Education About Asia: Online Archives

A History of Pakistan and Its Origins

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EDITED BY CHRISTOPHE JAFFRELOT

TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH BY GILLIAN BEAUMONT

LONDON: ANTHEM PRESS—WIMBLEDON PUBLISHING COMPANY, 2002

326 PAGES, HARDBACK, ISBN 1-84331-030-9

Reviewed by Dr. Abdul Jabbar

“Aprisoner of history which prevents it from realizing its great potential,” “still mired in the trauma of a Partition which the country itself fervently desired,” “a fruitless search for democracy,” “a case of nationalism without a nation,” a pivotal state whose fate “would significantly affect regional, even international stability”—these are some of the phrases the authors of A History of Pakistan and Its Origins have used to describe Pakistan. When one thinks of Pakistan’s history, the following topics come to mind: the Partition of 1947; the four wars with India; the ominous specter of a nuclear war between the two countries over Kashmir; Pakistan’s role as the frontline state in defeating the USSR in Afghanistan (1979–89); Pakistan’s role once again as the frontline state in the US war on terrorism since September 11, 2001; the country’s inability to avoid repeated military takeovers; deadly clashes between the country’s two main Islamic sects of Sunnis and Shias; and lack of unity among Pakistan’s major ethnic groups. Additionally, a third of the population now lives below the poverty threshold. It is a tribute to the book’s nine authors that they have covered all of these topics and more in this comprehensive and engaging study.