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NYT: Pakistan: Struggling to See a Country of Shards

Author: Sabrina Tavernise
May 2, 2009

Sabrina Tavernise of The New York Times says in Pakistan, a country filled with competing impulses, Islam has been the only constant.

Excerpt: On a spring night in Lahore, I came face to face with all that is puzzling about Pakistan.

I had just interviewed Mobarak Haidar, a Pakistani author who was confidently predicting the end of the world. Islamic extremism, he said, was a wild animal that would soon gobble up Europe and all of Western civilization. "All the world's achievements for the past 500 years are at risk," he said in a gloomy tone, sitting in his living room. Soon there would be no more music, dancing or fun of any kind. The power went out and candles were lit, adding to the spookiness.

And then, as I climbed into a car to go home, a wedding party came out of nowhere, enveloping us in a shower of rose petals. Men playing bagpipes marched toward us, grinning, while dancing guests wriggled and clapped, making strange-shaped silhouettes in our headlights.

So which is the real Pakistan? Collapsing state or crazy party?

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