SOAS University of London

Centre for the Study of Pakistan

Continuum of Counter-Revolutions: Rethinking the Origins of Pakistan and Beyond

Professor Imran Ali

Date: 20 March 2014Time: 5:15 PM

Finishes: 20 March 2014Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: G51

Type of Event: Lecture


The processes leading to the creation of Pakistan continue to be dominated by the narratives of political history. These originate from the apparent unease of Muslim elites in the Gangetic plain over competition and mobility by emergent Hindu professional groups, leading to the rise of separatism among Indian Muslims, and eventually to Pakistan. This discourse sits uncomfortably with an adequate explanation for how and why the seemingly continued indifference of Muslims in the Muslim majority provinces was finally converted to a resolute decision in favour of a ‘homeland’ for Muslims. This matter is indeed negotiated as the apogee of the process of communal separatism. Little analysis is attempted to try and understand the nature of the ‘great divide’ in terms of deeper historical forces in the very areas that became Pakistan.

This paper, focusing on the area that now constitutes Pakistan, explores the trajectory of economic change and its socio-political repercussions in the colonial period. This region now constitutes the largest contiguous canal irrigated zone in the world, yet the political economy ramifications and social impacts of these developments are hardly comprehended by analysts. The paper will argue that an entirely revised interpretation of the creation of Pakistan emerges from the contradictions and reactions that growth generated in this region, and that indeed these constituted a continuum of tensions embedded through the colonial and even late Mughal periods. In turn, the stimuli and the responses that resulted in Pakistan fundamentally explicate the direction and configurations of political economy in the decades after 1947. The paper raises the question whether a series of counter-revolutions have halted, and at times reversed, the progress of market forces, thereby adversely affecting the development of modernizing institutions and further embedding incumbent and pre-modern formations.

Speaker's Biography

Professor Imran Ali has an Honours degree from the University of Sussex, and a PhD from the Australian National University. He has taught Economic History at the Universities of New South Wales and Melbourne in Australia, and has been Professor of Economic History and Business Policy and Jamil Nishtar Professor of Agribusiness at the Lahore University of Management Sciences, Pakistan. He is currently Professor of Business Policy at the new Karachi School for Business and Leadership, Pakistan. His research interests span history, political economy, agricultural development and business strategy.

Organiser: SOAS South Asia Insitute

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