The void is being filled by a growing band of analysts of South Asian origin: hyphenated Americans from the subcontinent. Ayesha Jalal, assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is a familiar name from this group. It is difficult to fathom why Jalal chose such a complicated title. It possibly reflects the confusion that continues throughout the book. You would expect a book like this to answer some basic questions. What exactly are the dynamics of politics and society that make it so difficult for a real democracy to strike root there?

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The first few chapters discuss the difficulties faced in constructing the state. Pakistan had strange cultural differences, geographical peculiarities and linguistic diversities. Ayesha Jalal provides convincing evidence to prove the causes of institutional imbalances in Pakistan.

Instead of taking the standard point of view of blaming the untalented and corrupt leadership. The author holds accountable the bureaucratic-military A fascinating tale about the post-partition politics in Pakistan.

The author holds accountable the bureaucratic-military alliance and their joining of hands with the industrial elite for the centralisation of power. After partition, there was a serious need of a well-knit political party for the coordination and development of state. But the defence allocation deprived the provinces of their resources. Even the Americans were suprised to see the Pakistani officials begging for a wheat grant and on the other hand having a armaments shopping list.

The bureaucratic-military alliance used their international friendships to pursue power at the expense of the political process. The same alliance was behind the formation of a single unit to further enhance their interests in the state. This came as a major blow to the wish of autonomy for the people of East Pakistan and further deteriorated the socio-economic issues.

She also mentions how the religion has been used again and again to unify people. Groups such as the Jamat-e-Islami, the Ahrars and the Khaksars opposed the demand for Pakistan on account of its being insufficiently imbued with the principles of Islam. In the last part she discusses the rule from to the election of Benazir Bhutto.

Also, explains the unceremonious farewell of Ayub Khan with the urban uprisings and Yahya Khan with the disintegration of Pakistan. A must read for anyone who wants to understand the genesis of institutional imbalances in Pakistan. I have been introduced to new concepts such as the controlled democracy. S it is my first book review.


Ayesha Jalal



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