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Progress isn’t pretty

May 8, 2009

DEMOCRACY NOW: […] You wrote recently that there’s a rich vein of Pakistan-on-the-brink theorization that has dominated US foreign policy since the 1950s. And you mention that decades ago it was a fear of communist takeover; now it’s fear of Islamic fundamentalists taking over. […]

MANAN AHMED: […] If you think back to 1947, when Pakistan was founded, it sort of melded within the academic and administrative circles in Washington and with, you know, the real rise of modernization theory. This was when nations were going to become templates, where a Western idea of modernity was going to be implemented—infrastructure, big dams. We saw this across the world in many, many, many different sites.

Pakistan had its brief moment of sunshine earlier in that transition period, in ’57, ’58, when the Harvard Advisory Group was at the forefront of sort of developing Pakistan. But very soon thereafter, in the early ’60s, Pakistan failed to meet the developmental matrix, you know, how they were to chart the progress. And since then, the notion that Pakistan is a failed state or a failing state or a collapsing state or on the brink, at a crossroads, has been a very, very sustained and deeply held sort of myth within both academic and governmental states.

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