Reader's Corner Idaho Statesman Column
9:52 am
Sun May 13, 2012

"Playing With Fire: Pakistan At War With Itself" By Pamela Constable

In “Playing with Fire: Pakistan at War with Itself,” Pamela Constable takes an insightful look inside one of the world’s most violent and interesting countries and the hopes, fears and aspirations of its diverse people.

A veteran correspondent for the Washington Post, Constable has reported extensively from Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and Iraq for the past 14 years. She steps behind the headlines to provide a revealing portrait of this nuclear-armed nation.

“Playing with Fire” draws together elements of Pakistani society — from students to landowners to clerics to poor women — to introduce the reader to nation of huge importance to the United States. Through interviews and analyses, the author addresses the main themes of Pakistani society, focusing on feudalism, the issues facing women, a fractured judicial system, the powerful military and religious extremism.

“The most important thing I have learned is that many Pakistanis feel they have no power. They see the trappings of representative democracy but little tangible evidence of it working in their lives,” Constable writes.

For Pakistanis, the truth is an elusive and malleable commodity where people survive by playing the angles, according to Constable. As a result, political manipulation is pervasive as alliances are formed and dissolved as a matter of expediency. While Pakistan is not a theocracy, competing versions of Islam play a central and divisive role. “Its citizens receive a barrage of confused messages about what it means to be a Muslim,” she writes.

Constable paints a picture that radical Islam is growing because leaders refuse to push back against it and run the government for the benefit of its people rather than themselves. “Many Pakistanis today abhor the punitive extremism of the Taliban, yet they deeply resent the West and feel stridently defensive about Islam,” she writes.

“Playing with Fire” provides a window into the contradictions and tensions in a country that plays a major role on the world stage.

Read more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/2012/04/29/2096123/a-look-inside-pakistan-from-a.html#storylink=misearch#storylink=cpy

 

Related program: