Writers and Generals: Intellectuals in the first Pakistan coup

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Abstract / Description of output

The first attempted coup in Pakistan took place in 1949, but the story of this has virtually disappeared from its national memory. The attempted coup was characterised by the converging of interests of two extremely unlikely bedfellows: first, a layer of army officers dissatisfied with the outcome of the war in Kashmir, and second, a group of influential left-wing writers and poets. The coalescing of these two separate and quite distinctive social groups represents a fascinating episode in South Asian history. Interviews with the some of the surviving writers and activists involved, as well as documentary evidence from the Punjab Criminal Investigation Department sheds interesting new light on this period. This article examines these events in the context of politics in Pakistan in the immediate aftermath of partition, and the disillusionment that spread amongst a nationally minded and radical intelligentsia. The article addresses the relationship of memory—individual, collective and historical—to the forging of a nation's history and identity. It raises issues surrounding what constitutes an ‘archive’, and how this relates to the ‘recovery’ of a progressive memory that has been denied for half a century.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-151
Number of pages35
JournalIndian Economic and Social History Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008


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