The Rural Roots of Pakistani Militarism

  • Clive Dewey
Part of the Cambridge Commonwealth Series book series (CAMCOM)


Political scientists have never provided particularly satisfactory explanations of the army’s domination of politics in Pakistan, because they have always regarded military rule as a distasteful exception to the much more attractive civilian norm. Their initial reaction to each coup — Ayub’s, Yahya’s, even Zia’s — was to hope that it was a temporary affair. The army only intervened in times of crisis, after the politicians failed to reconcile conflicting classes and regions; and it only intervened to pave the way for the reintroduction of civilian rule. Once order was restored, the soldiers ‘went back to barracks’. This device — stressing the ephemeral nature of military rule — fell foul of the generals’ longevity. Ayub and Zia clung to power for more than a decade, so their regimes had to be explained away. The 1962 constitution was one pretext. With its provisions for ‘guided democracy’ it turned Ayub into an ‘essentially civilian’ ruler. He wasn’t really a field marshal dependent on the backing of the army; he was the leader of a political party with a positive programme — a programme of modernisation. He co-opted all sorts of élites — bureaucratic, landowning, professional, business — and won a presidential election with their assistance. Zia was engaged in a similar ‘search for legitimation’ through ‘the articulation of powerful elements in Pakistan into the institutional structure’ when he fell out of the sky.


Political Scientist Moral Community Military Expenditure Officer Corps Military Rule 
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  1. 2.
    For the ‘official’ vindications of the first coup, see Iskander Mirza’s Proclamation, 7 October 1958, and Muhammad Ayub Khan’s ‘First Broadcast to the Nation’, 8 October 1958, reprinted in H. A. Rizvi, The Military and Politics in Pakistan, 2nd edn (Lahore, 1976) appendices B and C, pp. 308–17. Ayub’s autobiography, Friends Not Masters (London, 1967) repeats the mixture as before, pp. 58, 68, 77.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© D. A. Low 1991

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  • Clive Dewey

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