‘An Islamic revolution will break up Pakistan’

Published: February 7, 2012
Audience members approach Anatol Lievin to get a signed copy of his book, Pakistan: A Hard Country. PHOTO: ABID NAWAZ/EXPRESS

Audience members approach Anatol Lievin to get a signed copy of his book, Pakistan: A Hard Country. PHOTO: ABID NAWAZ/EXPRESS


“Drama sells beautifully,” said Anatol Lieven, “You see a headline, ‘Pakistan on the edge of destruction’ it does wonders for selling the news. Lieven, a British journalist, was speaking with The Express Tribune at a talk organised by the Oxford University Press regarding his latest book, Pakistan: A Hard Country. Lieven admitted that the ‘West’ is not that well informed about Pakistan and those journalists who were relied on for information also liked their drama.

“No matter how angry the Pakistani government is with the US,” he said, “it is imperative for both to continue real and public cooperation.” Lieven does believe that the government had no clue about Osama Bin Laden’s presence in the country but said he was not sure about the military or intelligence. Conspiracy theories, he said, were rife in Pakistan and could be infuriating. “No one knows who killed General Ziaul Haq. But we all do know that he was killed.”

Calling the US’s decision to send troops during the May 2 raid in Abbottabad last year a ‘bad idea’, Lieven said there was some awareness in the UK and in ‘sensible’ quarters of the Washington establishment about the intrusive nature of that raid. However, he said after the Bin Laden discovery, it was difficult to maintain much of a stance against raids.

Lieven is more concerned about how the US would respond in case a terrorist act carried out in the US is traced back to Pakistan. “The reaction by the US government would be disastrous.” With the mood in the US Congress and on the street turning highly sceptical over the years, Lieven said post 9/11 even the most moderate quarters had lost their reasonableness. “The US congress is not a very sophisticated force. They are very easily provoked,” he said.

Explaining title of his book, Lieven said Pakistan was a resilient country that had over the years faced hard challenges. Lieven believes that though Pakistan was facing its toughest crisis yet, it had always survived. He said the country had bounced back from the ‘increasingly dangerous’ situation in Swat as well as from the aftermath of the recent floods.

Lieven also warned against blaming the West alone. “We cannot deny that there are certain elements in Pakistan that hold a sympathetic view of the Afghan Taliban,” he said, “and resist US policies.”

The author, who has worked for The Financial Times and is currently a professor of international relations and war studies at King’s College in London, has written six books. Lieven said an Islamic revolution in Pakistan could disintegration of the country. “People talk of the Arab Spring in Pakistan,” he said, “Though with its democratic character – no matter how flawed- Pakistan is very different from the Middle East.”

“I have received criticism for being too soft on the military,” he said during the talk later, “but it is unfair to say that the military or the government are doing absolutely nothing,” he said.

Lieven said that in his opinion the military was the only institution in Pakistan that ‘works’, but that did not imply that the military could take over the state. “I hope one thing is clear from my book,” Lieven said, “as far as civil rights, education and boosting the economy is concerned, I am with the liberals – how one gets there is another thing.”

Published in The Express Tribune, February 7th, 2012.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (11)

  • Bahrain Revelotion...
    Feb 7, 2012 - 8:44AM

    so he will tell us that …Islamic revolution will breakup Pakistan…CIA agent..Islamic Revolution will make Pakistan,,,,


  • nazar
    Feb 7, 2012 - 9:23AM

    how mullahs can disintegrate Pakistan, i fail to understand, they eat in the plush restaurants, live in posh areas and roam about on Cruisers…come on, they are luxury loveing mullahs, the sort which cannot bring revolution…


  • Still Listening
    Feb 7, 2012 - 9:37AM

    Must be a good reading. I appreciate such efforts.


  • Zalim singh
    Feb 7, 2012 - 10:36AM

    will break up even otherwise.


  • qasim
    Feb 7, 2012 - 11:05AM

    that’s what they want, make pakistan a secular country, i will say ‘in their dreams’.

    one day we will have an islamic state of pakistan inshallah and it will finally be the fort of islami as visioned by Quaid-i-Azam and Ilama Iqbal inshallah.


  • faraz
    Feb 7, 2012 - 12:40PM

    There can be no revolution in a country with so many sects, ethnicities, languages, and cultural diversity and multiple power centers. For example, even the most fanatic religious extremists cannot take on MQM :p


  • Mehmood
    Feb 7, 2012 - 1:06PM

    No newspaper gave such headline as did by the Tribune. The author may have his own perception about Islam, but it is against journalistic ethics to give such an angle to a story which is totally irrelevant. Apart from that, it is noted that foreign authors most of the time have negative view about the Islamic way of government. This is not because they all have bad intention about Islam or are conspiring against Islam or are ‘yahoodis’. In fact, most of their works are well researched. But almost all of them view Islam according to their own perception. We need to see Islam according to Qur’an and Sunnah.Recommend

  • narayana murthy
    Feb 7, 2012 - 2:03PM

    It’s true.

    I have mentioned this several times in the comments section during the Arab uprising.

    Any revolution, any revolution, in Pakistan will break it away. Simply because there’s no uniformity in language, ethnicity, religion, race in Pakistan.

    And unlike India, Pakistan is not even united on the lines of nationality.Recommend

  • G. Din
    Feb 7, 2012 - 5:43PM

    “But almost all of them view Islam according to their own perception.”
    Isn’t everything in the universe viewed by everybody according to his/her perception? So, what do you fault them for?
    Perceptions are formed on the basis of associations. Pakistan has associated itself with everything abhorrent. It is no wonder that Pakistan is perceived the way it is.


  • Mehmood
    Feb 7, 2012 - 7:11PM

    @G. Din:
    “Isn’t everything in the universe viewed by everybody according to his/her perception?”
    Obviously not. If this is the case then what is objectivity? Then why do you blame mullahs for being radical, rigid or fundamentalist in their approaches? I agree it is very difficult to see things objectively, but you should at least try instead of lulling yourself with excuses that everybody is subjective.


  • Sujal
    Mar 16, 2012 - 4:47AM

    I think the author is dreaming, pakistan is a complex issue and the rebels will be crushed in a single night. But true one revolution and the chain of damage starts the neighbours wont stop to see this opportunity to decapitate Pakistan.


More in Punjab