It is almost a cliché to say that Pakistan is in crisis. The mantra has been repeated since its inception as an idea and its evolution as a state. Pakistan is undoubtedly one of the most studied post-colonial polities, and never ceases to attract scholarly and journalistic attention. An enormity of academic studies, personal reportages and hasty comments – including those by the present reviewer – abound in libraries and Internet sites. Almost all these studies and reports repeat the familiar litany that Islam is the main rationale as well as predicament of Pakistan, that the military and mullahs are its nemesis, and that obliging and often corrupt politicians operate as ‘the enemy within’. We are systematically led towards a doomsday scenario. Pakistan has been described as a ‘tinderbox’ by the Indian journalist M J Akbar, and as sliding towards oblivion by a string of western academics and writers. Somehow Allah, Army and America have all conspired to create a declining security state. Yet, Pakistan is still there!

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Books discussed in this review

Making Sense of Pakistan by Farzana Shaikh, London: Hurst & Company, 2009, pp. ix+274.

Pakistan: Beyond the ‘Crisis State’ edited by Maleeha Lodhi, London: Hurst & Company, 2011, pp. xxv+391.

Pakistan: A Hard Country by Anatol Lieven, London: Allen Lane, 2011, pp.xv+560.

Elsewhere on Critical Muslim: