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The Warrior State: Pakistan in the Contemporary World

The Warrior State

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 as well as its political system both remain static; and 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 remained such a 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 center 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 international 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.

In an age of transnational terrorism and nuclear proliferation, understanding Pakistan’s development, particularly the negative effects of foreign aid and geopolitical centrality, is more important than ever. Painstakingly researched and brilliantly argued, The Warrior State tackles what may be the world’s most dangerous powder keg and uncovers the true causes of Pakistan’s enormously consequential failure.

Hardcover, 272 Pages; ISBN: 9780199322237 New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.

South Asia Edition (except Pakistan), New Delhi: Random House India, 2014

Pakistan Edition, Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2014

South Asia edition cover


The Warrior State is compelling, thought-provoking, and extremely well written, without the wordiness and redundancy that seem to plague academic works.”
New York Journal of Books, Feb 2014

“Paul lucidly and comprehensively explains the historical circumstances that led to a dearth of strong political leaders or political parties [in Pakistan] with a democratic sense or commitment…. This sobering study will appeal to anyone interested in the region.”
Publishers Weekly, November 25, 2013.

“Grim yet thoughtful…. An insightful and harsh portrait of a dysfunctional nation.” — Kirkus Review, December 1, 2013.

“Pakistan and its army sometimes seem to be the same entity. They are not, and no book other than The Warrior State better places Pakistan’s army and the state in their international and comparative settings. It will be essential to scholars of the Subcontinent and of international and comparative politics, as well as all those interested in knowing why this country became the way it did.”
Stephen P. Cohen, Brookings Institution and author of Shooting for a Century: The India-Pakistan Conundrum

“Paul’s success… rests in locating the study of Pakistan in the broader context of political development in the post-colonial world. […] Paul’s use of political theory to explain the evolution of Pakistan makes The Warrior State a very distinctive contribution to the literature on the contemporary subcontinent.”

C. Raja Mohan, Distinguished Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation and contributing editor, The Indian Express

The Warrior State cp

“In The Warrior State, T.V. Paul clarifies why nuclear-armed Pakistan continues to neglect all other aspects of development to maintain military parity with India. Even those who disagree with some of his conclusions will find useful his explanation of Pakistan’s insecurities and the policies they have inspired. This book is a valuable addition to the literature on Pakistan’s dysfunction and that dysfunction’s nexus with militarism and Jihadi militancy.”

Husain Haqqani, former ambassador of Pakistan to the United States and Professor of International Relations, Boston University and author of Pakistan Between Mosque and Military

The Warrior State is a provocative and insightful review of Pakistan’s tortured politics filled with interesting comparisons to other Muslim and emerging states.”
Bruce Riedel, Director of the Brookings Institution’s Intelligence Project
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