Imperfect Working Order

By Schofield, Carey | The Spectator, May 14, 2011 | Go to article overview

Imperfect Working Order


Schofield, Carey, The Spectator


Pakistan: A Hard Country

by Anatol Lieven

Allen Lane, £30, pp. 528,

ISBN 9781846141607

The publication of Pakistan: A Hard Country could not be more timely. International attention has been focused on Pakistan since the Americans killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad. Being in the spotlight generally means trouble for this country that has been bedevilled by war and political drama for over three decades.

Foreigners announce goodwill and arrive with generous aid, but Pakistanis are frequently left feeling bruised, as the outsiders become ever more bewildered by the workings of this beguiling and maddening place.

Anatol Lieven originally planned to call his book 'How Pakistan Works'. It would have been a good title, since this is exactly what he tries to explain. The book's core is an examination of Pakistan's structures - justice, religion, the military and politics - and its four provinces, but Lieven's obsession is not merely the anatomy of the country, but its physiology.

His central thesis is that Pakistan is not - as western observers have described it - a failing state. It works, he says 'according to its own imperfect but functional patterns', and is more stable than it looks from outside. Although the state is weak (under civilian and military regimes alike), society is strong, underpinned by ancient systems of kinship and patronage. These may be indistinguishable from nepotism and corruption, but Lieven is prepared to see them as manifestations of the virtue of loyalty to kin.

Pakistan is described in this book as a 'negotiated state': only in the army is authority genuinely exercised through hierarchical structures. Elsewhere, authority is constantly being brokered. The country's other institutions - including representative democracy and the legal system - do not function effectively, Lieven believes, because they are foreign imports, imposed by the British and in many ways unsuitable for contemporary Pakistan. A friend comments that ordinary Pakistanis fault the Anglo-Saxon legal system for offering no compensation:

Yes, they say, the law has hanged my brother's killer, but who is now to support my dead brother's family - who by the way have ruined themselves bribing the legal system to get the killer punished?

Lieven knows what he is talking about.

He has been visiting Pakistan for 20 years, initially for the Times, covering the Soviet Union's war in Afghanistan.

His affection for the country does not blind him to its faults. He refers lightly to Pakistani society's ability to generate within an astonishingly short space of time several mutually incompatible versions of a given event or fact, often linked to conspiracy theories which pass through the baroque to the rococo. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Imperfect Working Order
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.