Dispatches from Pakistan


LeftWord Books, 2012

327 pages

Price INR 450.00

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Writing about Pakistan is cliché-ridden. Fear is the dominant motif: mullahs, terrorists, nuclear bombs. And beneath that is victimhood: refugees from floods and military adventures, women in burqas, emaciated children. Littile of the actual fabric of everyday life comes across. Nothing of the struggles against neoliberalism, nothing of the struggles against the kleptocracy of military, Inc. Nothing of the searing poetry from Gilgit, nothing of the graffiti from Gwadar. Pakistanis are alive. Sold by governments who should save them, killed by secret agencies who should guard them, bombed by American drones, 'structurally adjusted' into starvation, beaten, rendered, tortured and disappeared, and yet, inscrutably, immutably, even joyously, they are still alive.

Dispatches from Pakistan is an introduction to that liveliness, with sixteen original essays that take us from Balochistan to Baltistan, and poetry from Jalib and Riyaz. This collection is essential reading for anyone who is invested in the social history of transformation underway in Pakistan. With shrewd analysis rendered in accessible language, Dispatches lays plain the complex and vitally important conditions unfolding in 21st-century Pakistan. 

Madiha R. Tahir

Madiha R. Tahir is an independent journalist reporting on conflict, culture and politics in Pakistan. Her work has appeared in Foreign Affairs, Al Jazeera, Vice, The National, Guernica, The New Inquiry, The Columbia Journalism Review, The Wall Street JournalThe Herald (Pakistan), The Friday Times, Caravan, as well as on Democracy Now!, PRI and BBC The World, Global Post and other outlets. She is the director of the short documentary Wounds of Waziristan, focusing on Pakistani survivors of drone attacks. She holds a masters degree in Near Eastern Studies from NYU and an M.S. from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Tahir has travelled extensively throughout Pakistan from Balochistan to Swat as well as to rural areas to report on the floods, Sufi music, the Baloch separatist movement, the salience of nationalism and religion, Islamist organizations and national electoral politics. She is a founding editor of Tanqeed, a magazine of politics and culture.

Qalandar Bux Memon

Qalandar Bux Memon is the editor of Naked Punch, a philosophy, art, and politics platform run by a collective of writers and activists. He is a lecturer of politics at Forman Christian University, Lahore, and co-founder of an intellectual café in Lahore called Café Bol.

Vijay Prashad

Vijay Prashad is an Indian historian and journalist. Prashad is the author of forty books, including Washington Bullets, Red Star Over the Third World, The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World and The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South. He is Executive Director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research, Chief Correspondent for Globetrotter, and editor at LeftWord Books. He has appeared in two films – Shadow World (2016) and Two Meetings (2017). Previously, he was the George and Martha Kellner Chair in South Asian History and a professor of international studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, United States, from 1996 to 2017.


This book is a collection of some of the best research papers on Pakistan in recent times.

Daily Times Pakistan

Unlike most recent books on Pakistan, Dispatches ... doesn't predict a collapse of the state. Rather, its focus is on Pakistan's survival potential.

Business Standard

[F]antastic and serves as an antidote to much of the news coming out of Pakistan.

Irtiqa (blog)

The book is a valuable contribution to the understanding of a troubled country from well-known writers and journalists who have travelled and experienced first-hand many of the ominous developments.

The Hindu