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Of Pearls and Pecks of Straw
Recollections, Essays, After-thoughts
‘A ramble through my life’ is how the author describes what he has written in this book. A ramble indeed it is—wandering through childhood memories of a lost playmate, remorse over shooting a squirrel, the camaraderie among crows; and part travelogue. He touches briefly but not superficially on issues of the moment—religion, purdah, Westernization and Partition.
Iqbal Akhund grew to adolescence in a family and social environment free from the communal tension that was, nevertheless, growing in intensity and virulence, culminating in Partition. He himself came to the idea in the course of scholarly arguments in his political science class, believing that Partition was not the best solution for the country but had become an unavoidable one. History is to blame, he thinks, or history as it is understood by the two sides. A history imagined and irreconcilable.
Retired diplomat and man of the world Iqbal Akhund, having previously written about his diplomatic career, recalls in this volume personal reminiscences of his ninety plus years: young days under the Raj, the conversion of his grandparents, the why and wherefore of Partition, as well as thoughts on current issues.
This book—nostalgic for a world long gone and with its generous spattering of fresh anecdotes—is a tour through time and place with a brilliant, witty travel guide.
Iqbal Akhund is a Pakistani diplomat of the pioneer generation who entered the Foreign Service on passing the first competitive examination held after Partition. In his thirty-five years of service, he served as Ambassador in Cairo, Belgrade, and Paris, and was Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York. He presided over the UN Security Council (1976) and was Chairman of the UN Economic and Social Council as well as of the developing countries’ Group of 77. In 1979, he was appointed the Secretary General’s special representative in Lebanon. On return to Pakistan in 1987, he joined Benazir Bhutto’s first government as adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs.
In retirement now, Akhund divides his time equally between Karachi and France.
His other publications include Memoirs of a Bystander, about his diplomatic career and Trial and Error, an account of the return of democratic government under Benazir Bhutto.