What might link a group of middle-class Pakistani women sipping coffee demurely in a living room, with the fiery young women in black burqas threatening shopkeepers in Islamabad? When and how do an adolescent girl's aspirations translate into the maturing of a social and political revolution in urban Pakistan?

Texts of War

Texts of war

Try as I might to ignore the images of the Jamia Hafsa students and the accompanying flood of memories, I do keep returning to those photographs. The image of the burqa-clad women as they pose with their batons; when they first appeared, stirred within me a compassion that initially made me very apprehensive. I would ask myself why I viewed these images with empathy, and how best to label the affinity I felt with these veiled students. They remained faceless for the world, but I could definitely recognise the frame of mind and resolve with which they had posed for the photographs. Perhaps this book project was aimed at unpacking this feeling of comradeship.

Decades ago I too may have ...

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