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Writing Worth Reading

Nawaz Sharif On The Cusp Of Power

Profile. All you might ever want to know about current politics in Pakistan, in the form of a full-length portrait of opposition leader Nawaz Sharif. In brief: The plummeting popularity of the Bhutto family’s Pakistan People’s Party, and the receding challenge from Imran Khan’s new party, Tehreek-e-Insaf, makes it highly likely that Sharif’s Muslim League will win a general election in May, giving Sharif a third term as prime minister. But can he control the army? His second term ended in 1999 when the generals overthrew and exiled him (9,583 words)

How To Do Empire Right

Review of William Dalrymple’s Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan (1839-42). “An action spectacular with beheadings, boilings, de-boning and skewering aplenty.” But the author over-reaches in putting forward the British 19C war as a template for understanding the more recent American occupation. Too much has changed (3,235 words)

How To Do Empire Right?

Review of William Dalrymple’s Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan (1839-42). “An action spectacular with beheadings, boilings, de-boning and skewering aplenty.” But Dalrymple over-reaches in putting forward the British 19C war as a template for understanding the current American adventure. Too much has changed

Supreme Being

Portrait of Samir Jain, publisher of “Times of India”, world’s top-selling English language paper. “A newspaper is a product like a cake of soap.” Slips deliberate spelling mistakes into copy “to make readers more comfortable”

Breaking The Silence

Long, scholarly essay on inequality in India. Liberalisation and growth provide an opportunity for creating a fairer and more inclusive society. But that means confronting the facts of inequality, which Indians are reluctant to do

The Departed

What life for Kashmiri militants, returning home? “Between these men regret and resignation hung in the air: They were finally home, but it was no longer the place they once left, and they were no longer the young men who left it”

The Emperor Uncrowned

I’ve just come back from India, where patrician Congress politicians of old have been replaced by a new generation of populists. Some are empty vessels; others are authoritarian and dangerous. Narendra Modi runs the state of Gujarat

Shelf Life

Remembering 100 years of Oxford University Press in India. Ravi Dayal, who ran it in the 1970s, “coauthored and ghostwrote and may well have rewritten more books and authors than any editor in the history of Indian publishing”

Who’s Afraid Of Imran Khan?

He’s sexy, handsome, worldly. But his politics are something else altogether. He’s an ally of Pakistan’s military-Islamist deep state, a protege of former ISI chief Hamid Gul. Next year’s elections could push him towards power

Falling Man

Big profile of Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh. Far-sighted reformer in 1990s; now his skills seem to have deserted him. “His timidity, complacency and intellectual dishonesty will make him a tragic figure in our history”

Art Of The Deal

David Headley helped plan terrorist attacks on Mumbai in 2008. He was arrested in 2009 in US on his way to murder staff at Jyllands-Posten newspaper in Copenhagen. But for years, he’s been a FBI informant. That may save his skin

The Bloody Crossroads

Epic read on India’s Maoist insurgency and the (mostly ineffective) ways the country’s security forces try to deal with them. Story focuses on one village hit particularly hard by fighting factions. Great first-hand report

The Spy Who Left Me

What did we learn from the Raymond Davis affair? The U.S. relies heavily on Pakistan for help in Afghanistan, Pakistan’s Army calls the shots in domestic politics, and whipping up anti-American sentiment is pretty easy

The Confidence Man

Uneven but gripping profile of man who changed world cricket, former IPL boss Lalit Modi. Portrayed as high energy micromanager, prepared to ride roughshod over rules, people. Above all, ambitious. Unwise to write him off

Temporary Autonomous Zone

Letter from Kurdistan. Seven years after the American invasion, Iraqi Kurds no longer fear attacks from Arab south, nor war with Turkey. Peace and prosperity has made region attractive to Arabs, Turks, foreign investors

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