Pakistan A Diplomat's Insights
Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury
Pakistan was founded as an ideological State, a product of the forceful argument of its founder, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, that the Muslims in the South Asian (or Indian, as it was known as then) subcontinent comprised a distinctly separate nation. Clearly the logic was Westphalian, in consonance with received wisdom embedded in western political theory, albeit in a non-western milieu. Today the Pakistani nation’s basic syncretic values face an existential threat from extreme right-wing Salafist-Wahabist ethos that challenge the concept of distinct separate ‘States’ of Muslims, rather than a central, sovereign Caliphate, as recently established by the self-declared ‘Caliphate’ in Iraq and Syria. This struggle will have serious ramifications for many other societies and States of comparable milieu. Indeed this phenomenon is overtaking the perception of the neighbouring India as the principal enemy, and is reshaping how Pakistan’s policy-makers, not just civilian politicians but also the all- powerful military leaders, view the rapidly changing security scenarios. In spite of this impeding developments, Pakistan has an important story to tell in terms of politics, economics and its external relations. As a nuclear armed country, blessed with natural resources and significant intellectual capacity, Pakistan has great potentials for development. Also, for a leadership role in the Muslim world. But its current role in these areas appear below par, due to factors such as corruption, mis-governance, civil –military rivalry, and burgeoning extremist ideas.
In recent times its democratic transition has been remarkable, and its present leadership appears to be steadying the ship of state.
The author, a quintessentially South Asian, born in British India, bred in Pakistan, and having served in Bangladesh, has sought to encapsulate these important developments in the essays that comprise the book, authored in the academic ambience of a think-tank in Singapore.