Since the American invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the strife emanating from the northwestern tribal areas of Pakistan has ensnared the attention of the international media. Pakistan has been portrayed as nothing more than a dismal arena of never-ending suicide bombings, drone strikes and sectarian attacks. The local population is presented as an abject and undifferentiated backdrop to this parade of violence and cruelty, huddled between the Scylla of terrorist militias and the Charybdis of a corrupt and dysfunctional government, which is itself responsible for manipulating Islam for its own ends, though it has suffered a devastating penalty for doing so. In these circumstances it is difficult, especially for outsiders, to imagine Pakistan as a place of colour and individuality, where culture and religion offer infinite variety.
Travels in a Dervish Cloak is a delightful and refreshing corrective to this prevailing monochrome view of Pakistan. Isambard Wilkinson has had a long acquaintance with the country. His family was present there during its final days as part of the British Empire and has maintained a close friendship with