Volume 2, No. 3, March 2020
Editor: Rashed Rahman
South Asia stands once more on the brink of Armageddon. The fraught situation in Kashmir brought about by Modi’s government, the risks attendant on the situation, and Pakistan’s options are examined in Rashed Rahman’s article, The Kashmir crisis, with not very hopeful prognoses from Pakistan’s point of view.
Recent scholarship has critically reviewed Hamza Alavi’s thesis on The Postcolonial State. An excerpted version of his longer article from New Left Review (1972) on the subject is published below to allow readers to reacquaint themselves with his seminal ideas. In an accompanying piece, Professor Stephen M Lyon’s book review of Matthew McCartney and Akbar Zaidi’s (eds) collection of scholarly essays, New Perspectives on Pakistan’s Political Economy: State, Class and Social Change critically examines Hamza Alavi’s thesis. While Zaidi rejects (according to Lyon), the Alavi thesis entire, other contributors focus on his alleged sins of omission and commission. In fairness, to castigate Alavi for failure to anticipate later developments, e.g. the business class being anointed courtesy the military-bureaucratic oligarchy with a political party espousing its interests (the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz), the changing social base from which the military is recruited, or the women’s struggle for rights having emerged as an important phenomenon in recent years, seems a stretch. Clairvoyance is neither claimed nor a reasonable expectation from Alavi or anyone else. Regardless of these criticisms, a re-reading of the excerpted version of Alavi’s article below may startle readers by his analysis fitting so neatly the current dispensation led by Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI). This dispensation has been brought into power by the still ubiquitous military-bureaucratic oligarchy but of course representing the new rising middle class that has joined the earlier pantheon of the local bourgeoisie, the metropolitan bourgeoisie and the landed class as the fourth contender for power through the process of the role of that military-bureaucratic oligarchy in mediating the disparate, contradictory, but not necessarily irreconcilable interests of these elite classes.
Last but by no means least, the abortive no-confidence move by the opposition against the Senate Chairman has once again laid bare the collaborationist (with the powers-that-be) political culture that remains a big blot on our polity. The defeat of the motion by the treachery of 14 opposition Senators will echo in our halls of infamy for a long time. This debacle has unnerved the opposition, whose fragile unity is under strain once again, leaving Imran Khan and his establishment supporters without serious internal political challenge for the foreseeable future. Given the PTI’s record in office over the past year, that is hardly a prospect to celebrate.