Reclaiming Pakistan’s Pacifist Religious Creed
in The Islamization of Pakistan, 1979-2009
(Washington, DC: The Middle East Institute, July 2009), pp 19-21
If there is a cut-off point in the 62-year life of Pakistan, a country created in the name of Islam by secular Muslim leadership, it is 1979. For whatever traditionally pacifist sub-continental Islamic creed with a strong Persian influence that the country had retained since the partition of 1947 effectively ended that year. Since then, until the rise of al-Qa‘ida/Wahhabi-inspired Taliban extremism and terrorism in recent years, Pakistan has seen the consistent erosion of the broadly inclusive religious tradition it had inherited from the pre-independence Subcontinent — a heritage, in particular, of the centuries of Muslim rule under the Delhi Sultanate and Mughal Empire. Reclaiming Pakistan’s pacifist religious creed may take as much time, if not more, than the three decades during which it eroded. However, an essential first step in this regard may be to immediately initiate a national debate on rethinking the country’s founding ideals in accordance with the secular vision of Muhammad Ali Jinnah — the need for which is all the more clear and urgent when the very Islamic basis of the state has become its principal weakness and a major source of religious extremism and terrorism. Full Text

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