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Journalist, professor and writer Anatol Lieven talks to during the Karachi Literature Festival 2012. Lieven, author of a widely acclaimed book “Pakistan: A hard country,” believes Pakistan is not an enemy of the West and it cannot be called a ‘failed state.’

Lieven was among the most popular speakers at the two-day festival, which concluded on February 12 and the end of the first day saw his book being wiped off the stalls.

Interview by Salman Haqqi/


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Comments (14) Closed

Noor Kamal Feb 13, 2012 09:13pm
Hasan Feb 13, 2012 10:18pm
You are not dead until your spirit is dead. How is your spirit?
Saeeda Feb 13, 2012 11:24pm
I've just finished reading "Pakistan, a Hard Country" and have come to realize that the folks that say Pakistan is a failed state have an agenda in doing so. These people would prefer to see Pakistan through the simplistic prism of terrorism rather then focus on the depth and complexity of Pakistani culture and the strength of its kinship bonds. It is much easier to remain intellectually lazy and get your opinions from the lies Fox News and Republican think tanks et al perpetrate, then to take the time to actually read about what is going on. & YES failed states don't hold literary festivals. If you look at any nation in the world, including mine which is the US, you will see in the first 100 years of their existence that they encountered many of the problems Pakistan is facing. So Pakistan is being asked to do the impossible. Pakistan's richest resource is her people and it is because of them that society will not implode in the way it has in say Somalia or Afghanistan.
Haidery Feb 13, 2012 11:25pm
@Noor Kamal if you have not already left - get out of my country and live somewhere else.. This is a great nation which belongs to people with hope and passion about their country and can't tolerate pessimistic views like yours!
MJB Feb 13, 2012 11:44pm
Pakistan is not dead and will not die ever Inshallah, the people who think like that have some virus going in there heads and they are not thankful to Almighty that there is a land where you are free and which is your own. Do some thing to help the country not just blame it. Think please....
BRR Feb 14, 2012 02:24am
A festival catering to an educated elite at best, with mostly English as the medium of interaction, in a predominantly uneducated country, with people more ready and willing to funds some militant organization than buy an english book to read (or any book for that matter) is not one that offers much to celebrate. May not have failed yet, but surely trying hard to.
Jehanzeb Idrees Feb 14, 2012 02:43am
@Noor Kamal: Your intellectual merit seriously lacks a 'demonstrated intellectual ability' that doesn't allow you to see beyond a defeatist mindset that thrives more on spurious speculations than a sensible educated insight. A clear case of a huge ego!
AKM Feb 14, 2012 05:52am
Whoa!! There is a precedence. Failed states do hold literary festivals. The Pyongyang English Literary Festival ("Festival") will be the first ever English language literary festival to be staged in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea ("DPRK") and will be held in September 2012 in Pyongyang, the capital of the DPRK. We all know that North Korea is a failed state.
manzoor ahmed Feb 14, 2012 11:07am
One has to understand Lieven Idea of failed state , his concept is very clear.
sja Feb 14, 2012 11:59am
The importance of failure is evidenced in history by nobody else but Napolean who proved that the failures are stepping stones of success --- some states succeed tremendously and became champions of everything, then greed, too many freedoms make them slaves of their freedoms and they are now realizing their failures, which are creating failures for those who followed them so gallantly, and look gaspingly why we did follow them, Pakistan is also an example that it was led into this systematic failure like some of the Western states, our leaders followed blindly and paid handsomely for their personal benefits. Our failures are not 100% our failures but we have have been dragged into this path for failure ---- in urdu there is a saying hum to doobay hain sanam tumko bhi lay doobaingay ----- let us learn from our failures and make success and leave a history like Napolean the great!
Haider Feb 14, 2012 01:49pm
Haidery dear if we r not going to learn tolerance ,surely we r going to fail.
Shah of Blah Feb 14, 2012 07:42pm
Ohh, that's a harsh thing to say about the Jaipur what if Rushdie was boycotted and threatened by death?
Pankaj Feb 15, 2012 02:11pm
I agree with Lieven...Pakistan is not a failed state...and for sure will not die. The socio-cultural fabric of the subcontinent is pretty strong to break down. The only concern is that the moderate voices from Pakistan get muffled down by the extremist ones -- and that's what's creates the perception of a rogue state. I am sure the civil society will prevail and bring the country back on the track of holistic development...
Ayesha Mohammad Feb 16, 2012 04:35pm
The gentleman is being polite. What do you expect him to say being a freeloading guest.?