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The Idea of Pakistan

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  218 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
Stephen Cohen updates his critically acclaimed book with a discerning view of significant recent events in the region, particularly the devastating earthquake in Kashmir and its after affects. The quake killed over 70,000 people and left another 3 million homeless in one of the most remote, inhospitable parts of the world. Cohen observes how the catastrophic event has ...more
Paperback, 382 pages
Published August 9th 2006 by Brookings Institution Press (first published August 31st 2004)
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Neeraj Bali
Jul 07, 2014 Neeraj Bali rated it liked it
I had the pleasure of meeting Stephen Cohen when I briefly visited Brookings at Washington, back in 2003. I needed some advice on a career in academia and I had sought audience with a few people in the US - he was one of them. In the half an hour I was with him, I heard in rapt attention as this pleasant man held forth on Kashmir and other topics - precise, knowledgeable and humorous in an understated manner. Several years later, I met him again at the Staff College where he was a visitor and I ...more
Samrat Sen
Oct 20, 2013 Samrat Sen rated it it was amazing
A must read for many many reasons.... for Pakistani/Indian citizens of today who get fed on daily dosage of jingoism; for someone interested in South-East Asian Politics & why USA finds it strategically important; to understand how & why terrorism in Islamic world shapes up; what was India’s contribution in creation of Pakistan; which communities did / did not want a separate state; security risks of current occupants of both India & Pakistan; how Pakistan has progressed/regressed ...more
Aug 06, 2015 Jonathan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, south-asia
When the British partitioned their India, the Muslims purported to believe in what was known as the "Two-nation theory:" the idea that the Muslims of the subcontinent, because of the sharp differences between them and the majority Hindu communities, constituted a separate nation, which would be founded in the Muslim-majority regions of India. Hence today, we have Pakistan: a country which barely functions on the civil or political level, somewhat riven by ethnic and regional divides, but ...more
Mitul Choksi
Jul 02, 2015 Mitul Choksi rated it it was amazing
An interesting (and in my opinion - Spot On) analysis on the state and idea of Pakistan. A lucidly written, well organized discussion on Pakistan, its history, culture, politics and the various challenges it faces in context of Islam, its rivalry with India and its no love lost relationship with America.

For people interested in knowing Pakistan intimately, this book is for you.
Jun 02, 2008 Bubba rated it liked it
Shelves: south-asia
Pakistan has some serious problems. Jinnah regularly rolls over in his grave.
I wanted an overview of modern Pakistan that would help me understand the country, its relations with other countries, its demographics and social makeup, its politics and maybe something about its future. And this book did those things, but I must say the reading was a bit of a slog. This is the kind of book that I feel like I can only start to return to now that grad school is three or four years in my rearview mirror--prior to that point this would just have felt too much like school reading ...more
Aditya Mookerjee
A book that anybody who wants to read about Pakistan should have. It is written like a Brookings Institution report. One of the few books that I have read throughout. Dr. Cohen does give his opinion on what he feels is good or bad. I thought I didn't like people making my opinions for me, but I didn't mind a bit of that in this book.
I don't think Dr. Cohen finds a lot right with Pakistan. At best, he describes what he does, just so. This is an academic book for people into foreign affairs. Whe
Eugene Novikov
Aug 09, 2015 Eugene Novikov rated it liked it
Similar to Lieven's "A Hard Country," except several years older and more focused on institutions than social dynamics. Readable and smart, more analytical than informative (Cohen crams his historical recap into 5 pages in the introduction); the last couple of chapters are a bit useless since we're now past the time horizon for his predictions and policy prescriptions, though it's interesting to see what people were saying in 2005 about where the country was heading. (Cohen totally whiffs it on ...more
Oct 14, 2009 Nathan rated it it was ok
Cohen is a nuanced and levelheaded reporter and his judgments and hypotheses are marked by a sensible logicality derived from a close and careful reading of local history. Still, this is mostly a theoretical and conjectural work, at times tenuous. Much of his study seems obvious, immediately apparent to anyone who has visited the country or undertaken even the most cursory research. A book helpful for newcomers but not engaging enough to hold their interest, and useless for those familiar with ...more
Usman Chohan
Jun 24, 2014 Usman Chohan rated it it was amazing
Best quote of this fantastic book: "Punjabis can best be described as a cross between Texans and New Yorkers. They exude a brashness and zest for life (reflected through their rich stock of “Punjabi” jokes) and also include some of Pakistan’s best-educated and cultured elites, all of which can be irritating to others."
Feb 14, 2010 Greg rated it really liked it
A well written, researched, comprehensive insight into the evolution of Pakistan and its impact on modern day history from one of the most formative, authorities on the region. Heavy reading, needs to be read in a few sittings
Feb 16, 2012 Sean rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Stephen Cohen provides a deep and insightful analysis of the origins of the Pakistani state, how it has come to be where it is today, and what the future may hold. A must-read for anyone wishing to understand the dilemmas the U.S. now faces in South Asia.
Anum Yunus
Jun 30, 2014 Anum Yunus rated it really liked it
Politicians, both american and pakistani, should read this book to understand what pakistan needs. Clearly they don't know it yet. Great for understanding history of pakistan and its concerns. Cohen comes up with wise strategies. Only problem is the book is a little repetitive.
Jun 14, 2012 Saurabh rated it really liked it
A must read if you need a clear understanding of the influences and circumstances that have shaped the State of Pakistan. Highly recommended read!
Nov 27, 2013 Umer rated it liked it
i found it a handful book on the history of subcontinent. the good thing about it is that it unlike most of the stereotypical books of history gives an argumentative account of history.
Jul 01, 2012 Ashir added it
Though writer spent a lot of time for this book but I don,t think so Pakistan is going any where in future,he gave a good insight that what people thinking about that region.
Jawahar KR
Jawahar KR rated it really liked it
Sep 08, 2011
Aliya rated it did not like it
May 11, 2012
Jul 12, 2014 Constance rated it it was amazing
It's well written book and makes me understand the dilemma of Xinjiang in China.
Naveen rated it really liked it
Jul 12, 2016
Adeen Syed
Adeen Syed rated it it was amazing
Jan 13, 2015
Qamar rated it really liked it
Jul 28, 2015
sarah  corbett morgan
sarah corbett morgan rated it really liked it
Aug 17, 2010
Usman Hussain
Usman Hussain rated it it was amazing
Dec 09, 2014
Jason Flesch
Jason Flesch rated it liked it
Nov 29, 2014
Rohit rated it liked it
Sep 30, 2015
Joseph Bergen
Joseph Bergen rated it really liked it
Jan 30, 2016
Carlos rated it really liked it
Sep 05, 2013
Sidrah Roghay
Sidrah Roghay rated it really liked it
Sep 11, 2015
Fwahab5 rated it really liked it
Nov 01, 2015
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Stephen Philip Cohen is an American political scientist. He is a prominent expert on Pakistan, India, and South Asian security. He is a senior fellow in foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution and an emeritus professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has authored, co-authored or edited at least 12 books, has been named as one of America's 500 most influential ...more
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“One important difference between the two states is that Pakistan's domestic and external policies are more entwined than those of India, partly because of Pakistan's more perilous geostrategic position and partly because the dominant Pakistan army looks both inward and outward.” 0 likes
“-Failure of vision. Pakistan's founders expected the idea of Pakistan to shape the state of Pakistan; instead, a military bureaucracy governs the state and imposes its own vision of a Pakistani nation.” 0 likes
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