A Nation Unveiled: Pakistan at Seventy-Five takes a kaleidoscopic, ringside look at the evolution of Pakistani politics and society over the last quarter century. Though the focus is on political developments involving politicians, generals and Islamic zealots, there is no aspect of life that escapes the author’s scrutiny. This book is a collection of contemporaneous commentaries, some of which were written in a lighter vein, some in exasperation, but all were intended as serious critique and food for thought. An introduction provides a historical overview of the country’s founding and evolution since 1947. Azmi takes a poignant look at the human and social costs of Partition and its enduring consequences, which have poisoned Pakistan-India relations and marginalised religious minorities in three South Asian countries.
What others say about the book
Razi Azmi plies the steel with the precision and compassion of a surgeon, even as he holds strong opinions on Pakistan’s birth and how the country has been governed since it came into being. Anyone looking for a rational argument and lucidity of style should read this book.
– Ejaz Haider, Journalist & Senior Resident Fellow at the Centre for Strategic Studies and Policy Research, University of Lahore (Pakistan)
Razi Azmi writes about Pakistan with brutal and passionate honesty. This collection of essays, a selection from his newspaper columns starting 1998, holds up the mirror to the many who have contributed to arresting Pakistan’s evolution as a “normal” state – military rulers, politicians, mullahs, even the well-heeled Pakistani diaspora. Written over the last two decades and related to contemporaneous events, the essays have an immediacy to them. The book can be read as an up-to-date history of Pakistan – there’s even a piece on the history of the “Long March” in the country’s politics. In the last decade, Azmi often contrasted Pakistan’s tangle with Islamism with India’s secular policies, but it is depressingly telling that he has had to provide footnotes in the book to add how some things have changed across Pakistan’s eastern border.
– Nirupama Subramanian, The Indian Express
Razi Azmi’s book is a collection of critical, no-holds-barred commentaries on contemporary Pakistan. They bring forth alternative perspectives on political affairs, views that challenge the mainstream myths and half-truths. The author’s direct style makes the text accessible and engaging. This volume is a useful addition to literature on Pakistan and should interest students and lay readers alike.
– Raza Rumi, Editor, The Friday Times & Naya Daur Media (Pakistan)
Razi Azmi’s collection of essays not only gives us a unique insight into the last three decades of Pakistan’s history, but they also remind us that history should not be seen as pre-ordained destiny. As a sincere advocate for a secular and democratic Pakistan, his articles point to alternative imaginations and conceptions of a country that has often been seen as doomed to fundamentalism and political instability. In this regard, his book is also a welcome intervention vis-à-vis security-obsessed and reductionist narratives from outside, which often consign Pakistan as a country that needs to be saved, controlled, or ignored. Instead, his is a reflective gaze of the insider, aware of not only the troubles and faults that lie within the nation, but also the immense promise of its people. I strongly recommend it to anyone who wishes to engage with Pakistan beyond the conventional narratives.
– Amit Julka, Department of International Relations, Ashoka University (India)