Coups d’états, nuclear tests, and the smiling face of ex-Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto appear to be the only things that interest the newspapers when it comes to Pakistan. But this country, which is surrounded by the Indian, Chinese, Russian, and Arabo-Persian worlds, is in the eye of a geo-political whirlwind.

For this photo-reportage in L’Express, Jean-Paul Guilloteau and I travelled throughout the length and breadth of the country, crossing the four main provinces in order to show the complexities, but also the charms of Pakistani society.


Wagah, in the Penjab, is the only road link with India, the eternal enemy, and every day it is the scene of a military show, sending the ominous warning that the border shall never be crossed...

A few kilometers away, in the alleyways of Lahore, Sufi dancers are probably the truest representatives of this region’s Islamic tradition.

In Sindh in the south-east, we visited the great landowners and their employees – modern day serfs.

In Karachi the day labourers waiting with their shovels, and the beggars waiting in front of the restaurants are living evidence of economic failure.

In Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan, not far from the border with Iran, traditional tribes lay down the law; thousands of men go out into the streets to pray on Fridays.

And finally, around Peshawar, in the north-eastern province, Afghan refugees are dying in makeshift camps.

Not far from there, in the Darul Ulomm Haqqania Koranic school, new generations of Islamic students – those known as Taliban – prepare for the day when their hopes become reality and they take control of Pakistan.

Marc Epstein

Jean-Paul Guilloteau

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