- Author’s Response:The Paradoxes of Pakistan
The reviews of my book The Warrior State: Pakistan in the Contemporary World by five leading scholars of Pakistan are gratifying, and I appreciate the positive comments they made on the strengths of the book along with the two other books under review. The discussions by the reviewers are both rich and in-depth, and the reviews substantially enhance the debate on a crucial country whose policies impinge on regional and global security in areas such as transnational terrorism and nuclear proliferation. Since none of the reviewers frontally question my central argument, I will respond to the qualms they have expressed on specific details. I want to emphasize that my effort in this book is to offer an honest analysis on Pakistan’s predicament rather than a narrative history or a politically correct assessment.
As a social scientist, I am interested in intellectual puzzles in world politics, and almost all my previous single-authored books are puzzle-driven. My objective is to explore a paradoxical outcome with the aid of established theories or variables in an eclectic fashion as rigorously as possible. Any methodologically oriented scholar of social science recognizes that the aim of a researcher should be to systematically explain the greatest number of effects with the least number of variables. If the argument or hypothesis, drawing on a critical variable or set of variables, can satisfactorily account for a phenomenon, it is attractive. One hundred percent accuracy is not feasible. Thus, the measure of success for a work is not that it captures all the different nuances but that it explains the core central issue or puzzle and then applies these findings to larger theoretical or policy questions. If the theory is able to account for subsequent events, it is all the more useful. Events in Pakistan since the publication of the book in January 2014 support my claims fairly well. The hybrid system continues, with the military pushing the civilian government out of foreign and defense policy, and internal violence has increased to higher levels during the past year. The core warrior state of Pakistan shows no signs of losing its strength.
I believe we need more easy-to-follow theoretical works on Pakistan rather than rich descriptive narratives. There are too many bestsellers [End Page 173] cashing in on this country’s sad state of affairs without explaining why Pakistan is the way it is. We need more diagnostic works so that scholars can offer ideas for change. In this spirit, let me address each criticism from the reviewers. Because John Gill does not make many criticisms, I focus on the other reviewers’ comments.
Marvin Weinbaum takes issue with my lack of discussion on the interactions between the jihadists and the military. I agree with his call for a book (or books) on this subject, as these two-way interactions need to be explained further to understand Pakistan’s strategic choices. The big challenge here is the lack of reliable data. Weinbaum’s second main point concerns the extent of Taliban control of the country. I have citied scholarly works or reports on the extent of Taliban control in 2009, and one can quibble over the difference between mere control of territory and active presence. I concur that a better term would have been “active presence.” Recent school shootings in Peshawar suggest that the Taliban, largely a Pashtun group, can wreak havoc on Pakistan if it wants to do so. So the Taliban’s impact on Pakistan’s domestic and external security and policies is a matter of interpretation.
Hasan Askari Rizvi’s works have influenced my thinking on Pakistan’s early years, and this influence is reflected in...