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A Future in Question: Literary, Cultural and Political Debates in Pakistan, 1947 to 1977

Ali Raza

This project seeks to examine the past of envisaged futures in Pakistan. It focuses on the cultural, literary, and political debates that animated Pakistan from its formative period to the end of the 1970s. Conducted between individuals and groups belonging to various political and ideological camps, these debates aptly reflected the anxieties accompanying Pakistan's formation as an independent nation state. At stake was nothing less than the all-encompassing future of Pakistan and the various peoples who inhabited it. These discussions emanated from a rich and diverse social, cultural, political and intellectual milieu that promised various trajectories towards a glorious and utopian future.  And when placed in the moment itself, this milieu was also reflective of the wider politics of the Cold War in which Pakistan played a key role. These debates thus, were seminal in influencing official policies and wider public opinion in a way which had profound implications for the future direction and orientation of the nation state. As such then, this study is important not just for highlighting an understudied aspect of Pakistan’s history, which has all too often been viewed in teleological terms, but also for its contribution to the study of the Cold War and its global impact.