ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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State, Society and Power

Towards a New Political Economy of Pakistan

Five scholars engage with S Akbar Zaidi's proposed agenda for research in the political economy of Pakistan, "Rethinking Pakistan's Political Economy" (1 February 2014). Majed Akhter introduces the discussion, Aasim Sajjad Akhtar discusses the hegemonic "politics of common sense", Fahd Ali draws on postcolonial theory to engage Zaidi's use of "political settlements", Umair Javed focuses on associational politics in Punjab and Adeem Suhail theorises "the negotiated state" based on his fi eldwork in Karachi. Zaidi responds to the critiques by suggesting they are not ruthless enough.

The historical and social scientific scholarship on Pakistani state and society has mushroomed over the past decade and a half. The reasons are manifold and complex. The most important factor is probably the heightened geopolitical interest, driven in large part by the US security and foreign policy establishment, in the nature and trajectory of the Pakistani state. Fortunately, critical scholarship retains a degree of autonomy from the requirements of state apparatuses. Many scholars of Pakistan refuse to straitjacket their research questions and arguments to fit the needs of various security apparatuses. While this introduction is not the place to attempt a balanced and comprehensive review, it is difficult to refrain from briefly showcasing a sliver of this recent scholarship.

A corpus of innovative and compelling work is developing around a host of issues: the politics of citizenship and marginality (Ansari 2011; Gazdar and Mallah 2012; Saikia 2014; Toor 2011), corruption (Ansari 2014; Chattha 2012), nationalist ideology (Devji 2013; Khan 2012), patronage and clientelism (Akhtar 2011; Javid 2011; Mohmand 2014), urban history and politics (Anwar 2012; Daechsel 2013; Hull 2012), and the critical geography of drone war and terror (Mustafa et al 2013; Shaw and Akhter 2012, 2014).

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