FB   
 
Powered bysps
        Society for Policy Studies
 
 

 
A country of instability and resilience
Updated:Oct 8, 2015
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 
By Atul K Thakur
 
The Pakistan Paradox: Instability and Resilience
 
Author: Christophe Jaffrelot
 
Publisher: Random House India;
 
Pgs: 688;
 
Price: Rs 795 (Indian)
 
 
There has been conformity on Christophe Jaffrelot’s genuine hold over the issues of South Asia; he reaffirms this further with his meticulously researched and narrated book The Pakistan Paradox: Instability and Resilience. This one is a thick work but is unlike the familiar collections of op-ed pieces, which otherwise is becoming a trend with most South Asia projects, concerned with democracy and its challenges.
 
This book is on and about Pakistan; how it was made through the odd cycle of events and intents of the elite, and how it has been confronting a series of challenges. Nevertheless, it also taps into the imminent changes around the corner, with a new wave of reforms of most powerful institutions like the armed forces and judiciary. So, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
 
Much at heart the book gets maximum span of attention from the author in recalling how Pakistan was born as the creation of the elite Urdu-speaking Muslims who sought to govern a state that would maintain their dominance. The book goes ahead to revitalise how Jinnah’s imposed a “unitary definition of the new nation state” that obliterated linguistic diversity and how the move of centralisation was justified in citing threats, which finally fostered centrifugal forces and resulted in Bengali secessionism in 1971 and Baloch (as well as Mohajir) separatisms today.
 
Christophe makes a strong point with another remarkable argument about the ruling class in Pakistan: “Concentration of power in the hands of the establishment remained the norm, and while authoritarianism peaked under military rule, democracy failed to usher in reform, and the rule of law remained fragile at best under Zulfikar Bhutto and later Nawaz Sharif. While Jinnah and Ayub Khan regarded religion as a cultural marker, since their time the Islamists have gradually prevailed. They benefited from the support of General Zia, while others, including sectarian groups, cashed in on their struggle against the establishment to woo the disenfranchised.” This para travels to past formative decades and establishes aptly how Pakistan met through incidents of instability.
 
The book moves further and captures the obvious points that make Pakistan face a series of existential challenges ranging from ethnic strife to religious fundamentalism — the sources of instability that go against the interest of age-old elite domination in different capacities. However, the other way around, sea changes are also offering signs of resilience and those surface in response to challenges. The hope is there, as the temptation for reform is far too strong to be suppressed. There is a better chance that Pakistan may have its social order as ‘aspirational’, which will keep on top citizenry concerns long overdue.
 
In retrospect, Jaffrelot finds Pakistan of this date less vulnerable with ‘ethno-nationalism’ than what it was in the 1970s when militancy gripped national movements. This instability endured in want of power transfer from the ruling elites to other blocks, which also characterised Pakistan’s democracy to a big extent. And in its present form, democracy in Pakistan cannot be seen setting apart precedents that actually shaped it effectively. Precisely, concentration of power remained stern and hence polity emerged with the quality of a unitary state.
 
While pondering over Ziaul Haq’s Islamisation policy, known for the state’s single-minded support for madrasas (seminaries), along with heavy funding from Saudi Arabia, Jaffrelot comes to the conclusion that Pakistan paid a heavy price for Zia’s Islamisation path. This is validated well by the facts that belie the rise of sectarian and terror incidents started during Zia’s rule in Pakistan.
 
In many ways, a new journey began in contrast to the visions of nation’s founding fathers, who dreamt to make this part of the world a modern Islamic country, not exactly what Zia attempted. Before Zia’s rule, Pakistan had a fair tryst with modernity.
 
The author recounts how Pakistan had a chance post-9/11to come down heavily on terror networks, which at times pose a serious threat to its own existence. He takes it further to counter the Pakistan army’s selective perception of the Haqqani Network, Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, Afghan Taliban and others as these forces combined wield such power that they can destabilise the core of the nation. Never to forget, Pakistan is a democracy and lawmakers there cannot refrain from carrying forward basic democratic tenets. The ruling class has to be in sync with civil society, which clearly seeks a peaceful homeland and neighbourhood.
 
As the book has a well-meaning reference to Pakistan’s “resilience” it figures out the ways in which India and Pakistan can have a trust-based relationship in the long run. This appears rational, as the basis of co-operation cited is economic, which essentially makes better strides than conventional matters, with strong “status quoists” features. Truly, India-Pakistan relations should go ahead from the old and not so helpful “whims and fancies”.
 
The Pakistan Paradox: Instability and Resilience is a refreshing read that acknowledges and highlights issues of high concern for Pakistan but also that without envisioning a clear case of constructive change, the country will never go on the path of stability and growth. This book is a must read for the enthusiasts of South Asia, who take special interest in the way democracy functions and affects countries.
 
 
(The reviewer is New Delhi based journalist and writer. He can be reached at summertickets@gmail.com)
 
The Daily Times, October 9, 2015 
 
 
 
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 
Comments (Total Comments 0) Post Comments Post Comment
Review
 
 
 
 
A Pakistani minister set the proverbial cat amongst India’s foreign policy establishment by announcing that Pakistan was thinking of constitutional changes to make Gilgit-Baltistan its fifth province.
 
read-more
India is well on course to embracing the change brought in by the agent of change -- PM Modi, writes Sanjay Kumar Kar for South Asia Monitor.  
 
read-more
Judicial activism solely rests upon the grand vision of justice promotion enveloped in judicial institutionalism by transcending judicial formalism, writes Dr. Nafees Ahmad for South Asia Monitor.
 
read-more
Society for Policy Studies in association with India Habitat Centre invites you to a lecture in the Changing Asia Series by by Prof. K. Srinath Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India on Health And Development: India Must Bridge The Disconnect Chair: C Uday Bhaskar, Director, Soci...
 
read-more
spotlight image 'Covert military actions or surgical strikes against terror launch pads in Pakistan have limited utility that won't change the mind of the Pakistan Army or the ISI  which sponsor cross-border terrorism
 
read-more
In Dutch politics, alliances are imperative to construct an administration. The post-election government formation is, therefore, a slightly time-consuming process. In due course, a coalition led by the incumbent Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, will surface.  
 
read-more
Japan is a special country in several ways. For centuries, it remained isolated and disconnected with the outside world. But once it opened itself up to the West with the Convention of Kanagawa in 1854 by the use of force by Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry of the United States Navy, Japan has never looked back. Japan is a spe
 
read-more
Recently, under the leadership of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, and earlier under the late Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdallah bin Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud, Saudi Arabia has rolled out a series of women-friendly initiatives.  Recently, under the leadership of Custodian of the
 
read-more
The attacks in London on Wednesday are grim reminders of not just the growing menace of terrorism but also of the urgent need for the global community to join hands in combating it. 
 
read-more
Column-image

India remians the inflexible bête-noir for Pakistan, yet there are few books by Indian authors that have sought to interpret the prodigal neighbour in a holistic, informed and empathetic manner.

 
Column-image

The line that Mortimer Durand drew across a small map in 1893 has bled the Pashtun heart ever since. More than a century later both sides of that line remain restless. But the mystery behind what actually happened on 12 November 1893 has never ...

 
Column-image

What went wrong for the West in Afghanistan? Why couldn't a global coalition led by the world's preeminent military and economic power defeat "a bunch of farmers in plastic sandals on dirt bikes" in a conflict that outlasted b...

 
Column-image

What will be Pakistan's fate? Acts of commission or omission by itself, in/by neighbours, and superpowers far and near have led the nuclear-armed country at a strategic Asian crossroads to emerge as a serious regional and global concern whi...

 
Column-image

Some South African generals, allied with the British forces, sought segregation from the enlisted men, all blacks, after being taken prisoners of war. The surprised German commander told them firmly that they would have to share the same quarte...

 
Subscribe to our newsletter
Archive