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Q&A with author of 'The Wandering Falcon'

Amrita Tripathi | http://amritat

Updated: May 6, 2011, 8:49 PM IST
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Q&A with author of  'The Wandering Falcon'
CNN-IBN's Amrita Tripathi in conversation with author Jamil Ahmad, about his latest piece of fiction 'The Wandering Falcon'.

CNN-IBN's Amrita Tripathi in conversation with author Jamil Ahmad, about his latest piece of fiction 'The Wandering Falcon'.

Amrita Tripathi: You've served in the Frontier Province and in Balochistan -- these are areas the rest of the world sees as largely lawless and ungovernable or terrorist havens. How do you perceive that? How much have things changed?
Jamil Ahmad: I can only talk about the period I lived and worked in the tribal areas. I was one of many who never found the tribes " lawless and ungovernable". We found tribal societies stable and predictable. Of course, one had to understand their code of conduct, their values and their sense of right and wrong. For the last many years I have been a distant observer. Their normal way of live has been brutally suppressed. The trauma of war, the creation of Frankensteins in their midst and the consequential decimation of their sober and sagacious leadership has probably destroyed their fabric beyond redemption.

Amrita Tripathi: You have been quoted as saying the "anger has built up for 60 years" - Can you elaborate?
Jamil Ahmad: Amrita, this is a work of fiction, I do not wish to step into the quagmire of geopolitics and political economy. I am not a trained anthropologist either. However, I do feel that Baluchistan is a typical case study of a nation state clashing with its tribal components. A nation state, from times immemorial, seems quite comfortable with a feudal or a consumer capitalistic population. It invariably develops an adversarial relationship with the tribal pockets in its fold. There are examples galore in Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas. Baluchistan in my opinion, is one such example where a degree of gentleness and sensitivity could have resolved many of its growing pains. This was lacking. As one Baluch said to me "We do not understand how, a problem that could be solved over a cup of tea could be treated with violence."

Amrita Tripathi: Your reaction to the killing of Osama bin Laden -- do you think we'll see repercussions even in the tribal areas?
Jamil Ahmad: I do not know, I am out of touch with the ground situation.

Amrita Tripathi: To quote from your book: "What died with them was a part of the Baluch people themselves. A little of their spontaneity in offering affection and something of their graciousness and trust. That too was tried, sentenced and died with these seven men." In passages like this, and through the book, what comes across is the injustice done to these wandering tribes...the modern hierarchy and system of rules doesn't seem to work or hold in their case. Is that something you have observed?
Jamil Ahmad:I think I have covered this point already in my response to your second question.

Amrita Tripathi: Can you tell us more of your interactions with the Mahsuds (who you say are the wolves of Waziristan, since they hunt in groups) and the Wazir tribe (the leopards, as they hunt alone)?
Jamil Ahmad: I read or heard this phrase a long time ago and it did appear generally quite descriptive. However, in my personal experience Mahsuds, Waziirs both act collectively and individually. Indeed, there were three occasions when single Mahsuds performed remarkable deeds.

Amrita Tripathi: What do you think happens to Torbaz next?
Jamil Ahmad: Torbaz is now a mature adult. I am sure that he, with his remarkable skills and resilience will do well and survive

Amrita Tripathi: And finally, you've made this fabulous literary debut at 78! Was it a difficult process? Are you going to write more?
Jamil Ahmad: Writing was, perhaps the easier part. I was much younger, refining the manuscript and reworking some it its contents has been more exhausting. I am older now.
I have not given any thought to writing. I need to rest for a while.

First Published: May 6, 2011, 8:49 PM IST
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