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59 of 63 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Project Report on Pakistan
Cohen has the necessary qualifications and the background for this important work. His subject is critically important for the region, as also for several parts of the world. He treats the subject with neutrality and scholarly erudition, which is sometimes missing from Western works in these turbulent days.

His central theme is contained in the title of the...
Published on August 20, 2005 by Sanjay Agarwal

versus
3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed... Regret on my impulsive desicion.
The literature review provided by the book is although quite exhaustive whilst at several places reader may find Mr. Stephen biased in his pessimistic illusions about the existence of Pakistan. I personally feel he did not want to hurt sales of his book India: Emerging Power. Hence the feelings of his potential Indian readers were considered more important than ground...
Published on May 30, 2011 by sikander


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59 of 63 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Project Report on Pakistan, August 20, 2005
This review is from: The Idea of Pakistan (Hardcover)
Cohen has the necessary qualifications and the background for this important work. His subject is critically important for the region, as also for several parts of the world. He treats the subject with neutrality and scholarly erudition, which is sometimes missing from Western works in these turbulent days.

His central theme is contained in the title of the book: The Idea of Pakistan. He describes how the idea originated, how it developed and crystallised, and the challenges that Pakistan faces today. He ends the book with a presentation on the various possible scenarios / paths that Pakistan could take.

His approach is analytical and comprehensive. The book is well-referenced and is easy to read. His writing style is neither pedantic nor casual. By the time you end the book, you will probably know a lot about Pakistan, all delivered through a systematic framework.

However, it is also difficult to retain for long what you have read in this book. This may be due to the fact that the book reads like a project report commssioned by a Corporation or a Government. Cohen does not offer you any insights, as this would perhaps be considered a professorial misdemeanor for a work such as this! Another significant issue is that he treats Pakistan as a totally modern state, and analyses it from that perspective. As a result, he ignores the cultural, economic and political legacy of Islam and Moghuls which Pakistan inherited. This gives his book a very contemporary, current-affairish feel.

In my view, his analysis of Pakistan also suffers due to this omission. The past continues to affect the present and the future. Therefore, any cultue or nation that has such an ancient past can not be undertood effectively, unless that past is also considered.

Overall, a good book.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth much more than every penny spent, December 28, 2004
By 
This review is from: The Idea of Pakistan (Hardcover)
"The Idea of Pakistan" is a brilliant work of an accomplished analyst who is intimately knowledgeable of Pakistani culture, society and politics. The book is essentially a detailed thesis in strategic country analysis, written by a highly interested and talented scholar. It well covers the `driving factors' behind Pakistan's past, present and future.

Mr. Cohen's analysis of Pakistan Army, politicians, Islamists and nationalists is extremely convincing. At times he does go overboard with his fear of Islam in Pakistan and chance of country's nuclear weapons ending up in the wrong hands. Readers should discount these thoughts without becoming skeptical of the entire work; after all, Mr. Cohen is an American!

What impressed me the most, however, was his way of highlighting the `youth explosion' of the untrained and unemployed, that is to overtake Pakistan by 2015 the latest. I yet have to see a single Pakistani analyst put his/her finger on this decisive factor. Or perhaps I simply do not read enough.

I am afraid this brilliant work will encounter more criticism than accolades, especially from within Pakistan. As Mr. Cohen points out, Pakistani education system coupled with the state sponsored propaganda makes recipients suspicious of all foreigners (especially those with Jewish last names). Nevertheless, a relatively unbiased reader should see the shining merits of this work.

For this single effort, Pakistani `Establishment' should award Mr. Cohen with the highest civil honor available to foreigners. Unfortunately, the act will require the same `vision' that Mr. Cohen correctly finds missing among this group. Regardless, he has my best wishes and many thanks. May Allah reward him!
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent independent analysis of Pakistan, April 11, 2005
By 
This review is from: The Idea of Pakistan (Hardcover)
An excellent account of history, politics, and personalities todo with Pakistan, this book provides indepth analysis of the state of Pakistan as we have it now.

Being a Pakistani professional working overseas and a byproduct of the same society which Mr Cohen concentrates in this book, I read this book thoroughly, keenly and critically. Relating every thing with my life experience in the environment where I grew up, I can sense the depth of knowledge of the author who tells us about the political history of Pakistan.

Somewhat I disagree with the author about the exagerated threat of Islamic fundamentalism in the initial few chapters however in his last few chapters he admits this and put forward some sensible policy guidelines and suggestions for the US foreign policy. Considering the recent developments I can already see the US policy makers taking a serious note of the findings, and taking a few steps towards the right direction e.g. offering F-16 to both India and Pakistan, facilitating Kashmir dialoue, providing aid to restructure Pakistani educational system, and expressing desire to see Pakistan a democratic country.

The problems which are described in this book have been pointed out and discussed in Pakistani press before, however in the absence of real democracy and people power they can't make a difference.

This is a must read book if you are a Pakistani or Indian and love to see your countries as progressive and modern countries.

My congratulations to Mr Cohen on this excellent effort.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A scholarly and insightful work, September 17, 2005
This review is from: The Idea of Pakistan (Hardcover)
Cohen forensically describes the Oligarchy that has run Pakistan for its own interests: the Army, the Feudals and the Bureaucracy. This book explains why Pakistan has failed to live up to the lofty ideals of its founders and how it can achive them in the future.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A GOOD BOOK, February 8, 2005
By 
This review is from: The Idea of Pakistan (Hardcover)
The Idea of Pakistan is a book about the political history of Pakistan with lots of references on such important elements of the society as education and social institutions.

Stephen Cohen is a known scholar on Pakistan affairs and has done justice to his findings.

This book is relevant for the students of Pakistan affairs and those who would like to have a better understanding of the society, as such.

Prof. Dr. Syed Farooq Hasnat

Former Chairman

Department of Political Science

University of the Punjab, Lahore

Pakistan
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Valuable analysis and predictions, February 17, 2006
By 
This review is from: The Idea of Pakistan (Hardcover)
Its written by a seasoned and established scholar on Pakistan. The book, more analytical in its approach in comparison to other recent works on Pakistan, is a policy oriented discourse which is very valuable. Its much better than Steve cohen's other book on India published a few years ago.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars trying to understand Pakistan, January 9, 2009
This review is from: The Idea of Pakistan (Paperback)
Although I lived a long time in Pakistan more than 30 years ago, un update of my knowledgde about this country was absolutely necessary and reading Stephen Cohen's book was an excellent way to do so.
My Pakistani friends may not fully agree with all what Cohen is writing but they cannot deny that he has done a serious effort to be impartial which is really not simple for this country.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Idea of Pakistan, January 28, 2008
By 
David B. Shine (Richmond, VA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Idea of Pakistan (Paperback)
The book is well laid out. First focusing on Pakistan's history and than into its political insitutions. It is well written trying to explain what Pakistan is considering it is an aftifical country. By that I mean it is a country based on an idea but that idea is not well fleshed out. A religon competing with ethnic tensions plus the history of being part of the British Empire. Mr. cohen also lays out how the United States ought to address our relationship with Pakistan which is quite insightful.I would highly recommend this book.
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9 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lead, kindly light......, March 5, 2005
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This review is from: The Idea of Pakistan (Hardcover)
Pakistan can be a benign Canada or a hostile Cuba (with a bomb) for India. It is essential for Indians to understand Pakistan, its identity, ambitions, frustrations and pain points. Stephen Cohen provides a dispassionate, yet involved, understanding of Pakistan's evolution as a nation, as a State and what future could have for Pakistan and therefore India.

A politically ambitious and strong army, a well entrenched "establishment" of feudal rich, corrupt and weak politics, increasing role of religion in public life, an identity that focusses against India, a growing population not matched by education and economic opportunities point to multiple paths that Pakistan could take in future.

Yet Mahbub ul Haq in 1985, Moeen Qureshi in 1993 and Shaukat Aziz in 2003 have demonstrated what good economic leadership can do to Pakistan.

The last chapter setting out options for US in dealing with Pakistan is a must read for Indians too. That way, the best fights between India and Pakistan would be in the well attended cricket matches than in the Himalayan valley.

Having seen, as an Indian, how the audience in India admire and appreciate Pakistan's cricketers (and vice versa hopefully), I specifically endorse the author's view that mere enhancement in interaction between the two populations would reduce the damage politics of both the countries can do to each other.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed... Regret on my impulsive desicion., May 30, 2011
By 
sikander (United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Idea of Pakistan (Paperback)
The literature review provided by the book is although quite exhaustive whilst at several places reader may find Mr. Stephen biased in his pessimistic illusions about the existence of Pakistan. I personally feel he did not want to hurt sales of his book India: Emerging Power. Hence the feelings of his potential Indian readers were considered more important than ground realities.

Perspectives on different sorts of ideas of Pakistan in different constituents of society is a marvelous approach. But then what's the point to have numerous references and incomplete information. It's worth mentioning that in Afghan war Pakistani human and other resources were used to make the Vietnam of Russia. Similarly Jinnah never wanted Pakistan until 1940. He was compelled to do so due to Nehru and Sardar Patel's political motives. And then what happened when Pakistan tried to resolve the Kashmir issue through the participation of international community?

Pakistan is based on an Ideology and only 64 years old whereas the benchmark which this book has tried to set is of countries which have had more than 100 years of constitutional history. These same countries unlike Pakistan have never had a female Prime Minster or even stereotyped casting of votes based on colour or race until recent years.

This book is not a recommendation for those who have less knowledge on the subject.
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The Idea of Pakistan
The Idea of Pakistan by Stephen Philip Cohen (Paperback - August 1, 2006)
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