Cover: The Struggle for Pakistan: A Muslim Homeland and Global Politics, from Harvard University PressCover: The Struggle for Pakistan in PAPERBACK

The Struggle for Pakistan

A Muslim Homeland and Global Politics

Product Details


$23.00 • £20.95 • €20.95

ISBN 9780674979833

Publication Date: 11/13/2017


448 pages

22 halftones, 4 maps

Belknap Press

Not for sale in Pakistan

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[An] important book… Ayesha Jalal has been one of the first and most reliable [Pakistani] political historians [on Pakistan]… The Struggle for Pakistan [is] her most accessible work to date… She is especially telling when she points to the lack of serious academic or political debate in Pakistan about the role of the military.—Ahmed Rashid, The New York Review of Books

Perceptive and learned… [Jalal] shows that Pakistan never went off the rails; it was, moreover, never a democracy in any meaningful sense. For its entire history, a military caste and its supporters in the ruling class have formed an ‘establishment’ that defined their narrow interests as the nation’s… While it is tempting to blame the generals for everything that has gone wrong in Pakistan, Jalal makes it clear that the civilian leadership has been corrupt, petty and small-minded, putting politics above the principle of civilian supremacy, especially when opponents are in power… The Struggle for Pakistan traces Pakistan’s decline all the way up to the present.—Isaac Chotiner, The Wall Street Journal

Jalal offers a clear, chronological account of how the army, in competition with civilians, has misruled Pakistan.The Economist

Ayesha Jalal’s many-years-in-gestation magnum opus… She is more surgical than most Pakistanis in her diagnostic observations.—Khaled Ahmed, Newsweek

The book deserves to be translated into many languages… This a heartfelt account, as well as an erudite one.—Nadya Chishty-Mujahid, Dawn

There are few books that trace Pakistan’s contemporary history in a readable fashion. Jalal, therefore, has presented all the arguments and key developments from the imposition of martial law by President Iskander Mirza in 1958, the rise of Ayub Khan, the 1971 civil war and creation of Bangladesh, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s populism and the damaging decades of 1980s and 1990s that shape today’s Pakistan and its woes… Provide[s] a useful background to the global audience to Pakistan’s complex history… In a country where the discipline of history has vanished and replaced by state propaganda, Jalal’s book is a layered account that aims to undertake a much-needed correction of ‘national’ histories.—Raza Rumi, The Express Tribune

How to restore that collective sense of identity, and its commitment to Pakistan is a challenge, which needs further analysis. Additionally, how to create a similar South Asian identity, and a commitment towards that is another key challenge. This book, particularly its attempt to reflect on the interface of politics and history, provides some clue about striving towards such a goal. Scholars of South Asia will profit from reading The Struggle for Pakistan, which excels in the art of writing simultaneously about the politics and history of a country whose normal life is vital for global peace.—Shaikh Mujibur Rehman, Hindustan Times

The Struggle for Pakistan will be the definitive history of Pakistan for decades to come. The author’s prose is clean, the book is thoughtfully structured, and the research is as close to exhaustive as one could imagine… Anyone attempting to see into Pakistan’s future or better understand its complex past should read The Struggle for Pakistan… Jalal has accomplished something remarkable in presenting the history of Pakistan in such an engaging, comprehensive, and readable manner.—Zachary Stockill, PopMatters

Jalal offers a comprehensive history of Pakistan since its inception in 1947, with an eye toward its defining post-colonial element: military rule… Jinnah’s early death in 1948 left an unfortunate leadership vacuum and a perpetual internal debate over Pakistan’s national identity. Jalal delineates painstakingly how, in the decades that followed, Pakistan, unlike India, was unable to build institutions of participatory democracy and instead moved toward a centralization of power ‘under the auspices’ of military and bureaucracy… Tracing key events—the initial imposition of martial law by President Iskander Mirza in 1958, the 1971 civil war that created Bangladesh, the rise and fall of populist leader Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and one assassination after the other—Jalal brings us to the present day, where Pakistan, despite being called a failing or failed state, continues to hope for change.Kirkus Reviews

Written by the world’s most respected, prolific, and authoritative historian of Pakistan, The Struggle for Pakistan provides a thorough analysis of the country’s politics from its creation to the present. It is the most useful point of departure for anyone who seeks to better understand Pakistan’s military, religious, regional, and international politics today.—David Ludden, author of India and South Asia: A Short History

For many in the West, Pakistan is an enigma, a Muslim homeland that seems to have lost its way into a wilderness of perpetual crisis, extremism, and nuclear standoff with India. The Struggle for Pakistan is a perceptive look at the idea and reality of Pakistan, its history and future in the context of the global order, by one of the most preeminent scholars of South Asia. Well written and brimming with fact and insight.—Vali Nasr, author of The Dispensable Nation: American Foreign Policy in Retreat

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