Aug - 2021 - Nine Lives of Pakistan - Declan Walsh

Nine Lives of Pakistan- by Declan Walsh


Declan Walsh is one of the New York Times’s international correspondents. His portrait of Pakistan over a tumultuous decade captures the sweep of this country through the dramatic lives of nine individuals.


While on assignment in Pakistan, as the country careened between crises, he travels throughout the country, and describes his encounters with people on many sides of the various conflicts, including bureaucrats, political figures, military officers, and religious leaders. Walsh travelled from the port of Karachi to the salons of Lahore, and from Baluchistan to the mountains Waziristan. He met a diverse cast of extraordinary Pakistanis, which included a chieftain readying for war at his desert fort, a retired spy skulking through the borderlands, and a lawyer risking death for her beliefs, among others. Through these “nine lives” he describes Pakistan as a country of creeping extremism and political chaos, but also personal bravery and dogged idealism that defy stereotypes.


Unbeknownst to Walsh, however, an intelligence agent was tracking him. Written in the aftermath of Walsh’s abrupt deportation, The Nine lives of Pakistan concludes with an astonishing encounter with that agent in Europe, and his revelations about Pakistan’s powerful security state. An intimate and complex story of history, identity, and faith, The Nine lives of Pakistan narrates an unflinching account of life in a precarious, vital country.


For me, the best parts of the book are the author’s perceptive assessment of many of Pakistan’s political and religious leaders, its cultural contradictions, and its identity issues. His prose in writing about these facets is beautiful, expressive and discerning.


Nabila Ahmed