Points of View

'Pakistan' from Oxford Islamic Studies Online

About This Resource

The history of Pakistan is discussed as background for Kamila Shamsie's novel Broken Verses. The article by Rizwan Hussain is reprinted from The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World in the Oxford Islamic Studies Online.


The Islamic Republic of Pakistan (Islāmī Jumhūrīya-e Pākistān), with a population of 164 million (2006 estimate), is the second largest Muslim state in the world, after Indonesia. Although they belong to five distinct ethnic groups—Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashtun (Pathan), Baluchi, and Muhjir (Urdu-speaking immigrants from prepartition India)—97 percent of Pakistanis are Muslims. Non-Muslim minorities include Christians, Hindus, and Parsis. Of the Muslims, between 15 and 20 percent are Shīʿī, the majority belonging to the Ithnā Ashʿarī (Twelver) school of Shiism. Minority Shīʿī sects include Ismāʿīlīs, mostly in Karachi and the northwestern region of Gilgit, and Bohrās, whose spiritual headquarters is in Mumbai (Bombay), India. The overwhelming majority of Pakistan's Sunnī Muslims subscribe to the Hanafī school of law, although a small minority follow the Hanbalī school.


Pakistan came into being as a result of the partition of British India on August 14, 1947. The partition and independence of India and Pakistan were accompanied by widespread communal violence beween Muslims, Sikhs, and Hindus. As many as a million people are believed to have died, and 15–20 million became refugees.

Pakistan comprised the Muslim-majority areas of the Indian subcontinent. East Pakistan—separated from West Pakistan by approximately 1,000 miles of Indian territory—seceded in 1971 to form the state of Bangladesh. The name “Pakistan,” coined in 1933, means “land of the pure” in Urdu and is also an acronym formed from the names of the northwestern provinces of India: P for Punjab; a for Afghan (the North-West Frontier Province, NWFP); k for Kashmir; i for euphony; s for Sind; and tan for Baluchistan. Contemporary Pakistan is a federation comprising four provinces: Punjab, Sind, Baluchistan, and the NWFP, as well as the semiautonomous Northern Areas and Azad (free) Kashmir whose possession is in dispute with India.

Pakistan is unique among Muslim countries in its relationship with Islam: it is the only country to have been established in the name of Islam. Hence, Pakistan's political experience is integrally related to the struggle of Indian Muslims to find an autonomous political center after their loss of power to the British in the early nineteenth century. Muslims, who had ruled large parts of India for several centuries before the consolidation of British power in the early 1800s, perceived a challenge to their civilization in a political space increasingly dominated by European and Hindu ideas and values. Beginning with Sayyid Ahmad Khan's (1817–1898) modernist Aligarh movement of educational and religio-intellectual reforms that laid the foundation for a separate Muslim political identity and encouraged the Muslims to struggle for their rights, the concept of a sovereign Muslim political domain was kept alive by prominent Muslim political leaders of India such as Mawlana Muhammad Ali Jauhar (1878–1931) and Bahadur Yar Jung (1905–1944).

The struggle for protecting Muslim “rights” took a political form in 1906 when the Western-educated Indian Muslim elite established a political organization, the All-India Muslim League, in Dhaka. The League, although professing loyalty to British rule, championed the religious, cultural, political, and economic interests of Indian Muslims and sought to thwart perceived attempts by the growing Hindu nationalist and revivalist organizations to deprive Muslims of their rightful place in the India of the future. This drew support for the Muslim League and its platform for a separate system of Muslim representation in all Indian political institutions. Nevertheless, the era between the two World Wars saw periods of collaboration between Hindus and Muslims, especially in 1919–1922 when Muslims joined the Indian National Congress—the leading Indian nationalist party—in the Khilāfat movement to agitate against British rule. The Khilāfat movement had emerged from the Indian Muslim opposition to the British role in the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire after World War I. The movement's anti-British agitation coincided with the Congress's attempts to launch the first campaign of non-cooperation with the British in 1919. Consequently, the Khilāfat movement allied with the Indian National Congress to further their joint interest challenging British rule in India. However, the Muslim League's participation in this short-lived display of Hindu-Muslim cooperation was relatively insignificant.

The imposition by the British in the 1920s and 1930s of a system of separate electorates for Muslims and Hindus further increased Muslim exclusivity and at the same time apprehensions about Hindu dominance. In this period, a leading segment of the Muslim political elite of India believed that the religious, cultural, and political interests of the Indian Muslim community could not be safeguarded in a post-independence united India dominated by a Hindu majority. This elite included the Muslim poet-philosopher Muhammad Iqbal (1877–1938), who argued for centralizing “the life of Islam as a cultural force” in a specified territory through the creation of a “consolidated Muslim State” in northwestern India. Mohammad Ali Jinnah (1876–1948), as the spokesman for the group advocating the partition of the Indian Subcontinent, based his plan on a rather nebulous “two-nations theory” which emphasized that Muslims and Hindus represented two separate and distinct nations in India based on religion (Islam and Hinduism) and different historical backgrounds, social customs, and culture. The Muslim League therefore adopted the “two-nations” theory as its political platform in its program for creating a separate state in the Muslim-majority areas of northwestern and northeastern India, to be known as Pakistan. However, Hindu and even some leading Indian Muslim nationalists opposed the League's emphasis on Muslim separatism, alleging that the British were encouraging the Hindu-Muslim divide in order to maintain their imperial hold over India.

After the failure of repeated attempts in the mid-1940s by the Muslim League to reach an acceptable settlement with the Hindu-dominated Indian National Congress that could retain India's unity, the British in 1946 accepted the League's insistence on a communal partitioning of India.

The popular acceptance of the idea of Pakistan was made possible only by the Muslim League's success in politicizing the religious sentiments of Indian Muslims and in claiming that the struggle for Pakistan was the struggle for the preservation and glory of Islam. Some proponents of the Pakistan movement even claimed that it was a continuation of the earlier Islamic revivalist movements in India of Shāh Walī Allāh al-Dihlawī (d.1762) and Sayyid Ahmad Barelwī (d. 1831). This revivalist impulse was also intertwined with the late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century Muslim modernist-nationalist tradition of Sayyid Ahmad Khan, Syed Ameer Ali, and Muhammad Iqbal, and such diverse religious revivalist movements as the Tablīghī Jamāʿat of Mawlānā Muhammad Ilyās, the reformist Sūfī movement of Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānvī, the Jamāʿat-i Islāmī of Mawlānā Abū al-Aʿlā Mawdūdī, the Khilāfat movement of Maulānā Muhammad Ali Jauhar, and the Khāksar movement of Allāmah ʿInāyatullāh al-Mashriqī.

The Pakistan movement represented the interests of India's Muslim elite comprising aristocratic landlords, professional middle classes, and intelligentsia who were generally loyal to the British Raj, but the movement's core support lay in the Muslim minority areas such as the United Provinces, the Central Provinces, and the Bombay Presidency. The Muslim minority of these regions feared their possible marginalization in a future united India ruled by a Hindu majority. The Muslim-majority regions of India that were to form Pakistan were less concerned about the consequences of a Hindu-dominated central government after the end of India's colonial status. Moreover, the Pakistan movement comprised Indian Muslims belonging to diverse ethnic, linguistic, and sectarian groups. For political reasons the modernist Muslim leadership used religious sentiments to rouse and unite India's largely illiterate Muslim population to achieve its goal of separate nationhood.

Both Jinnah, who was given the title Quaid-i Azam (Great Leader) after the creation of Pakistan, and the poet-philosopher Muhammad Iqbal perceived Islam not in terms of the details of sharīʿah (Islamic law), but in three broad and interrelated levels: (1) Islam as a faith, a religious and moral system whose cardinal beliefs mark its adherents as Muslims; (2) Islam as a culture, a way of life that would integrate Muslims into a nation state; and (3) Islam as a political ideological system whose set of values could socialize Muslims into a viable, separate political community. This conception contrasted with that of many religious scholars, especially those of the Deoband school in the United Provinces, who envisioned an Islamic state where Islamic law would be strictly implemented. Most Deobandī scholars rejected the demand for Pakistan and condemned the Muslim League leaders, especially Jinnah, for their ignorance of the fundamentals of Islam. They were members of the Jamʿīyatul ʿUlamāʿ-i Hind (Society of Muslim Clergy of India) who, under Mawlānā Husain Ahmad Madanī, opposed the creation of Pakistan and allied itself with the All-India National Congress.

Despite the opposition of the religious scholars, large segments of the Indian Muslim community saw Pakistan as an Islamic state that would reflect the religious and social values of early Islam and its ideals of justice, equality, and brotherhood.

Nature of Islamic Politics in Pakistan.

Pakistan's “Islamic identity” has consistently generated tension within the political system as the country's secularly-oriented ruling elite has confronted intermittent demands from the ʿulamāʿ (religious scholars) and Islamist groups for the imposition of the sharīʿah. At the sociocultural level, Islam remains an important factor in the life of most Pakistanis, but Pakistan does not present a monolithic structure of Islamic beliefs, practices, and interpretation. There is considerable variation in the ways people articulate, interpret, and practice their faith and work out its implications in their individual and collective lives. The political and religio-intellectual situation of Islam in Pakistan can be discussed with reference to at least four categories, orthodox/traditional, Sūfī, reformist/liberal, and revivalist/fundamentalist Islam, apart from minority groups such as Shīʿah, Ismāʿīlīs, and Ahmadīs.

Orthodox Islam is represented by the Sunnī ʿulamāʿ who are regarded as guardians of the sunnah (normative practices) of Prophet Muhammad. Included in this category are three important schools: the orthodox Deobandī school, the Sūfī-oriented Barelwī school, and the very conservative Wahhābī school of Ahl-i Hadīth and its offshoots.

Although the overwhelming majority of Pakistanis are Sunnī, substantial differences exist within this group with respect to the interpretation of Islam. The Sunnī Deobandī school differs from the Barelwīs on various theological issues. The Deobandī school, with its scriptualist interpretation of Islam, differs from the Barelwī school that promotes a more moderate form of Sunnism, emphasizing aspects of Sufism and spirituality that traditionally characterized Indo-Pakistani Islamic culture.

Intense rivalry has existed between the Deobandī-oriented Jamʿīyatul ʿUlamaʿ-i Islām (JUI, the Society of the Religious Scholars of Islam) and the Barelwī-oriented Jamʿīyatul ʿUlamāʿ-i Pakistān (JUP, Society of Pakistani Religious Scholars). The JUI was formed by pro-Pakistan ʿulamāʿ who had earlier differed with staunchly anticolonial Jamʿīyatul ʿUlamāʿ-i Hind's support for a united India. The conservative ʿulamāʿ of JUI insist on strict adherence to the sharīʿah as interpreted by the founders of the four schools of Sunnī Islamic law, while the JUP's religious ideology is more populist, reflecting a Sūfī orientation that includes, among other things rejected by conservatives, the veneration of saints.

The third group, Jamʿīyat ʿUlamāʿ-i Ahl-i Hadīth (Society of the Religious Scholars of the People of the Hadīth), preaches uncompromising monotheism, rejects all notions of intercession by spiritual mentors, and condemns visitation of Sūfī shrines. Among the nonpolitical Islamic groups, the best known is the Tablīghī Jamāʿat, a grassroots movement of lay Muslims and some ʿulamāʿ that strives for the moral and spiritual renewal of individual believers.

Sūfī Islam in Pakistan is represented at two levels. The first is the populist Sufism of the rural masses, associated with unorthodox religious rituals and practices, belief in the intercessory powers of saints, pilgrimage and veneration at their shrines, and a binding spiritual relationship between the shaykh or pir (master) and murīd (disciple). Many Muslims in rural areas of Pakistan, where orthodox Islam has yet to penetrate effectively, identify themselves with some pir, living or dead, and seek his intercession for the solution of their worldly problems and for salvation in the hereafter. There is widespread belief in the powers of both the saints and pirs, and legends about their miracles (karāmah) abound. Many pirs and sajjādah nishīns (hereditary custodians of shrines) are either themselves landlords or are associated with the traditional landowning interests. Although most of the major shrines were taken over by the government in 1959 and 1961 as a part of President Ayub Khan's modernization program, the actual management of these shrines, the organization of their religious activities, and the dispensation of spiritual favors continue under the guidance of the original sajjādah nishīns. Many of these pir families use their spiritual influence to gain election to the national and provincial legislatures.

The other strain is that of scholastic or intellectual Sufism, a recent phenomenon based in urban areas and becoming increasingly popular in educated circles. Influenced by the writings of the medieval theologian al-Ghazālī (d. 1111), the Sūfī reformer Shaykh Aḥmad Sirhindī (d. 1624), and Shāh Walī Allāh (d. 1762), and by the spiritual experiences of the masters of the Suhrawardī and Naqshbandī orders, these modern Sūfīs are rearticulating Islamic metaphysics as an answer to Western materialism. For them, Sufism is the heart of Islam, and Islamic revival begins with the spiritual reawakening of individual Muslims.

Reformist or liberal Islam in Pakistan owes its origin to the writings of Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan (d. 1898) and to his educational reform efforts, represented by the Aligarh movement. Sir Sayyid emphasized the role of rational thinking in understanding the purposes of sharīʿah and maintained that ijtihād (independent reasoning) was permissible not only in matters of law but also in matters of doctrine. His main contribution, however, was in his efforts to persuade Indian Muslims to learn the modern scientific method, acquire new technological skills and ideas, and embody the spirit of liberalism and progress that he believed was essentially Islamic. Islamic modernism also found expression in the works of the poet-philosopher Muhammad Iqbal, one of the preeminent thinkers of twentieth-century Islam, whose role in the creation of Pakistan was noted above. His vigorous pleas to reactivate the “principle of movement” in Islam—ijtihād—to reinterpret the foundational legal principles of Islam in the light of modern conditions and ideas, and to work toward the reconstruction of Islamic religious thought have been a driving force for Islamic modernism in South Asia.

The Jamāʿat-i Islāmī (Islamic Party, JI) founded by Sayyid Abū al-Aʿlā Mawdūdī (d. 1979) in 1941 represents revivalist/fundamentalist Islam in today's Pakistan. However, over the past two decades, JI and other traditionalist parties such as the JUI and even the JUP have cooperated politically, and it has thus become increasingly difficult to differentiate between the revivalist and traditionalist streams. The Jamāʿat has been active in Pakistan's politics and has played a decisive role in shaping Islamic intellectual and political discourse in Pakistan. Its support base is lower-middle-class Muslims from both the traditional petite bourgeoisie and the more modern economic sectors of Pakistani society.

The JI seeks Islamic revival through the establishment of an Islamic state with the Qurʿān and sunnah as its constitution and the sharīʿah, traditionally interpreted, as its law. It regards Islam as a comprehensive way of life that provides guidance in all human activities. It has focused on capturing political power in order to implement the socioeconomic ideals of Islam. In the course of its intense ideological and political battles against secular liberalism, Communism, and Islamic modernism, the JI has emerged as the most articulate voice of Islamic conservatism in socioreligious matters in contemporary Pakistan. Although its political influence and ideological impact on Pakistan's educational and cultural institutions has been considerable, the JI has consistently fared poorly in national elections. It remains the most organized and disciplined Islamist party in Pakistan that has had any success in penetrating the armed forces and the bureaucracy. It has been closely associated with support for Islamic resistance movements in Afghanistan, Kashmir, and Bosnia, as well as with other Muslim causes such as Palestine and Iraq (since 2003). These developments have strengthened its links with Islamic movements in other Muslim countries including Shīʿī Iran.

In addition to the various schools of thought within Sunnī Islam, there are many Ithnā Ashʿarī (Twelver) Shīʿī Muslims in Pakistan. The Shīʿah in Pakistan have generally supported secular regimes, for fear of the Sunnī ʿulamāʿ who, over the past two decades, have shown increasingly anti-Shīʿī views. The Shīʿah have played a prominent role in Pakistan's politics in the past: the country's first Governor-General, Mohammad Ali Jinnah (1947–1948), and two presidents, Iskander Mirza (1956–1958) and Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan (1969–1971), were Shīʿah. The Islamic revolution in neighboring Iran in 1979 raised significant interest among Pakistan's Shīʿī minority by strengthening their religious consciousness and reawakening sectarian identities by making them aware of their distinct doctrinal position. The Pakistani Shīʿah reorganized their originally nonpolitical movement into a religiopolitical party named the Tehrik-i-Nifaz-i-Fiqh-i-Jafaria (TNFJ, Movement for the Imposition of Jafari Jurisprudence) in 1979.

Other smaller Islamic sects in Pakistan include the Ismāʿīlīs and the Ahmadīs. The Ismāʿīlīs, who belong to a subsect of the main Ithnā Ashʿarī Shīʿī sect, are numerous in parts of Karachi (Pakistan's largest city) and parts of northern Pakistan. The Ismāʿīlīs’ spiritual leader, the Aga Khan, played a key role in the founding of the Muslim League at the beginning of the twentieth century. Some prominent members of the Punjabi political and bureaucratic elite adhere to the teachings of the small Ahmadī (also known as Qādiānī) sect founded by Mirzā Ghulām Ahmad (d. 1908). Pakistan's first foreign minister, Sir Zafaruʿllah Khan, belonged to this sect.

Role of Islam in Pakistan, 1947–1970.

Since 1947, Pakistan has faced critical economic, political, and ethnoregional problems that continue to shape political developments and contribute to its chronic sociopolitical instability. At the ideological level, the issue that has generated the most controversy is the role of Islam in politics and the state. At independence, there was no general agreement among the Pakistani political elite on the kind of Islamic state Pakistan would be. It is evident from Jinnah's political speeches that he stood for the separation of religion and politics. Nevertheless, the ideological and political history of Pakistan has been marked by a continuous debate on the nature of the Islamic political system and its manifestation in constitutional structure and socioeconomic policies.

The ideological orientations and power imperatives of those who have controlled the state since its emergence—the higher echelons of the civil service, the military, the feudal landlords, and the urban-based capitalist class—did not always coincide with those of the ʿulamāʿ and the fundamentalists, but the Pakistani ruling elite has used Islam as legitimizing force in order to consolidate its hold over the state.

Three distinct groups have played an important part in the controversies associated with the conception of an Islamic state and constitution since the early 1950s. These include the traditionalists, represented by the ʿulamāʿ of various schools of thought; the modernists, represented by politicians, westernized businessmen, and professionals; and senior civil servants and segments of the military. The military has been a source of modernist as well as Islamic influences.

The diverse approaches to Islam in the regions that formed Pakistan accentuated the debate about what sort of Islamic state Pakistan should be. The provinces of northern India that constituted Pakistan were politically the most underdeveloped parts of British India. Feudal landholders who had prospered under British rule, in association with local Ṣūfī-oriented religious leaders, dominated West Pakistan's largest province, the Punjab. In Sind also, a feudal elite was well entrenched, while in Baluchistan and the NWFP, society was segmented on the basis of tribal relationships. Urdu-speaking Muslim refugees from India settled mostly in Karachi. Despite being zealous supporters of Pakistan's “Islamic ideology” they developed their own distinct identity which was later represented in the Muhajir Qaumi Mahaz (MQM, Refugee National Movement).

The majority of the political leadership of the new nation agreed that Pakistan's constitution and government should reflect the teachings and traditions of Islam. The problem was how to relate Islam to the needs of a modern state. The definition of an Islamic state formulated by the traditionalist and conservative fundamentalists or religious scholars assumed their own overarching authority in evaluating the Islamicity of all legislation. The most conservative insisted that laws and practices that conflicted with traditional interpretations of the Qurʿān and the sunnah should be repealed or amended. Mawlānā Shabbīr Ahmad Usmānī, a respected Deobandī ʿālim (scholar) who was appointed to the prestigious position of Shaykh al-Islām of Pakistan in 1949, was the first to demand that Pakistan become an Islamic state. But Mawdūdī and his Jamāʿat-i Islāmī played the central part in the demand for an Islamic constitution. Mawdūdī demanded that the Constituent Assembly make an unequivocal declaration affirming the “supreme sovereignty of God” and the supremacy of the sharīʿah as the basic law of Pakistan. Reformists and modernists advocated reinterpretation of Islamic laws in keeping with the needs of modern society.

The first important result of the combined efforts of the Jamāʿat-i Islāmī and the ʿulamāʿ was the passage of the Objectives Resolution in March 1949, whose formulation reflected compromise between traditionalists and modernists. The resolution embodied “the main principles on which the constitution of Pakistan is to be based.” It declared that “sovereignty over the entire universe belongs to God Almighty alone and the authority which He has delegated to the State of Pakistan through its people for being exercised within the limits prescribed by Him is a sacred trust,” that “the principles of democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance and social justice, as enunciated by Islam shall be fully observed,” and that “the Muslims shall be enabled to order their lives in the individual and collective spheres in accord with the teaching and requirements of Islam as set out in the Holy Qurʿan and Sunna.” The Objectives Resolution has been reproduced as a preamble to the constitutions of 1956, 1962, and 1973. The modernist Islamic imprint on Pakistan's political and constitutional structure was evident from the fact that the country retained English as the language of government and business. Urdu—the lingua franca of Indian Muslims although only spoken by about 8 percent of Pakistanis at the time, primarily those belonging to the Muhājir community that migrated from India after partition—was not used for official purposes in spite of being proclaimed the national language.

Pakistan's political system from 1947 to 1958 was characterized by weak institutionalization and a lack of standards of accountability and commitment to pluralism. Despite the rubric of Islamic solidarity, ethnic, sectarian, and linguistic differences persisted among Pakistan's diverse population. The Punjabis became the dominant ethnicity while Sindhis, Baluchis, Pashtuns, and Bengalis also pressed their claims. These circumstances, coupled with Pakistan's hostile relations with India—Pakistan has fought four armed conflicts with India, in 1947–1948, 1965, 1971, and 1999—and intermittent security threats coming from ethnonationalist movements within the country, gradually enabled the military to gain ascendancy over the politicians by the late 1950s.

The military establishment and the bureaucracy inherited from the British colonial administration were the only organized state structures at the time of the creation of Pakistan. The chaos of Pakistani politics in the period 1951–1958, coupled with constant demands for regional autonomy by the smaller provinces, tilted the balance in favor of the military-bureaucratic establishment comprising senior military officials, civilian bureaucrats, and politicians hailing from the feudal classes. This facilitated the development of secular authoritarian rule backed by the military. Pakistan's first constitution, promulgated in 1956, reflected the influence of secular principles and laws for the administration of a parliamentary democratic form of government with broad Islamic ideology as its guiding but non-binding basis. Contrary to what the ʿulamāʿ and the Jamāʿat-i Islāmī had been demanding, the constitution made the National Assembly responsible for deciding whether any law was in conflict with the Qurʿān and sunnah. The legal system of the country continued to be based on English common law, with Islamic law limited to private, family matters, and accommodation of elements of tribal law as well.

Pakistan witnessed its first coup d’état under General Ayub Khan in October 1958. The 1956 Constitution was abrogated by the martial-law regime, and Ayub appointed himself president and announced a new constitution in 1962 that changed the name of the country from the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to the Republic of Pakistan. Later, however, as a result of the intense pressure from religious groups, the constitution was amended to restore the word “Islamic.” The new constitution retained most of the Islamic provisions of the 1956 constitution but did not make them mandatory.

During Ayub Khan's decade of modernization of Pakistan based upon a capitalistic development model (1959–1969), he launched intermittent intellectual assaults on the conservative ʿulamāʿ and the fundamentalist Jamāʿat-i Islāmī and challenged the Islamic basis of their traditionally held views on the status of women, family and inheritance law, bank interest, the uncritical acceptance of hadīth as a source of Islamic law, taqlīd (the following of legal precedent established by the classical jurists), and a host of other doctrinal and jurisprudential issues. By the late 1960s, state power in Pakistan was essentially being wielded by a military-bureaucratic establishment that accorded a privileged status to modernist interpretations of Islamic law—particularly with regard to social issues such as the status of women—to the consternation of conservative and traditionalist scholars. Pakistan's foreign policy in this period also reflected the perceptions of a mainly Westernized political elite as Pakistan aligned itself with the United States in the Cold War by joining anti-Communist U.S.-backed military alliances in Asia, such as the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO, dissolved in 1979) and South East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO, dissolved in 1977).

Islamic Resurgence after 1971.

General Ayub Khan was forced to resign in March 1969 as a result of protests led largely by prodemocracy secular parties and student groups. He handed over power to General Yahya Khan. The Yahya regime, which issued its own Legal Framework Order (LFO) replacing the 1962 constitution, was, like its predecessor, still essentially a secular regime.

The traumatic events of the 1971 civil war and subsequent secession of East Pakistan (forming independent Bangladesh) had psychologically unsettling effects. The brutal civil war had demonstrated that ethnonationalism could override religious solidarity. This seriously undermined the Two Nation theory as a foundation on which to base a modern nation-state. The attempt to construct Pakistani nationhood based on religious identity had failed. Bengali resentment of the Punjabi domination of the Pakistani state had acted as a catalyst for the emergence of Bengali ethnonationalism.

The experience of East Pakistan thus became a rallying point for many Pakistanis, especially the religious groups, to “return” to Islam as an ideological remedy to national malaise and to cultivate religious rejuvenation. The reemphasis on Islam was assisted by the civilian socialist-oriented Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government led by Zulfiqar ʿAli Bhutto (1929–1979) which came to power after the collapse of the Yahya regime. Bhutto used Pakistan's Islamic identity as a means of unifying a deeply divided nation. This post-1971 rediscovery of Islamic identity in Pakistan also had great impact on the new constitution promulgated in 1973 by the Bhutto regime.

The 1973 constitution (which is still in effect although modified by successive regimes) placed greater emphasis on Islam than had previous constitutions. Islam was declared “the state religion” for the first time. While the 1956 and 1962 constitutions had stipulated that only a Muslim could hold the office of president, the 1973 constitution extended that restriction to the office of the prime minister. The constitution also committed government officials to “strive to preserve the Islamic ideology which is the basis for the creation of Pakistan.” It stated that steps would be taken to enable the Muslims of Pakistan to order their lives in accordance with the fundamental principles of Islam based on the Holy Qurʿān and sunnah. The constitution mandated compulsory Islamic studies in schools, promotion of the Arabic language, and publication of an “error-free” Qurʿān. The constitution provided that the state would endeavor to secure the proper organization of zakāt (obligatory charity tax) and awqāf (charitable endowments) and to eliminate ribā (interest). It also required that all existing laws should be brought into conformity with Islam, and reiterated that no law should be enacted which is repugnant to Islamic injunctions. The task of reviewing existing laws was entrusted to the Council of Islamic Ideology—created in 1962 and given its present name in 1973—which was to make recommendations to the national and provincial legislatures.

In 1974, Bhutto acceded to demands from orthodox ʿulamāʿ and the Jamāʿat-i Islāmī by amending the constitution to declare the Aḥmadīs a non-Muslim minority. Bhutto also established a separate federal Ministry of Religious Affairs to develop and supervise the teaching of Islamic studies, promote Islamic research, establish contacts with Islamic institutions in other countries, formulate policies for the management of awqā f, and make arrangements for the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. The Bhutto regime hosted the Second Islamic Summit Conference in Lahore in February 1974, a turning point in Pakistan's renewed efforts to forge new cultural, political, and economic ties with the Muslim Middle East. In 1977, in order to appease the ʿulamāʿ who had launched a mass movement to overthrow his government, Bhutto issued another set of Islamic reforms that included bans on alcoholic drinks, gambling, horse-racing, and dance- and nightclubs. Although the Islamic measures introduced by Bhutto were piecemeal and peripheral to the core of his socioeconomic policies, their impact on subsequent Islamic development was significant. By incorporating extensive Islamic provisions in the 1973 constitution and declaring the Ahmadīs non-Muslims, Bhutto helped raise the expectations of the religious parties and prepared the ground for intensified “Islamization” programs under later regimes.

The Zia Regime and “Islamization.”

In July 1977, the Pakistan army under the leadership of the Islamist-oriented General Muhammad Zia ul-Haq (1925–1988) overthrew the Bhutto regime. Zia was sympathetic to Jamāʿat-i Islāmī. The Jamāʿat-i Islāmī (JI) and the traditionalist Jamʿīyatul ʿUlamāʿ-i Islām (JUI) had led the campaign against Bhutto. These two groups were an integral part of the right-wing Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) which opposed the PPP government. The JI, JUI, and other smaller Islamic groups had as an overt goal the establishment in Pakistan of an “Islamic system,” Nizām-i-Mustafā (System of the Prophet Muhammad Mustafa), based on the sharīʿah.

In General Zia, the JI had, for the first time in Pakistan's troubled history, a leader inclined towards Mawdūdī's interpretation of Islam. Zia unambiguously associated the identity of the Pakistani state with traditionally interpreted Sunnī Islam. The allegiance to Islam of the mainstream military and political elite tended to be modernist, but articulation of Islamic rhetoric served to legitimize the armed forces’ control over the Pakistani state. Hence, by using Islamic symbols, Zia tried to provide legitimacy to his regime, replacing Bhutto's populist brand of “Islamic socialism.” In fact, the military had Bhutto executed in April 1979 on a dubious murder charge.

Coming in the wake of the worldwide Islamic resurgence exemplified by the Iranian revolution of 1979 and the jihād against the Soviet-backed regime in Afghanistan, General Zia's Islamization measures, introduced from 1977 to 1988 in a series of laws and executive decrees, were much more substantive than those of earlier regimes. Working in close cooperation with the ʿulamāʿ and the Jamāʿat-i Islāmī, Zia was able to create a network of state-sponsored institutional structures to translate the norms of the sharīʿah into public policies. First, federal, provincial, and local institutions and committees were created for compulsory collection and distribution of zakāt and ʿushr (an Islamic tax on produce of the land), a long-standing demand of the religious groups. Second, a Federal Sharīʿah Court was established with power to decide whether laws were consistent with the injunctions of Islam. Third and most important, Islamic penal law (hudūd) with specific Islamic punishments (such as stoning for adultery and amputation of the hand for theft) was introduced. Fourth, measures were taken to eliminate ribā from the banking system and the economy. Fifth, school textbooks were revised to reflect traditional Islamic views, and an International Islamic University was established in Islamabad to promote higher Islamic learning.

General Zia criticized democracy as an importation from the West and in its stead upheld Islam as the basis of legitimacy. In 1988, he issued a comprehensive Sharīʿah Ordinance subsuming most of his earlier Islamic reform measures and incorporating further measures for the Islamization of the economy, society, culture, and education. Yet, despite the euphoria generated among the regime's supporters, “Islamization” in Pakistan was in fact being imposed by a military regime. Several Islamic groups were critical of the method, scope, and effectiveness of Zia's reforms, while other sectors saw the whole process of Islamization by the military regime as a cynical exploitation of the religious sentiments of the Muslim masses for political goals.

The Zia regime used the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan in December 1979 to further strengthen its Islamic credentials. Pakistani Islamic groups were encouraged to organize an anti-Soviet jihād in Afghanistan by assisting the Afghan Islamic groups which had established their base in Pakistan. The Afghan jihād was to have far-reaching implications for the evolution of radical Islamism in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The financial and material assistance to the Afghan Islamist cause provided by the United States, and by Saudi Arabia and other conservative Arab states, motivated thousands of Islamists from the Arab countries to come to Pakistan and fight the Soviets. Among these Arab Islamists was Osama bin Laden, who would later create a militant anti-Western Islamic organization, al-Qaʿida, from the cadres that had come to Pakistan to fight the anti-Soviet jihād in Afghanistan.

The period 1977–1988 witnessed the consolidation of the dominance of the armed forces over the state and its role as the protector of Pakistan's Islamic “ideological” and geographical frontiers. The “army” and “Islam” became synonymous for the preservation of Pakistani national integrity. This period also witnessed a phenomenal growth in the number of madrasahs (religious schools) in Pakistan while most of the mainstream education system retained its Western character, especially at the secondary and university levels. The growth in the madrasahs catered especially to the educational needs of the poorer and more traditional segments of society in a country where more than 60 percent of the total population remains illiterate.

Madrasahs have traditionally been the centers of classical Islamic studies in South Asia. Since the advent of Islam in the Indian Subcontinent between the tenth and twelfth centuries, the madrasah system has played an important historical role by preserving traditional Islam and training generations of Islamic religious scholars and functionaries. Unlike most Middle Eastern Muslim countries, the network of mosques and madrasahs in Pakistan has generally operated outside state control, despite attempts by the state to weaken their independence. Most madrasahs in Pakistan are supported either by private religious endowments (awqā f) or by donations from the faithful. The financial autonomy of the mosques and madrasahs has been a major source of the independent political power of the ʿulamāʿ.

The madrasans in Pakistan teach a curriculum known as Dārs-i-Nizāmī, a standard course of study (devised in the eighteenth century) for all Sunnī madrasahs of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. It consists of about twenty subjects, broadly divided into the transmitted sciences (al-ʿulūm al-naqlīyah) and the rational sciences (al-ʿulūm al-ʿaqlīyah). However, the Zia regime's “Islamization” dramatically altered madrasah education in Pakistan, boosting the influence of Deobandī madrasahs. These madrasahs taught a politically conservative interpretation of Islam with emphasis on jihād and rejection of innovation in Islamic law, thereby inculcating in many students an intolerant attitude not only toward other religions but also toward other Islamic sects.

The Decade of Civilian Rule: 1988–1999.

General Zia and some of his senior military commanders died in a mysterious plane crash in August 1988. This development led to the installation of a civilian government under Benazir Bhutto, daughter of Zulfiqar ʿAli Bhutto. Benazir Bhutto (1951–2008) became the first woman to become prime minister of a Muslim country. Nevertheless, her powers, like those of her successors, were restricted by the role of the military in the political process. Despite the façade of democratic rule, the military maintained its lead role in the formulation of Pakistan's overall domestic and foreign policy. Both the Pakistan Peoples Party administration of Benazir Bhutto (from December 1988 to August 1990, and from October 1993 to November 1996) and the Muslim League administration of Muhammad Nawaz Sharif (from November 1990 to April 1993, and from February 1997 to October 1999) had to contend with the dominance of the military establishment in matters pertaining to national security.

The post-Zia civilian regimes were unsuccessful in reconciling the demands of the ʿulamāʿ for imposition of Islamic law with reformist demands for a pluralistic multiethnic society. Although Pakistan's main Islamist parties have considerable popular appeal, they have never garnered strong electoral support. They won only two parliamentary seats in the National Assembly in 1993 and 1997, but these parties, with the backing of the military establishment, maintained pressure on the weak civilian regimes for imposition of the sharīʿah. Thus, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif introduced a Sharīʿah Bill in April 1991, providing for a series of legislative and administrative measures to further Islamize education, the mass media, the economy, the bureaucracy, and the legal system; this bill was not approved by the parliament. Again, in 1998, the Sharif government proposed a fifteenth amendment to the 1973 Constitution to impose the sharīʿah as the supreme law of Pakistan. The sharīʿah amendments would have superseded all constitutional and common-law provisions by empowering the executive to issue binding directives concerning permitted and forbidden conduct under Islamic teachings. Despite strong pressure from the Islamists, a majority of the senate opposed this bill.

One important result of the Islamization process was heightened sectarianism. The introduction of zakāt and ʿushr and the enforcement of other sharīʿah laws brought to the surface doctrinal and juristic differences between Shīʿah and Sunnīs. The question as to which interpretation of Islamic law should form the basis of public policy became a major source of conflict both between Sunnī and Shīʿī ʿulamāʿ and among different schools of Sunnīs. These controversies have caused frequent violent incidents, including sectarian riots and the assassination of several prominent Sunnī and Shīʿī ʿulamāʿ in Pakistan since the late 1980s.

Also, the proliferation of madrasahs and the Pakistani state's support for jihād in Afghanistan as well as Kashmir in the 1990s led to the formation of numerous Deobandī-influenced Sunnī factions such as Lashkar-i-Tayyiba, Jaish-i-Muhammad, Harakāt al-Mujāhidīn and Harakāt al-Ansār, which formed armed groups in Pakistani-administered Kashmir to wage a “liberation struggle” in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir.

Besides Pakistan's conflict with India over Kashmir, the Pakistani military's association with Afghan jihād contributed to the emergence of the Taliban movement in Afghanistan from 1994 on. The Taliban's genesis is associated with the rise of hundreds of madrasahs in Pakistan during the 1980s and 1990s. The Deobandi madrasahs at Akora Khattak in the NWFP, and in Karachi, Baluchistan, and the tribal areas of the NWFP were the alma mater of more than half of the Taliban leadership. The emergence of the Taliban phenomenon in Afghanistan between 1994 and 2001 facilitated the growth of dozens of Islamic factions within Pakistan that viewed the Taliban's version of Islam—which was based upon an eradication of pre-Islamic cultural mores and symbols—as the solution to the multifaceted social, political, and economic problems faced by Pakistan.

The Musharraf Era.

On October 12, 1999, the Pakistan army under the leadership of General Pervez Musharraf carried out its third bloodless coup in the country's then fifty-two-year history by arresting the prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, and declaring a state of emergency. General Musharraf portrayed his regime as reformist and determined to deal with the political and economic problems faced by Pakistan. Musharraf, an admirer of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the secular Turkish republic, emphasized the promotion of a moderate form of Islam. He enunciated the concept of “enlightened moderation” which emphasized that Islam is a moderate religion, opposed to militancy and obscurantism. Initially, the military regime took some measures to curb the activities of Islamic militants. However, in 2000, General Musharraf withdrew his proposal to reform the procedural aspects of the Blasphemy Laws (which seek the death penalty for any person accused of making derogatory remarks about the Prophet Muḥammad) in the face of the threat of mass protests from Islamists. Moreover, the Musharraf regime continued to support the Taliban in Afghanistan until September 11, 2001.

The 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States and Pakistan's subsequent alliance with the United States in the “War on Terror” compelled the Pakistan army to curtail the support it had provided to Islamic groups based primarily on its geostrategic and security objectives in Afghanistan and India. Under U.S. pressure, the Musharraf regime took wide-ranging measures against various Islamist groups in Pakistan and assisted the United States in apprehending hundreds of operatives belonging to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaʿida organization. In January 2002, General Musharraf pledged to cease Pakistani support for Islamic insurgents in Kashmir and Afghanistan and banned key Sunnī and Shīʿī militant groups, although some continued to function under changed names.

Just as the military under General Zia had transformed Pakistan into a “frontline” state against Soviet expansionism, General Musharraf declared Pakistan a “frontline state against terrorism” and Islamic extremism. The Pakistan army's action against al-Qaʿida suspects and their backers in the North West Frontier Province's tribal areas between 2002 and 2007 has led to a growing resentment against the Musharraf regime in these Pashtun regions. Nevertheless, the Musharraf regime, despite its pro-Western orientation, has, like past Pakistani military regimes, been able to withstand the challenges posed by Pakistani Islamic groups by either co-opting them in government or selectively controlling their political activity. The Islamist parties’ ambiguous approach towards the military-controlled political system in Pakistan was evident when the JUI and JI tacitly consented to General Musharraf's alteration of the 1973 constitution and his introduction of the Legal Framework Order (LFO) of 2002 that essentially transformed the Pakistani political system from a parliamentary to a presidential one. Amendments to the constitution have entrenched the role of the military by creating a military-controlled National Security Council. The LFO did not mention the role of Islam in the national polity.

Like the regime of Ayub Khan, the Musharraf era has also witnessed the alliance of moderate Islamic modernist parties, such as the various factions of the Pakistan Muslim League, the PPP, and secularist, feudal, and business groups, with the ruling military-dominated oligarchy. Moreover, paternalistic relations, tribal and feudal, that historically have influenced the political process—especially in the NWFP, Baluchistan, and rural areas of the Sind and Punjab—have continued. This has helped stem Islamist as well as secular opposition to General Musharraf's serving as army chief and president simultaneously since 2001.

Nevertheless, despite the secular orientation of the military-led Pakistani leadership, madrasahs belonging to Deobandīs, Barelwīs, Shīʿah, the JI, and others have continued to flourish. The government issued a Madrasah Registration Ordinance in June 2002 to control foreign funding, improve curricula including the teaching of “secular” subjects, and prohibit training in the use of arms. However, most religious groups and parties have rejected these tentative governmental reforms.

Social and economic factors and the government's failure to enact widespread educational reform have contributed to the continued popularity of the madrasah system. The country's annual population growth rate of nearly 2 percent, with 35 percent of the population earning less than the $1.00 per day minimum established by the World Bank, has permitted madrasahs to to become a leading source of education and minimal social welfare for a large part of the impoverished urban and rural population. In 2004–2005, the government estimated there were 13,000 seminaries in Pakistan—unofficial estimates range between 15,000 and 25,000, and in some cases as high as 40,000—with an enrollment of about 1.5 million students.

Since the military-controlled national elections held in 2002, an Islamist coalition known as Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA, United Action Forum), comprising the JUI, JI, the Shīʿī Tehrik-i-Islami (successor of the TNFJ), and some minor factional groups, has run the provincial government in the NWFP. The MMA backed the Taliban's rule in Afghanistan (1995–2001) and the Taliban's opposition to the Western military presence in Afghanistan since November 2001. The MMA seeks to replicate in Pakistan the enforcement of Islamic laws seen in Afghanistan under the Taliban. The MMA Islamists are virulently opposed to the U.S. and NATO presence in Afghanistan and are critical of the Musharraf regime's alliance with the United States, especially Pakistani army operations targeting the Taliban and al-Qaʿida militants in the mountainous Pakistan-Afghanistan border region. The MMA passed a sharīʿah bill and a hisba (accountability) bill in the NWFP in 2003. The Musharraf regime, however, feared that this would create a parallel legal body, and the implementation of these bills was prevented by a government challenge in the Supreme Court. The Musharraf regime has tried to retain control of the MMA by co-opting some of its members into the military-backed leadership of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid-i-Azam) faction.

Islamic laws enacted during the Zia era have remained largely intact under the Musharraf regime. Despite General Musharraf's policy of “enlightened moderation,” his regime's authoritarian rule backed by military coercion has further eroded the vestiges of Pakistan's civil institutions and governance based on the rule of law and on parliamentary supremacy. The military's sidelining of the mainstream secular-oriented PPP and the Muslim League has greatly benefited the Islamist groups, which remain among the best-organized political forces in Pakistan, although they lack the unity and common ideological platform necessary to challenge the military-dominated state.

The Musharraf regime's attempts to curb Islamic militancy in Pakistan has accentuated the division between a relatively Westernized ruling elite and the growing number of Islamist groups. However, the Pakistani political elite's policy of selectively co-opting some of these groups within the state structures indicates its ambivalent attitude toward the so-called “Talibanization” of some segments of Pakistani society. The post-9/11 developments in Afghanistan and the army's attempt to curb Islamic extremism in Pakistan have created resentment and a sense of alienation among some Islamic groups that had received the patronage of the state during the preceding two decades.

Six decades after the emergence of Pakistan, the struggle over the role of Islam in the state remains unresolved. While the debates over Islam have continued, the real government in Pakistan has remained in the hands of an elite comprising the military, feudal landowners, and some business interests. The army's political stake in maintaining the status quo and deflecting attempts to establish civilian supremacy over the military from the early 1950s to the present has persisted. Even during the periods of quasi-democratic rule in 1947–1958, 1972–1977, and 1988–1999, national security decision-making remained dominated by the military. In this respect, Pakistan has sometimes been considered an “overdeveloped state” (by developing-world standards), in which a relatively strong state apparatus controlled by a military-bureaucratic establishment exercises hegemony over the people.

Closely connected with the domination of the military over the state has been the use of Islam as a binding force for national unity. Since independence, successive regimes have used Islam to legitimize their rule. The political elites have usually communicated with the masses in the name of Islam over the heads of the religious establishment and selectively patronized and sponsored the ʿulamāʿ.

In the context of foreign policy, the emphasis on the Islamic character of the state has given the Pakistani political and military elites reason to confront India and enabled them to maintain relatively close relations with Muslim states having radically different political systems, such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Iran. On the other hand, the assertion of “Islamic identity” since the 1970s has not significantly affected Pakistan's pro-Western foreign policy or its long-standing security relationship with the People's Republic of China. Even the growing U.S. engagement with India in the post–Cold War era has not substantially affected Pakistan's multifaceted relationship with the United States. The U.S. government's classification of Pakistan as a “major non-NATO ally” in 2004 was an acknowledgment of country's pivotal role in the “War on Terror.” By late 2006, Pakistan had received $4.75 billion in U.S. military and economic assistance.

Pakistan's Political Instability and Attempts for Democratic Governance.

Pakistan witnessed substantial domestic political turmoil in 2007. The Musharraf regime’ s operations against Taliban and its sympathizers in NWFP and regions adjacent to Afghanistan acted as a catalyst for escalating Taliban style insurgencies in the Pashtun tribal areas of the NWFP as well as Swat and Mansehra districts of that province. The army's assault on a militant stronghold within the Islamabad Lal (Red) Mosque in July 2007 indicated the growing Islamist opposition to the army's role in confronting the rise of Islamist forces in the country. In addition, General Musharraf's military regime faced a rejuvenated opposition from sections of the Pakistani civil society led by the judiciary and the lawyers demanding a genuine restoration of civil rule and the withdrawal of the military from running the affairs of the state. In March, Musharraf suspended the chief justice of Pakistan for challenging some decisions of the government. This action provoked widespread demonstrations by lawyer and other groups opposed to military rule.

In October 2007, General Musharraf got himself re-elected as president for a five-year turn by the outgoing national assembly further angering the opposition groups as it was considered unconstitutional. Increasing domestic instability and growing Islamic militancy in Pakistan compelled the United States and other Western states to pressure the Pakistani military to allow for the return of Benazir Bhutto, the leader of the Pakistan's largest secular party, the PPP, to return from exile. It was perceived that Bhutto's return would facilitate a return to democratic rule in Pakistan, which could assist in bolstering moderate, pro-Western secular forces in the country.

General Pervez Musharraf imposed a state of emergency or de facto martial law in Pakistan on November 3, 2007. He cited deterioration in law and order and the judiciary's interference in the running of the state as the prime reasons for this action. Replacing dissenting judges with handpicked appointees, and ruling by decree, Musharraf's objective appeared to be to retain personal power by gaining judicial approval for virtual martial law. Nevertheless, he gave up his position of army chief on November 28, 2007, under U.S. pressure, but the legitimacy of his presidential election remained contested. However, Musharraf's action led to increased domestic opposition and widespread international protest. The proclamation of the emergency rule and the subsequent Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) enabled General Musharraf to alter the constitution and gain almost dictatorial powers.

Gravely damaged by persistent military rule, Pakistan's fragile political system received a further major blow on December 27, 2007, when former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in Rawalpindi. The government blamed Bhutto's murder on Taliban sympathizers who, ostensibly, resented her aversion to Islamic fundamentalism and links with the West. Her popularity and the belief amongst her followers that General Musharraf and his allies were involved, directly or indirectly, in the assassination led to violent countrywide protests.

The increased instability in Pakistan and persistent domestic and international pressure compelled the military-dominated regime to hold national elections on February 18, 2008. Despite claims of rigging and a low voter turn out, the elections gave the Pakistan's Peoples Party led by the late Benazir Bhutto's husband, Asif Ali Zardari, a plurality of the 272 elected seats for the national assembly followed by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), and left the pro-Musharraf PML (Q) far behind. The religious parties, with many boycotting the polls, fared poorly, even losing power in the Northwest Frontier Province to the secular Awami National Party (ANP). The PPP and PML(N) won over half the seats in the key province of Punjab and, with the support of many independents and other regional parties in the National Assembly got close to the two-thirds majority needed to curb the president's powers. Despite the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the subsequent national elections in Pakistan indicated the prospect of a regrowth of civil society. Nevertheless, stability in Pakistan requires rapid transition to a legitimate civilian government and not the creation of a democratic facade behind which the military has continued to dominate the state for decades. Bhutto's assassination has drawn the fault lines even more clearly between the military, the small but increasingly militant Islamists and Pakistan's overwhelmingly moderate Muslim majority.

Pakistan also continues to struggle with ethnic tensions. The tight grip on the state maintained by the Punjabi-dominated military—Punjab accounts for more than 57 percent of the total population of Pakistan—has encouraged frequent ethnic and tribal dissent from the Muhājir, Pashtun, Baluchī, and Sindhi nationalities over the past two decades. Since 2002 Baluchistan province (which borders Iran) and the tribal areas of the NWFP have witnessed low-level insurgencies against the federal government. There is also increasing opposition to military-dominated policies from various secular, ethnic, and Islamic groups in southern Punjab, Sindh, and Pakistani-administered northern areas as well. Even so, Islam remains important in attempts to define the Pakistani identity.


  • Abbas, Hassan. Pakistan's Drift into Extremism: Allah, the Army, and America's War on Terror. Armonk, N.Y. and London: M. E. Sharpe, 2005. Gives an insight into the Pakistani Islamic militant groups and the political and social environment in which they exist.
  • Ahmad, Aziz. Islamic Modernism in India and Pakistan, 1857–1964. London: Oxford University Press, 1967. Penetrating studies on modern intellectual and religious thought in India and Pakistan with an emphasis on the dynamic relationships between politics, sociocultural change, and reformulation of religious ideas.
  • Ahmad, Aziz, and G. E. Von Grunebaum, eds.Muslim Self-Statement in India and Pakistan, 1857–1968. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1970. A valuable collection of writings by Indo-Pakistani Muslim intellectuals and religious and political leaders; an indispensable guide to the intellectual history of Islam in modern South Asia.
  • Ahmad, Mumtaz. “Pakistan.” In The Politics of Islamic Revivalism, edited by Shireen T. Hunter, pp. 229–246. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988. Examines the political, social, and economic factors of Islamic resurgence in Pakistan during the 1980s and analyzes the political and social consequences of General Muhammad Zia ul-Haq's Islamization policies.
  • Cohen, Stephen P.The Idea of Pakistan. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2006. A panoramic portrait of Pakistan that discusses Pakistan's political problems from its complex origins to its current problems and prospects for the future.
  • Cohen, Stephen. P.The Pakistan Army. Karachi, 2000. A thorough study of the Pakistan army and its role in formulating national security policy.
  • Ewing, Katherine P.“The Politics of Sufism: Redefining the Saints of Pakistan.”Journal of Asian Studies42, no. 2 (1983): 252–268. Examines the traditional role of Sufism in Pakistani society and the legislative and administrative moves by the state to control the Ṣūfī shrines.
  • Haqqani, Husain. Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military. Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2005. Provides a useful insight into the links of the Pakistani military with various Islamist groups.
  • Hussain, Rizwan. Pakistan and the Emergence of Islamic Militancy in Afghanistan. Aldershot, U.K.: Ashgate, Vt., 2005. This study examines Pakistan's security policy, the role of the military in charting Pakistan's policy towards Afghanistan, and the subsequent rise of Islamic militancy within the country.
  • Ikram, S. M., and Percival Spear, eds.The Cultural Heritage of Pakistan. Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1955. Excellent collection of essays dealing with the cultural heritage of Pakistan and the ways in which it is reflected in its contemporary art forms.
  • Jaffrelot, Christophe, ed.Pakistan: Nationalism without a Nation? London: Zed Books, 2003. Series of essays on the sectarian, ethnic, and cultural problems facing contemporary Pakistan.
  • Jalal, Ayesha. The State of Martial Rule: The Origins of Pakistan's Political Economy of Defence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990. A detailed study examining the reasons for the dominance of the Pakistani military establishment over the country's political system.
  • McMahon, Robert J.The Cold War on the Periphery: The United States, India, and Pakistan. New York: Columbia University Press, 1994.
  • Naim, C. M., ed.Iqbal, Jinnah, and Pakistan: The Vision and the Reality. Syracuse, N.Y.: Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, 1979. Offers both the conventional and a revisionist view of the role of Islam in the creation of Pakistan.
  • Nasr, Seyyed Vali Reza. Mawdudi and the Making of Islamic Revivalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996. An excellent exposition of the teachings of Mawdūdī and the role of Jamāʿat-i Islāmī in facilitating Islamic resurgence in Pakistan.
  • Qureshi, Ishtiaq Husain. The Struggle for Pakistan. Karachi: University of Karachi, 1965. Traces the development of ideological and political forces that culminated in the creation of Pakistan.
  • Qureshi, Ishtiaq Husain. Ulamā in Politics. Karachi: Maʿaref, 1972. An excellent survey of the role of religious scholars in politics on the subcontinent from the sultanate period to the creation of Pakistan.
  • Rahman, Fazlur. Islam and Modernity: Transformation of an Intellectual Tradition. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1982. A passionate critique of contemporary Islamic intellectual thought and education with frequent reference to the Pakistani situation.
  • Rizvi, Hassan Askari. Military and Politics in Pakistan 1947–1997. Lahore, 1999.
  • Rizvi, S. A.A.The Wonder That Was India. Vol. 2: A Survey of the History and Culture of the Indian Sub-Continent From the Coming of the Muslims to the British Conquest 1200–1700. London: Sidgwick and Jackson, 1987. A masterful work charting the story of India from the advent of Muslim rule to the eighteenth century. Probably the best work on the Islamic aspect of Indian history.
  • Sarila, Narendra Singh. Shadow of the Great Game: The Untold Story of India's Partition. London: Constable and Robinson, 2006. An in-depth study based partly on declassified U.K. archives and examining the role of British policy in facilitating the partition of India in 1947.
  • Sayeed, Khalid B.The Political System of Pakistan. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1967. Although dated, Sayeed's study is still the best introduction to Pakistani politics during its formative period; contains an excellent chapter on Islam and the political culture of Pakistan.
  • Siddiqa, Ayesha. Military Inc. Inside Pakistan's Military Economy. London: Pluto Press, 2007. An insightful analysis of the military's involvement in the Pakistani economy and the corporate sector.
  • Smith, Wilfred Cantwell. Islam in Modern History. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1957. Includes an excellent chapter titled “Pakistan as an Islamic State.”
  • Syed, Anwar H. Pakistan: Islam, Politics, and National Solidarity. New York: Praeger, 1982. Examines the role of Islam in Pakistan's political and ideological controversies.
  • Talbott, Ian. Pakistan: A Modern History. Enlarged and updated. London: Hurst, 2005. An excellent introduction.
  • Wolpert, Stanley. Zulfi Bhutto of Pakistan. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993. A biography of Pakistan's charismatic Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and a study of Pakistani politics in the Bhutto era.


Hussain, Rizwan. "Pakistan." In The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World. Oxford Islamic Studies Online, http://www.oxfordislamicstudies.com/article/opr/t236/e0616.

How to Cite This Page

"Muslim Journeys | Item #232: 'Pakistan' from Oxford Islamic Studies Online", July 20, 2024 http://bridgingcultures-muslimjourneys.org/items/show/232.