‘Pakistan Paradox: Instability and Resilience’ by Christrophe Jaffrelot was published by Vintage Books on 15 April 2015.
Christrophe Jaffrelot is Research Director at CNRS and teaches South Asian Politics and History at Sciences Po (Paris).
The 688-pages book is an overview of the contemporary Pakistan which was born as the creation of elite Urdu-speaking Muslims who sought to govern a state that would maintain their dominance.
In order to maintain the dominance of this class, Jinnah imposed a unitary definition of Pakistan state that obliterated linguistic diversity.
The centralization of power in Pakistan was justified by the Indian threat which fostered centrifugal forces that resulted in Bengali secessionism in 1971 and Baloch, as well as Mohajir, separatisms today.
Concentration of power remained the norm, and while authoritarianism peaked under military rule, democracy failed to usher in reform, and the rule of law remained fragile at best under Zulfikar Bhutto and later Nawaz Sharif.
Today, Pakistan faces existential challenges ranging from ethnic strife to Islamism, two sources of instability which hark back to elite domination.
But the resilience of the country and its people, the resolve of the judiciary and hints of reform in the army may open a new and more stable chapter in its history.