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The Warrior State: Pakistan in the contemporary world


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Editor's note: The question and answer session has been removed from this podcast.

Speaker(s): Professor T.V. Paul
Chair: Dr Adnan Khan

Recorded on 27 May 2014.

Seemingly from its birth, Pakistan has been struggling to build a proper democracy and a secure state. Today it ranks 133rd out of 148 countries in global competitiveness. Its economy is as dysfunctional as its political system is corrupt; both rely heavily on international aid for their existence. Taliban forces occupy many key areas of the country and engage in random violence. It possesses over a hundred nuclear weapons that could fall into terrorists’ hands. Why, in an era when countries across the developing world are experiencing impressive economic growth and building democratic institutions, has Pakistan been such a conspicuously weak state? In The Warrior State, noted international relations and South Asia scholar T.V. Paul untangles this fascinating riddle. Paul argues that the “geostrategic curse”—akin to the “resource curse” that plagues oil-rich autocracies—is at the root of Pakistan’s unique inability to progress. Since its founding in 1947, Pakistan has been at the centre of major geopolitical struggles: the US-Soviet rivalry, the conflict with India, and most recently the post 9/11 wars. No matter how ineffective the regime is, massive foreign aid keeps pouring in from major powers, their allies and global financial institutions with a stake in the region. The reliability of such aid defuses any pressure on political elites to launch the far-reaching domestic reforms necessary to promote sustained growth, higher standards of living, and more stable democratic institutions. Paul shows that excessive war-making efforts have drained Pakistan’s limited economic resources without making the country safer or more stable. Indeed, despite the regime’s emphasis on security, the country continues to be beset by widespread violence and terrorism. In this lecture Professor Paul offers a comprehensive treatment of Pakistan’s insecurity predicament drawing from the literatures in history, sociology, religious studies, and international relations. He will also compare Pakistan with other national security states, Turkey, Egypt, Indonesia, Taiwan and Korea and their different trajectories. His book of the same title is the first to apply the “war-making and state-making” literature to explain Pakistan’s weak state syndrome.

T.V. Paul is James McGill Professor of International Relations in the Department of Political Science at McGill University, Montreal, and a leading scholar of international security, regional security, and South Asia. He was director (founding) of the McGill/University of Montreal Centre for International Peace and Security Studies (CIPSS) during 2009-12. His 15 books include: The Warrior State: Pakistan in the Contemporary World (Oxford University Press, 2014); Status in World Politics (co-edited, Cambridge University Press, 2014); Globalization and the National Security State (co-authored, Oxford University Press, 2010); The Tradition of Non-use of Nuclear Weapons (Stanford University Press 2009); India in the World Order: Searching for Major Power Status (co-authored, Cambridge University Press 2002); The India-Pakistan Conflict: An Enduring Rivalry (Cambridge University Press, 2005); and South Asia’s Weak States: Understanding the Regional Insecurity Predicament (Stanford University Press 2010).

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