The Japanese gambling game of pachinko is an acquired taste that foreigners rarely acquire. Yet it is adored by millions of “salarymen” those worker bees who keep Japan Inc. humming even during down times. The pachinko parlor in my neighborhood is typical. It’s crowded day and night with dozens of salarymen—who in crumpled suits, cigarettes dangling from their mouths—sit zombie-like as they pump coins into a contraption that looks like a vertical pinball machine.
Few Americans have heard of Abdul Qadeer Khan, but in Pakistan he is a household name, a national hero of Elvis proportions. A street in Islamabad bears his name. His image appears on the back of brightly painted trucks. Schoolchildren and retirees alike sing his praises. No, Khan is not a cricket player or a movie star or even a politician. He is a nuclear scientist: the father of Pakistan's bomb. South Asia's war clouds may be dissipating, but Khan's glory is not only intact; it's stronger than ever.