On the Quest for Pakistan

By Pallavi Raghavan

Debates about Pakistan’s creation have the distinct air of conducting an autopsy—the causes for its decline are also implicitly sought while locating the reasons behind its creation. In a sense, this is what Venkat Dhulipala recognises in Creating a New Medina: State Power, Islam, and the Quest for Pakistan in Late Colonial North India. Much of the literature on the partition is premised on the argument that subsequent weaknesses in Pakistan’s polity could somehow be predicted because of the ;diverging ideological arguments in support of the Pakistan movement.Arguing the reverse, Dhulipala suggests that the faults in Pakistan’s political structures are not that it was “insufficiently imagined,” or inadequately prepared for, but rather, the consequence of a vision which had, in fact, been imagined in great detail at the time of its creation. Dhulipala argues that the ambiguities confronting the nature of the Pakistan state or the clashes between its institutions were not shaped by the unanticipated consequences of the derailment of the Pakistan dream at all: this was precisely what the Muslim League was struggling for, since at least the 1920s.