Stephen Tankel in his book Storming the world stage said: “Like other countries that brought together disparate ethnicities as the colonial era came to a close, Pakistan became a state before it was a nation”

To what extent does this hypothesis make sense?

Gellner argued that many a European countries became states before they had cultural affinity and unity with one another (within a country) — state boundaries and institutions did structure a space where European nations like Germany and France came to exist. A spirit of nationalism within these countries and states were generated through the ‘social reproduction of knowledge’ via the education system whose services came to be demanded within a historical context of industrial development and colonialism. An export of this phenomena came to India in the form of the British trying to create ‘brown sahibs’ to run an administrative system of the Indian subcontinent — not of India or Pakistan or Bhutan separably and individually. Hence, in this conceptual context to say that Pakistan became a State before it became a nation is mistaken.

yet another historical category can be used by employing Gellner’s concept of nationalism to contest the understanding that Pakistan became a state before it became a nation. Now, the way Pakistan could’ve become a state before it became a nation is: a) by having certain institutions in place ( like separate electorates — which they did indeed have), and b) having instruments which could generate a sense of oneness within these institutions ( like Industrial Development and education in Europe), however, the instrument which could and did potentially generate nationalism in Pakistan was expressed through politics which impacted competition and exercise of power within these institutions of governance. Hence, the argument that Pakistan became a state before it became a nation does not seem to hold logical ground.


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