormously with advice, information and contacts.