Since its independence from the United Kingdom and partition from India in August 1947, Pakistan’s historical trajectory has been marked by ﬁve major themes. First, political and institutional instability have led to periodic oscillation between civilian and military rule and thus prevented Pakistan from achieving a stable and legitimate political order. Second, amid the alternation of civilian governments, military regimes, and different political systems, Pakistan’s administrative institutions and the manner in which power is exercised by the state have become more arbitrary, dysfunctional and ultimately ineffective, leading to a condition of civilian deinstitutionalization and a persistent crisis of governance. Third, Pakistan has been an underachiever in terms of socioeconomic performance among post-colonial states, unable to emerge as an industrialized state, or manage proper investment in human resource development, periods of high gross domestic product (GDP) growth notwithstanding. Fourth, perceiving itself to be at mortal risk from India, Pakistan has sought to amass military strength and the capacity to project asymmetrical warfare, wedding itself to a national security and foreign policy outlook that is dominated by consideration of India and the perceived threats it poses, and which prioritizes hard power. Fifth, Pakistan’s state and society have steadily moved away from the epistemological basis for modern national identity and social order, and instead embraced Islamic theocentricism, thereby narrowing the scope for what, by Western standards at least, constitute rational political discourse, scientiﬁc progress and the protection of human rights, while empowering majoritarian and sectarian communalism, which has led in many cases to conﬂict.
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About the Author: Ilhan Niaz (PhD) is Professor (Tenured) of History at the Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan, and most recently the author of Old World Empires, the Culture of Power & Governance of Pakistan , The State During the British Raj, & Downfall (CSCR).