In busy New York city, throbbing with frenetic commercial activity, the Western literati flocked on a cold Tuesday evening into the independent book store, McNally Jackson. They had come to hear the only woman reporter under Gen. Zia ul Haq, Nafisa Hoodbhoy launch her book, `Aboard the Democracy Train: A Journey through Pakistan’s Last Decade of Democracy.’
The event was moderated by the Managing Editor Newsroom, New York Public Radio – Karen Frillmann and included comments by Political Science professor at Georgia State University, Henry F. Carey. Prof. Carey had in the 90s accompanied Ms Hoodbhoy through the rural areas of Sindh and Punjab, at a time when she reported on the nation’s struggle to return to democracy.
In her opening address, Ms Hoodbhoy said that it was extraordinary that she was launching her book from New York, where she had begun her journalistic career. In her words, the US women’s movement had inspired and motivated her to become the only woman reporter for Pakistan’s leading English language, Dawn newspaper… where she covered Benazir Bhutto’s bid to become the nation’s only woman prime minister.
Ms Frillmann asked Ms Hoodbhoy a host of questions about the social structure, history and politics of Pakistan, including civil society’s struggle for rule of law. In particular, she voiced the concern of American intellectuals about the effects of US involvement in the region.
The ATDT author spoke for about an hour about the issues raised by the moderator…referring back to the chapters of her book. In turn, the audience remained highly attentive throughout the presentation.
Prof. Carey made brief interventions, based on his observations and experiences on Pakistan’s struggle for democracy.
Afterwards, Ms Hoodbhoy answered a slew of questions raised by the audience – most of whom had a good working knowledge about Pakistan. Responding to questions from the audience about the news carried about Pakistan by the US media, the author gave her own perspective on current events.
The talk was followed by a book signing by the author.