The title character of Mohammed Hanif's novel Our Lady of Alice Bhatti is a Catholic nurse in Pakistan. Turning the other cheek is not her strong suit.
"Church of Pakistan college principal beaten," read the headline. I am that principal.
The Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan, a long, mountainous region on the border with Afghanistan, may be the world's most violent area. I asked Mano Rumalshah, bishop of the Church of Pakistan's 70,000-member NWFP diocese, "How do you serve as a Christian in this hostile region, where violence has become the norm and you’re held down economically, socially and politically? How do you incarnate Christ when you live here?"
Mullahs in the corner of Pakistan where I live tend to be brilliant orators. They usually speak extemporaneously for an hour before Friday prayers. They can be persuasive, humorous, conciliatory, prayerful or bellicose. Frequently they break into song or weep for the sins of their tribe, and they hold their audiences spellbound, displaying a masterful use of repartee and the timing of a stand-up comic. They can move listeners from tears to laughter in the time it takes you to fold your turban.