A Captivating Book
Hardcover 272 Pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
Published by Oxford University
3 out of 5 stars
● Comprehensive treatment of Pakistan’s insecurity predicament using literature from history, sociology, religious studies, international relations.
● Develops the concept of ‘geostrategic curse’, an important notion similar to ‘resource curse’ and ‘oil curse’
● Powerful tool for policymakers and scholars alike to understand this pivotal yet troubled country in a comprehensive and insightful way
Finally, a book by a North American academic shines spotlight on how excessive emphasis on religion has transformed Pakistan into a major international security problem. The issue of the role of religion has been traced extensively and with interesting detail in this new book.
However, similar analysis, to a lesser extent, has been published elsewhere by some of us. Indeed, there is no second guessing the author’s assessment that as a warrior state, Pakistan “is unlikely to provide economic opportunity or genuine security for its people (p. 194).” The author also makes interesting and useful comparisons of Pakistan with several Muslim and non-Muslim nations.
But he misses out on the more relevant comparison of Pakistani Muslim vs. Indian Hindu immigrants in the United Kingdom and that of Hindu majority vs. Muslim minorities in India, respectively. That these Muslim minorities are backward and have undergone violent radicalization (just like Pakistan) tells us a great deal about the nature of the underlying religious dynamics at play in these communities.
Therefore, I am not surprised that the author failed to identify how specifically the religious forces drove Pakistan into becoming what it is today, in a manner that can be useful to both internal and external entities (such as the United States and India) wanting to transform Pakistan into a benevolent state. For example, in my opinion, the following prescriptive advice is vague: “Internally, the Pakistani elite has to adopt a semi-secular or at least quasi-Islamic state model and begin considering development as its core mission (p. 196).”
Moreover, this advice is almost as old as Pakistan itself, as the author himself notes in earlier pages, both Ayub Khan (p. 136) and Pervez Musharraf (pp. 141-142), to a varying degree, tried to moderate Pakistan but found the Islamist forces blocking their way. Nonetheless, I am giving this book a three star rating, because it is very interesting to read and breaks new ground in the way Pakistan needs to be viewed and serves as a good starting point for others to finish the job of figuring out a modern conundrum called Pakistan. Review by ( Moorthy S. Muthuswamy PhD http://www.moorthymuthuswamy.c om/)