National Geographic : 2010 Jul
• government's apparent willingness to let him operate unhindered. So the following morning I paid a visit to Mushtaq Sukhera, the senior police o cer for the region, at his o cial residence. He turned out to be a charming, well-educated man with a practice green on his front lawn and a son at New York University. Sukhera was no fan of extremists and said that his men kept a close eye on the madrassa we had visited. But, he added, "they are teaching the normal syllabus that is being taught in any madrassa, so what does one do about that?" , Punjab's militants only recently arrived in the province. For a glimpse at a more established pillar of society, we traveled to Multan, the largest city in southern Punjab and a stomping ground of the wealthy, landed aristocrats known as feudals. Faizal Abbas, 39, with close-cropped, gray hair and the hint of a double chin, greeted us outside his air- conditioned reception hall in a walled garden stocked with peacocks and miniature ponies. A huge lion paced in a cage. Anything less would have been a disappoint- ment. e feudals acquired their land in colonial times or even earlier, and many have parlayed their riches into political careers. As the city grew up around them, Abbas and his brothers sold o some of their land for development and now earn part of their living from a gas station. Lunch arrived in a box from Pizza Hut. e family still owns several thousand acres of prime farmland---much of it planted in man- goes---and revels in its feudal roots. Behind Abbas's garden is a reproduction of his ancestral village, with an outdoor clay oven and rope cots of the sort he slept on as a child. A er lunch he showed o one of his prized dancing horses. Abbas's younger brother, Ghulam, was plan- ning a run for public o ce. In the garden that night he presided over an informal council gath- ered to resolve a land dispute between a man and his nephew that had escalated into a display of rearms. A er much back-and-forth, the pair agreed to suspend hostilities until Ghulam had a chance to see the disputed property for himself. "We are well-known," he explained later. " e bane of this public life is that I do not have a private moment." The feudals are not universally beloved in Punjab. Hal earted land reforms have failed to eradicate pockets of deep poverty, especially in the water-starved south. Poverty, in turn, is o en blamed for fueling extremism by encouraging landless parents to send their children to madras- sas, where at least they'll be fed and sheltered. of Multan, I drove north through lush elds of sugarcane and rice, past textile mills and service plazas with mini-marts and prayer rooms. Near Islamabad I came upon a vast, un nished housing develop- ment dotted with water towers. Curving boule- vards were anked by Mediterranean-style villas that could have been transplanted from southern California or Abu Dhabi. A billboard advertised a new swim and tennis club. e development belongs to Pakistan's big- gest real estate developer and most power- ful institution---the army. O cers buy land at below-market prices, then build on it or sell it to private buyers for a pro t. e perk is a result of a sprawling network of army-run wel- fare schemes and businesses, including cement factories, fertilizer plants, and Pakistan's larg- est trucking rm. Nowhere is the system more deeply rooted than in Punjab, where the British "I think it's getting more liberal here," Imran Qureshi said. "People are talking about politics, sexuality, all kinds of issues. It was not like this ten years ago."