An examination of some of the existing accounts of political developments in Pakistan lays the foundation for a better understanding of the institutionalised role of the military. The analysis demonstrates how conventional explanations of political crises are weakened by the failure to ascribe sufficient instrumentality to the extent of the military’s involvement in civilian affairs. It is shown that the lumping together of Pakistan with the political trajectories of a number of other developing countries under the rubric of ‘post-colonial experiences’,1 is not very illuminating. Such arguments do not persuasively account for the variation that one encounters within these political systems. For example, where India (and for that matter Sri Lanka) managed elections and serial changes of governments, Pakistan’s trajectory of political developments has taken a different course. We also sketch some of the crucial historical antecedents of Muslim separatism in united India to identify the problem of threat perception in relation to a hostile India that defined many policy choices made by Pakistan in the subsequent years.