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Panel Discussion on Pakistan - 22 April 2021

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Description of the Books

In Search of Lost Glory: Sindhi Nationalism in Pakistan by Asma Faiz

Sindhi nationalism is one of the oldest yet least studied cases of identity politics in Pakistan. Ethnic discontent appeared in Sindh in opposition to the rule of the Bombay presidency; to the onslaught of Punjabi settlers in the wake of canal irrigation; and, most decisively, to the arrival of millions of Muhajirs (Urdu-speaking migrants) after Partition. Under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto and Asif Zardari, the Pakistan Peoples Party has upheld the Sindhi nationalist cause, even while playing the game of federalist politics. On the other side for half a century have been hardcore Sindhi nationalist groups, led by Marxists, provincial autonomists, landlord pirs and liberal intelligentsia in pursuit of ethnic outbidding.

This book narrates the story of the Bhutto dynasty, the Muhajir factor, nationalist ideologues, factional feuds amongst landed elites, and the role of violence as a maker and shaper of Sindhi nationalism. Moreover, it examines the role of the PPP as an ethnic entrepreneur through an analysis of its politics within the electoral arena and beyond. Bringing together extensive fieldwork and comparative studies of ethno-nationalism, both within and outside Pakistan, Asma Faiz uncovers the fascinating world of Sindhi nationalism.

Pakistan: A Kaleidoscope of Islam by Mariam Abou Zahab.

This collection of essays brings together two sets of articles and book chapters by Mariam Abou Zahab, the extraordinary late scholar of Islam in South Asia. The first part of the volume examines Shia–Sunni relations in Pakistan, while the second concerns violent Islamism in the country, covering both the Talibanisation of the Pashtun belt and the jihadi dimension of South Asian Salafism.

Throughout these texts, Abou Zahab explores the many reasons why Pakistan has been the crucible of political Islam. She offers a historical view of this development, factoring in the impact of colonialism and conflict, including the Soviet–Afghan War and the post-9/11 Western military operations in Afghanistan. While making clear the major importance of these external influences, from Saudi Arabia and Iran to the US, she also places Pakistan’s political Islam in the context of local cultures, mobilising her anthropological erudition without ever indulging in culturalism. Finally, she emphasises the sociological determinants of sectarianism, Talibanism and jihadism, as well as the political economy of these ideologies.

Abou Zahab’s knowledge is exhaustive, but in these papers she offers an elegant synthesis in which each word matters. This volume is indispensable for understanding the present dynamics of Pakistan.


Christophe Jaffrelot - King’s College London & Sciences Po
Christophe Jaffrelot is Avantha Chair and Professor of Indian Politics and Sociology at the King's India Institute and also the Research Lead for the Global Institutes, King’s College London. He teaches South Asian politics and history at Sciences Po, Paris and is an Overseas Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He was Director of Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches Internationales (CERI) at Sciences Po, between 2000 and 2008. He is also a Non Resident Scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington D.C. and is a regular commentator on Indian and Pakistani politics in France, UK, north America and in India where he writes a fortnightly column in The Indian Express.


Olivier Roy

Oliver Roy is currently chair at the RSCAS. Previously he has been senior researcher at the French CNRS and Professor at the EHESS (Paris). He headed the OSCE’s Mission for Tajikistan (1993-94) and was a Consultant for the UN Office of the Coordinator for Afghanistan (1988). He has been heading the ERC funded project "ReligioWest" since 2011. His field works include Political Islam, Middle East, Islam in the West and comparative religions.

Farzana Shaikh

Farzana Shaikh is an Associate Fellow, Asia-Pacific Programme at the Chatham House. She provides regular analysis on current political and economic conditions in Pakistan. She is presently involved in helping to frame a research project on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor for the Asia-Pacific Programme. She has held a number of academic teaching positions in the UK, Europe and the United States, and been appointed to senior research fellowships at the University of Cambridge and the Institutes of Advanced Study in Princeton and Paris.

Asma Faiz

Asma Faiz is Assistant Professor of Political Science in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at Lahore University of Management Sciences. Asma Faiz's research interests include a broad range of themes. Her first book, India-Pakistan Dialogue: Bringing the Society In, was published by Regional Center for Strategic Studies, Colombo, Sri Lanka. Her latest book, In Search of Lost Glory: Sindhi Nationalism in Pakistan (Hurst Publishers, 2021) explores the history, sociology and politics of Sindhi nationalism in Pakistan. Faiz's academic work has explored the rising trajectory of ethnic nationalism in south Punjab. Her research has also explored the phenomenon of right-wing populism in Pakistan, from its rise to its broader impact on the political system.


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Get 35% off both books, from Hurst Publishers.

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Christophe Jaffrelot

Christophe Jaffrelot

Professor of Indian Politics and Sociology

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