The trick in putting out a quarterly anchored by current events is to figure out what will be current in a few months. That is our editor’s job, and how he does it, I would not try to guess. But somehow the stars aligned this week, and we’ve got a honest-to-god current events article – one of our contributors is in Pakistan, and he’s filed a story on the last few days’ developments in the nation:
Mohammad Alam, an elderly, wrinkled man wrapped in a tattered blanket, guarded his street corner in Peshawar last Friday, while angry mobs burned a motorcycle, ransacked the chamber of commerce building, and threw stones at police just a few feet away. Even as the sound of gunfire clattered nearby, Alam didn’t dare leave the kiosk where he sells neswar, a type of chewing tobacco widely used by Pashtuns; the thirty bags stacked neatly on the box beside him—and worth a total of about $1.50—constituted his entire inventory and livelihood.
Author Nicholas Schmidle also wrote a fascinating article for our Spring 2007 issue, Waiting for the Worst: Baluchistan, 2006, and contributes Democracy Is Not a Postcard: Iranian Influence in Western Afghanistan to our Winter 2008 issue.
01/03 Update: Schmidle has a feature on a related topic in this Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, entitled “Next-Gen Taliban,” available online now.