Are dictatorship and democracy mutually exclusive? In a country with cultures as ancient and complex as Pakistan’s, the answer to what the future holds is not straightforward. Projected to be the world’s third-most-populous country by 2050, Pakistan has stood at the crossroads of East and West for centuries. Now in the “nuclear club” and an emerging secular democracy amidst neighboring Islamic theocracies, Pakistan plays a critical role in America’s war on terrorism. President Pervez Musharraf has long been seen as a key United States ally in the region—a reputation that does not always serve him well in Pakistan.
In <i>Dinner with the President: A Nation’s Journey</i>, Pakistani filmmakers Sabiha Sumar and Satha Sathananthan request a dinner with their country’s leader, and to their surprise, the request is granted. The family dinner with Musharraf and his mother forms the backdrop to a filmic journey through contemporary Pakistan as the filmmakers forego the headlines and search the country for deeper answers.
In surprising encounters with people from across Pakistani society, they reveal a country where ethnic and tribal loyalties struggle against modernization and religious Islamic forces threaten to make Pakistan a theocracy like Iran. In the crosshairs of change sits the president himself, whose ties to the military and modernization efforts in Pakistan have made him a lightning rod for controversy from across the political spectrum.
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