Cover: The Army and Democracy: Military Politics in Pakistan, from Harvard University PressCover: The Army and Democracy in HARDCOVER

The Army and Democracy

Military Politics in Pakistan

Add to Cart

Product Details


$42.00 • £33.95 • €38.00

ISBN 9780674728936

Publication Date: 04/29/2014


416 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches


[An] important new book… The military has hitherto escaped accountability because, as Aqil Shah explains in The Army and Democracy: Military Politics in Pakistan, it has always resisted democratic control. Shah traces its praetorian instincts to the seminal conflict over Kashmir, which set the tenor of the relations between military and civilian institutions… Shah is rightly scathing of the military’s role in politics.—Muhammad Idrees Ahmad, The Nation

[An] important book.—Ahmed Rashid, The New York Review of Books

[This] rich and skillfully argued book leaves no doubt about the military’s central responsibility in blighting the course of Pakistan’s democratization. While some may see [Shah’s] approach as too forgiving of Pakistan’s politicians, his is a fresh and original perspective that demands serious consideration.—Farzana Shaikh, Times Higher Education

[Shah’s] chronicle charts the army’s rise on the heels of its British forerunner, which treated politics as beyond its scope. In contrast, exploiting the young state’s weak solidarity, the Pakistan Army steered public policy, buoyed by pride that persists… Shah is commendably balanced and thorough. His narrative taps archive material, military documents, and more than 100 interviews with Pakistani officers, politicians and civil servants: political science indeed. The Army and Democracy successfully conveys the Borgia-like high drama of traditional Islamabad politics.—David Wilson, The South China Morning Post

This book is a focused and timely analysis of what has gone badly wrong in Pakistan, and what could be done to correct the situation. It will hopefully inspire Pakistanis who care for their country—both inside and outside the armed forces—to reform their political order; otherwise extremist Islam will destroy their polity and convulse the region in violence.—Talmiz Ahmad, Business Standard

There would not be a better time to read Professor Shah’s wonderfully nuanced, well-referenced and yet fast-paced book than after the recent almost two-month-long ‘civil–military coalition’ attempt to impose its will on an elected PM and parliament… Shah has excelled in showing that, since the fateful invasion of Kashmir in October 1947, the military has become increasingly politicized and distant, unlike the Indian army, from the professional apolitical ethos both had inherited from the British army… Shah gives a series of very timely policy prescriptions to balance the civil–military equation in favor of the former, making his work urgent reading for Pakistan watchers and Pakistani politicians alike.—Mohammad Taqi, The Daily Times

With a clarity and directness that is refreshing, The Army and Democracy attributes Pakistan’s lack of democratization to the military’s formal and informal political interventions, further suggesting that this has, on the balance, greatly impacted the state’s ability to effectively resolve the perennial problems of ethnic conflict, governance, and growth that have blighted Pakistan’s history… The Army and Democracy is arguably at its most interesting and informative when it details the socialization process that takes place within the military. Through his analysis of the military’s publications and training materials, as well as his interviews with military personnel, Shah provides a rare insight into the internal workings of the military mind… The Army and Democracy is an extremely accessible read that will undoubtedly be of great value to experts in the field as well as a more general audience.—Hassan Javid, Dawn

Based on archival material and more than 100 interviews with politicians, civil servants and military officers, including four services chiefs and three heads of the Inter-Services Intelligence, and assessment of military writings, Shah’s book provides deep insight into the military mind… The Army and Democracy is a treasure trove of information on civil–military relations in Pakistan. It is also a lesson on what the country needs the most at this critical juncture—a politics of inclusion by all stakeholders, rather than exclusion.—Shahabuddin Gilani, The Express Tribune

The book makes for fine analysis but is a pessimistic read. The Pakistan army’s attitudes towards elected leaders, India, and citizens of Pakistan has not changed since it indulged in the first coup there. These assumptions go back almost to the start of the country’s independent life and have not changed since. Shah’s book, which was researched in recent years, is one more example that little has changed at the general headquarters in Rawalpindi.—Gayatri Chandrasekaran, Mint

An excellent addition to the existing literature on the conflation of civil and military roles in the politics of Pakistan. The book uncovers many myths about the army and informs us about the strategic, political and social ramifications of the khaki adventures since the incursion in Kashmir in 1948 which sowed the seeds of military insubordination. The book is a result of rigorous research and a labor of love… Aqil Shah has authentically mapped Army’s institutional development, its professional and political expansion, and taking over of policy and consequently the society… The book…weaves an engaging narrative that fascinatingly tells the unique story of Pakistan’s military which has defied global trends of democratic waves… Whenever Pakistan Army decides to produce a new breed and generation of thinking officers, as against the current majority of believing officers, this book will be handy for a non-offensive unlearning.—Arshed Bhatti, The News on Sunday

It not only helps understand the current crisis but also helps us see into the future… Shah shows that the Pakistan Army has always had the final say in running the country, whether they are in power or are running the country from behind the scenes. This serves to demonstrate that Pakistan Army’s hold on Pakistan is stronger than ever. This highly readable book is a must-read for everyone who wants to know what went wrong with Pakistan and why… The best book on the subject.—Arif Jamal,

Aside from providing a superb study of Pakistani civil–military relations, Shah makes an important and more general scholarly contribution: he explains why new polities fracture under challenging security environments and identifies the impulses that compel generals to both shift their gaze abroad and intervene in politics.—Zoltan Barany, author of The Soldier and the Changing State: Building Democratic Armies in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas

Shah’s book stands tall among the few serious books on Pakistan and its army. Given Pakistan’s likely importance for the near future, it will be received warmly by both the policy community and anyone else interested in this critical region.—Stephen P. Cohen, author of Shooting for a Century: The India–Pakistan Conundrum

A remarkable exploration of the role of the Pakistani army in politics since 1947. Shah brilliantly exposes the porousness of, and the connivance between, the nation’s civilian and military spheres. He shows that the army was not the sole villain of the play: domestic politicians and American backers have played key roles in making military rule possible.—Christophe Jaffrelot, author of The Pakistan Paradox: Instability and Resilience

Recent News

Black lives matter. Black voices matter. A statement from HUP »

From Our Blog

(logo) SpeakOUT: 50th Anniversary

Speaking with SpeakOut Boston

We continue our celebration of Pride Month by talking with some of the speakers who volunteer with SpeakOUT Boston. They share their stories with a variety of audiences to foster a better understanding of the LGBTQ+ community, so we thought we’d ask them some questions of our own.