Conflicting Identities in Pakistan: Challenges and the Way Forward

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Air Commodore (R) Khalid Iqbal TI (M)*

*The author is Consultant Policy and Strategic Response, IPRI; he is a former Assistant Chief of Air Staff, Pakistan Air Force.


(By design and default, human beings carry multiple identities simultaneously. People need and want their identity in the context of their linkage to a group or groups of their own choice. Challenges arise in convincing the world that it sees us in the same way as we perceive ourselves. Whenever there is an effort to reduce identity related engagements, the result is confrontation. Singular identity is an illusion and those who cultivate violence promote the single identity concept and exploit it by ignoring connectivity and affinity which might allow the other identities to coexist. Pakistan faces an interesting challenge of identities which conflict and cooperate simultaneously. To understand the interplay of conflicting identities in Pakistan, it is necessary to explore relations between “identity” and “self. The real answer to the continuing debate on Pakistani identity is not to look at history for an answer, for the history of Pakistan is inextricably entangled with the history of India, because Pakistan was a part of it until 1947. Contending identities have their own peculiar problems and the issue of accepting them as parts that form the plural Pakistani state level identity is not simply a question of recognition. It will require a lot of research, debate and accommodation within these identities as well. There are a number of issues that need to be resolved between these identities. However, ignoring them or suppressing them has not been and is likely not to be the way to go about it. The specific constitutional, administrative and political methods have to be looked into. It involves a restructuring of provinces/federating units that reflects these identities, followed by a functioning federal structure based on real democracy that is not controlled actually or intellectually by any unitary structure. It is through accommodating and accepting the plurality that Pakistan’s security can be ensured.This paper examines the challenges posed by conflicting identities to the state of Pakistan and attempts to find a way forward. – Author)


Human beings are multi-identitied. Each identity brings its own aroma of richness and warmth; and also entails sets of freedoms and constraints. Human attributes like religion, nationality, race, colour, creed, community, locality, linguistic lineage, cultural moorings, tribe, clan, family etc gives each individual a basket of identities to choose from and prioritize1. Some of these identities are inclusive, while some are exclusive. Freedom to choose from identities is also associated with pressures and priorities that limit this freedom and influence the choice. Challenges also arise in convincing the world that it sees us in the same way as we perceive ourselves. People need and want their identity in the context of their linkage to a group or groups of their own choice. Whenever there is an effort to reduce identity related engagements, the result is confrontation. One dimensional identity or limiting individuals’ connection to one group causes violence and strife because individuals have plural identities which, at times, may appear in contrast with each other. Singular identity is an illusion and those who cultivate violence promote the single identity concept and exploit it by ignoring connectivity and affinity which might allow the other identities to coexist2.

Pakistan’s Identity related Challenges

Pakistan faces an interesting challenge of conflicting identities, self righteousness, stereo typing and negative tagging. These have mixed to make an unenviable mosaic. To understand the interplay of conflicting identities in Pakistan, it is necessary to explore relations between “identity” and “self3. Martin Sökefeld4 opines that an analysis of how a particular individual acts in situations involving contradictory identities requires a concept of a “self” as it emerges from the actions of individuals while managing the shared identities. Besides any culture specific attributes, this self is endowed with reflexivity. This concept of self is a necessary supplement to the concept of culture in anthropology. In case of Pakistan some of the identities are universal, most others are trans-national, national and sub-national. And then there is the core political identity of being Pakistani. Pakistani identity complements its association with Islam in the political sense as well as in the religious context.

Pakistan is certainly a state of contending identities. These contentions are operational both at vertical and horizontal levels. At vertical level is the contention emerging from the religious basis of its creation. This religion-based identity cuts across all other identity related domains. There is an interesting debate between those who consider Pakistani identity to be basically religious, to be more precise, Islamic, and those who, though agreeing to the Muslim identity of Pakistan, argue that being Muslim does not mean being Islamic. They point out to some apparently secular articulations of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah5. However, positions, religious as well as secular, are in essence centrist—promoting the concept of single identity; both are strange bed fellows in their opposition to granting due functional space to ethnic/ sub-national identity assertions. One does so on the basis of religion and the other on the basis of nationhood or the basis of nation state.

A democratic progressive Pakistan is tied with a Pakistani identity based on the facts of plurality of its being. Conversely, a centrist Pakistan is obliged to rely solely on the religious or secular identity. There is a direct connection and overlapping of interests between democratic governance and ethnic based plural identity in Pakistan. These centrist identities are, in turn, challenged by regional/provincial and ethnic identities, that include Pushtun, Baluch, Sindhi, Punjabi and since the 1980s the Muhajir (Refugees who came from Bangladesh to Pakistan after 1971, earlier they had migrated from India to East Pakistan in 1947). Alongside, there are other identities contending for recognition. They include: Saraiki in Punjab, Makranis, Hazaras and Barohis in Baluchistan and Chitralis, Gilgitis and Hazarawals in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and Gilgit-Baltistan.

The real debate and contest is between the centrist religious based (irrespective of the debate between the Muslim Nationalist and Islamic fundamentalist) and these ethnic/national contentions. While this debate draws a lot of heat, the policy making tier of the state structures has, for most of the time, been effectively dominated by the secular elite class, which is either Western educated or idealizes the Western secular model because of various reasons and personal perceptions.

Similarly, in India the debate around Hindu Nationalism and Indian Nationalism is not a new one. During colonial period, when the rising freedom movement was articulating the concept and values of Indian nationalism, the section of Hindus, keeping aloof from the freedom movement, asserted the concept of Hindu Nationalism. The debate has resurfaced again. In a July 2013 interview Narendra Modi6 has said very ‘simply’ that he was born a Hindu, he is a nationalist, so he is a Hindu Nationalist! His Party President Rajnath Singh also buttressed the point and took it further to say that Muslims are Muslim nationalists, Christians are Christian Nationalists. So one has a variety of nationalisms to choose from!7 Hindu nationalism will require a Ram Temple; Indian nationalism requires schools, universities and factories for employing the youth. Ram Puniyani8 opines that:

“Hindu nationalism is exclusive and divisive; Indian Nationalism is inclusive; rooted in the issues of this world, and not the identity related ones. Unfortunately Hindu nationalists have been raising the pitch around identity issues undermining the issues of the poor and marginalized. The Indian Nationalism, the product of our freedom movement is being challenged by the Hindu nationalism in India, Buddhist Nationalism in Myanmar and Sri Lanka and is a major threat to the process of democratization in those countries; Muslim Nationalism has wrecked havoc in Pakistan, and many other places. Hindu nationalism, does not subscribe to the affirmative action, so the term appeasement of minorities has been floated. For Hindu nationalists, the proactive supportive action for vulnerable religious minorities is a strict no, while for democratic nationalism, this is the norm. One has to see the clever ploy of the Prime Minister aspirant, to call himself a Hindu nationalist. This is one more attempt to indulge in dividing the Indian society along religious lines”.9

Therefore, it is not fair to pass attitudinal and predisposed judgment about the identity issue with which only Pakistan is grappling with. Universally applicable concepts of Caliphate and Jihad have coexisted with the contemporary synonyms of various types of governments (monarchies and democracies), and interstate warfare respectively. Moreover, despite the universal appeal of such terminologies, these have coexisted with narrower structures like nation states and prosecution of war as a mean of furthering political objectives through. The crises preceding the Peace of Westphalia 164810 had similar tone and tenor. Other countries with predominant Muslim population and or semi-Islamic or quasi-Islamic way of governance also have underlying issues of competing ethno-sectarian identities. The sorry state of affairs in which Pakistan finds itself in the context of mismanaged identities has many reasons; of these the core reason is the weakening of state structures and the politicisation of the decision/implementation arm of the state—the bureaucracy. The resultant soft state is unable to assert itself in a way to be perceived as the guarantor of justice and fair play. The state is perceived as a competitor or may be as a usurper of the rightful domain of sub-identities. Socio-economic deprivation in the rural areas of Pakistan has been instrumental in accentuating ethnicity centred identities.

SadanandDhume11 notes that Pakistan has produced a disproportionate high number of terrorists that have either attacked or attempted to attack the West. “From the start, the new country was touched by the messianic zeal of pan-Islamism,” he notes. “The country’s name means “Land of the Pure.” The capital city is Islamabad. The national flag carries the Islamic crescent and star. The cricket team wears green.” He proposes that the goal for reforming Pakistan should be to “replace its political and cultural DNA: Pan-Islamism has to give way to old-fashioned nationalism”. He falters when he tries to link Pakistan’s terrorist production capability to its founding as the world’s first modern nation based solely on Islam. It is interesting to note that a majority of these Pakistani origin terrorists were nationals of Western countries, some of them were brought up and educated in Western institutions known for their secular leanings. Moreover, there are around 57 Muslim countries; their public level leanings towards Islam are as strong as that of Pakistanis. Some of them are even more Islamized at the state level. Hence, Pakistan’s linkage with Islam is not the cause behind the production of terrorists.

This linkage needs a broader treatment in the context of global and regional geopolitics. The Pakistani state has a distinctive nature, a unique identity matrix where various sub-identities interact in a fascinating way and mainstream into Pakistani identity; at times these appear at cross-purposes with the political identity of Pakistan whereas at some other times these sub or supra national identities reinforce the political face of Pakistan. Pakistani nationalism has been just as much a part of the country’s experience as Islam. This is because the country’s founding is rooted not merely in religion, but also in political economics. Quaid-i-Azam believed that, under a united India, Muslims would never be able to wield enough political power to balance the Hindu-majority12. In the same stride, economic well being of the Indian Muslims living in Muslim majority zones of India was all along a declared objective for the creation of Pakistan.

Thus the problem in Pakistan is not a dichotomy between Islamism, nationalism and sub-nationalism but rather a matter of cohabitating these identities rather than generating a crisis of identity through repulsive mindsets. The creation of Bangladesh is often cited as justification for inadequacy of the ideology of Pakistan—the two nations theory. This setback gave a temporary boost to ethnicity based identities, however, soon the issue was managed and the matter is not beyond political accommodation. The elections of 2008 and 2013 have thrown up political parties which have a firm conviction in federal structures. Even those political identities which had a separatist leaning have made course corrections to be part of the mainstream political processes. Nationalist parties of Baluchistan and Sindh participated in the 2013 elections. Major political parties have representation in all the provinces, and their leaders are perceived as national leaders. Devolution of powers to provinces through the 18th Constitutional Amendment, the unanimous adoption of the 7th National finance Commission Award in 201013 and the 2009 Economic package for Baluchistan (Agaz-i-Haqooq-e-Baluchistan)14 may not have had as wholesome an impact as was envisaged – thanks to rampant corruption at implementation level – they have, however, helped in narrowing the perceptional and factual gaps between the provinces, and as a corollary, between various shades of sub-national groupings and identities – bringing them from separatist brinkmanship to electoral harmony.

A democratic progressive Pakistan is inextricably linked with a Pakistani identity based on the ground reality of its plurality of identities15. The centrist school of thought in Pakistan, solely relying on religious justification for finding its identity related moorings, is blamed for pushing the society towards extremism and, as a reaction, strengthening the other sub-national aspirations. However, Islam is not an issue of dispute. This matter was settled with the creation of Pakistan through a set of democratic processes. While Islam provides an overarching identity related leaning, it does not and it should not become obstructive in the way of rightful growth of other identities. The Holy Quran says, “O people! We have created you from a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most honourable of you with Allah is that [one] who fears Allah. Indeed, Allah is Omniscient, All-Aware”16. There is indeed a direct linkage and shared space between democratic governance and ethno-religious plural identities converging towards national political identity; though it is quite complex and needs intricate handling.

Pakistan is essentially a country of competing identities asserting themselves at vertical as well as horizontal levels. On the vertical level is the contention emerging out of the religious basis of its creation. There is a debate between those who think that despite having a Muslim identity they could be the citizens of a politically secular Pakistan. Others contend that in continuation with the basis for the creation of the country, Islam retains an overarching status in the context of routine functioning of the state as well. The secularist debate is restricted to a limited club of urban intellectuals, mostly foreign educated and or foreign influenced inspired. For the remaining majority, which is indeed overwhelming, these intricacies are of no significance and they know how to adjust themselves with these seemingly contradictory but actually converging identities.

The constitution of Pakistan supports the overriding status of Islam in the legislative domain17. The country’s name is Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the state religion is Islam, and no law can be enacted by the parliament that is repugnant to the Holy Quran and Sunnah. All citizens are equal before the law, and all kinds of exploitation are prohibited. The Objectives Resolution of 1949 has been part of all constitutions of Pakistan. Earlier its status was of a preamble, but later it was made a part of the constitution18. The Objectives Resolution, which combines features of both Western and Islamic democracy, is one of the most important documents in the constitutional history of Pakistan. At the time it was passed, Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan called it “the most important occasion in the life of this country, next in importance only to the achievement of independence”. However, not everyone in Pakistan has such high praise and unbounded admiration for it. To understand the constitutional position with regard to the status of the state and Islam in Pakistan, it is interesting to take a look at the Objectives Resolution in toto19:-

“Whereas sovereignty over the entire Universe belongs to Almighty Allah alone, and the authority to be exercised by the people of Pakistan within the limits prescribed by Him is a sacred trust; And whereas it is the will of the people of Pakistan to establish an order; Wherein the State shall exercise its powers and authority through the chosen representatives of the people; Wherein the principles of democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance and social justice, as enunciated by Islam, shall be fully observed; Wherein the Muslims shall be enabled to order their lives in the individual and collective spheres in accordance with the teachings and requirements of Islam as set out in the Holy Quran and Sunnah; Wherein adequate provision shall be made for the minorities freely to profess and practise thei religions and develop their cultures; Wherein the territories now included in or in accession with Pakistan and such other territories as may hereafter be included in or accede to Pakistan shall form a Federation wherein the units will be autonomous with such boundaries and limitations on their powers and authority as may be prescribed; Wherein shall be guaranteed fundamental rights, including equality of status, of opportunity and before law, social, economic and political justice, and freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith, worship and association, subject to law and public morality; Wherein adequate provision shall be made to safeguard the legitimate interests of minorities and backward and depressed classes; Wherein the independence of the judiciary shall be fully secured; Wherein the integrity of the territories of the Federation, its independence and all its rights, including its sovereign rights on land, sea and air, shall be safeguarded; So that the people of Pakistan may prosper and attain their rightful and honoured place amongst the nations of the World and make their full contribution towards international peace and progress and happiness of humanity; Now, therefore, we, the people of Pakistan; Conscious of our responsibility before Almighty Allah and men; Cognizant of the sacrifices made by the people in the cause of Pakistan; Faithful to the declaration made by the Founder of Pakistan, Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, that Pakistan would be a democratic State based on Islamic principles of social justice; Dedicated to the preservation of democracy achieved by the unremitting struggle of the people against oppression and tyranny; Inspired by the resolve to protect our national and political unity and solidarity by creating an egalitarian society through a new order; Do hereby, through our representatives in the National Assembly, adopt, enact and give to ourselves, this Constitution.”

This document has had a great role in determining the fundamentals of each constitution of the country with regard to the relationship of state towards religion and minorities. It has steered the debate regarding state and religion away from the traditional positions taken by the secular and religious schools of thought. It shows the way a progressive religion and modern democracy could coexist in a typical contemporary nation state. Being conscious of this experimentation, various governments have gone out of the way to legislate enabling laws to protect the rights of religious minorities. However, the constitution has not been so vocal to articulate such distinctions nor institute similar protections for ethnic and or sectarian groups. The constitution has assumed that all ethnic groups having Islam as their faith and having equal political and fundamental rights would have requisite harmony, whereby they shall all be equal. Likewise the constitution does not make any reference to sectarian leanings, presuming that the minimum common denominator amongst all sects of Islam is adequate enough to carry all of them along in the affairs of state. Moreover, where the differences in the jurisprudence of some sects were deemed unbridgeable, necessary amendments were made in the laws to let the sects practice their own sets of laws (fiqh). Such provisions are quite prominent in the laws governing Zakat where, though the spirit is same, there remain differences over the management of the alms20.

However, it is ironical that contradictory identities which were not thought to ever become critically conflict-ridden have indeed become the Achilles-heel for the state and society of Pakistan. As of now ethnic and sectarian identities have become the playing fields for internal and external state and non-state actors.

Centrist identities are often challenged by regional/provincial and ethnic identities. These include Pushtun, Baluch, Sindhi and Mohajirs (refugees who came to Pakistan mainly after the creation of Bangladesh in 1971). There are some vocal sub-ethnic groups as well; these include Saraikis in Punjab, Makranis, Hazras and Brahvis in Baluchistan, Chitralis, Gilgitis and Hazars in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, etc. However, the real debate is between two centrist schools of thought which base their argument on religious21 and secularist arguments; ironically, both put forward a semi-exclusive political arrangement by ignoring the local dynamics of ethno-sectarian flux and mosaic.

Frequent disruptions of the political process in Pakistan that resulted in prolonged tenures of military rule gave strength to unitary tendencies. By virtue of being the largest province, Punjab has been contributing a major chunk of Human Resource for the armed forces, however, a majority of the services chiefs have been from smaller ethnic groups. Though with good intent, such leanings by the military regimes coupled with a lack of due political process created an impression of negation of the multi-ethnic and multi-cultural reality of the society. Over a period of time, smaller sub ethnic groups started equating armed forces with Punjabis. This in turn resulted in blaming Punjab for centrist tendencies. The ensuing reaction of self-assertion by ethnic entities was not taken in good stride and was equated with secessionist tendencies, for which a still more centrist approach was thought to be a panacea. This culminated in a vicious cycle of self-righteousness by centrist and pluralistic lobbies. The end product is a chronic inter sub-identity intolerance22.

Most studies on issues of identities in Pakistan also take a top down or centrist approach23. Interestingly, here both, religionist as well as secularist, approaches converge to find solace in a centrist approach towards the identity issue. While the centrist liberals focus on secularising Islam and eroding its role in statecraft, for religious centrists, the points of concern are: to prove that a modern state can be run by following the Islamic political model, merging of Muslim and Islamist sub-identities, give religion the prime role of identity and push the issue of other multiple identities under the carpet. Either one of these strategies, if adopted as a constitutional framework, are inadequate to resolve the issues of main and sub-identities. Whereas from the ethno-nationalists’ perspective the issue is governance related. They seek a kind of local autonomy that could guarantee the protection of their cultural, ethnic, linguistic, economic and political sub-identities. A typical nationalist views these sub-identities as mutually complementary and capable of coexistence, provided their order of precedence is reworked.

Hence, there came a gradual snowballing perception, and as a corollary, attitudinal hardening, whereby centrists equated singleness of identity as sine qua non for the survival of the state, and autonomists termed the centrist approach as usurpation of politico-economic rights of federating units. They view it as a form of neo-colonialism. Hence, there came slogans of Sindhu Desh, Greater Baluchistan, and Pukhtunistan. Such ethnocentric separatist tendencies were encouraged by the creation of Bangladesh. Ironically, not internal reforms but external events were to mellow down these tendencies. The Soviet intervention in Afghanistan and the popular interpretation of resisting the Soviets as Jihad replaced trans-border ethnic sub-currents with Islam-centric attitudes. Towards the 1980s, the separatist Sindhi elements were incentivised and made stakeholders in the political and administrative systems through lucrative political posts. They, therefore, thought it worthwhile to replace their separatist doctrine with an autonomy related charter. These elements call themselves nationalists. Apart from rhetoric, they almost stand absorbed into the national politico-economic mainstream. Moreover, any separatist elements that gain strength attract Indian sympathy in the form of platforms to air their grievances. Separatists are too eager to grab Indian anchorage, which has invariably undermined their credibility, even amongst moderate nationalists. After the Bangladesh debacle, most separatist groups have been adequately managed with a focus on mainstreaming them.

Mohajir Community

In urban Sindh the Mohajir community is struggling to cope with the identity issue. At times, their sensitivity to ethnic related identity touches the boundary of cult-hood, while at the same time they often go overboard to associate themselves with Sindh and Sindhis. This dual track approach has created as many problems for urban Sindh as it may claim to have settled. Urban Sindh is perpetually on the edge, marred by irreconcilable ethnic tensions. Elections in urban Sindh are generally held under an environment of coercion resulting into accusations and counter accusations about electoral rigging. During the 2013 elections a number of non-Mohajir representing parties pulled out of the electoral race right during the elections, citing rigging and security of their polling agents as the underlying reason24. Non-Mohajir parties which continued with the electoral process also endorsed the reasons cited by those who boycotted the elections. Moreover, voter registration and census related activities in urban Sindh have also lost credibility due to overbearing irregularities, allegedly by the Mohajir community. Such manipulative actions have tarnished the image of the Mohajir community in the context of its agenda with respect to identity. Beside other causes, this battle for turfs is a major cause of unrest in Karachi. Though Sindhi nationalists reject this new claimant to separate identity, their claim is an issue that has opened both practical and theoretical issues that need to be tackled accordingly.

Baluch identity

Baluchistan is a tribal society. Inter tribe feuds are serious, whereby the province remains perpetually in the grip of low intensity battles between the tribes. As long as the state is not involved, these low intensity conflicts generally go unnoticed. Roles of political leadership, economic stewardship, war lordship are vested in the tribal chieftains who thrive on the strength of ethnic identities. Baluch hierarchy comprises of one Khan (of Qalat), five Nawabs (each heads an ethnic tribe and leads a political party, these parties are called nationalist parties) and two Salars (each with ministerial status). Though the Sardari (tribal) System was abolished on April 8, 1976, on ground the Khan, Nawabs and Salars are effective25. Stripping off of their titles has relieved them of their legal accountability of anything going wrong in their jurisdiction. Tribal chieftains are generally well educated, but make deliberate efforts to keep their people uneducated and out of the social security network, even health cover, because they perceive that such facilitation could dilute their subjects’ commitment towards ethno-tribal allegiance. Tribal Chiefs head their political parties and participate in the democratic political process. Those in power endorse the federation; others malign it for usurpation of Baluch rights. Baluchistan is inhabited by Baluch and Pushtuns; almost 50 percent each26. Combined together, more Baluch live in other provinces of Pakistan than in Baluchistan. The Baluch are politically more active and campaign as if they are the sole owners of the province. There is a small population of settlers from other provinces. Some of the Baluch tribes are hostile towards settlers and they actively pursue measures for their forcible eviction. Three tribal chiefs have fielded one scion each to self acclaimed exile, from where they run campaigns to portray Baluch victimhood at the hands of the federation, while their remaining family members happily participate in the provincial and federal political processes; and reap the benefits of power back home. However, impact of these dubious tribes is balanced by other equally powerful and influential tribes that subscribe towards a federal form of government, while seeking internal autonomy. Regardless of their politico-ethnic leaning, all tribal chiefs are guilty of double speak: when in their constituency they accuse Islamabad of usurpation of rights, and when in Islamabad they make all out efforts to block the projects related to the welfare of their people. Most of the development projects do not go beyond paper work; the funds released are misappropriated by the tribal chiefs in collaboration with middlemen. There is no short term solution to the identity crisis in Baluchistan. Tribal chiefs enjoy absolute power over their subjects. The Provincial police has jurisdiction over only 5 percent of the territory. Law and order in the remaining 95 percent is administered by tribal chiefs through a force called ‘Levis’ which is recruited by the tribal chief but paid by the provincial government. Vastness of the area (48 percent of Pakistan), scarcity of population (five percent of Pakistan), poor communication infrastructure and absolute power of tribal chiefs are the main reasons for sustaining ethnic (especially Baluch) identity issue in Baluchistan on boiling point. The Baluch identity contention has been the most vocal and violent. The Pakistani State has used military force at least on four occasions— 1948, 1962, 1973-7, and 2004-8 – to suppress its armed and violent expression27. The Baluch territory flows into Iran as well. A sizable Baluch population lives in Afghanistan and Oman as well. Baluchistan became a full province in 1970. The issue of Baluch identity has its limiting parameters. Small numbers, large territory and poor connectivity make this province untenable for any meaningful insurgency. Moreover, the Baluch people have to contend with the Pakistani State on one side and Pushtun identity on the other, as Pushtuns constitute nearly fifty percent of Baluchistan’s population. They also sit on vast riches of energy resources, thus attracting a lot of international and regional strategic and financial interests. Their essentially tribal and feudal leadership does not represent their national aspirations. They only wish to maintain the status quo to perpetuate their rule. The Pakistani state has, by and large, gone along with the pro status quo elements and has only intervened militarily when there was an open or implied rebellion. Efforts by the state to influence and assimilate Baluch identity into the Pakistani identity by using modernization, education and anti-tribalism, has at best been half hearted.28

Punjabi Identity

Punjabi identity presents an interesting case. Like other ethnic identities of Pakistan, Punjabi is also a transnational identity, with almost half the folks in India, who are Sikh by religion. At the time of partition, there were large scale riots between Muslim and Sikh Punjabis, which resulted in mass migrations – Muslim of East Punjab moved over to Western part of Punjab, and Sikh Punjabis residing in Western Punjab moved over to East Punjab. The division of Punjab came about due to the Sikhs’ option of joining India. Had they opted to join Pakistan, Punjab as a whole would have been part of Pakistan. Atrocities committed by the two sides of Punjabis on each other were phenomenal. The scars remain unhealed, even after six decades. Pakistani Punjabis represent the largest single ethnic majority. This was the most developed area at the time of creation of Pakistan and continues to maintain its edge. The British designated some of its areas as ‘martial area’, which were deliberately kept underdeveloped to encourage recruitment to the British armed forces. Thus at the time of independence, Punjab had a maximum share of personnel in the armed forces. This edge has continued despite some very meaningful efforts to enhance recruitment form other provinces, especially from Sindh and Baluchistan. These advantages inherited at the time of independence, and maintained thereafter, have become a point of envy or, to be exact, jealousy by other provinces. Generally, hatred by the other ethnicities is directed towards Punjab, and Punjabis’ are portrayed and perceived as usurpers and exploiters of smaller provinces. In actual practice, Punjab has a tendency to identify itself with Pakistan. Often during inter-province distribution of assets like the finance awards, water and job quotas, Punjab has been accepting lower than entitled resource allocation. The Punjabi sense of identity is different from other ethnic identities. Other ethnicities identify themselves with their trans-border brethren, Punjabis do not do so. Other ethnic groups jokey between sub-national and trans-national identities, Punjabis seldom differentiate between ethnic and national identities; they take it as the two sides of the same coin.

The post colonial state of Pakistan – characterized by long spells of direct military rules, lack of tolerance based democratic political culture and a weak civil society – created a unitary state type national identity of Pakistan. Punjab has by and large felt comfortable with this arrangement. This has backfired creating pockets of violence where such identity is contested. Traditionally Punjab has remained the most amenable to the establishment’s sale of a unitary Pakistani identity, with no insistence on Punjabi language or any related issues. Perhaps that can be explained by the fact that it formed the ruling elite of the state, which has been the main beneficiary of Pakistani centrist structure and identity.

Sindhi Identity

Sindhi identity presents an interesting study. Socioeconomic inequality is obvious according to the urban-rural divide. In urban areas Sindhi and Mohajir communities are in a perpetual brinkmanship for battle of turfs. Mohajirs have a clear edge in the urban centres of Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkur. Sindhis have predominance in rural Sindh. At least for the time being, both communities have reconciled to this reality. Rural Sindh is further divided into nationalist and federationalist elements. Nationalists are vocal about provincial rights; they arouse public sentiment through traditional cultural symbols of Sindh and view all nonlocals as aliens. However, after the 1980s, they no longer espouse the concept of Sindhu Desh. Their demands relate to autonomy and getting Sindh’s due share in resource distribution. Generally the rallying point for public mobilization anchors around emotional oratory against Punjab and the federal governments. Electoral value of nationalist elements is limited; these have never formed the government in the province. There is a perception that they have wittingly or unwittingly fallen victim to foreign influence in the context of developmental mega projects like dams. Federationalist factions have overwhelming clout in urban as well as rural Sindh; however, they also, at times, play to the nationalist gallery in the context of provincial rights and autonomy issues. Both these factions grudge Punjab and the federation, whom they perceive as usurpers of resources. However these feelings do not go beyond periodic rhetoric and do not pose any threat to the federation.

While studying the ethnic dynamics in Sindh, Karachi needs a separate treatment. After the creation of Pakistan, Karachi became its first capital. Until recently, it was the only port city of the country. Over the years, it also became the biggest industrial hub. These distinct features have made it a city of economic opportunities. Hence, people of all ethnic shades have migrated to Karachi in search of livelihood. After the independence of Bangladesh, the persecuted Urdu speaking Bihari community migrated to Karachi in numbers. The demographic composition of Karachi is almost a mirror reflection of the national demographic profile. Karachi is also termed as “Mini-Pakistan.” The city has expanded rapidly; corresponding infrastructure and services sectors have not been able to keep pace with the expansion. The city is difficult to administer and poses governance challenges. Local Sindhis, especially the nationalist elements, grudge this development and feel that outsiders are taking their share of opportunities. They tried to safeguard their turf by declaring Sindhi as their provincial language in 1973, which non-Sindhi speaking habitants of Karachi thought was an effort to reduce them to the status of “uneducated”. Karachi witnessed fierce language riots when this decision was taken by the provincial government and upheld by the federal government. Moreover, Karachi has all the darker sides of a port city as a number of mafias operate at cross purposes to the norms of a stable society. Illegal immigrants-turned criminals have made the city unsafe. Street crimes, kidnapping for ransom, target killing, coercive protection money collection (locally called ‘bhatta’) are now norms of life in the city. Various ethnic communities have tried to build firewalls against these criminal activities. This effort has given rise to ethnic tensions. Since the 1980s, there has been a community-based buildup of small arms. Most of the political parties run undeclared militias and have connections with underworld mafias. There have been two military operations in the city; they only brought temporary relief. However, the beauty of this city is that despite this baggage, it has never, as a whole, come to a standstill. Violence remains confined to localities and life in the city is business as usual. However, Karachi presents a typical fragmented society that needs a healing touch from pragmatic leadership. The situation in Karachi is certainly a point of concern needing corrective action at political, administrative and societal levels.

Pushtun Identity

Pushtuns inhabit the Khyber Pakhtunkhaw province, Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA)29, Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (PATA) and constitute 50 percent of the inhabitants of Baluchistan. At the time of independence, this province was ruled by the anti-Pakistan “All India Congress” government. However, in a referendum, a majority of the people voted for merger with Pakistan. These two streams of sentiment coexisted for quite some time. The border between Pakistan and Afghanistan was demarcated by the Durand line. Afghanistan accepted this line as a legitimate border between British India and Afghanistan till the partition of India, when it refused to recognize it as an international border with Pakistan. Muslim Pushtun community lives on both sides of the Durand line. Unlike Punjab there were no bitter feelings between the trans-national Pushtun communities, hence there emerged a bond between the two peoples of the same ethno-religious community. This sentiment was exploited by some anti-Pakistan elements of pre-partition political leadership of the province and was supported by Afghanistan. A case was made for Pushtunistan—an independent country of Pushtuns. Afghanistan was the only country to cast a negative vote when Pakistan applied for the membership of the UN30. Though the negative vote was withdrawn soon after, the scar continued. In all probability, Afghanistan did not intend to create an independent country for Pushtuns as it would end up ceding its own Pushtun areas for such a country. Afghanistan just wanted to use it as a pressure point. That is why during the 1965 and 1971 wars, when Pakistan redeployed its west facing forces to the Eastern border (even paramilitary forces were withdrawn from the Afghan border) no untoward incident occurred on the western borders.31

Kashmiri Identity

Least spoken and least assertive of all are the Kashmiri people. Kashmir is the unfinished agenda of the partition supervised by Great Britain32. Kashmir is amongst the oldest international disputes on the agenda of the United Nation, recognizing that Jammu and Kashmir is disputed territory between India and Pakistan. There is sizable number of Kashmiris who moved to Pakistan as refugees and have ever-since settled here. They are humble and docile people. They have never raised an identity issue, and are patiently awaiting the settlement of the dispute. Pakistan supports the settlement of the Kashmir issue according to the UN resolutions and aspirations of the people of Kashmir.

The Sectarian Divide

The Shia-Sunni divide has a long history. Both communities enthusiastically participated in the Pakistan movement and voted for Pakistan. Shias and Sunnis coexisted comfortably till the early 1980s. Frictions between the sects would not go beyond ‘Ashura’.33 Even during Ashura, there was cross-sect attendance of each others’ mourning sessions and processions. The Iranian revolution and its leadership’s ambition to carry the revolution beyond its borders and the necessity to raise the Mujahedeen to fight Soviet occupation of Afghanistan resulted in sect based flow of unaccounted cash and kind for the two sects. Saudi Arabia funded the Afghan ‘Jihad’ (holy war) mainly by funding ‘Ahl-e-Hadith’ (South Asian equivalent of ‘Wahabi’ sub sect, more commonly known in the West as Salafi Islam). After the withdrawal of the Soviets from Afghanistan, these misplaced contingents of sectarian militants started following their political agenda. Their foreign funding remained intact and Pakistan has become a hotbed of sectarian violence which some analysts term as proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia being fought on Pakistani soil, at the cost of tearing apart Pakistan’s social fabric.

As the sectarian divide cuts across most of the ethnic groups of Pakistan, it has added a complicated dimension to sectarian violence. This has also become a sort of intra ethnic strife. The Hazara community living in KPK, Baluchistan and Gilgit-Baltistan are pre dominantly Shia, hence as a community they are facing the brunt of anti-Shia violence. Besides, targeted killing of Shias and attacks on their places of worship, irrespective of the ethnicity, are on the increase. By and large, leadership of the Shia community has displayed patience in the face of odds and has refrained from politicizing or criminalizing the sectarian issues.

Major ethnic communities of the country gain political recognition through the naming of provinces after their names. Moreover, ethnic communities have their areas/provinces of concentration from where they channelize their political activity. Therefore, their activities remain politically manageable. On the other hand sectarian communities generally do not have corresponding political channelization due to their scattered population. Hence, the handling of sectarian violence has been placed in the hands of non-state and non-political actors. Deliberate effort is required on the part of State, federal and provincial governments as well as the civil society, to bring the matter under control.

Religious Minorities

Like the intra-Muslim sectarian identity, religious minorities also cut across the ethnic divide. Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis, Ahmadis are prominent religious minorities. Generally they are pacifist and conformists. There are sporadic incidents of violence by the majority against minorities. Prominent issues of discord are blasphemy and desecration of Holy Scriptures. However, there is a tendency to also give usual disputes a majority-minority colour to arouse sympathy. Individually, minorities are divided amongst themselves and do not yield much political clout. The state has taken various constitutional and administrative measures to protect the minorities and create an enabling environment for their individual and communal uplift. Generally, all minorities identify themselves with Pakistan and take pride in being its citizens. Ahmadis34 were declared as a religious minority through a constitutional amendment in the early 1970s. They consider themselves as a sect of Islam. By law they are prohibited to use the symbols and nomenclature reserved for revered Islamic places and personalities. Implementation of this law is not an easy task, it causes frictions. Wherever government functionaries fail to implement the statute, people tend to take the law into their own hands. Muslims of all sects have an emotional repulsion against Ahmadis. Of late, only a fraction of Ahmadis declared their religion. They find it more convenient to declare their identity only when absolutely necessary. There is a general perception that they are not loyal towards the State of Pakistan, though nothing concrete has been brought out either by the State or Muslim Clergy that could stand the scrutiny. Due to commonality of names and religious rituals it is not possible to tell who is who unless a personal declaration is made. It is a powerful and well-netted community that protects its members and persistently pursues communal goals.

Linguistic Dimension

A common language is a facilitator, but not essentially an identity giver. However, soon after independence it became a point of contention. Insistence on Urdu as the only language became the first casus belli for the battle cry of various ethnic identities that made up the state of Pakistan. Bengalis rose up against the proclamation of Urdu as the only national language of Pakistan in 1948. This movement gradually led to an alienation process. The Bengali Language Movement resulted in the declaration of Bengali as a national language along with Urdu35. The Bengali language gradually became a rallying point for Bengali nationalism, replicating pre-partition Urdu-Hindi controversy that became a relaying point for the Pakistan movement. In 1972 the Sindh province adopted Sindhi as a provincial language36. Fresh from the trauma of separation of East Pakistan, this step was taken as a continuation of the same process in Sindh37. No other province followed suit. Besides Sindhi, Baluchi, Punjabi and Pushto, there are other contenders for recognition like Saraiki, Brahvi, Hindko, etc. However, none of these languages are at an evolutionary stage that could support their claim as an official language.

Analysts are of the view that if any province replaces Urdu or English with its provincial language, it would be a step in retrogression and would shrink the share of the pie in competitive jobs and cut down its ability to acquire scientific and technical knowledge. Over a period of time Urdu has emerged as a national language, spoken and understood in all urban centers and most rural areas. English is the official language of Pakistan; therefore it enjoys the status of the most preferred language. Getting education in English medium schools is a status symbol throughout the country. After 1971, enabling environments have been provided by the federal and provincial governments whereby provincial languages are encouraged to develop, alongside national languages, without pitching them against each other. The experiment of Sindhi language in Sindh indicates that provincial and regional languages can co-exist with the national language.

Dilemmas of the Pakistani State

Pakistan is confronting internal and external dynamics leaving their imprint on its identity, impacting both state and society and their mutual relations. It is essential to look at these issues from an ethno-nationalist point. An Islamic democratic Pakistan may only be possible by embracing a multi ethnic identity, whereby a federal structure should undertake to safeguard the rights and identity of all sub -national ethnicities that make the society of Pakistan. Pakistan fits the description of a typical post-colonial state. Post colonial states, by inheriting bureaucratic structures made and trained to suppress civil society, continue to face dilemmas of a conflict over control between civil society and military and non military bureaucracies38. A primary reason for this outcome was the weakness of available political structures and their grounding in civil society39. For Pakistan, the freedom struggle was not just the struggle of the people of India for freedom from British imperial rule, but more significantly, the movement was for avoiding being ruled by the Hindu majority in a united and independent India. So, the Pakistan movement was more anti Hindu than anti imperialism/ colonialism. This religious undertone of the Pakistan movement based on the fears of a Hindu majority provides the basic point of reference to solve the identity riddle of Pakistan.

Religion’s role in a Unitary Notion of Identity

The role of religion in creating a separate political identity became a powerful and appealing justification for a unitary form of identity. The marriage of a secular concept of nationalism with Muslim religious identity and the coining of the term Muslim nationalism40, and thus making this a basis for a Pakistani state and society that is a modern and not a theocratic state has brought about some academic challenges and contradictions. Incremental growth of religion in governance, policy evolution, managing its bilateral relations with immediate neighbours, especially India and Afghanistan, and dealing with ethno-national identities has indeed strengthened the religious content of the Pakistan’s identity dilemmas. From a concept level, the state of Pakistan was envisaged to be more than a physical/legal entity. Pakistan was perceived as an extraordinary state—a homeland for Indian Muslims as well as an ideological and political leader of the Islamic world. Providing a homeland to protect Muslims from the excesses of India’s Hindu majority was the central theme. The Pakistan movement was also locked with the wider Islamic world order. Even before the Pakistan movement gained momentum the “Khilafat Movement”41 in India had set the tenor of the pan-Islamist sentiment of the Indian Muslim community. This movement failed to secure the sustenance of the Caliphate, thus it left a scar on the psyche of Indian Muslims. Even pre-independence Pakistani leaders were concerned about the fate of other Muslim communities living under duress, stretching from Palestine to the Philippines. These are two direct quotes from the Quaid’s speeches which provide a representative sampling of pan-Islamist sentiment in pre-partition India:

“May I point out to Great Britain that this question of Palestine, if not fairly and squarely met, boldly and courageously decided, is going to be the turning point in the history of the British Empire. I am sure I am speaking not only of the Mussalmans of India but of the world, and all sections of right thinking and fair-minded people will agree when I say that Great Britain will be digging its grave if she fails to honour her original proclamation, promises and intentions-pre-war”.42

“If President Roosevelt, under the pressure of the powerful world Jewry, commits the blunder of forcing the British Government to do injustice to the Arabs in Palestine, it will set the whole Muslim world ablaze from one end to another. Grave wrongs had already been done to the Arabs. If the

Jewish immigration is allowed to continue, I have no doubt that not only the Muslim League will revolt but the whole Muslim world will revolt”.43

Both the history and the future of Pakistan are rooted in this duality, a complex relationship between Pakistan the state—a physically bounded territory with a legal and international personality—and Pakistan the nation – mission–bound to serve as a beacon for oppressed or backward Muslim communities elsewhere in the world. Other causes include an attempt to create a truly Islamic state within Pakistan, one that would be guided by Islamic scriptures and traditions44. Islam has been a factor in the policy making process in the Pakistani state throughout its existence, both in foreign and domestic policies; though the scope and extent have varied from government to government. The policy makers see the Islamic sentiment as a hedge against the potential tide of ethnic nationalism, which they view as a threat to Pakistan’s integrity. This opinion draws strength from the track record indicating that India has been backing the ethnic-based political movements in an effort to both undo Pakistan, like in East Pakistan, and to keep it off balance, as in Baluchistan.

Here is an interesting paradox, the secular policy making elite of the country had assumed that they would continue to lead the country while rallying the people on the basis of Islamic ideology. But Muslim theologians and activists, organized in religious parties have. with the passage of time, organized themselves in the political field as well. However, despite popular religious appeal, the political parties anchored around religion have not been able to get majority seats in the parliament. Nevertheless, some of these parties have small strongholds. One could draw a deduction that a majority of the people of Pakistan do not think that Islam is a point of contention in Pakistan, and thence not a point for politics.

Even those religious leaders who opposed the creation of Pakistan started articulating the vision of Pakistan as a state organized on Islamic principles. They have indeed become quite assertive in some areas like Malakand Division in the KPK province. The United States also considered Islamic forces as good allies during the cold war against atheist Soviet Union.45

During the struggle for Pakistan, the real opponent was not the British imperial rule, but the Indian National Congress and Hindu Mahasba 46, which Muslim leadership perceived to represent two shades of Hindu aspirations. This experience of the Pakistan movement and the tragic events of partition became the basis of a strong perception that Indian leadership had not accepted the division of the sub–continent and would not miss any opportunity to undo it. These perceptions were strengthened by the annexation of Hyderabad, Junagardh and most of Kashmir by India. The denial of what Pakistan considered to be its fair share in assets of united India was interpreted as a further indication of Indian plans to economically strangulate the new state47.

The domination of security concerns also led to the securitization of foreign as well as domestic policies48. The threat perception from India, viewed as a Hindu power which cannot bear the existence of an Islamic Pakistan, has provided a certain ideological justification to the Islamic or Muslim statehood of Pakistan. Projection of threat from India is fundamental to the survival of the Pakistani, some analysts even view internal insecurity as a continuation of the external threat.

Interestingly, support for the creation of Pakistan had not been overwhelming in some of the regions that were included in it and the leadership of the movement for partition came overwhelmingly from areas that did not form Pakistan. This lack of local connection made that leadership insensitive towards indigenous concerns and realities. Such attitudes were also a result of a typical post-colonial authoritarian state that mistrusts popular initiation of any movement for change. As a reaction, the ethno-identity contenders have been able to attract popular acceptance. For the highly centralized post colonial state of Pakistan that was in the process of creating a national identity, any talk of provincial rights and differences based on culture, language or ethnicity were anathema. These were considered as negating the very basis of Pakistani nationhood, which was based on religion and the Urdu language49. Urdu became the defining basis for Muslim religious identity, which provided the justification for partition of India and the creation of Pakistan50.


The real answer to the continuing debate on Pakistani identity is not to look at history for an answer, for the history of Pakistan is inextricably entangled with the history of India as Pakistan was a part of it until 1947. The attempts to find justification for its creation by emphasizing the difference between Muslims and Hindus and providing religious basis for Pakistani identity and then trying to somehow delink religious scriptures from its governance has resulted in an intellectual void. A gradual increase of the role of religious forces in the governance of the state is clearly noticeable to any keen student of political history in Pakistan. Contending identities have their own peculiar problems and the issue of accepting them as parts that form the plural Pakistani state level identity is not simply a question of recognition. It will require a lot of research, debate and accommodation within these identities as well. There are a number of issues that need to be resolved between these identities. However, ignoring them or suppressing them has not been and is likely not to be the way to go about it. By challenging the unitary identity based construction of the state some of these movements have become the advocates of social justice, plurality, tolerance and democratic change51. Thus any democratic change in Pakistan’s governance is tied with the acceptance of the plural basis of Pakistani identity. How Pakistan addresses its plural identity issue will determine its future. The specific constitutional, administrative and political methods have to be looked into. It involves a restructuring of provinces/federating units that reflect these identities, followed by a functioning federal structure based on real democracy that is not controlled actually or intellectually by any unitary structure. It is through accommodating and accepting plurality that Pakistan’s security can be ensured.




  1. Amartya Sen, Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny, (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2006), i-xxii.
  2. Amartya Sen, Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny, (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2006), 78-95.
  3. Martin Sökefeld, Debating Self, Identity, and Culture in Anthropology, Current Anthropology Vol. 40, No. 4 (August/October 1999) (pp. 417-448).
  4. Martin Sökefeld teaches at the Institute of Social Anthropology of the University of Hamburg.
  5. Secularist school of thought often refers to Quaid’s address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, on August 11, 1947. “…You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed — that has nothing to do with the business of the State (Hear, hear). As you know, history shows that in England conditions some time ago were much worse than those prevailing in India to-day. The Roman Catholics and the Protestants persecuted each other. Even now there are some States in existence where there are discriminations made and bars imposed against a particular class. Thank God we are not starting in those days. We are starting in the days when there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State. (Loud applause.) The people of England in course of time had to face the realities of the situation and had to discharge the responsibilities and burdens placed upon them by the government of their country and they went through that fire step by step. Today you might say with justice that Roman Catholics and Protestants do not exist: what exists now is that every man is a citizen, an equal citizen, of Great Britain and they are all members of the nation…” For full text please visit: http:// (accessed on July 20, 2013).
  6. Narendra Modi is a top level BJP leader and the Chief Minister of Indian State Gujrat. He is known for his hard-line Hindu views.
  7. Dr Ram Puniyani, “Hindu Nationalism versus Indian Nationalism”, article received via e-mail on July 24, 2013. He can be reached out at: http://www. and
  8. Dr Ram Puniyani was a professor in biomedical engineering at the “Indian Institute of Technology Bombay”, and took voluntary retirement in December 2004 to work full-time for communal harmony in India. He is involved with human rights activities for last two decades. He is working for communal harmony and initiatives to oppose the rising tide of fundamentalism in India. He is associated with various secular and democratic initiatives like “All India Secular Forum”, “Centre for Study of Society and Secularism” etc.
  9. Dr Ram Puniyani, “Hindu Nationalism versus Indian Nationalism”, article received via e-mail on July 24, 2013.
  10. Gabel, Medard; Henry Bruner (2003), Global Inc.: An Atlas of the Multinational Corporation, New York: The New Press, 2. Scholars of international relations have identified the modern, Western originated, international system of states, multinational corporations, and organizations, as having begun at the Peace of Westphalia in 1648.
  11. Sadanand Dhume writes a column on India and South Asia for
  12. Apoorva Shah”Pakistan identity crises”.
  13. Usman Mustafa, “Fiscal Federalism in Pakistan: The 7th National Finance Commission Award and Its Implications”, PIDE Working Paper No 2011: 73, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, Islamabad.
  14. Baluchistan package, Package.pdf (accessed on July 24, 2013)
  15. Dr Ijaz Khan, “Contenting Identities of Pakistan and the Issue of Democratic Governance,” Peace and Democracy in South Asia, No 1 & 2, (Volume 2), Stockholm University Publications, 2006 .For full text please visit: texts/reprints/pdsa/pdsa_02_01_03.pdf (accessed on July 20, 2013)Dr Ijaz Khan is Professor Department of International Relations, University of Peshawar, Pakistan.
  16. Holy Quran, 13:28.?
  17. The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, April 12, 1973, Articles 1-5.
  18. Ibid, Article 2 A.
  19. The 1973 Constitution of Pakistan, (accessed on July 20, 2103). The Objectives Resolution was a resolution adopted on March 12, 1949 by the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan. The resolution, proposed by the Prime Minister, Liaquat Ali Khan, proclaimed that the future constitution of Pakistan would not be modelled entirely on a European pattern, but on the ideology and democratic faith of Islam. The Objectives Resolution was passed by the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan in March, 1949, and was made a substantive part of the Constitution of Pakistan by Presidential Order No 14 of 1985, (with effect from March 2, 1985). It is included in the Annex of the current Constitution of Pakistan by virtue of Article 2A of the Constitution.
  20. Zakat is a compulsory giving away a portion of individuals’ wealth/saving for the well being of the underprivileged lot. It is a fact based act of philanthropy and both donors and recipient are to be Muslims. All sects of Islam agree to it status of being one of the five fundamental tenants, they differ as to how much should be donated and what is the criteria for an eligible recipient. This traditionally a private activity was brought under the preview of the state under the legislation “The Zakat and Ushr Ordinance, 1980. (Ordinance No XVIII OF 1980), dated 20th June, 1980. The law which was initially applicable to all the Muslims across the board, was later amended to make provision for Fiqh Jaafria (Shite Jurisprudence), option was given to adherents of Fiqh Hanafia (Sunni jurisprudence) to administer the Zakat privately, if they wished to do so. For complete text and amendments please visit (accessed on July 17, 2013).
  21. Muhammad Waseem, Politics and the State in Pakistan,(Lahore: Progressive Publishers, 1989),22-29.
  22. Dr Ijaz Khan, “Contenting Identities of Pakistan and the Issue of Democratic Governance,” Peace and Democracy in South Asia, No 1 & 2, (Volume 2), 51.
  23. Stephen P Cohen, “The Nation and State of Pakistan,” The Washington Quarterly, No, 25(3) (Summer 2002):105-130
  24. Dawn (Islamabd), May 12, 2013.
  25. Balochistan Insurgency – Fourth conflict 1973-77 led by Nawab Khair Baksh Marri, (accessed on August 13, 2013).
  26. Ibid.
  27. Balochistan Insurgency – Fourth conflict 1973-77 led by Nawab Khair Baksh Marri, (accessed on August 13, 2013).
  28. Aijaz Ahmad, “The National Question in Baluchistan”, Pakistan Forum, Vol. 3, No. 8/9, (May – June, 1973), 4-18,37. Aijaz Ahmad is a well-known Marxist literary theorist and political commentator based in India. At present Aijaz Ahmad is Professorial Fellow at the Centre of Contemporary Studies, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi and is visiting Professor of Political Science at York University, Toronto. He also works as an editorial consultant with the Indian newsmagazine Frontline and as a senior news analyst for the Indian website Newsclick.
  29. History of FATA, =85&Itemid=83 (accessed on August 13, 2013).
  30. “Pakistan a Country Study”, Federal Research Division, Kessinger Publishing, Jun 01,2004, 7&lpg=PA267&dq=Afghanistan+was+the+only+country+to+cast+negative+vote+ when+Pakistan+applied+for+the+membership+of+the+UN.&source=bl&ots=ZN2_ la5F-J&sig=tgIIDdXj5iCtkmnzNHbQMRMD9f0&hl=en&sa=X&ei=e98JUruvFM-g7Ab8oYCQCw&redir_esc=y ( accessed on August 13, 2013).
  31. Riaz ul Haq, “India and Pakistan Contrasted in 2010”, (accessed on August 13, 2013). Riaz Haq writes this blog to provide information, on wide ranging topics. The subjects include education, South Asia and South Asian community activities, regional and international affairs and US politics to financial markets and beyond.
  32. Imran Shamim, “ Possible Solutions to Kashmir Conflict”, Semester paper, Willy Brandt School of Public Policy, CSM201: ETHNO-POLITICAL CONFLICTS, COURSE INSTRUCTOR: Dr. Kristina Roepstorff, http://www. (accessed on August 13, 2013).
  33. Ashura comprises of first ten days of Islamic calendar. This is a mourning period to commemorate the martyrdom of the grandson of Holy Prophet Muhammad. Both Shia and Sunni sects commemorate the occasion, however they follow different procedure and profile.
  34. Ahmadi community believes in the continuity of prophet hood against the main stream Islamic belief about the finality of the prophet hood, and Muhammad (PBUM) being the last prophet. Ahmadia religion originated in a village named Qadian, in India. Hence they are also called Qadiani. A version has it that a renowned Muslim Scholar, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was coaxed by the British to announce prophet hood and abrogate Jihad, he obliged the British by doing so. There are two streams of Ahmadis, Qadiani and Lahori. All sect of Islam, the World over, agree that both streams of Ahmadis are not Muslims. After creation of Pakistan they moved to Pakistan en-bloc and settle in a property called Rabwah in central Punjab.
  35. Tariq Rehman, Language and Politics in Pakistan, (Karachi: Oxford, Pakistan Paperbacks Edition, 1996) 19-25.
  36. Teaching, Promotion and use of Sindhi Language, Bill of 1972 passed on 7 July 1972 by the Sind Legislative Assembly.
  37. Tariq Rahman, Language, “Politics and Power in Pakistan: The Case of Sindh and Sindhi”, (accessed on August 13, 2013).
  38. Dr Ijaz Khan, “Contenting Identities of Pakistan and the Issue of Democratic Governance,” Peace and Democracy in South Asia, No 1 & 2, (Volume 2), 53.
  39. Gardezi Hassan, “Making of the Neo –Colonial State in South Asia: The Pakistan Experience” in Comparative Studies of South Asia, African and the Middle East, xvii(2), 1997,87-90.
  40. Hamza Alvi, ‘Pakistan and Islam: Ethnicity and Ideology; State and Ideology in the Middle East and Pakistan’, in Fred Halliday and Hamza Alvi, (Ed.) Monthly Review of Press, New York, 1988.
  41. Khilafat movement, Encyclopaedia Britannica, EBchecked/topic/316624/Khilafat-movement (accessed on July 23, 2013). Movement started in India in the early 20th century as a result of Muslim fears for the integrity of Islam. These fears were aroused by Italian (1911) and Balkan (1912–13) attacks on Turkey—whose sultan, as caliph, was the religious head of the worldwide Muslim community—and by Turkish defeats in World War I. They were intensified by the Treaty of Sèvres (August 1920), which not only detached all non-Turkish regions from the empire but also gave parts of the Turkish homeland to Greece and other non-Muslim powers. A campaign in defence of the caliph was launched, led in India by the brothers {Maulana} Shaukat Ali and {Maulana} Muḥammad Ali and by Abul Kalam Azad. Movement was undermined when Mustafa Kemal Atatürk drove the Greeks from western Asia Minor in 1922 and deposed the Turkish sultan in the same year; it finally collapsed when he abolished the caliphate altogether in 1924.
  42. MA Jinnah’s Presidential Address at the Lucknow Session of the All-India Muslim League (15 to 18 October, 1937). (accessed on July 23, 2013).
  43. Speech of M A Jinnah at Strachey Hall Aligarh (10 March, 1944). (accessed on July 23, 2013).
  44. Stephen Cohen, “The Nation and State of Pakistan”, The Washington Quarterly, No 25(3), Washington, (Summer 2002),107–124.
  45. John K. Cooly, Unholy Wars: Afghanistan, America and International Terrorism, (New Delhi: Penguin, 2001),46–69.
  46. Hindu Mahasba was pre-partition political party in India which represented Hindu Nationalist sentiments.
  47. Ayesha Jalal, The State of Martial Rule: The Origins of Pakistan’s Economy of Defence, (Lahore: Vanguard, 1991), p 24–52.
  48. Ayesha Sadiqua Agha, Pakistan’s Arms Procurement and Military Buildup,1979-1999: In Search of a Policy,(Lahore: Snag-e-Meel Publications, 2003), 55-80.
  49. Tariq Rehman, Language and Politics in Pakistan, (Karachi: Oxford, Pakistan Paperbacks Edition, 1996) 19-25.
  50.  Ibid., 55-88.
  51. Yoichiro Sato(ed), Growth & Governance in Asia, (Honolulu, Hawaii: Asia-Pacific Centre for Security Studies, 2004),165-179. (Chapter 13, Robert G. Wirsing, “ Political Islam, Pakistan, and the Geopolitics of Religious Identity”, Growth%20Governance/Pub_GrowthGovernance%20book.pdf (accessed on August 13, 2013).