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Contesting notions of Pakistan: S Akbar Zaidi

Pakistan: A Hard Country by Anatol Lieven (London: Allen Lane), 2011; pp xvi + 560 (paper); GBP 16.99. The Future of Pakistan by Stephen P Cohen and Others (New Delhi: Oxford University Press), 2011; pp xvi +311 (cloth), Rs 695. Pakistan: Beyond the Crisis State edited by Maleeha Lodhi (Karachi: Oxford University Press), 2011; pp xxvi + 391 (cloth), PRs 895. Secularising Islamists? Jamaat-e-Islami and Jamaat-ud-Dawa in Urban Pakistan by Humeira Iqtidar (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press), 2011; pp xiii + 216 (cloth), price not stated. The State of Islam: Culture and Cold War Politics in Pakistan by Saadia Toor (London: Pluto Press), 2011; pp xii + 252 (paper), price not stated. Muslim Becoming: Aspiration and Skepticism in Pakistan by Naveeda Khan (Durham: Duke University Press), 2012; pp xii + 261 (paper), price not stated.

How Pakistan is imagined depends on numerous factors including location, ideology, intention, and academic discipline. American policy hawks in the United States (US) think tanks make predictions about a Pakistan they imagine differently from academics who ought to avoid the perils of prediction of a country immersed in multiple uncertainties. Pakistani diasporic academics at western universities have access to colleagues, literature and to theoretical frameworks, which many in Pakistan, given the state of the social sciences, do not. On the other hand, scholars based in Pakistan have the advantage of local knowledge of an everyday level, of subtle political and cultural nuances, of having lived the past as well as the present but may not have the tools, inclination or pressure to publish. Not surprisingly, such

positioning locational, ideological, disciplinary leads to multiple, contested and contradictory notions and understandings of Pakistan. Of the six books in this collection, two are clearly of the policy genre, three are academic, and one somewhere in between. What is interesting is that all three of the academic books are by women scholars and this reflects output rather than selection all of whom are based in the west at universities, and all are about Islam in Pakistan. Just these few symbols women, academics, Islam, teaching at western universities themselves signal key changes in Pakistan, in its society, in its intellectual and academic composition in just over a decade. In essays written previously, the state of social sciences in Pakistan has been called dismal (Zaidi 2002), and much of the academic work published by Pakistani writers was by the World Bank/United Nations (UN) policymakers (Zaidi 2000). Pakistani academics were conspicuous by their absences, most of whom were mere brokers or consultants for international financial institutions. Clearly, the state of social sciences is less dismal today there are far more Pakistani academics, especially women, writing on Pakistan and making a name for themselves, engaging not just with Pakistani scholars or issues but with theory as well. Policymakers, on the other hand, are fixated with whether Pakistan is a failed state, a failing state, and with the consequences of Pakistan as a home for Islamic terrorism. Journalistic Account If one reads only English newspapers in Pakistan, leave alone the vibrant internet and blogosphere that are now so much part of the life of English-speaking Pakistanis, it is impossible to avoid the presence of Anatol Lieven. He and his book have been reviewed, reviled, criticised, abused even, and he has actively argued back in response; he engages, debates, clarifies and re-emphasises his positions; he is invited to literary festivals, and even by the World Bank to their exchanges of international experts on Pakistans financial and social issues with very senior policymakers and researchers almost all exclusively from the west. Having written just the one book on Pakistan, already quoted widely and seen as the new non-Pakistani academic superstar replacing, perhaps, the likes of Stephen Cohen who became experts on Pakistan some decades ago, Lieven has now become the academic who speaks about Pakistan, explaining and interpreting it to the World Bank and the US State Department, and has written this book primarily for western audiences who are often ignorant and befuddled already (Lieven 2011). Lievens book is not an academic book, and nor does he claim it is. The book is a journalistic account, at times a travelogue, too frequently chatty social gossip, about Pakistan and Pakistanis. It has numerous anecdotes and accounts of his meetings with a diverse section of Pakistanis whom he quotes extensively, sometimes too often.

There are quotes from 23 years ago, which are also interspersed with what he has heard more recently, across his 20 years of travels and reporting on Pakistan. There are some references to other books, particularly colonial district gazetteers that bring in a strong flavour of racial profiling or stereotyping by British administrators in the 19th century, many of whom he quotes approvingly. The tone of the book too is often condescending, even orientalist. This book comprises observation, opinion, analysis and insight, some of them sharp though tryingly repetitive, some bewildering. Much of what he says is also accurate even though many Pakistanis have, incorrectly I believe, taken offence to his opinions (Fazli 2011). However, the allegations about Lieven being rather soft on the military, particularly general Musharraf, do come out strongly. To say, it seems questionable whether he (Musharraf) should really be called a military dictator at all (p 67), that he was genuinely committed to a form of liberal progress (a lifestyle liberal, perhaps?) (p 69), is an affront to those who struggled for democracy for a decade. Moreover, Lieven is overly impressed by the fact that Pakistans army is a united and disciplined institution (p 6) just as is the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). He gives credit to Musharraf and his progressive credentials for just helping to keep the country afloat in such times (which) should be considered an achievement in itself (p 70). Not really, for it was the billions of dollars in aid and US support that kept Pakistan afloat. The architecture of the book differs from most Lieven does not follow a chronology of events or of personalities but presents an institutional and ethnic map of Pakistan with different versions and relations of Islam acting as the cement that holds everything together. He describes what he calls structures, such as the military, religion, politics and the military, and the four provinces of Pakistan, with a full section on the Taliban. Lieven is, after all, a professor of international relations and terrorism studies and not giving extensive coverage to the Taliban was highly improbable. In fact, one of the chapters on the provinces, inappropriately called the Pathans there is no province of this name and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has a very large proportion of non-Pakhtuns is also almost all about the Taliban. Terrorism and Islam interact in many places in all the chapters although one is surprised that Lieven does not include the Punjabi Taliban in his section on the Taliban. Moreover, he only meets and quotes feudals in Sindh, and sardars in Balochistan. Amateur Anthropology Although not an anthropologist by training, Lieven behaves like one. Following Thomas Metcalfs 19th century notion of traditional villages of northern India in the form of little republics, Lieven believes they still exist in many areas of 21st century Pakistan. For him, it is kinship networks, which are by far the most important foci of

most peoples loyalty (p 13). It is this kinship that is central to the weakness of the Pakistani state (p 13) and that this kinship group is the most important force in society (p 14). Perhaps, it is this primordial understanding about modern-day Pakistan that makes Lieven say, in four separate places on consecutive pages: the deeply conservative nature of much of Pakistani society (p 28), one should see Pakistan as a highly conservative, archaic, even sometimes quite inert and somnolent mass of different societies (p 29), and while western modernisers in Pakistan are crippledboth by the conservative nature of Pakistani society (p 29) and hatred for western allies, Islamist modernisers..are crippled by the conservative nature of Pakistani society (p 29)! Do we get his point? In case we missed it, we are reminded 150 pages later: after all, the vast majority of Pakistans population are conservative Muslims (p 183). This is what you get when you hang out with too many Sindhi feudals and Baloch sardars. Apart from Lievens insistence that kinship dominates all relationships in Pakistan because of the conservative nature of Pakistani society, he informs us that Pakistan is a negotiated state, presumably because of both these reasons. But the question is which state is not negotiated. Even in western democracies with their vested interest and lobbies, pork-barrel politics, debates about public policy, abortion, womens rights, and so on, the state negotiates. One would assume only in fascist or authoritarian dictatorships there is no negotiation. If in deeply conservative Pakistan the state negotiates, so does it in utterly modern Britain and the US. One gets the feeling that Lieven really does not know many things about Pakistan on which he speaks so authoritatively. He writes, Pakistan would be a far more developed and prosperous state today but for the economic disaster of Zulfikar Ali Bhuttos nationalisation programme of the 1970s (p 34), adding later that his populist economic strategy was a disaster from which it took Pakistan a generation to recover (p 72), which shows his complete ignorance of the Bhutto period. Elsewhere he makes the claim, that an absolutely overwhelming majority not just of the Pakistani masses, but of the Pakistani elites believe that 9/11 was not in fact carried out by Al Qaeda but was a plot by the Bush administration (p 47, emphasis added). However, there is no supporting evidence to buttress such claims. Lieven is rather condescending and also ignores the basic political economy of Pakistan. He says, one would really want the likes of Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari to be responsible for military appointments (p 163); so would they, but as any observer of Pakistans political economy knows, this is not as yet possible. There are a host of other statements that only a foreigner living far away from Pakistan would make. For example, Lieven argues that the MQM, which has been called fascist and far worse by scholars and others, is a remarkable party by any standards, and a very remarkable party indeed for Pakistan. The loyalty of their activists is especially

impressive (p 251), and that the MQMs professionalism and modernity are reflected in its website (p 253). This is exactly what worries the millions living in Karachi. There are also contradictions in Lievens work where even his core ideas on kinship, conservatism and archaism are questioned when they face reality and modern, rational, non-kinship practices such as corruption, or when Pakistani politicians now have to work very hard for their votes (p 224). A key criticism of Lievens book remains his insistence on the absence and incapability, even through praxis and politics, of transcending the deeply ingrained patterns of Pakistani life (p 80). Despite these criticisms, this book is worth reading. Unlike many others who look at Pakistan, Lieven is correct in many important ways as well such as when he argues that Islamist extremism in Pakistan presents little danger of overthrowing the state (p 124) and asks, as to modern Islamic politics in Pakistan, the most important question to be asked is not why they are so strong, but why they are so weak (p 127). Stephen Cohen and his collaborators should have asked similar questions. Running Out of Ideas Stephen Cohens edited volume is a collection of papers from fresh PhDs and young scholars on Pakistan and many who may have at one time been Pakistani specialists from India, Pakistan and the US, and looks at the numerous futures Pakistan could face. The list contains people like Shuja Nawaz, the author of one of the best books on Pakistan, Aqil Shah, Joshua White and Moeed Yusuf, the newer brand of scholars on Pakistan, as well as some who have been around for decades, such as the editor himself and Marvin Weinbaum; there are also two Indians, Kanti Bajpai and Bahukutumbi Raman. Of the 17 contributors, only two live in Pakistan. These papers are based on a conference and discussions held at Bellagio in Italy. One of the main problems is that the arguments in the chapters are extremely repetitive. After all, 17 people, regardless of how brilliant they are individually and a couple of papers are good will come round to a lower common factor collectively, and despite their imaginative skills, even while imagining Pakistans many futures, are bound to run out of ideas. Considering that the editor writes that serious thinking about Pakistan came to a halt during his (Musharrafs) seemingly gentle dictatorship (p xii) certainly not by those who lived in Pakistan during this period and that firsthand scholarship on Pakistan has declined (p xv), one should perhaps be grateful for such scholars for seriously thinking about Pakistan now that the gentle dictator lives in luxury in London.

One is generalising here and given the overlap, one must. But what comes across in this collection is in many ways similar to Cohens earlier ill-titled, highly pro-US and pro-State Department Idea of Pakistan (2004),1 that the US is Pakistans only saviour. This is especially seen in the longest paper in this book, around a fifth of the book, by Cohen himself. The chapter, though not all the papers, reads like the US State Departments evaluation, guide and solution to troubled and troubling Pak istan. One gets the feeling that while an Iraq-type model is no longer recommended, something close enough is the only option to ensure a future for the deeply troubled state of Pakistan. There is, as in Lievens book, a very soft spot and high praise for Musharraf since he was able to turn Pakistan around. There is also a very strong dislike for Asif Ali Zardari, the democratically elected president of Pakistan. Again, there is the absence of recognition of progress for socioeconomic mobility is obstructed by a culture of feudalism (p 18). There are claims, made by others in this collection as well, that Pakistanis are paranoid about Indias intentions. One of the main concern for Stephen Cohen is that China, Pakistans closest ally, is no supporter of democratisation (p 60) it was not China which kept Musharraf in power for nine years and it is China which would have every reason to oppose normalisation of ties with India (p 62). He argues that the prospects of restoring south Asias strategic unity are now so low given Chinas new influence... (p 62). For Cohen, Pakistan needs to do a number of things to be put in the normal state category, which include normal relations with India, improving the economy, rebalancing civil-military relations, fighting domestic insurgency and, oddly, allowing a reshaped police force to emerge (p 54). Kanti Bajpai believes, as many others do, that Pakistan will muddle along. However, one wonders how that fits in with his arguments, in contrast to Lievens, that there is a social basis for a Sunni takeover of the state at some point (p 74). At least Lieven knows Pakistans Islam better and speaks about how differences within Islam, even Sunni Islam, do not allow such a possibility. For Bajpai, liberal democracy would, in the long-term, be in Indias interest (p 79), although liberal democracy in Pakistan means an Asif Ali Zardari, a democratically elected liberal president, just like Indias. India-Centricity William Milam opens his essay stating, the list of negative factors that make Pakistans future uncertain at best is long and depressing (p 134) and one of the reasons for this, he believes, is the unchanging India-centricity, the most important factor that has to change if Pakistan is ever to reach a glide path to a sustainable virtuous circle (p 135). Milam is very clear about what the US needs to do: India needs to accommodate the US priority of building a stable, modern, Pakistan (p

138), perhaps the same way the US is building a stable and modern Afghanistan or Iraq. With an emphasis on US assistance and the critically positive role that the US had intended to play... (p 145), it is the people of Pakistan who must be convinced that the US is a reliable ally that can be trusted (p 145). As long as the US keeps buying friendship, all will be fine, for any cuts in financial support would be another setback to US effort to strengthen the relationship (p 146). Later, Marvin Weinbaum makes the same claim: Pakistans economy can ill-afford the loss of US budgetary assistance and development for the countrys economy (p 228). Given that aid from the US is less than 2% of Pakistans gross domestic product (GDP), this is imperialisms greatest lie. Joshua White, whose earlier scholarship has been impressive, makes three odd claims in the following sentence: although political and military elites have long publicly supported the idea of an Islamised Pakistan so much so that only a handful of politicians and public intellectuals will question the need for an Islamic state there is little to suggest that they have an interest in promoting a wholesale alternative narrative (p 250). This is a loaded and incorrect supposition for many reasons and only undermines Whites understanding of Pakistan and Islam. Moreover, some of the possible scenarios that White imagines for Pakistan border on science fiction and are better suited to a Hollywood film, including one in which the Pakistan Taliban and Tehrik-eTaliban Pakistan advance simultaneously into a number of settled districts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab...[and] declare that areas under the control of the Pakistani government are dar-ulharb (that is, under the abode of war, in which Muslims can wage jihad against the state) and promise to expand sharia in accordance with the wishes of the people (p 255). It is a pity that many participants to this collection did not read their colleagues papers. There are also some excellent points raised by contributors, some who know Pakistan better than the others. Shuja Nawaz, Pakistans only competent authority on the army, talks about the changing composition of the military and what it means for Pakistans future. He is even willing to say, correctly I believe, that the army no longer has an alternative party waiting in the wings (p 153) as it has for decades. This is a major indictment for a more positive future for Pakistan. Because of social change in Pakistan, the nature and form of the military is also changing, a point well-recognised by Nawaz, unlike other contributors. Marvin Weinbaum, for instance, finds that even

after 64 years little appears to change. The political, economic and social establishment that was ensconced decades ago is still largely intact (p 225) which makes Nawaz say something the contributors need to understand: as an increasingly urban military officer corps emerges, the links between the military and business interests will deepen. It may be possible then to see more open discussion of the advantages of reducing hostility with India and the use of military power as a deciding factor in negotiations (p 155). Another intelligent voice in this collection is that of Aqil Shah who exposes the prejudices of some of his colleagues arguing that the militarys political power has been reinforced by successive strategic alliances between Pakistan and the US, which have provided the generals with military assistance, financial largesse, and diplomatic support (p 199). Exposing the myths that find their way into foreign reports, he also argues that the disproportionate leverage over policy and policymaking of Islamist parties is linked more to their mutually beneficial ties with the military than to their mass following (p 204) and that the Islamists wield political influence far in excess of their popular following, and that is primarily because of military patronage (p 205). It is disappointing to learn, as Stephen Cohen writes, that several of the contributors to this volume noted that it has not made much difference whether the military or civilians are in power, since both have had progressive moments and both have also contributed to the long decline in Pakistans integrity as both as state and a nation (p 47). Yet scholars need to be able to distinguish between moments and processes, as well as possibilities, and also examine how Pakistan has changed for the better since the ouster of that seemingly gentle dictator who was responsible for the resurgence of militant Islam in Pakistan in the first place. Sadly, most in this collection fail to do that. Wishful Thinking If ever there was an academic embarrassment, it has to be in the form of Maleeha Lodhis edited volume. Lodhi, one of Musharrafs able lieutenants, has tried her best to show that Pakistans is mainly an image problem, an idea repeated throughout Musharrafs nine years. With contributions by academics, journalists and policymakers, this volume is about refashioning Pakistan so that it looks good. However, when scholars and academics suggest that Pakistanis need to start moving out of cycles of despair and despondency, we should be very worried. When they start painting what is often referred to as a brighter picture of the countrys conditions, you know that the country and all that it represents is in a deep state of crisis,

particularly an intellectual one. No sense of creative image makeover is going to help understand or deal with the deep structural causes that have resulted in despondency. Lodhi sets the tone of this collection: the country may yet escape its difficult first 63 years, resolve its problems and reimagine its future. But doing so will need capable leadership with the vision and determination to chart a new course (p 2). Upbeat messages of hope and reasons for optimism, with the vision of Jinnah, can set the country on to a course beyond a crisis state and guarantee its long-term stability (p 6); Pakistan will not fail, as so many writers in this collection take pains to inform us. The one essay that raises some relevant academic questions as opposed to policy or vacuous noises such as if youre from Pakistan, then youre a Pakistani...We are not a dream, we are a reality. We are not some weird idea for a country, we are a country. Were normal. At last (p 39) from fiction writer Mohsin Hamid is Ayesha Jalals opening essay. Pakistanis have a penchant for conspiracy theories over reasoned arguments supported by hard evidence (p 8) and do not examine historical causes of internal decline and decay (p 9), she argues, and stresses the need to examine problems in the light of history. However, the practice of using history to explain the present causes numerous other problems, a fact most historians ignore. Akbar S Ahmed continues to inform the public why Jinnah still matters when it is clear that Jinnah is increasingly irrelevant and redundant to Pakistan; it is best to understand Pakistan for what it is rather than what Jinnah may have thought it could become, something on which there is no consensus. Fortunately, some contributors deal with modern-day Pakistan not with fictions. Shuja Nawaz repeats the arguments made in the Cohen collection about the ongoing changes in the social composition of the military and how civilian leaders are responsible for having allowed the militaryfree ingress into their domain over the years and indeed have elevated the military presence to the detriment of the civil sector (p 91). Saeed Shafqat takes the changing military arguments further and shows how the bureaucracy has also changed where, like the military, recruitment has shifted from the upper middle class to the lower middle class (p 99). Shafqat argues that the influence of the US has grown to such levels that it has become hard to differentiate between the interests of US policymakers and these (military, bureaucratic and political) elites (p 102). There are contributions on the economy and how resilient it is, on militancy and how the military has created and supported Islamic militancy in Pakistan, on the nuclear issue, on India and on Afghanistan. The jingoistic tone of a former Pakistani ambassador to the UN, now living in the US, resonates clearly when he writes about the pervasive challenge from India and how Jammu and Kashmir remains vital to Pakistan since it is a Muslim majority area and should have been given to Pakistan, as well as for strategic reasons, and because the people are ethnically, religiously, culturally and historically linked to the people of Pakistan rather than India (p 294).

Perhaps, Munir Akrams essay is just the warning to those who read history but do not understand the present. The book ends with the editors Concluding Notes. Full of banalities and platitudes effective governance is what makes the difference between successful states and struggling ones (p 349) she provides not an exhaustive list of all that is contained in the volume but an identification of the critical priorities on which a national consensus needs to be fashioned (p 352). One of those critical priorities identified by Lodhi is for Pakistan to revive historic and mutually supportive relationships with key Islamic nations especially Saudi Arabia...(p 352). Given Saudi Arabias role in supporting sectarianism and jihad in Pakistan and abroad, it is not clear which of the contributors alluded to such a policy move. In fact, Zahid Hussains piece in this volume shows just how actively Saudi Arabia has been involved in supporting jihadi groups in Pakistan. Concocted History These days, Islam sells, particularly Pakistani Islam. The State of Islam: Culture and Cold War Politics in Pakistan is not about the state of Islam in Pakistan and Saadia Toor has been ill-advised (or is herself responsible) to title the book in this misleading and incorrect manner. While this book has many qualities, an engagement with Islam is not central to its canvas. The book, however, is particularly good on the era of the not-so gentle dictator, General Zia ul Haq. However, while the chapters on Zia and his Islamisation are good, Toor tries to create a complete fiction about the history of Pakistan. Revisionist histories are always welcome to rethink and revise the past but Toor reinvents a past based on her current political affiliations, which while certainly legitimate in ideological terms requires more substance, and less hyperbole in reading the archives and the material. In her attempt to provide alternative frameworks for understanding the country and its people, which she rightly says are conspicuously absent from mainstream media and academic discourse (p 1), she overstates the impact and significance of many incidents and developments in Pakistans history to construct a fiction, repeated numerous times in her book, that Pakistan was on the cusp of a socialist revolution. If only. Broadly, there are two themes to Toors book: one dealing with the Zia ul Haq decade and its legacy, and the other, an attempt to write a history of Pakistan where progressives make that history. In the process, she constructs a history dealing with Pakistans pre-histories and then locates East Bengal/East Pakistan at the heart of the analysis after 1947, inverting the conventional narrative. This is a very useful and powerful lens to undermine the idea and meaning of Pakistan conveyed by most

histories of Pakistan. The national and Muslim communities are contrasted with each other and the language politics of that era explains events which were to happen two decades later. Since the broad stories of what Toor writes about are fairly well known, references to Urdu, especially Bengali newspapers of that era, would have added more value to what is otherwise a good analysis. Following this, there is a discussion on postPartition literary politics of the vibrant 1950s and the relationship of such trends and movements to nation-building and to a critique of the dominant narrative of the time. We then move to the decade of development of Ayub Khan followed by Bhutto and Zias military theocracy, where the already known work of Tariq Ali provides the main narrative frame. There are mainly secondary sources used here, which are more than familiar to most Pakistani historians and academics. Toors main contribution in this volume is examining the Zia regime, especially its relationship to women. This part of the book itself is a definite read for students as well as academics. It is her reinvention of the left or progressives that is more troublesome. While there is no analysis of the social or material composition of the left forces, or any assessment of their organisational or political presence, size and strength other than in literature she argues, correctly, that the Lefts influence on Pakistans culture and politics has been significant and often far greater than its organisational strength would warrant (p 4). But social and socialist transformation is not a literary or cultural project alone but requires left organised politics, which has been lacking in the context of Pakistan. To state that there was a new revolutionary and mass-based left-wing politics at the end of the 1960s is an exaggeration, if ever there was one, and confuses populism with revolutionary and mass-based politics. Even those who were participants would probably not go as far as Toor when she says Pakistan appeared to be on the brink of a socialist revolution in 1969... (p 117), or laughably, that the objective conditions were thus ripe for a revolutionary transformation (p 118), and stated yet again that at the end of the 1960s, (Pakistan) appeared to be on the brink of a socialist revolution led by a mass movement of leftwing forces (p 158). She is also not correct to state that Ayub Khan had an explicitly secular agenda or that there was an official policy of secularism under him (p 94). As a leftist and secularist, one is sadly left feeling very embarrassed reading this concocted history. One of the problems with Toors book is her overdependence on certain sources and the complete lack of other important works, many of which support and engage with her own arguments. For example, it is surprising that Toor is unfamiliar with Vazira Zamindars excellent book on imagining Pakistan at the time of Partition (Zamindar 2008), a theme which plays through Toors book. Lacking also, since she spends some

time on the Pakistan military and on the Zia period, is any reference to Shuja Nawazs book on the Pakistani military (Nawaz 2007). Also, since Toor has extensive sections on the progressive literary and writers movements before and after Partition, one is surprised not to find mention of Khizar Humayun Ansaris book, one of the earlier scholarly assessments of the progressive literary movements (Ansari 1990). Also missing are references to Zafar Shaheeds excellent labour history on the Bhutto years, something that forms a large part in Toors analysis (Shaheed 2007). There is also just too much reliance on a couple of Tariq Alis books. Moreover, the work relies extensively on secondary sources for such a historical tract. One also finds sentences that are clearly drawn from the work of other scholars, but no citation is given. There are few original sources, not enough references to newspapers, particularly those in Urdu, and it is also not clear how, on numerous occasions, the Pakistan Peoples Party becomes the Peoples Party of Pakistan. Islamists and Secularisation Only if one accepts how Humeira Iqtidar defines secularisation can one accept her claim that Islamists are a force and agent for secularisation in Pakistan. Subsequently, she is also correct in stating that secularisation is the process and secularism the project, policy and ideology, and one presumes, the politics as well. By making this key distinction and based on her definition, she states secularisation may be supported by the very elements tha oppose secularism (p 35), and hence, these Islamists are not a force for secularism in Pakistan. Her book deals almost exclusively with secularisation and very little with secularism. Her entire argument rests precariously on the acceptance of (and absence of) her many definitions, such as secularisation, Islamisation, modernisation, Islamist political parties, agency, and so on. Iqtidar considers secularisation to be a process of rationalisation that has been going on in part because the Islamists have brought questions about the role of religion in modern life into the public sphere...Islamists...are secularising, that is, they are facilitating a process of secularisation as rationalisation of religion (p 22). Later, religious practice is constantly changing and reflecting the context in which believers operate. Some aspects of religious practice...can be seen to be secularised in terms of a shift from a largely unthinking inherited belief to objectified, critically analysed belief (p 54); Islamists are facilitating secularisation within Muslim societies through a conscious, critical engagement with what it means to be a good Muslim today (p 128); and finally, secularisation proceeds through a critical interrogation (by Islamists) of what the role of religion is to be in both (private and public) realms (p 157). This is what Iqtidar calls Islamist secularisation, the imagined polity and citizen of which are likely to be extremely different from the products of secularisation in other contexts (pp 36-37).

Iqtidar is not wrong in stating that outcomes will be different from other experiences under what she calls secularisation. However, the problem is exactly with the concept she calls secularisation. She has adopted a few features of modernisation, taken them outside of their context, and calls these few features secularisation. She is talking more about modernisation interacting and being adapted and resisted by Islamism than secularisation as it is usually explained. Iqtidar has completely and illegitimately changed the meaning of the term. Of course, her thesis fits, and of course, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JD) will be the agents of this secularisation. However, on some occasions she lets her slip show when she discusses modernity, when she means her variety of secularisation. The rationalisation of religion (p 22) or the rationalisation of belief (p 36), subjecting religious practice to a certain rationalising (p 116) are part of a process of rationalisation as well as modernisation, and if one understands that the field of secularisation requires a distinction from the field of the religious, then these processes cannot be part of secularisation unless one includes religion in secularisation. Iqtidar falls fully into the modernist paradigm when she talks about the Islamist womens distinctly modernist stances where in attempting to bring all aspects of modern life under religious scrutiny but from a modernist perspective, Islamist women and men are engaging in a refashioning of belief in Muslim societies (p 150). Not only is this modernisation, but if this is secularisation as she defines it, what then is Islamisation? If bringing questions about the role of religion in modern life into the public sphere is secularisation, as Iqtidar contends, then what remains of Islamisation? Another problem around her notion of secularisation rests on the fact that Islamists are seen by her to be facilitating secularisation through a conscious, critical engagement with a critical interrogation of what the role of religion is to be. However, this is the most essential of premodern, pre-secular, classic, Islamic public and intellectual practices possible; it has nothing to do with any sort of secularisation. As she admits, quoting many scholars on Islam, that adaptive creativity, dissent and rethinking have been an integral part of traditional Islamic legal and ideological thought (p 40), but no scholar of Islam would call this critical engagement or interrogation secular by any stretch of the imagination. Moreover, there are numerous other problems with the book such as her choice of the two Islamist political parties. By all definitions, JI fits the fold perfectly but JD is a jihadi organisation supported by the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), which was responsible for the Mumbai attacks. JI and JD cannot be grouped under the Islamist banner as conveniently as Iqtidar hopes. Given their history, genesis and politics, there is a serious political and theoretical problem in trying to make a comparison between JI and JD. Moreover, to even suggest that JD leader Hafiz Saeed, a terrorist

in any other book, is a scholar like JI founder Maulana Maudoodi (p 3) is a cruel injustice, perhaps just as much as Lieven recalling the public image of austerity and asexuality (p 254) of the MQMs Altaf Hussain with Mahatma Gandhi! Furthermore, only a diasporic Pakistani could state that General Musharraf had imposed a version of secularism under the banner of Enlightened Moderation (p 159). Although Iqtidar is competent at summarising the arguments of others, at what different theories propose and especially at making the case that the process of secularisation and what secularism means will be different in different Muslim societies, she is not very good at her own empirics, history and contextuality. For example, based on interviews of two Islamist women, Iqtidar makes the huge statement that this example may suggest a straightforward conclusion that these parties may provide some avenues for independent positions to women not otherwise provided by society. Thus while Islamist parties may be oppressive in some ways, they may actually have liberating effects in others (p 137) like going to prison and meeting lots of interesting people can really open your mind. In addition, Iqtidar has a very selective, in fact dishonest, bibliography most references are old and only eight references are from after 2007, except her own, most of which are from 2010 or 2011. Many of her references to women and Islam in Pakistan, for instance, (p 131) are outdated and she consciously ignores the work of feminist scholar Afiya S Zia who presents a very different understanding of Islam and women in Pakistan of which Iqtidar is aware. Of course, religious practices change, but they do remain religious practices, by definition, not secular religious practices. Moreover, objectified, critically analysed religious belief can also be extremely religious, modern, even rational to the believer, but must be excluded from the domain of the secular. Otherwise, what separates the religious or the non-secular from the secular? The everyday secular practices of modern life (Devji 2008: 23) do not create Islamist secularisation, just secularisation. Islam in Pakistan Naveeda Khan does not discuss either secularisation or secularism. However, one reading of her book suggests, given the numerous sects in Islam even within the Sunni mazhab in Pakistan, the only future a Muslim country like the Islamic Republic of Pakistan ought to have is that of secularism. From the opening paragraphs of her book to numerous passages and examples, one finds Islamists fighting Islamists verbally and as we know more militantly, given the acute differences within Islam being intolerant of differences internal to Islam (p 7). The problem of Muslim Pakistan seems to be an everyday Islam present in the personal, public and political spheres. One lives through the everyday religiosity of Lahore and how religion is

actually secularised when expressions of religiosity impinge upon the local, political, and the spiritual (p 1) yet everyday practices of violence, conflict, corruption, graft, greed, qabza (usurpation) and sexuality undermine secularise religious beliefs and practices. It is the everyday practices of everyday life that secularise Islam and not vice versa, as Iqtidar contends. This book will be read by different people differently by anthropologists looking at jinns and at neighbourhood social arrangements, by philosophers who look at French, German and Indian-Muslim philosophy, by literary scholars who examine the interpretation of Muhammad Iqbals verse. Even for someone unfamiliar with these disciplines, there is much of value in this volume. For Khan, on the one hand, Islam in Pakistan, and by extension, its state and its self, is an expression of striving, of becoming an aspiration but runs the risk of destabilising everyday life thr ough its vulnerability to skepticism (p 13). Examining the legal structures and constitutional debates at a macro level with particular focus on the debates around the Ahmadis, Khan argues, perhaps optimistically, that Pakistan is open to experimentation over what it is to be Muslim and that the state creates the conditions of possibility for experimentation on what it is to be a Muslim as well as for skepticism with respect to those who strive (p 14). Khans arguments build around the nature and extent of Islam during the constitutional debates, which constitute an extensive discussion in her book, on poetphilosopher Muhammad Iqbals legacy where, she argues, the Pakistani state is seeking to inherit Iqbals conception of Islam (p 18) and through his poetry and philosophy his ideas of striving and aspiration. The debates about the Ahmadis and the higher court deciding on who a Muslim is in Pakistan are particularly illuminating, with Khan raising issues about Ahmadis posing as Muslims and how markers of Muslimhood become commodified like consumer goods as if they were protected by copyright. She argues that the common deception of an unscrupulous trader passing off inferior goods as those of a reputed firm was now both transposed upon the Ahmadi and intensified such that the Ahmadis actions constitute a deliberate and shocking deception of the Muslim (p 114). Using Nietzsche, and hence Iqbal, Khan presents perhaps an optimistic future for Pakistan very different from how policymakers see Pakistans many futures. She argues that a too-hasty view of the world may yield an impression of widespread decay when there is really a self-experimentation at work in Pakistan (p 177). The dizzying variety of religious conflicts and violence (p 201) she finds even at sublime neighbourhood levels, and where she is overwhelmed by the intensity of fights within religious life in Pakistan (p 201), question the possibility of an open -

future to enable striving and experimentation (p 203). Khans key point is that for her the creation of Pakistan inaugurated the aspiration to strive to be Muslim. This aspiration did not concern itself with final ends (p 203). But why just strive or aspire to be Muslim, why not Pakistani, Bengali or Pakhtun? More importantly, given the acute and intolerant differences within Pakistani Islam, which Muslim does one become? And why? Note 1 Stephen P Cohen, The Idea of Pakistan (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press), 2004. References Ansari, Khizar Humayun (1990): Emergence of Socialist Thought among North Indian Muslims 1917-47 (Lahore: Book Traders). Devji, Faisal (2008): Red Mosque, Public Culture, Vol 20, No 1. Fazli, Sheheryar (2011): Pakistan: Not So Simple as a Hard Country, 21 October, Lieven, Anatol (2011): The Tragedy of Pakistani Liberalism, 24 December Nawaz, Shuja (2007): Crossed Swords: Pakistan, Its Army, and the Wars Within (Karachi: Oxford University Press). Shaheed, Zafar (2007): Labour Movement in Pakistan: Organisation and Leadership in Karachi in the 1970s (Karachi: Oxford University Press). Zamindar, Vazira F (2008): The Long Partition and the Making of South Asia: Refugees, Boundaries and Histories (Karachi: Oxford University Press). Zaidi, S Akbar (2000): The Business of Giving Advice, Economic & Political Weekly, Vol 35, No 19. (2002): The Dismal State of the Social Sciences in Pakistan, Economic & Political Weekly, Vol 37, No 35. Source: Economic and Political Weekly