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From Islamisation to Shariatisation Cultural Transnationalism in Pakistan

From Islamisation to Shariatisation Cultural Transnationalism in Pakistan

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Published by Usman Ahmad
Pakistan features an exceptional and complex form of the
transition from developmental to cultural nationalism. This paper traces the
emergence of an Islamist cultural nationalism beginning in the 1970s that
eventually surrendered to a trans-national ‘Shariatisation’ of Pakistani
nationalism under pressure from Pakistan’s involvement in geopolitical
processes beyond its control. However, the roots of these varied discourses
also lie in trends that became influential among British India’s Muslims in the
19th and early 20th centuries. Their further development was shaped by the
formative weaknesses of the Pakistani state and nationalism, which matured in
the context of the Afghan civil war and the onset of the US ‘war on terror’ in the
new century. Together they gave rise to the paradoxical evolution of an Islamic
cultural nationalism into a trans-national ideology which challenged the very
basis of the state. Given the vulnerability of civil society since the 1980s, and the
subordination of Islamic parties to a military-dominated state that has resorted
to Islam as a legitimiser, the role of the armed forces in shaping this nationalism
acquired greater importance than in most other societies. The paper concludes
with some reflections on the implications of Pakistan’s unique trajectory for the
fate of nations and nationalisms generally.
Pakistan features an exceptional and complex form of the
transition from developmental to cultural nationalism. This paper traces the
emergence of an Islamist cultural nationalism beginning in the 1970s that
eventually surrendered to a trans-national ‘Shariatisation’ of Pakistani
nationalism under pressure from Pakistan’s involvement in geopolitical
processes beyond its control. However, the roots of these varied discourses
also lie in trends that became influential among British India’s Muslims in the
19th and early 20th centuries. Their further development was shaped by the
formative weaknesses of the Pakistani state and nationalism, which matured in
the context of the Afghan civil war and the onset of the US ‘war on terror’ in the
new century. Together they gave rise to the paradoxical evolution of an Islamic
cultural nationalism into a trans-national ideology which challenged the very
basis of the state. Given the vulnerability of civil society since the 1980s, and the
subordination of Islamic parties to a military-dominated state that has resorted
to Islam as a legitimiser, the role of the armed forces in shaping this nationalism
acquired greater importance than in most other societies. The paper concludes
with some reflections on the implications of Pakistan’s unique trajectory for the
fate of nations and nationalisms generally.

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Published by: Usman Ahmad on Feb 28, 2014
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This article was downloaded by: [Sheffield Hallam University]On: 27 January 2013, At: 10:48Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office:Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK
Third World Quarterly
Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscriptioninformation:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/ctwq20
From Islamisation to Shariatisation: culturaltransnationalism in Pakistan
Farzana Shaikh
aa
 Associate Fellow at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London. Shecan be contacted at The Aisa Programme, The Royal Institute of InternationalAffairs, Chatham House, 10 St. James's Square, London, SW1Y 4LE E-mail:Version of record first published: 23 Apr 2008.
To cite this article:
 Farzana Shaikh (2008): From Islamisation to Shariatisation: cultural transnationalism inPakistan, Third World Quarterly, 29:3, 593-609
To link to this article:
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01436590801931553
PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLEFull terms and conditions of use: http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditionsThis article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Any substantialor systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing, systematic supply, ordistribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden.The publisher does not give any warranty express or implied or make any representation that thecontents will be complete or accurate or up to date. The accuracy of any instructions, formulae, anddrug doses should be independently verified with primary sources. The publisher shall not be liablefor any loss, actions, claims, proceedings, demand, or costs or damages whatsoever or howsoevercaused arising directly or indirectly in connection with or arising out of the use of this material.
 
From Islamisation to Shariatisation:cultural transnationalism in Pakistan
FARZANA SHAIKH
A
BSTRACT
 Pakistan features an exceptional and complex form of thetransition from developmental to cultural nationalism. This paper traces theemergence of an Islamist cultural nationalism beginning in the 1970s thateventually surrendered to a trans-national ‘Shariatisation’ of Pakistannationalism under pressure from Pakistan’s involvement in geopolitical  processes beyond its control. However, the roots of these varied discoursesalso lie in trends that became influential among British India’s Muslims in the19th and early 20th centuries. Their further development was shaped by the formative weaknesses of the Pakistani state and nationalism, which matured inthe context of the Afghan civil war and the onset of the US ‘war on terror’ in thenew century. Together they gave rise to the paradoxical evolution of an Islamiccultural nationalism into a trans-national ideology which challenged the verybasis of the state. Given the vulnerability of civil society since the 1980s, and thesubordination of Islamic parties to a military-dominated state that has resorted to Islam as a legitimiser, the role of the armed forces in shaping this nationalismacquired greater importance than in most other societies. The paper concludeswith some reflections on the implications of Pakistan’s unique trajectory for the fate of nations and nationalisms generally.
Pakistan would appear to be a country which has been cultural nationalistthroughout its existence, belying any notion of a transition from adevelopmental to a cultural nationalism. Muslim identity defined it fromits beginnings in the Muslim League and continues to do so today. However,this paper will argue that, nevertheless, an exceptional and complex form of the transition from developmental to cultural nationalism can be witnessed inPakistan. It features, in addition to the emergence of an Islamist culturalnationalism beginning in the 1970s, a further transition to a trans-national‘shariatisation’ of Pakistani nationalism, thanks to Pakistan’s involvement ingeopolitical processes beyond its control. These exceptions of the Pakistanicase throw interesting light on the theory of cultural nationalism and onPakistan’s positioning in the regional and international system.
Farzana Shaikh is an Associate Fellow at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London. She can becontacted at The Aisa Programme, The Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House, 10 St.James’s Square, London, SW1Y 4LE. Email: fshaikh@chathamhouse.org.uk.
Third World Quarterly, Vol. 29, No. 3, 2008, pp 593609
ISSN 0143-6597 print/ISSN 1360-2241 online/08/030593–17
 
 2008
 Third World Quarterly
DOI: 10.1080/01436590801931553
 593
   D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   S   h  e   f   f   i  e   l   d   H  a   l   l  a  m    U  n   i  v  e  r  s   i   t  y   ]  a   t   1   0  :   4   8   2   7   J  a  n  u  a  r  y   2   0   1   3
 
The Pakistani case is unique in many ways, but two in particular must behighlighted at the outset. First, Pakistani nationalism conforms to the thesisof a transition from developmental to cultural nationalism only weakly,especially when compared with India, largely because the issue of religiousidentity already predominated at independence, even though Pakistaninationalism was also a response to imperialism. While the Muslim nationalistmovement which gathered pace in the 1940s was predicated to a large degreeon the assumption that the development—economic and social—of IndianMuslims could proceed neither under colonialism nor under ‘Hindudomination’, it would be fair to say that issues of development and povertywere nowhere as central to the nationalist agenda of the Muslim League asthey were to that of Congress. Jinnah himself did not show much interest indiscussing or devising an economic programme; nor did he seem particularlyexercised by the overwhelming question of Muslim poverty or unemploy-ment.
1
This may explain why clear developmental concerns took so long toemerge in Pakistan, as they finally did under the military administration of General Ayub Khan (195869). Even then, it is worth noting that the‘cultural’ question that has remained at the heart of Pakistani nationalism— that is, the relationship between ‘being Muslim’ and ‘being Pakistani’—wasnever completely overshadowed by Ayub’s brand of ‘developmentalnationalism.Second, quite apart from the weakness of Pakistan’s developmentalism, itscultural nationalism went through two distinct phases. While the first,Islamisation, was a state-directed phenomenon and, like cultural national-isms elsewhere, focused inwards in search of the putative ‘core’ of ‘nationalculture’, strengthening the state, the second, shariatisation, focused out-wards and articulated an international, indeed global, discourse—that of political Islam. This transition is rooted in a profound irony: despite thecentrality of cultural and religious identity to Pakistani nationalism,Pakistan’s national cultural identity was weak from the outset. This meantthat cultural resources of legitimacy tended to be drawn from necessarilyglobal Islamic discourses rather than from any national cultural resource,even during the struggle for independence and in the early years of independence. And, of course, this tendency has been the stronger sincethe 1980s as cultural nationalism came into its own. For most of Pakistan’shistory discourses of Islamic identity remained nationalist. However, whennew groups dedicated to the enforcement of the
 sharia
 (Islamic law) emergedto transform the debate about Pakistan’s Muslim identity by invoking a newtransnational or international or global version of Islam that appeared toshow little or no regard for the territorial boundaries of the nation-state,
2
they added a novel element, making its classification as a ‘culturalnationalism’ paradoxical, if not impossible. Pakistani cultural nationalismseemed to be making a transition into a globalism. This course of development of Pakistan’s cultural nationalism was intimately connectedwith its international role: in the USA’s anti-Soviet operations in Afghani-stan, which increased the presence of Wahhabi Islam in Pakistan; in the re-orientation of the Pakistani economy and its ‘political economy of defence’
FARZANA SHAIKH
594
   D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   S   h  e   f   f   i  e   l   d   H  a   l   l  a  m    U  n   i  v  e  r  s   i   t  y   ]  a   t   1   0  :   4   8   2   7   J  a  n  u  a  r  y   2   0   1   3

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