Nicholas Kristof, the NYT's globehopping columnist (I wonder how his miles compare with Friedman's) has an important piece on Pakistan ("The Pakistan Test"). I'll get to that soon - but first, one must address the important issue of how to pronounce "Punjab."
In the video that accompanies his article, Kristof refers to it as "Poon-jaab." The correct pronunciation is "Pun-jaab" (where "pun" rhymes with "run"). People frequently mis-pronounce the region (split between India and Pakistan) as "Poon-jaab." That's understandable, because more often than not, the "u" in Indian words, when written in English, is either a long "oo" (as in the word "tool," or the town of "Pune," which actually is pronounced Poo-naah), or a short "oo" (as in the word "foot" or "put" or "Mumbai"). Somehow, what should have been spelled Panjab became Punjab.
For an actual audio pronunciation of "Punjab," visit this page on the Free Dictionary. There's also a nice little definition of the word "Punjab"--it means "five rivers," and somewhat explains how some people call it "The Punjab," although I'd say that's outdated. I'm thinking we should start our own master audio guide to various subcontinental words that are frequently mangled.
Now, back to Kristof's piece. He says Pakistan is "Barack Obama's most difficult international test in the next year," pointing to the Talibanization of cities like Peshawar and the extreme misogyny of top government officials. He says the U.S. should slow down funding to the Pakistani government and military, while cutting tariffs on Pakistani goods. He also wants the U.S. to work on a Kashmir deal, "including far more pressure on India."
His final suggestion is to help Pakistan's education sector, and here he sees at least one bright spot in an otherwise dismal landscape:
...I visited a school run by a California-based aid group, Developments in Literacy, which represents a successful American effort to fight extremism. DIL is financed largely by Pakistani-Americans trying to “give back,” and it runs 150 schools in rural Pakistan, teaching girls in particular.
Tauseef Hyat, the Islamabad-based executive director of DIL, notes that originally the plan was to operate just primary schools, but then a group of 11-year-old girls threatened to go on hunger strike unless DIL helped them continue their education in high school. Ms. Hyat caved, and some of those girls are now studying to become doctors.