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The Army and Democracy: Military Politics in Pakistan Hardcover – 9 May 2014

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; 1 edition (9 May 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674728939
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674728936
  • Product Dimensions: 24.1 x 16.4 x 3.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 278,094 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

A native of Pakistan, Aqil Shah currently teaches politics at Princeton University. He holds a doctorate in political science from Columbia University, and an MPhil from the University of Oxford, where he studied as a Rhodes scholar. Shah has held research fellowships at Stanford and Harvard. His commentary and analysis have appeared in Foreign Affairs, the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Journal of Democracy. In previous incarnations, he worked for the U.N., the International Crisis Group, and wrote a regular column for the Friday Times (Lahore) and Dawn (Karachi).

Product Description


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""

"[This] rich and skilfully argued book leaves no doubt about the military's central responsibility in blighting the course of Pakistan's democratisation. [...] A fresh and original perspective that demands serious consideration." --Times Higher Education, 8 May 2014

Shah approaches the army through the methods of sociological institutionalism: he traces forms of institutional socialisation (military education, camaraderie, cohabitation, promotion) that cultivate common beliefs and norms. To ascertain these beliefs, he draws on [a large number of sources]. Shah argues that studying these shared beliefs makes it possible to understand how the military thinks and therefore acts, lending a retrospective and predictive dimension to his analysis. There is considerable elegance in the symmetry between Shah s questions, methods and sources. -- Times Literary Supplement

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A superb overview of civil-military relations in Pakistan. Detailed on the history and issues and strongly informed by theory. Invaluable for those who care about this kind of thing.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The Best Book on Pakistan and Pakistan Army 16 Jun. 2014
By Arif Jamal - Published on
Format: Hardcover
In this book, Aqil Shah has done a wonderful job in studying the Pakistan Army. The book is well researched and based on new and primary sources, which include new NDU materials, such as officer training syllabi, strategy papers. This is the best account of the rise of the Pakistan Army to power in Pakistan from 1950s to now. As the Pakistan Army has been a central player in Pakistani politics, this book is a must for anybody who is interested in the Pakistan Army or Pakistani politics. Shah has brought to light some little or unknown facts of Pakistani politics and explains others which have not been analyzed. The book is full of new facts and perspectives. This is a very timely book as the civil-military relations in Pakistan are a top subject for the South Asia watcher. This book is a great source to help understand Pakistani politics and Pakistan Army’s perspective on the Global War on Terrorism. After having read most books on Pakistan Army, I can say The Army and Democracy is definitely the best book on the subject. Arif Jamal, author of CALL FOR TRANSNATIONAL JIHAD: LASHKAR-E-TAIB 1985-2014.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
I continue to think that creating a country on the basis of religion was a bad idea. Now the Pandora's Box has been flung ... 27 Jun. 2014
By Ahmad Faruqui - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The book is richly documented and well argued. It skillfully narrates Pakistan's evolution from the democracy envisaged by its British-educated founder, M. A. Jinnah, to a dictatorship that has oscillated ever since his demise between explicit military rule and implicit military rule. It boldly argues what many of us have felt and a few have penned editorials on it -- but it has never been said in book form before -- that ironically the tradition of authoritarianism hearkens back to how the founder himself ruled the country. To understand that -- or to take issue with that -- you will just have to read the book. It is by far the most lucid (and heart-rendering) account of Pakistani history. The only thing I take issue with is that the book does not disect the two-nation theory on whose basis the nation was founded. I continue to think that creating a country on the basis of religion was a bad idea. Now the Pandora's Box has been flung open and the results are in plain sight. But the denial continues...
Shah's history is very good, but the way in which he draws upon ... 23 Dec. 2014
By Isaac Chotiner - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is a superb and thoughtful book, with a compelling narrative and very well argued opinions. Shah's history is very good, but the way in which he draws upon different historical events to construct his argument is even better.
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