Skip to Content

Transforming Pakistan

Ways Out of Instability

By Hilary Synnott

Routledge – 2010 – 200 pages

Series: Adelphi series

Purchasing Options:

  • Add to CartPaperback: $23.95
    August 16th 2009


This book argues that any strategy for dealing with Pakistan requires an understanding of the country’s complex and turbulent history and of the weaknesses of its political and other institutions. It describes how, in the absence of an inherent national identity, successive military and civilian governments have made use of Islam and Kashmir, ‘the unfinished business of Partition’, for political purposes. It also examines the role of the army and of its intelligence service, the ISI, in relation to India, Afghanistan and internal political manipulation.

The nature and history of the tribal regions in Pakistan and Afghanistan, which are little understood in the West and which explain much of the animosity towards the US, are also described in detail.

After 9/11, Pakistan's support for counter-terrorism and military operations in Afghanistan increased the population’s animosity towards the West and hence the government’s difficulties in delivering. Meanwhile, the military leadership hedged its bets by maintaining links with militant organisations and with a re-emerged Taliban. With the arrival of an elected leadership, the emergence of simultaneous political, economic and security crises, tactical errors by the West, and the Mumbai terrorist attacks in late 2008, the situation was complicated further.

The book concludes with recommendations, aimed particularly at the new US administration, for a durable long-term relationship with Pakistan, entailing increased attention and resources devoted to institution-building and, over time, the reduction of the role and influence of the army.


'Of all the threatened or threatening countries in the world none is today more dangerously in the balance than Pakistan. Out of unrivalled experience Hilary Synnott has produced a thorough and admirably clear description of the background and dilemmas which face the government of Pakistan and therefore all those other countries which have a deep interest in its future.'

Douglas Hurd, former British Foreign Secretary

"This is an informative and well-written book. It is unusually clear-headed while, at the same time, remaining eminently compelling. It may not satisfy those with an interest in carefully calibrated or locally embedded policy recommendations. But, in my opinion, it should be read by anyone with an interest in the problem of ‘instability’ (and international responses to it) in the context of contemporary Pakistan." - Matthew J. Nelson, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, UK

'…A brilliant and badly needed analysis…. a superb job in making us see the reality and trends.'

Ahmed Rashid

‘… this book provides a superb overview of the volatile situation in Pakistan today, and tells a complicated story lucidly.’

Kris Srinivasan, The Telegraph, Calcutta, India

'Thanks to his experience, Synnott provides an exceptionally informative and detailed account of modern-day Pakistan.'

The International Spectator, Vol. 45, No. 3, September 2010, 161

"This brief and easily accessible book opens the discussion about the future of Pakistan, which is much needed in terms of global peace…Summing Up: Recommended. General readers and lower-division undergraduates." - M. D. Crosston, CHOICE (June 2010)


Introduction 1. The Nature of Pakistan and its Internal Challenges 2. Pakistan after 9/11: Where did it stand? 3. Internal Conflicts: Pakistan’s Tribal Belt; Afghanistan; Baluchistan 4. Pakistan’s other neighbours Conclusion: How to handle Pakistan

Author Bio

After a first career in Royal Navy submarines, Hilary Synnott was a British diplomat for 30 years, serving in France, Germany, Jordan, India (as Deputy High Commissioner), Pakistan (as High Commissioner) and, finally, Iraq, where he was the Coalition Provisional Authority Regional Coordinator for Southern Iraq, from 2003–04. He is currently a Senior Consulting Fellow at the IISS. His other books are The Causes and Consequences of the South Asian Nuclear Tests (Adelphi Paper, 1999) and Bad Days in Basra (2008). He has written numerous articles on state-building and on South Asia for the press and for the IISS.

Name: Transforming Pakistan: Ways Out of Instability (Paperback)Routledge 
Description: By Hilary Synnott. This book argues that any strategy for dealing with Pakistan requires an understanding of the country’s complex and turbulent history and of the weaknesses of its political and other institutions. It describes how, in the absence of an inherent...
Categories: South Asian Studies, Asian Studies, Security Studies - Military & Strategic, Asian Politics, Security Studies - Pol & Intl Relns, South Asian Politics