Military Exceptionalism in Pakistan

by Anatol Lieven

First 500 words: Since Pakistan achieved independence in 1947, the country’s military has governed the country outright three times and exerted a strong political influence even when not in power.Pakistan’s tradition of military dominance stems above all from the fact that the Pakistani military is the only institution that works more or less as it is meant to, as measured against the generally accepted standards of a modern state institution. This creates the belief among some sections of Pakistan’s population that the efficiency displayed by the military within its own sphere can be extended via military government to the working of the state as a whole. This belief, however, is a mistake. Each time the military takes over the entire Pakistani system, it soon finds that the state is so weak that it has no choice but to work through the same old local elites, using the familiar methods of patronage, corruption and exploitation of kinship ties. …

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