For people who are at the bottom economically, the world is becoming a harder and harder place. And yet the incentives to become rich are so great because enormous amounts of wealth are being accumulated. And so those two things, that carrot and stick, are beating people along this trajectory of trying desperately to move up in the world.
It is not surprising that most Pakistanis do not support America's bombardment of Afghanistan. The Afghans are neighbours on the brink of starvation and devastated by war. America has shown itself to be untrustworthy, a superpower that uses its values as a scabbard for its sword.
I think that when we take the long view, the notion that some people are deemed less worthy of being able to move - to not have the right to cross borders - over time, that's going to seem as outmoded and as unfair, really, as racial discrimination or other kinds of discrimination.
Over time, our inescapable, systemic, fundamentally human impurity gives us the capacity to do what has not been done before: to make creative leaps in our biology, in the diseases we can resist and the foods we can digest. And in our thinking and culture and politics, too.
Outside of America, there are many people, myself included, who champion values that in some senses could be thought of as traditionally American: The idea that everybody is equal; the idea that the rights of women and men should be the same.
Stories helped me unite parts of my existence that might otherwise have seemed irrevocably split by geography and time. And stories helped me find a future in which I, such a mongrel, could be comfortable.
Chance plays a powerful role in every life - our brains and personalities are just chemical soup, after all; a few drops here or there matter enormously - but consequences often become more serious as income levels go down.
For me, writing a novel is more like digging a well than climbing a mountain - some heroic thing where I set out to conquer. I just sit quietly for a few years, and then it starts to become something.
I am sometimes asked to name my favourite books. The list changes, depending on my mood, the year, tricks played by memory. I might mention novels by Nabokov and Calvino and Tolkien on one occasion, by Fitzgerald and Baldwin and E.B. White on another. Camus often features, as do Tolstoy, Borges, Morrison and Manto.
Like many kids, I used to pretend all sorts of things. I would climb into a tree and imagine that I was on an island, that the grass below we was an ocean, that the leaves were the fins of sharks. Perhaps unlike many people, I never really stopped. I still have a childlike predisposition to fantasise and share my fantasies.
The simple fact of being a human being is you migrate. Many of us move from one place to the other. But even those who don't move, and you stay in the same city, if you were born in Manhattan 70 years ago, you're born in Des Moines 70 years ago, you've lived in the same place for 70 years, the city you live in today is unrecognizable.
I come from an enormous and very close family. I have over a dozen aunts and uncles in Pakistan, dozens of cousins. I have many close friends. I have received so much love in Lahore that the city always pulls me.
Being outside the candy store looking in is the state of people today. Whether you're in a Pakistani village watching somebody in a car drive by, or you're in the city of Lahore going to a restaurant and seeing somebody with a security entourage coming in... you're exposed to people with more.
I think there's a growing courage among the younger generation of American writers. Because of the more superficial treatment of characters taking place in cinema, they have had to deal with that by digging deeper into who these people are.
As a child I read all kinds of stuff, whether it was 'Asterix and Obelix' and 'Tin Tin' comic books, or 'Lord of the Rings,' or Frank Herbert's sci-fi. Or 'The Wind in the Willows.' Or 'Charlotte's Web.'
Like many of my friends in the Pakistani diaspora - and many of my friends in Pakistan itself, for that matter - I have sometimes looked at the country of my birth and wondered whether its future will be one of steady and sad decline.
I am a fairly mongrelized person - you know I've been a migrant my whole life, and it's hard to think of myself as any pure one thing. And so I take it, I guess, very personally - this notion that migrants are bad and that mixing is bad and that people from other places are bad.
Television has given Pakistan a truly open national forum for the first time in its history. Ideas are debated, leaders are assessed and criticised, and a nation of 170 million people is finally discovering, together, what it thinks.
I often use nameless places in my work as a way of allowing the readers to create more of the novel and to make it potentially about their experiences, what they know, a city that they have perhaps seen on television.
In Sufi terms, there are two very interesting notions of transcendence. One is to gaze out at the universe and to comprehend that what you see out there reflects what you are. The other one is to look inside yourself and recognise that the universe is present there.
Given enough time, polar bears might migrate off the Arctic ice, evolve darker coats, find a different diet, and thrive in a new, warmer climate. But if the ice on which they depend disappears in a few decades, they are likely to die.
I think if you say that art and politics, or religion and politics, mustn't mix, don't mix, that is itself a political statement. Even if you are writing a 19th-century novel where the money comes from a plantation in the Caribbean and you don't talk about that, that itself is a political thing.