ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles by S Akbar ZaidiSubscribe to S Akbar Zaidi

Class, State and Islam in Pakistan

The New Pakistani Middle Class by Ammara Maqsood, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2017; pp 194, price not indicated. The Politics of Common Sense: State, Society and Culture in Pakistan by Aasim Sajjad Akhtar, Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, New Delhi and Singapore: Cambridge University Press, 2018; pp xiv + 200, price not indicated.

The End of Democracy or a New Resurgence in Pakistan?

Pakistan’s general elections are scheduled to be held in July 2018. Contrary to the popular argument that the Pakistani military has revived complete dominance and hegemony over civilian and electoral politics, fewer people are now buying into the opinion in Pakistan that the military is somehow “better” than democracy. Unlike 1958, 1977, or 1999, when an outright military coup was welcomed and embraced, the options for the military are fewer and limited in 2018.

Undermining Democracy in Pakistan

With an election due by late summer, the Pakistani military and its clandestine wings have begun attempts to manage, if not control and influence, events leading up to the polls. Journalists and bloggers have been picked up and beaten by “masked armed men,” and mentioning Balochistan or talking and writing about what is happening in one of Pakistan’s provinces is dangerous to life and liberty. The silenced, missing Baloch has become a symbol of the Pakistani state’s intransigence, not much reported in the local or international media.

Pakistan in the Post-Taliban Present

The political leadership in Pakistan, even when democracy has grown and strengthened, has limited writ over what it can do regarding what the military considers its terrain. The Taliban may have been partially eliminated, but other equally odious militants continue to find protection through some organisations and individuals in the military. Dealing with the threats to Pakistan’s future and stability entails a deeper look within rather than blaming India or Afghanistan.

Undermining the Pakistan Military's Hegemony

There is a political transition taking place in Pakistan. Although the dominance of the army has not diminished, in the last two decades there has been a noticeable deepening of democratisation processes. In the future, if there is another attempt to impose military rule, there could be greater opposition; processes to undermine the military's hegemony are already evident.

How Not to Write History

The Struggle for Pakistan: A Muslim Homeland and Global Politics by Ayesha Jalal; Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2014; pp xii + 435, $35.

Uncontested Engagements

In the Preface to a new book (to be published next month) which examines Pakistan’s political economy afresh, having lamented the state of social science discourse in Pakistan, I write, I have more hope and expectation from a growing set of younger academics who proceed for, or have just completed...

Rethinking Pakistan's Political Economy

Examining the numerous and often contradictory issuesand problems that emerge in trying to look at a statist or Islamist Pakistan, this paper points out that both undermine the vast array of processes that are at work and feed into the nature of Pakistan's state and society. Scholarship on Pakistan's political economy still lacks a comprehensive theory of the Pakistani state and of its society. The attempt here is to identify and explain the issues and constraints in doing so.

The Old and the New in Naya Pakistan

The results of the May 2013 elections in Pakistan have challenged and altered old ideologies and outcomes. The public discourse of politics has also undergone change while the social media has formed false and comfortable ideologies and self-indulgent self-believers. Whether such articulation, expectation and promise bring about a new Pakistan remains to be seen.

The Old and the New in Naya Pakistan

The victory of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's party, the geographically fragmented verdict, the lack of a clear ideological distinction between the political parties in the fray and the poor showing of progressive, left wing forces – suggest that there are part things “new” and part things “old” in Pakistani politics following the election results in 2013.

Resilience in Pakistan's Democracy

Tahir-ul Qadri's sudden emergence on the political stage of Pakistan has been correctly interpreted as one which was intended to derail democracy for many years to come rather than to cleanse the government of corrupt practices. The fact that the Allama has failed is a strong testament to how much Pakistan's democracy has evolved in the last five years and the extent to which Pakistan's establishment has been on the retreat. Inadvertently, the Allama's sponsored intrusion may have actually strengthened democracy, not weakened it.

Contesting Notions of Pakistan

Pakistan: A Hard Country by Anatol Lieven (London: Allen Lane), 2011; pp xvi + 560 (paper); GBP 16.99. The Future of Pakistan by Stephen P Cohen and Others (New Delhi: Oxford University Press), 2011; pp xvi +311 (cloth), Rs 695. Pakistan: Beyond the ‘Crisis State’ edited by Maleeha Lodhi (Karachi: Oxford University Press), 2011; pp xxvi + 391 (cloth), PRs 895. Secularising Islamists? Jama’at-e-Islami and Jama’at-ud-Da’wa in Urban Pakistan by Humeira Iqtidar (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press), 2011; pp xiii + 216 (cloth), price not stated. The State of Islam: Culture and Cold War Politics in Pakistan by Saadia Toor (London: Pluto Press), 2011; pp xii + 252 (paper), price not stated. Muslim Becoming: Aspiration and Skepticism in Pakistan by Naveeda Khan (Durham: Duke University Press), 2012; pp xii + 261 (paper), price not stated.


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