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Love letter to Pakistan

Books |

Travels in a Dervish Cloak By Isambard Wilkinson

The partition of India seventy years ago created a new country, Pakistan, which has never worked very well. The world’s largest democracy lies next door – popular holiday destination, economic giant, land of gurus and spice – while Pakistan seems uninviting, wracked by coups, tribal warfare, extremism, terrorism and corruption. It has been ruled directly by the military for half of its existence, and indirectly for the other half.  To this benighted country Isambard Wilkinson wangled his return in 2007 as a foreign correspondent, following a series of boyish encounters fostered through his Anglo-Indian ancestry. His grandmother was Lahore-born and -bred, and retained ‘an unfailing memory crammed with the chutneyed and chillied minutiae of Anglo-Indian life’, as well as a lasting and influential friendship with a Lahori aristocrat, the Begum, who plays the role of auntie to Isambard and his brother.   Wilkinson’s return was propelled by a desire to...

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