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Unanswered Questions


Isha Verma


By M. Asghar Khan
Oxford University Press, Karachi, 2005, pp. 306, price not stated.

VOLUME XXIX NUMBER 12 December 2005

MAsghar Khan traces the Pakistani struggle between democracy and military from its independence, as an insider in this book. He talks of the Quaid-I-Azam i.e. Mr. Jinnah as he saw him, the military and politics under Ayub Khan and Yahya Khan, birth of Bangladesh, democracy under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto during the 1970s, General Zia-ul-Haq’s dogmatic and iron-fisted military rule during the 1980s, Pakistani politics and the role of the ISI, twelve Provinces for Pakistan, corruption, devolution of power, Jihad and the United States, Indo-Pak relations, General Musharraf’s five years in power and the future of Democracy in Pakistan. There are five Appendixes; Malik Wazir Ali vs. The State, Writ Petition Under article 199, letter from J.A. Rahim to Asghar Khan, Asghar Khan’s reply to J. A. Rahim, Statement of Air Marshal Asghar Khan in the Lahore High court, 1980, and Articles by Ardeshir Cowasjee.     Lucian Pye in his article ‘Characteristics of the Third World’ had contended that the newly independent Afro-Asian nations were faced with similar problems of harsh economic realities, problems of development and political instabilities. The state, which had nationalistic parties with a mass base and a charismatic leadership, were able to provide a direction to the newly independent state. In the case of India, due to the Congress party and Nehruvian vision of the society, the country was able to settle under normal democratic institutions. However, in the countries where such leadership was absent they became prey to military coups. It can be said that the leadership in these countries had no experience in administration. Due to the British colonial legacy, these countries had an organized army and an experienced bureaucracy but no political leadership conversant with statecraft. The political leadership found itself at the mercy of the bureaucrats and the military and with passage of time their vulnerability increased (p.7). This is what had happened in Pakistan. It lost its founding father and guiding figure Mohammed Ali Jinnah a year after its creation. Three years later, it had hardly overcome the pangs of birth and was struggling with its problems, including the absence of consensus on a constitutional framework, its first Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan was shot dead (p.8). This development brought to an end the little supremacy the political leadership had over the bureaucracy and the army. This situation paved the way for a painfully long series of traumatic developments that ...


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