If Pakistan is to preserve all that is good about its country – the generosity and hospitality of its people, the dynamism of its youth – it must face the deterioration of its social and political institutions. Sidestepping easy headlines to identify Pakistan’s true dangers, this volume revisits the major turning points and trends of Pakistani history over the past six decades, focussing on the increasing entrenchment of Pakistan’s army in its political and economic arenas; the complex role of Islam in public life; the tensions between central and local identities and democratic impulses; and the effect of geopolitical influences on domestic policy and development.
While Ian Talbot’s study centres on Pakistan’s many failures – the collapse of stable governance, the drop in positive political and economic development, and, most of all, the unrealised goal of securing a separate Muslim state – his book unequivocally affirms the country’s potential for a positive reawakening. Talbot’s sensitive historical approach makes it clear that favourable opportunities still remain for Pakistan, in which the state has a chance to reclaim its priorities and institutions, and re-establish political and economic sustainability.
Ian Talbot is professor of History at Southampton University, one of Europe’s leading historians of South Asia, and the author of many books on the subcontinent.