Beyond the Bullets

Arif Mahmood

Line of fire
Featured work includes photography from Arif Mahmood, left

Recently on a sleeper train in China's northwest Xinjiang province, I shared a cabin with two Pakistani traders who were returning home overland from a business trip to Hong Kong. One, in a Harley-Davidson cap, showed me two toy remote-control U.S. military helicopters he had bought in Shenzhen for his young sons. Beaming, he professed his love for America. But he also applauded the Taliban and al-Qaeda and how they "looked after" his Muslim brethren. It's just such a paradoxical pose, at once insular and international, Islamist and secular, that befuddles those outside Pakistan's porous borders, and which is...

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