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Rule by Fear


Eight Theses on Authoritarianism in Pakistan


by Ammar Ali Jan

Rs. 750 |  $ 10.00





Why have democratic institutions and norms not taken root in Pakistan? In these polemical essays, Ammar Jan presents eight theses to explain the political, economic and social roots of authoritarianism in the country. Rather than fixating on particular individuals or governments, this work focuses on the structural features propelling the rising militarisation of society. Jan locates the deep fear of the masses held by ruling classes and state officials as a critical point of departure to grasp the pervasive disregard for popular sovereignty. This paranoia has created a permanent state of emergency in Pakistan that is used to deploy excessive violence against popular challenges to the status quo. To fight back against this failing order, the book calls for the construction of alternative ideas that can unite disparate movements struggling for justice and dignity.




Rule by Fear is a much-needed primer for progressive politics in Pakistan. Ammar Jan brings together his scholarly insights and experience as an activist in this clearly written and accessible text. It reminds us of Pakistan’s checkered past, yet provides a way forward toward a more egalitarian and socially just future. A must read for those interested in the linkages of the Pakistani state with the colonial era and how this history continues to inform the contemporary period.”

– Kamran Asdar Ali, Surkh Salam: Communist Politics and Class Activism in Pakistan 1947-1972


Rule by Fear is a compendium of all the hidden, progressive stories of Pakistan that fundamentally reads as a love story for the people of Pakistan, particularly students and workers who have been systematically denied any right to call themselves Pakistani because of politicians and military leaders who pose as if they are the only groups who can protect Pakistan against the many threats to its security. Jan traces this constant state of fear of attack back to the colonial period. He argues that the military and certain politicians are only able to portray this threat as new, and themselves as the true protectors of Pakistan’s integrity, and win “… the battle of ideas” because they rob “the public of its own past”. Jan’s book illustrates precisely that past. A fantastic feat by an activist-academic who has worked tirelessly to stand by the ideals he believes in. Ammar Jan has written a book that will be, for years to come, a sourcebook for social historians who are searching for the hidden histories of progressive Pakistan.”

– Anushay Malik, Narrowing Politics: The Labour Movement in Lahore, 1947-1974


“Ammar Ali Jan’s Rule by Fear is an intellectual tour de force that provides nuanced theoretical insights into the historical processes of Pakistan’s political formations, social complexities and economic upheavals over the last seven decades. Through his rigorous critical analysis, Jan helps set up a plan for revolutionary praxis as young Pakistani students, feminists, farmers, workers, ethno-nationalists and human rights activists seek to transform the country’s outlook for a better future, an egalitarian society and a radical democracy.”

– Ali Usman Qasmi, Muslims against the Muslim League: Critiques of the Idea of Pakistan


ISBN: 978-969-7834-35-8
Publisher: Folio Books
Binding: Paperback
Release date: November 2021
Rights: World
Pages: 173
Availability: Pre-Order