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The Conundrum of Pakistan


I.P. Khosla

DEMOCRATIZATION IN PAKISTAN: A STUDY OF THE 2002 ELECTIONS
By Mohammad Waseem
Oxford University Press, Karachi, 2006, pp. 241, Rs. 495.00

PAKISTAN 2005
Edited by Charles Kennedy and Cynthia Botteron
Oxford University Press, Karachi, 2006, pp. 293, Rs. 550.00

A HISTORY OF THE PAKISTAN ARMY: WARS AND INSURRECTIONS
By Brian Cloughley
Oxford University Press, Karachi, 2006, pp. 392, Rs. 595.00

HISTORIC BATTLEFIELDS OF PAKISTAN
By Johnny Torrens-Spence
Oxford University Press, Karachi, 2006, pp. 140, Rs. 495.00

COLONIAL REPORTS ON PAKISTAN'S FRONTIER AREAS
Edited and Introduced by Robert Nichols
Oxford University Press, Karachi, 2005, pp. 95, Rs. 199.00

VOLUME XXX NUMBER 10 October 2006

One of the first things that comes to mind when one studies Pakistan is the question of military rule versus democracy, and there are three levels at which this comes to mind.   The first level is that of the impulse to assert, when military rule is proclaimed yet once more, that this is bad for freedom, bad for the people of Pakistan and  for bilateral relations since it is difficult for democratic governments to deal comfortably with military dictators. Jawaharlal Nehru said it well in 1958 after the Ayub coup, that ‘where power is concentrated in an individual, and that individual is a military person, the normal checks which occur in a government or in a society are absent … inherent in such a system are always certain risks and dangers.’ Since then, with variations, Indian spokesmen have been saying much the same thing.   At the second level there is the inclination to look for causes: there has been a general tendency to blame the politicians for taking the country down the wrong path, that it is on the verge of breakdown and that only the military could have saved it; but there has also been the urge to see conspiracies by the armed forces, and to suggest that because they did not want rapprochement with India or were afraid their privileges would be withdrawn, they  plotted to ensure that a situation arose to make a military takeover seem natural. It is at the third level that the analysis gets more interesting. It has been over fifty years now that the Pakistan armed forces have been involved, either directly or indirectly, in the running of the country; they have taken steps, during those years, to ensure that military rule is not greeted with large scale objections from the people, whose general response has been, indeed, to greet it with some sense of relief; there is a need to analyse the ways in which the military has brought about socio-economic and political change to support their rule, Islamization being an obvious example.   Mohammad Waseem’s study of the October 2002 national and provincial assembly elections looks at all three levels and is the kind of totally comprehensive and thorough study that one has come to expect from this Pakistani professor who has had an extensive academic experience. This volume draws on theory and the concepts of psephology and on extensive field research which was ...


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