Sunday, March 24, 2013

Musharraf's Return & Hanif's A Case of Exploding Mangoes

From today's BBC story "Musharraf returns to Pakistan despite threats:"
Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has arrived back in Pakistan, ending four years of self-imposed exile and defying death threats. A protection detail of heavily armed commandos met him after his plane from Dubai touched down in Karachi airport. A mass rally in the city was cancelled. General Musharraf plans to lead his party in the May general election...  He faces a string of charges including conspiracy to murder, but on Friday the Pakistani authorities granted him protective bail in several outstanding cases, freeing him from immediate arrest once he sets foot in Pakistan. One of the charges is that he failed to provide adequate security for opposition leader Benazir Bhutto after she returned from exile in 2007. Two deadly explosions, in which nearly 140 people died, greeted her arrival in Karachi on 19 October. She was killed that December at a rally in Rawalpindi.
For a satirical novel about Pakistaini politics (and assassinations), try A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif:
Ali Shigri, Pakistan Air Force pilot and Silent Drill Commander of the Fury Squadron, is on a mission to avenge his father's suspicious death, which the government calls a suicide. Ali's target is none other than General Zia ul-Haq, dictator of Pakistani. Enlisting a rag-tag group of conspirators...Ali sets his elaborate plan in motion. There's only one problem: the line of would-be Zia assassins is longer than he could have possibly known.
If satire isn't really your thing, of if you'd prefer a book more focused on Pakistani society than Pakistani politics, you might like In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin:
Daniyal Mueenuddin's collection of linked stories illuminates a place and a people through an examination of the entwined lives of landowners and their retainers on the Gurmani family farm in the countryside outside of Lahore, Pakistan. An aging feudal landlord's household staff, the villagers who depend on his favor, and a network of relations near and far who have sought their fortune in the cities confront the advantages and constraints of station, the dissolution of old ways, and the shock of change. Mueenuddin bares - at times humorously, at times tragically - the complexities of Pakistani class and culture and presents a vivid picture of a time and a place, of the old powers and the new, as the Pakistani feudal order is undermined and transformed.

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