The ‘Truth About Pakistan’: Knowledge Production and Circulation in Think Tanks

  • Ahmed W. WaheedEmail author


This chapter explores the knowledge production processes in International Relations, within think tanks. The chapter initially focuses on the increased visibility of think tanks in policy-making processes. Think tanks, because of the nature of their organization have firmly established themselves as arbitrors of knowledge. The vicious cycle of knowledge production and reproduction enables a constant circulation of ‘truth’ on representational identities. The chapter demonstrates that think-tank-based journals are among International Relations journals which have produced the most work on Pakistan. Through them, the discursive construction and reproduction of Pakistan’s representational identity, not only continues to demonstrate similar patterns as those in academic journals but also because of their wider reach, the ‘truths’ presented as common sense are transmitted beyond universities and policy-makers to the general global audience. In that sense these journals play a vital role in naturalizing representational identities. Consequently, these journals become important cogs in the knowledge production machinery through which ‘Pakistan’ is marketed not only to local audiences, which include policy-makers, academics and policy experts but to the general International Affairs reader across the globe.


  1. Abelson, Donald E. “Do Think Tanks Matter? Opportunities, Constraints and Incentives for Think Tanks in Canada and the United States.” Global Society 14, no. 2 (2000): 213–36. Scholar
  2. ———. A Capitol Idea: Think Tanks and US Foreign Policy. Kingston and Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2006.Google Scholar
  3. ———. “Old World, New World: The Evolution and Influence of Foreign Affairs Think Tanks.” International Affairs 90, no. 1 (2014): 125–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ahmad, Mahmood. “US Think Tanks and the Politics of Expertise: Role, Value and Impact.” Political Quarterly 79, no. 4 (2008): 529–55. Scholar
  5. Almiron, Núria, and Universitat Pompeu Fabra. “Favoring the Elites: Think Tanks and Discourse Coalitions.” International Journal of Communication 11, no. July 2016 (2017): 4350–69.Google Scholar
  6. Cohen, C., and D. Chollet. “When $10 Billion Is Not Enough: Rethinking US Strategy Toward Pakistan.” The Washington Quarterly 30, no. 2 (2007): 7–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Denham, Andrew, and Mark Garnett. British Think-Tanks and the Climate of Opinion. London: UCL Press, 1998.Google Scholar
  8. Edwin J. Feulner. “Ideas, Think-Tanks and Governments.” Quadrant 29, no. 11 (1985): 22–26.;dn=353401175088031;res=IELLCC;subject=Sciences.
  9. Eyal, Gil. “Dangerous Liaisons Between Military Intelligence and Middle Eastern Studies in Israel.” Theory and Society 31, no. 5 (2002): 653–93.
  10. Eyal, Gil, and Pok Grace. “What Is Security Expertise?” In Security Expertise: Practice, Power, Responsibility, edited by Trine Villumsen Berling and Christian Bueger, 37–59. London: Routledge, 2015.Google Scholar
  11. Fair, C. Christine. “Lashkar-e-Tayiba and the Pakistani State.” Survival 53, no. 4 (September 2011): 29–52. Scholar
  12. ———. “Time for Sober Realism: Renegotiating U.S Relations with Pakistan.” The Washington Quarterly 32, no. 2 (2009): 149–72. Scholar
  13. Gibbons, Michael, Helga Nowotny, Simon Schwartzman, Peter Scott, and Martin A. Trow. The New Production of Knowledge: The Dynamics of Science and Research in Contemporary Societies. Thousand Oaks: Sage, 1994.Google Scholar
  14. Grundmann, Reiner. “The Problem of Expertise in Knowledge Societies.” Minerva 55, no. 1 (March 27, 2017): 25–48. Scholar
  15. Higgott, Richard, and Diane Stone. “The Limits of Influence: Foreign Policy Think Tanks in Britain and the USA.” Review of International Studies 20, no. 1 (1994): 15–34. Scholar
  16. Jackson, Richard. “Constructing Enemies: ‘Islamic Terrorism’ in Political and Academic Discourse.” Government and Opposition 42, no. 3 (March 28, 2007): 394–426. Scholar
  17. James, Simon. “Diane Stone, Capturing the Political Imagination: Think Tanks and the Political Process.” Public Administration 76, no. 2 (January 1, 1998): 408–10. Scholar
  18. Jones, Seth G. “Pakistan’ s Dangerous Game” 49, no. 1 (2007): 15–32. Scholar
  19. Kazilbash, Hamid H. “Anti-Americanism in Pakistan.” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 497 (1988): 58–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Krepon, Michael. “The Limits of Influence.” The Nonproliferation Review 18, no. 1 (March 19, 2011): 85–101. Scholar
  21. Mcgann, James G. “Think Tanks and the Transnationalization of Foreign Policy.” The Quarterly Journal 2, no. 1 (2003): 85–90.Google Scholar
  22. ———. 2017 Global Go to Think Tank Index Report. Philadelphia: The Lauder Institute University of Pennsylvania, 2018.Google Scholar
  23. McGann, James G. and Robert Kent Weaver, eds. Think Tanks and Civil Societies: Catalysts for Ideas and Action. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 2002.Google Scholar
  24. Medvetz, Thomas Matthew. “Hybrid Intellectuals: Toward a Social Praxeology of U.S. Think Tank Experts,” 2006.Google Scholar
  25. ———. Think Tanks as an Emergent Field. New York: Social Sciences Research Council, 2008.Google Scholar
  26. Monange, Benoit F. “Social Science Expertise and Policymaking: Comparing U.S., French, and EU Think Tanks: Similar Model Different Paths.” PS: Political Science and Politics 41, no. 4 (2008): 909. Scholar
  27. Naghmi, Shafqat Hussain. “Pakistan’s Public Attitude Toward the United States.” The Journal of Conflict Resolution 26, no. 3 (1982): 507–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Nowotny, Helga, Peter Scott, and Micheal Gibbons. “Introduction to Special Issue: Reflections on the New Production of Knowledge: ‘Mode 2’ Revisited: The New Production of Knowledge.” Minerva 41, no. 3 (2018): 179–94.Google Scholar
  29. Osborne, Thomas. “On Mediators: Intellectuals and the Ideas Trade in the Knowledge Society.” Economy and Society 33, no. 4 (November 2004): 430–47. Scholar
  30. Parmar, Inderjeet. Think Tanks and Power in Foreign Policy: A Comparative Study of the Role and Influence of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1939–1945. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.Google Scholar
  31. Pautz, Hartwig. “Revisiting the Think-Tank Phenomenon.” Public Policy and Administration 26, no. 4 (October 5, 2011): 419–35. Scholar
  32. Rahbek-Clemmensen, Jon, and Olivier Schmitt. “The Impact of Institutions on Foreign Policy Think Tanks in France and Denmark.” The International Spectator 52, no. 1 (2017): 100–15. Scholar
  33. Rich, Andrew. Think-Tanks, Public Policy, and the Politics of Expertise. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.
  34. Schmidt, John R. “The Unravelling of Pakistan.” Survival 51, no. 3 (July 2009): 29–54. Scholar
  35. Siddiqa, Ayesha. “Pakistan’s Counterterrorism Strategy: Separating Friends from Enemies.” The Washington Quarterly 34, no. 1 (2010): 149–62. Scholar
  36. Stampnitzky, Lisa. Disciplining Terror: How Experts Invented ‘Terrorism’. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013.
  37. Stone, Diane. “Old Guard Versus New Partisans: Think Tanks in Transition.” Australian Journal of Political Science 26, no. 2 (1991): 197–215. Scholar
  38. ———. “Garbage Cans, Recycling Bins or Think Tanks? Three Myths about Policy Institutes.” Public Administration 85, no. 2 (2007): 259–78. Scholar
  39. Tchilingirian, Jordan Soukias. “Producing Knowledge, Producing Credibility: British Think-Tank Researchers and the Construction of Policy Reports.” International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society 31, no. 2 (June 3, 2018): 161–78. Scholar
  40. Tellis, Ashley J. “Pakistan’s Record on Terrorism: Conflicted Goals, Compromised Performance.” The Washington Quarterly 31, no. 2 (April 2008): 7–32. Scholar
  41. Waheed, Ahmed. “State Sovereignty and International Relations in Pakistan: Analysing the Realism Stranglehold.” South Asia Research 37, no. 3 (2017): 277–95. Scholar
  42. Waseem, Mohammad. “Perceptions About America in Pakistan.” Aziya Kenkyu 50, no. 2 (2004): 34–44.Google Scholar
  43. ———. “Anti-Americanism in Pakistan.” In With Us or Against Us, edited by Tony Judt and Denis Lacorne, 173–88. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. Scholar
  44. Weaver, Kent. “The Changing World of Think Tanks.” PS: Political Science and Politics 22, no. 3 (1989): 563–79.Google Scholar
  45. Weidenbaum, Murray. “Measuring the Influence of Think Tanks.” Society 47, no. 2 (2010): 134–37. Scholar
  46. Wiarda, Howard. “The New Powerhouses: Think Tanks and Foreign Policy.” American Foreign Policy Interests 30, no. 2 (2008): 96–117. Scholar
  47. Williams, Brian Glyn. “The CIA’s Covert Predator Drone War in Pakistan, 2004–2010: The History of an Assassination Campaign.” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 33, no. 10 (September 20, 2010): 871–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Yusuf, Huma. “Conspiracy Fever: The US, Pakistan and Its Media.” Survival 53, no. 4 (September 2011): 95–118. Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for International Peace & StabilityNational University of Sciences and TechnologyIslamabadPakistan

Personalised recommendations