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5 history books about Pakistan to broaden your horizon


Understanding the true colors of Pakistan is not everyone’s cup of tea. The country is one of the most difficult countries to read about when it comes to balanced literature. As they say, “History is a set of lies agreed upon.” Finding authors who have tried outlining the correct circumstances becomes a kind of a big deal. But Don’t Worry! We have brought five history books by some incredible authors that will shed light on the circumstances in which it was created, its foreign policy, its people, its structural components, institutions, and whatnot. So let’s dive in. 

5 History Books to find out the real Picture

Learning and knowing about past events can be troublesome and have nuances. Therefore, I have brought history books that cover it all. The first book will give you a mainstream idea that’s in people’s minds about the country’s creation. Book 2 will give you the founder’s perspective on what he wanted this country to develop into. The third book is the dissection of Pakistani society through the lens of a foreigner – about geography, land, people, and structure. Book 4 mainly covers the historical incidents from 1947 to 2019 from a diplomatic angle. The last book identifies all the issues preventing Pakistan from becoming a great state and presents solutions to each one. So let’s dive in. 

1. Trek to Pakistan by Ahmed Saeed and Mansoor Sarwar

History Book: Trek to Pakistan
Trek to Pakistan

It is widely proclaimed by some Indian and British authors that Pakistan was a product of British imperialism. “Trek to Pakistan” is a valiant attempt by Ahmed Saeed and Mansoor Sarwar to invalidate this argument. Their thesis revolves around the widespread Pakistani narrative that Pakistan was the result of supreme sacrifices made by Muslims of the Sub-continent and the sheer brilliance of Jinnah. The book has 34 chapters and approx. 350 pages. It opens its account with a thought-provoking analysis of the war of independence of 1857.  Subsequently, it inspects and analyzes all the major events that contributed to the creation of Pakistan. Overall, it is a great book to know the prevalent Pakistani perspective about ‘the great divide’. This book can easily be characterized among the list of pure history books. Therefore, it could be a little dry to read.

Pro Tip: Read the book with some dessert and coffee at your side 😉 

2. My Brother by Fatima Jinnah

My Brother by Fatima Jinnah

“My Brother” is one of my favorite books; it is written by Fatima Jinnah – the sister of the founding father of Pakistan, M.A. Jinnah. The book endeavors to unfold the early life, work, and struggle of the founder of Pakistan. It also sheds light on the philosophy and ideology which were the basis of Jinnah’s demand for Pakistan. And what could be a better person to do so than his sister who not only played an active role in the freedom movement but also spent forty years of her life with him? 

The book was originally published in 1987, almost 20 years after the death of its author. It is widely speculated that the published version of the book is censored by the government of that time and many important details have been omitted. Nonetheless, whether censored or not, it still provides plenty of insights into the life and ideology of its founding father. Ending this note with a short excerpt from the book: 

“Once our father sat down with young Muhammad Ali (Jinnah) and said, ‘You see, my boy, there are only two ways of learning in life . . . One is to trust the wisdom of your elders and their superior knowledge; to accept their advice, and to do exactly as they suggest. . . The other way is to go your own way, and to learn by making mistakes; to learn by hard knocks and kicks in life.’ The boy Mohammad Ali listened attentively. This incident explains the characteristic of the Quaid, who upto the last days of his life preferred to go his own way.” – Fatima Jinnah

3. Pakistan: A Hard Country by Anatol Lieven

History Book: Pakistan A Hard Country
Book: Pakistan A Hard Country

Anatol Lieven is a British author and Journalist and is currently a visiting faculty at King’s College, London. He published this book in 2011 after doing extensive research and conducting a series of interviews. The book gives an interesting foreign perspective on the land, geography, people, and institutions of Pakistan. The author has divided the book into four major parts. Part one is about the history and the struggle of Muslims in the creation of Pakistan mainly from an outsider’s point of view. The second part is about the structures of Pakistani society i.e. Role of religion, politics, military, and judiciary in shaping the society. Part three is about the 4 Provinces. The last part is on the Pakistani Taliban and how to permanently end this menace. 

Mr. Anatol has put his heart and soul into writing the book. It will open your eyes to so many things that you were blind-sighted before. Moreover, it also does a well-deserved critique of a lot of elements in society. I found this book an eye-opener to multiple issues. Therefore, I recommend it to anyone who aspires to learn and analyze the structures and functions of Pakistani society.

In the words of the author himself, 

“Patronage and kinship form the basic elements of Pakistan’s political system-if water, chemically speaking is H2O then Pakistani Politics is P2K.” – Anatol Lieven

4. Pakistan’s Foreign Policy by Abdul Sattar

History Book: Pakistan's Foreign Policy
Pakistan's Foreign Policy by Abdul Sattar

Abdul Sattar was a Pakistani diplomat who also served as the Foreign Minister of Pakistan. He authored several books on Foreign Policy. India Today considered Sattar as one of the most astute foreign policy experts that Pakistan has ever produced. Therefore, Abdul Sattar is the best person to go to when it comes to knowing about the evolution of foreign relations in the country. 

This book, “Pakistan’s Foreign Policy” starts by describing the principles on which Pakistan’s foreign policy is formulated. It then goes on to give an inside analysis of all alliances formed with the foreign states during the cold war. Doing so, it highlights our deep ties with China. Moreover, it explains – at great length – the troubled relations with India including the wars fought. In the later part of the book, it formulates a detailed picture of what’s going on in Afghanistan and how Pakistan has tackled the quagmire on the diplomatic level. Pakistan’s ever-changing relations with the United States, especially after 9/11 are distributed throughout the book. Last but not least, it gives a deep understanding of the role of international organizations like the UN and their role in shaping the world. 

In short, if you are interested in seeing the country through the lens of a diplomat who also served as a foreign minister, this is the book for you. 

5. Pakistan: Beyond the Crisis State by Maleeha Lodhi

History Book: Pakistan Beyond the Crisis State
Pakistan Beyond the Crisis State by Maleeha Lodhi

We have kept the best for the last. “Pakistan: Beyond the Crisis State” is a masterwork by Dr. Maleeha Lodhi who has been a decorated diplomat and served as Pakistan’s ambassador to the United Nations. She is also a founding editor of The News, which is a leading Pakistani newspaper. Speaking of Dr. Lodhi, this book is a collection of works of many renowned Pakistani scholars with the likes of Ayesha Jalal, Moeed Yousaf, Munir Akram, and Ishrat Hussain. Dr. Lodhi compiled and edited their work and also wrote a chapter in it. 

This book is a valiant attempt to chart a course that would lead Pakistan to a better future. In other words, this book is mainly about identifying all those issues that are hampering the growth of the country and then proposing solutions to them. It was published in 2011, therefore, the statistical figures could be a bit outdated. However, the issues are relevant to the date. The book extensively covers all the problems that the state is facing ranging from charting a coherent ideological narrative, the role of the army in politics, the performance of institutions, energy crisis, education, relations with India, and so on. Therefore, it is a must-read to complete the long journey that started with the first book.


On a concluding note, I’d say that self-help books help you increase your productivity and give you a better life; fiction novels take you on an uncharted course to fuel your creative imagination. However, history books are something that gives you a real-life taste of the past. It increase your wisdom and your understanding of the people. Based on that, you become better equipped to navigate your ship into the future. Therefore, one must be familiar with the history of the country. That is the only way we can correct the mistakes made in the past and grow in the future. Happy reading! 

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