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Partition: the 67-year itch ~ (by Irfan Husain)


The following is a guest post by Mr. Irfan Husain. The article was originally published in the journal of the Pakistan Institute of International Relations.   Like an itch that won’t go away, people of my generation born before Partition keep scratching away at the words, actions and motives of the players involved in that momentous event. Each time we traverse this ... Read More »

Thinking out loud about what a “Taliban victory” in Pakistan looks like


I’m using this post mostly to think out loud about something I have been thinking about for a few months, so please bear with me if some of it is dumb. Mostly I’m trying to think through the tension between two narratives that seem reflexively acceptable: The TTP is a loose coalition of fighters with varying degrees of attachment to ... Read More »

Some Desi Electoral Data

Urban Rural partyshare PMLN

I was asked to run some numbers using local electoral data today, and a couple of potentially interesting things came up. The first is a visibly pronounced blip in party seat and vote-share between 1997 and 2002, and the second is an observation on where larger parties stand on the rural-urban seat issue. As most stories go, General Musharraf’s mauling ... Read More »

Islamist rallies and protests in Karachi

ASWJ rally at Lasbela Chowk

For the last six weeks, I was in Karachi doing research for a paper I’m writing. The project is on Friday prayers and Islamist mobilization. What I was trying to understand was why so many Islamist protests and rallies — and, when they get violent, riots — happen on Fridays. What’s so special about namaaz-e-juma? I’m going to leave the ... Read More »

Blood, gore, and pedagogy in International Relations


I am currently on a nice, relaxing vacation in Canada, and have brought along with me this reading material: I’ve only gotten through the first sixth of the book thus far (it’s long — very long), but I’m enjoying it thoroughly. More than anything, what I’m enjoying is the intimate description of the blood, gore, and violence that took place. ... Read More »

Nationalism and post-colonial states’ security in the 20th century


The standard story IR and security studies tells us is that states are better able to protect themselves in the age of nationalism. The argument goes that because states could, post 1789, rely upon mass armies, constituted by people fighting for the “motherland” or the “fatherland”, deterrence was more likely to hold. This was because territorial grabs by sovereign states ... Read More »

Electoral Evolution – Lahore and Karachi

Percentage Seat Share Lahore

Apart from a whole host of other differences, Karachi and Lahore have had starkly different electoral histories. Plowing through electoral data from 1970 till the 2008 general election, there’s a clear trajectory that both cities have taken, which has seen the transfer of power from one type of political actor to another. The evolution, in some senses, is quite indicative ... Read More »

Guest post: Understanding the PTI’s Populism

IK populism

This is a guest post by Ammar Rashid (twitter: @AmmarRashidT, email: ammar dot rashid at gmail dot com), an independent researcher in Islamabad. An earlier version of this piece was published in The News on Sunday. In the ‘The Rebirth of History’ (2012), the French philosopher Alain Badiou attempts to contextualize the unrest and uprisings occurring across the world today by ... Read More »

Calling an Election, Part II: Questions on Urban Voting in Pakistan

Assemblies are due to be dissolved in 10 days

(As a follow up to my first post on electoral surveying, this second, and admittedly long overdue, piece focuses on pre-election reportage and some questions regarding urban elections in Pakistan.) In the late 90s, Andrew Wilder wrote that the vast majority of electoral coverage, both in the vernacular and the English press, tends to focus on biraderi dominated voting blocs, ... Read More »