ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Ethnicity and Nationalism in Pakistan

The Politics of Ethnicity in Pakistan: The Baloch, Sindhi and Mohajir Ethnic Movements by Farhan Hanif Siddiqi (London: Routledge), 2012; pp 147, £ 80.

Farhan Siddiqi, an academic from Karachi University, has a strong theoretical background in ethnic studies. The book under review, which is based on his PhD thesis, provides the historical context of how the Baloch, Sindhi and Mohajir ethnic conflict in ­Pakistan took shape and examines the relationship between the Pakistani state and government, and ethnic groups and movements. Siddiqi argues that the­ Paki­stani state mainly serves the interests of the dominant Punjabi majority. He righ­tly draws the distinction between the state and government. According to him, while politicians manifest the government, the army and bureaucracy reflect the state and how both remain indispensable for emerging ethnic conflicts.

Siddiqi assumes that the study of natio­nalism is to conduct and evolve ­relevant ideologies, discourses and movements with the purpose of achieving statehood, or even provincial autonomy (p 9). He further argues that a coercive state denies ethnic demands made to it either through coercion or by ­evoking intra-ethnic conflict. Explaining kinds of natio­nalism, the core of the debate, the writer subscribes to the London School of Economics scholar Earnest Gellner’s non-territorial nationalism but skips over Anthony Smith’s definition, which emphasises the roots of a particular people in a particular terri­tory over time.

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