How To Write About Pakistan

Oct 2 2010 @ 8:09am

In honor of Granta's new issue, Mohammed Hanif gives a tutorial:

Pakistan is just like India, except when it’s just like Afghanistan. (Has anyone else noticed how we seem to have geographically shifted from being a side-thought of the subcontinent to a major player in the Greater Middle East? Is this progress?) It will become clear whether the Pakistan of our work is Indo-Pak or Af-Pak depending on whether the cover has paisley designs or bombs/minarets/menacing men in shalwar kameezes (there are no other kinds of men in shalwar kameezes.) If woman are on the cover, then the two possible Pakistans are expressed through choice of clothing: is it bridal wear or burkhas?

On the subject of women, they never have agency. Unless they break all the rules, in which case they’re going to end up dead. I don’t think there’s anything else to be said about them, is there?