Academic Debate on Military Authoritarianism and War Economies: Reviewing Dr. Asim’s “Romanticizing Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan”

In “Romanticizing Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan: A Region through the lens of Resistive Economy”, Dr. Muhammad Asim highlights military authoritarianism in Pakistan as a biggest hurdle in pursuing national interests, argues that post-1979 Iran and post-US Afghanistan have acquired pragmatic leadership while, Pakistan is suffering from such a power nexus that has been internationally proved as puppet of the Western war economies. In fact, as a critic of military authoritarianism and war economies in the region, I trace this book with a specific perspective and interests.

The book begins by highlighting the detrimental consequences of military authoritarianism in Pakistan since its inception in 1947. Dr. Asim explores how the Pakistani military, often seen as a war economy, prioritizes Western interests over the genuine national interests of Pakistan, which has hampered domestic economic growth and regional connectivity. This analysis aligns with your opposition to military authoritarianism and your belief that Pakistan’s army acts as a puppet for Western war economies, particularly the United States.

The book also addresses the need for pragmatic and patriotic leadership in Pakistan that prioritizes national interests over personal gain. Dr. Asim emphasizes the importance of collaborating with neighboring countries, such as Afghanistan and Iran, to establish a jointly administered market at the tri-borderland between the three states. This market would promote regional stability, security and economic growth, benefiting all stakeholders.

From his perspective, the book raises important questions about Pakistan’s approach to regional cooperation. It highlights the contrasting examples of India and China, which have managed to maintain substantial trade partnerships despite border disputes. The book also emphasizes the need for Pakistan to overcome trust deficits, suppress political sentiments, and adopt a more self-reliant economic approach, similar to post-1979 Iran and post-US Afghanistan.

As someone who opposes military mindsets and the suppression of political sentiments, I appreciate the book’s call for recommending a Bhutto-styled Federal Security Force (FSF) or an Iranian-styled Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to counter military authoritarianism and ensure a more apolitical military elite. While I may have some reservations about certain aspects of the book, it aligns with my academic interests in highlighting the role of war economies, military authoritarianism, and the need for pragmatic leadership in the region. In fact, not only I but everyone in Pakistan do not want to repeat the East Pakistan crisis while the military establishment may have decided to follow the previous policy where PTI is being dealt with like Awami League, Imran Khan is being considered like Sheikh Mujib-ur-Rehman, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are being assumed as East Pakistan, and, media is being manipulated in 1971-style. In this scenario, this book provides views, comments and perceptions of international media persons and diplomatic personalities that what is being exhibited in Pakistan since April 2022, and how this fascism is moving the country towards economic and social destruction.

Here, I also appreciate Dr. Asim for highlighting comments and arguments of the former US ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, and former British ambassador to Pakistan, Craig Murray, to strengthen the academic debate about the “economic destruction of Pakistan since ousting the Imran Khan from premiership”, and “Diplomatic Divergence of Pakistan from Regional to Western States since the CIA-backed coup in Pakistan”.  Therefore, I suggest each and every research scholar of political science and international relations read this book and become stronger with arguments.


Junaid Ali: PhD Research Scholar at the School of international and Public Affairs, Jilin University (Changchun, China)

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