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Third World Quarterly


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From Islamisation to Shariatisation: cultural transnationalism in Pakistan


Farzana Shaikh
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Associate Fellow at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London. She can be contacted at The Aisa Programme, The Royal Institute of International Affairs, 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 in Pakistan, Third World Quarterly, 29:3, 593-609 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01436590801931553

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Third World Quarterly, Vol. 29, No. 3, 2008, pp 593 609

From Islamisation to Shariatisation: cultural transnationalism in Pakistan


FARZANA SHAIKH
ABSTRACT Pakistan features an exceptional and complex form of the

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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 Pakistans involvement in geopolitical processes beyond its control. However, the roots of these varied discourses also lie in trends that became inuential among British Indias 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 reections on the implications of Pakistans unique trajectory for the fate of nations and nationalisms generally.

Pakistan would appear to be a country which has been cultural nationalist throughout its existence, belying any notion of a transition from a developmental to a cultural nationalism. Muslim identity dened it from its 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 in Pakistan. It features, in addition to the emergence of an Islamist cultural nationalism beginning in the 1970s, a further transition to a trans-national shariatisation of Pakistani nationalism, thanks to Pakistans involvement in geopolitical processes beyond its control. These exceptions of the Pakistani case throw interesting light on the theory of cultural nationalism and on Pakistans positioning in the regional and international system.
Farzana Shaikh is an Associate Fellow at the Royal Institute of International Aairs in London. She can be contacted at The Aisa Programme, The Royal Institute of International Aairs, Chatham House, 10 St. Jamess Square, London, SW1Y 4LE. Email: fshaikh@chathamhouse.org.uk. ISSN 0143-6597 print/ISSN 1360-2241 online/08/03059317 2008 Third World Quarterly DOI: 10.1080/01436590801931553

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The Pakistani case is unique in many ways, but two in particular must be highlighted at the outset. First, Pakistani nationalism conforms to the thesis of a transition from developmental to cultural nationalism only weakly, especially when compared with India, largely because the issue of religious identity already predominated at independence, even though Pakistani nationalism was also a response to imperialism. While the Muslim nationalist movement which gathered pace in the 1940s was predicated to a large degree on the assumption that the developmenteconomic and socialof Indian Muslims could proceed neither under colonialism nor under Hindu domination, it would be fair to say that issues of development and poverty were nowhere as central to the nationalist agenda of the Muslim League as they were to that of Congress. Jinnah himself did not show much interest in discussing or devising an economic programme; nor did he seem particularly exercised by the overwhelming question of Muslim poverty or unemployment.1 This may explain why clear developmental concerns took so long to emerge in Pakistan, as they nally did under the military administration of General Ayub Khan (1958 69). 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 Pakistaniwas never completely overshadowed by Ayubs brand of developmental nationalism. Second, quite apart from the weakness of Pakistans developmentalism, its cultural nationalism went through two distinct phases. While the rst, Islamisation, was a state-directed phenomenon and, like cultural nationalisms elsewhere, focused inwards in search of the putative core of national culture, strengthening the state, the second, shariatisation, focused outwards and articulated an international, indeed global, discoursethat of political Islam. This transition is rooted in a profound irony: despite the centrality of cultural and religious identity to Pakistani nationalism, Pakistans national cultural identity was weak from the outset. This meant that cultural resources of legitimacy tended to be drawn from necessarily global 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 since the 1980s as cultural nationalism came into its own. For most of Pakistans history discourses of Islamic identity remained nationalist. However, when new groups dedicated to the enforcement of the sharia (Islamic law) emerged to transform the debate about Pakistans Muslim identity by invoking a new transnational or international or global version of Islam that appeared to show little or no regard for the territorial boundaries of the nation-state,2 they added a novel element, making its classication as a cultural nationalism paradoxical, if not impossible. Pakistani cultural nationalism seemed to be making a transition into a globalism. This course of development of Pakistans cultural nationalism was intimately connected with its international role: in the USAs anti-Soviet operations in Afghanistan, which increased the presence of Wahhabi Islam in Pakistan; in the reorientation of the Pakistani economy and its political economy of defence 594

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towards the countries of the Persian Gulf beginning in the 1970s; and in the increasing the ow of migrants to and remittances from the region. The shifts from Pakistani nationalismwith its weak developmentalism and weak sense of cultural and religious identityto Islamic cultural nationalism and further to international shariati cultural (trans)nationalism are the most important in Pakistani nationalism since independence.3 Unlike Islamisation, which has always been rmly rooted within the parameters of the nation-state in Pakistan (no doubt because of its association with state policy), shariatisation threatens to question the very authenticity of the nation-state. The votaries of shariatisation draw their inspiration not from the discourse of contemporary globalisation but from the discourse of Islam, though it too underscores the transience and superciality of national boundaries. In what follows I rst establish a clear distinction between Islamisation and shariatisation. I go on to trace the roots of both in a global discourse of Islam which emerged in the 19th century and was inuential among British Indias Muslims. I then go on to trace the chief transitions in Pakistani nationalism, from a weak developmental nationalism to Islamisation which, though already evident under Zulqar Ali Bhutto, took its robust form under Zia. This was followed by a further shift towards shariatisation under the impact of the Afghan civil war in the 1990s 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 transnational 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 resorted to Islam as a legitimiser, the role of the armed forces in shaping this nationalism acquired greater importance than in most other societies. I conclude with some reections on the implications of Pakistans unique trajectory for the fate of nations and nationalisms generally. Islamisation and shariatisation Shariatisation is distinct from the better-known phenomenon of Islamisation which, in Pakistan at least, has been associated with the military regime of General Zia ul Haq (1977 88). The dierences between the two processes are often blurred by the common assumption that both share an uncompromising emphasis on the enforcement of Islamic law at the expense of the broader and vaguer commitment to the ethical principles of Islam that held sway in the early nationalism of Pakistan. In fact each process was driven by very dierent political forces that arose in response to particular changes in state society relations in Pakistan. Islamisation was essentially state-driven and often enjoyed the support of modernising sectors of society. These included sections of the industrial elite and the entrepreneurial classes who opposed the populist policies favoured by Zias predecessor and former prime minister, ZA Bhutto, and who came increasingly to espouse a culture that was recognisably Islamic in tone.4 By contrast, shariatisation is associated more closely with nonwesternized social forces, which have helped indigenize the postcolonial state and nativize its society.5 These so-called vernacular groups are not, 595

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however, anti-modern. Rather, rising to middle-class status precisely by gaining access to the trappings of modernity, they aim to share centre-stage with hitherto dominant westernised political elites in Pakistan and claim a share of economic and intellectual resources, while also attempting to reshape society to secure their new position.6 Although their language of religious sectarianism has been used to redene the meaning of the national community by seeking to exclude Muslim minority sects, like the Ahmediyya and Shias, and to secure constitutional recognition for Pakistan as a (majority) Sunni state, it is in fact congruent with their very modern aims. These distinctions should not, however, suggest that Islamisation in Pakistan is synonymous with the establishment Islam observed in parts of the Middle East, notably Egypt and Saudi Arabia, where the state worked closely with the Islamic religious establishment or ulema. Nor should they imply that shariatisation is another version of popular Islam. Statesponsored Islamisation of the kind favoured by General Zia was primarily an exercise aimed against the Islamic religious establishment. Its main proponents were lay activists associated with Pakistans premier Islamist party, the Jamaat-i-Islami, which until recently made no secret of its hostility to the traditional clerical establishment. Until the mid-1980s lay activists allied to the Jamaat rather than the ulema were the main driving force behind Islamisation.7 Similarly, the assumption that shariatisation reects popular Islam is equally ill-founded. Popular Islam in Pakistan has historically been associated with Sunni Barelvis, who still predominate over vast swathes of the Punjab and urban Sind.8 Better known for their veneration of saints and shrines, their ritual practices show a clear preference for tariqah (the Su way) over sharia. The main Barelvi party, the Jamiat-ul Ulema-i-Pakistan (JUP), was very much a junior partner in the ruling coalitions that lent momentum to shariatisation where it was strongestin Baluchistan and the North West Frontier Province. These ruling coalitions are dominated, rather, by the more reformist-minded followers of the Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Islam (JUI), whose leadership includes signicant parts of Pakistans religious establishment which, until recently, was better known for its politically conservative inclinations. The JUIs transition to shariatisation is critical to the transition from the cultural nationalism of Islamisation to shariatisation. Beginning in the 1980s the religious establishment became radicalised and appropriated the populist political Islam of the lay intelligentsia represented by the Jamaat-i-Islami.9 Zias military regime initially sought to exploit the tension between modern Islamists and traditional clerics as a means of staying in power. However, faced with the risk of revolt by a disinherited younger generation, the regime turned to the conservative ulema who, it believed, held the key to social peace. This concern with social order was reected in Zias economic policies, which placed a premium on the private sector. Their purpose was to ensure the creation of a middle- and lower-middle-class base for his regime that could eectively resist any threat from the Pakistan Peoples Party s (PPP) lower class base of support, whose aspirations had remained largely unfullled during the partys tenure in power. The ulemas successful co-optation 596

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of those Kepel refers to as the devout bourgeosie, who formed the backbone of Zias support base, was the key to its political eectiveness in the service of the Zia regime. In exchange the ulema demanded greater autonomy, especially over the administration of madrassas (religious seminaries), which by then were serving as magnets for a younger generation. Frustrated by the failure of Bhuttos economic policies, which had promised to secure roti, kapara aur makan (food, clothing and shelter), they now turned eagerly to the ethics of sharia-based Islam as an alternative precisely when it also seemed poised to dene public policy and determine its direction in their favour.10 Through this complex process, it has been argued, the state helped create an ulama wing of Islamism, which would increasingly assert itself at the cost of the lay thinkers and organizations.11 The sharia-based Islam which now emerged in Pakistan was rooted in the Deobandi school founded near Delhi in 1867. Its discourse is less concerned with the creation of an Islamic statethe object of Islamisationthan with the establishment of the political hegemony of Islam. Thus, unlike lay Islamists for whom the Islamic nature of the state has always been more important than the strict application of the sharia, the primary object of this neo-fundamentalist ulema has been (in true Deobandi style) the reform of society through the imposition of the sharia.12 In the JUIs world-view, which has also been nurtured by its extremist oshoots led by the petty ulema,13 the state is, at best, an instrument to be used in order to transform society along Islamic lines. Its limited role is sustained by an Islamic discourse which has habitually regarded the territorial state as an articial construct whose physical boundaries are deemed to be transient and subversive of a presumed universal community of believers. The implications of this discourse for the development of Pakistani nationalism contrast sharply with those of Islamisation. The latter was grounded in the Pakistani nation-state, despite the international scope of Islam. The importance accorded to the capture of the state also meant that legitimacy for any programme of Islamisation had to be sought above all from a domestic and national constituency. By contrast, the discourse of shariatisation aims both to question the validity of the state and to inuence the debate on national identity by redening Pakistani nationalism primarily in terms of its relation to an imagined extra-territorial community of believers. More signicantly, perhaps, the secondary importance attached to the control of the state has diminished the value of nurturing a domestic constituency. This has come at a time when the manipulation of extra-territorial Islamic networks and a strategy of political violence, typically through sectarian conict, are increasingly available to ascendant political forces, given Pakistans deep involvement with the Afghan war and its aftermath. The roots of transnational Islam in South Asia Shariatisation emerged against the background of the Afghan civil war, which allowed transnational Islamic religio-political networks to compete 597

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with national states as sources of patronage. However, the ideology underlying it has long roots in South Asian history. They go back to the 19th century, when teams of peripatetic Muslim holy men and preachers from the Indian subcontinent journeyed to the Arabian Peninsula and returned armed with more doctrinaire readings of Islam. They inspired the great jihad movements of the 1820s, when thousands of Indian Muslims trekked across Indias northwestern frontier to Kabul to expand the social space for an ideal Muslim society purged of pagan practices.14 This doctrinaire version of Islam competed with and retarded modernising trends among British Indias Muslims. A century later, as Muslims in the Middle East were coming to terms with the nation-state, thousands of Muslims in India were caught up in a drive to protect the Caliphate. Tens of thousands once again migrated from India to Afghanistanin their terms, from the realm of the indel (dar ul harb) to the realm of the Muslim (dar ul Islam).15 A decade later, in the late 1920s, one of the most important transnational (though ostensibly apolitical) grassroots movements, the Tablighi Jamaat, began to take shape among Indian Muslims.16 Today this organisation enjoys wide support inside Pakistan and is dedicated to rearming a Muslim religio-cultural self that is deemed to transcend national identity. Thus a transnational orientation has been entrenched in South Asian Islam since the 19th century. The intellectual tension between Islam and nationalism found one if its sharpest expressions in the thinking of Muhammad Iqbal. Widely credited with laying the ideological basis for a separate Muslim state in India, ironically Iqbal was never a supporter of nationalism, let alone of nationalism among Muslims: he objected to the claim of modern nationalism to supplant the universal community (the umma) as the sole focus of a Muslims political loyalty.17 Similarly, Maulana Mawdudi, who founded the Jamaat-i-Islami and led it until his death in 1979, though committed in principle to an Islamic state, founded his party in 1941 as a movement opposed to nationalism, which it condemned as a Western conspiracy. Mawdudi denounced Jinnahs campaign for Pakistan not just on the grounds that it was a secular project but also because it embodied a particularism that undermined the transnational Muslim community.18 While tensions between nationalism and transnational religions are the inevitable accompaniment to the emergence of national states, they assumed particular importance in the case of Pakistan, given its formative weaknesses as a state, the indeterminacy of its political boundaries and the consequent early onset of authoritarianism, which made resorting to Islam as a legitimacy bank of last resort endemic in its tortuous political history. It aected all regimes, whether authoritarian or democratic. In 1947 Pakistan emerged out of a bloody partition aecting its two largest provincesPunjab and Bengalmost brutally, and as something of a territorial absurdity, whose two wingsWest and East Pakistan (now Bangladesh)were separated by 1000 miles of Indian territory. Moreover, for more than half their length, Pakistans current borders to the west (the so-called Durand Line separating it from Afghanistan) and the north 598

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(the so-called Line of Control bordering Indian-held Kashmir) do not correspond to internationally recognised boundaries. In the areas to the west, bordering Afghanistan, there exist in addition vast swathes of territory designated as tribal areas, which are subject to tribal laws rather than to the writ of the national government. For almost a quarter of a century this state, which many regarded as merely a congeries of provincial units (Sind, Baluchistan, Punjab, the NorthWest Frontier and, until 1971, East Bengal) endured on a volatile mix of a national culture built on an ideology which transcended national borders, weak developmental eorts, authoritarianism and US patronage. Eventually, however, this mix would yield to the contradictions inherent in the national imagining of Pakistan. The secession of the countrys eastern wing was something of a watershed, reviving painful memories of the refusal in 1947 of millions of Indian Muslims to migrate to, or partake in, the great Muslim hope that was Pakistan. Nevertheless, many hoped that, with the traumas of Partition behind it and the secession of East Pakistan a reality, the country would emerge in 1971 as a more intelligible nation-state. It did not: new challenges emerged in which the extra-territoriality of its putative Muslim identity, hitherto contained, surfaced powerfully in a changed, more conducive context. From Islamisation to shariatisation Rather than any normalisation, the redrawing of Pakistans borders after the secession of its eastern wing in 1971 merely strengthened the denationalising tendencies inherent in Pakistans founding ideology, Islam. This was prompted in part by economic and geopolitical reorientations towards the Muslim Middle East. Of course, this reorientation need not have entailed a loosening of Pakistans South Asian identity. But, as Ziring points out, the loss of East Bengal meant that the very idea of Pakistan had to be recongured from a South Asian refugee experience, which demanded bridge building between disparate communities, to one that was more akin to Islamist doctrine and precept than that suggested by the constrained and tortured secularism of the earlier vision.19 Although Islamisation in Pakistan is usually attributed to General Zia, its pull was already evident in his immediate predecessor, Zulqar Ali Bhutto, Pakistans rst democratically elected prime minister and head of the ostensibly secular PPP.20 Bhutto was responsible for promulgating the countrys most unambiguously Islamic constitution in 1973, which for the rst time declared Islam to be the state religion of Pakistan. Non-Muslims hitherto barred from holding the oce of president were also disqualied from the post of prime minister, while Islamic studies (Islamiyat) became mandatory in all schools. In 1974 (long before the pro-Islamic opposition movement was nally to oust him from power), Bhutto also bestowed the ultimate favour on the ulama and self-styled Islamists of the Jamaat-i-Islami by constitutionally stripping members of the minority Ahmediyya community of their status as Muslimsa concession denied even by that most devout of Pakistans 599

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prime ministers, Khwaja Nazimuddin, at the height of the anti-Ahmediyya riots in 1953.21 While Bhutto set the stage, it was General Zia who deepened the nexus of Islamisation and the state, rst establishing a connection between the lay Jamaat-i-Islami and the ulema and launching a comprehensive Islamisation programme that ranged from changes in taxation to the overhaul of the penal system, thus paving the way for a distinctly legalistic (as opposed to an ethical) approach to the denition of Pakistans Muslim identity. This focus on Islamic legal injunctions and their implementation called for a new Islamic bureaucracy, which in turn required new alliances such as that between the state (as senior partner) and sections of the traditional religious establishment, namely the ulema. They presided over a vast network of madrassas, which now became the main suppliers of the cadres who were to administer Zias Islamic state.22 Signicantly the growing importance of the madrassas, to the extent that they revived in a new, more state-oriented and centralised form of networks of Islamic education that had hitherto depended upon local structures of political authority and social control, has been regarded as yet another sign of the indigenisation of the colonial state in Pakistan.23 Although most members of the ulema were politically cautious Deobandis, Zias new dispensation tempted enough of them with an opportunity to occupy a legitimate space in the political arena and in modern sectors of state and society. Their control over the madrassas and their graduates now in government agencies and state institutions also gave them the required leverage to train a citizenry that many hoped would be more inclined to accept Islamic ideology as an appropriate anchor for the conduct of politics.24 It was this close involvement of the madrassas with the state that made possible their transformation from centres of traditional religious learning into politicised, modernised (and, dare one say it, militarised) institutions that, in time, would radically challenge the states right to control policy making, interpret Islam and dene the parameters of Pakistani nationalism. The newly politicised clerical establishment could challenge the state in this fashion, setting o the process of shariatisation, largely because of its traditional autonomy, which stemmed in good part from the nancing of Islamic institutions of learning (madrassas), especially the larger ones, out of voluntary contributions (zakat).25 And although the madrassas that now proliferated in Pakistanocially estimated in 2002 to stand at around 10 000 with more than a million and a half students under training26 stemmed directly from extensive state funding in the 1980s, the ulema resisted the control that might normally be expected to accompany such patronage. Indeed, inuential ulema groups continued to resist state encroachment into the domain of religious educationwhether through nancial or curricular regulation27even under the regime led by General Pervez Musharraf and despite growing international pressure.28 The institutional capacity of the clerical establishment to resist and stand aloof from the state contrasted sharply with the position of the Islamist 600

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intelligentsia which, under the Jamaat-i-Islami, had suered a steady loss of autonomy in the 1980s. One explanation for the Jamaats declining fortunes under Zia was its growing involvement in the pro-democracy movement. In 1987 its new leader, Qazi Husain Ahmed, declared that neither Islamisation not the Afghan war justied the abrogation of democracy, and more extraordinarily still, maintained that Pakistans political predicament could be solved only by ending martial law rather than promulgating the shariat bill (which took eect in June 1988).29 This aorded space to ulema parties like the JUI, now undergoing a process of change from religious conservatism to political radicalism with the help of militant groups nurtured by the war in Afghanistan, to shape a new kind of Islamic discourse less concerned with the identity of the nation-state than with the transformation of society along the lines of a doctrinaire reading of Islam. The Afghan civil war erupted in 1979 and its call to jihad, while heavily dependent on covert material assistance from the USA and sections of Pakistans ruling military establishment, relied for its day-to day implementation on transnational Islamic religious networks. While the facts and profound implications of these events for Pakistani politics have already been extensively documented,30 what I wish to emphasise here is how this involvement fundamentally reshaped Pakistans Muslim identity by gradually eroding popular attachment to symbolic sites of traditional Islam, to the land and to its frontiers, and to local hierarchies of rural and tribal society. What emerged instead, under pressure from an increasingly radicalised and politicised clergy, was a steady decontextualisation of religious practices based on the strict, literalist reading of Islamic law, which has come to be known as neo-Wahhabi Islam. While USAs pursuit of its cold war objectives were critical to this development, Pakistan also proved to be environmentally friendly to this culture. Part of the explanation lies in the re-emergence of the question of its Islamic identity after the loss of East Pakistan. New doubts arose about the merits of Pakistans local, Indian, roots, and by extension about Indian Islam, whose vulnerability to non-Muslim inuences had been the subject of debate among Muslim reformers in the 19th century. Iqbal and others had already identied Arabian Islam as a corrective to more corrupted forms of Indian (and Persian) Islam.31 As such thinking assumed a new and more urgent resonance in the process of redening Pakistans Muslim identity, the inux of more than three million Afghan refugees in the 1980s also radically altered the political landscape in Pakistan. They included a rst generation of mostly literate and urbanised Afghans, who in exile in Pakistan quickly fell under the sway of the Jamaat-i-Islami, which until at least the mid-1980s was the main party responsible for funnelling US and Arab funds to help the Afghan mujaheddin. However, the Jamaat soon became steadily alienated from General Zias military regime. It now turned to the ulema parties, such as JUI, which, having already been politicised under Zia, now sought to sharpen its political prole. These parties appealed to by now detribalised younger Afghan refugees whose desperate circumstances made them especially responsive to a more radical brand of Islam. The ulema parties and their network of 601

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madrassas took in (almost always as boarders) Afghan children and they mixed and interacted with other young Pakistanis of dierent ethnic originsPathans (like themselves) but also Baluchis, Sindhis and Punjabis. Instructed in Arabic and Urdu, they became instrumental in the creation of a putative universal Islamic personality, structured around the JUIs Deobandi ideology.32 This compelling vision exercised a powerful pull on Pakistana state still in search of an identity. Of course, the vision also served the needs of Pakistans most signicant state institutionthe army which relied on the transnational Islamic groups to implement its regional foreign policy. As such, the army became a key agent of shariatisation.
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The role of the army state On the face of it Pakistans army might appear the least likely agent of the transnationalising processes which undermined the nation-state. Not only is it one of the chief institutions of the state in Pakistan, one whose importance had only loomed larger as it undermined other parts of the state, the military sector, especially its politically dominant componentthe armywas an integral part of the modern governing elite for whom religion has generally been deemed to be a private matter. Its professionalism was dened more by its secular British colonial heritage than by the notionally Islamic character of Pakistan. Indeed, until at least the 1970s there was little, if any, discernible interest among the ocer corps in the question of the armys precise relationship to Islam or to an Islamic state. At the same time such professionalism had never precluded exploiting the rhetorical power of Islam as a mobilising force to rally troops. In 1965 and again in 1971 the ruling military regimes of General Ayub Khan and General Yahya Khan explicitly invoked Islam to mobilise both soldiers and civilians in waging war against India, following the example of British colonial administrators who simultaneously encouraged and controlled religious sentiments for military purposes.33 Already in the 1960s, however, new generations of ocers reected an indigenisation of the army as it recruited increasingly from traditional sectors responsive to Islamic rhetoric. As time passed the military came to be less dependent upon colonial norms and more on the Islamic character of Pakistan. Early attempts at such ideological nationalisation were clumsy, drawing parallels between the armies of the classical age of Islam and the armed forces of Pakistan and invoking Quranic verses to justify war as a holy enterprise and a jihad.34 At the same time the army was increasingly involved in politics and the normative symbols of Islam also came to lend legitimacy to military regimes.35 They became part of nationalism and national identity. Hamza Alavi was among the rst to examine the nexus between sections of the army and Islamic groups in a landmark study of the postcolonial state. He highlighted how new patterns of recruitment in the 1960sfrom poorer districts of Punjab and from the North-West Frontier Provincereshaped alliances in Pakistans premier military institution.36 Recruits with strong social grievances soon outnumbered the sons of wealthy landed families who 602

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once supplied the bulk of the armys conservative generals. They were also more prone to the religious extremism associated with the Jamaat-i-Islami, whose inuence in the armed forces by the late 1970s had become well established.37 More recently, Hasan-Askari Rizvi also found that those who joined the ocer corps after 1971 came from more modest social backgrounds than their predecessors of the 1950s and 1960s, if not from the urban lower middle and lower class[es]. Both groups, he argued, were inclined to favour conservative religious values.38 In addition to the changing social background of the army, other factors which opened the way to transnational Islam in the country and its state institutions included the tarnished image of the army in the aftermath of Pakistans military defeat in 1971, eroding its appeal among more auent groups.39 The army now became a source of employment for rural families of modest means and for the urban middle classes, rather than a career for the sons of the auent.40 Stephen Cohens by now classic formulation of three generations of military menthe British, the American and the Pakistanishows how distinct class and social backgrounds, and distinct events and cultural inuences which formed generational experiences, combined to produce more or less homogeneous cohorts of ocers.41 Each had its distinct character: the ethos of military professionalism of the rst British generation,42 the more pronounced liberal attitudes of the next American generation of army ocers,43 both of which sat well with the social background of the ocer classes, and the new post-1971 Pakistani generation of army ocers of a diminished and less well-funded army (thanks to cutbacks in US aid) who were more representative of the wider society in class origin . . . least subjected to foreign professional inuences, and . . . drawn from a generation with no direct contact with India.44 Regional and ethnic distinctions in the army between the numerically preponderant Punjabis and others,45 changes in standards of professionalism that sought to delink their attachment to Western norms, and the introduction of subjective criteria (personal and family connections or religious zeal) for promotion in the ranks,46 were other factors which altered the character of the army and its role in national politics and the rearticulation of Pakistani nationalism. The Pakistani ocer class that took over in Zias military regime had little if any exposure to Western professional inuences; they were more familiar with the Muslim Middle East through training and security-related programmes, especially in the Gulf region.47 Recruits from the Punjab predominated, suppressing minority ethnic grievances, especially among Sindhis and Urdu-speaking muhajirs (migrants from India).48 Standards of military professionalism, weakened by years of military intervention in politics, also came under pressure, and a more Islamically circumscribed national culture which attempted, like Zia, to equate professional excellence with piety, made the display of religious beliefs an asset (rather than an embarrassment) and potentially a means of advancement.49 A distinct symbiosis between the senior military leadership and parts of the religious establishment committed to a vision of transnational Islam now 603

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emerged. The driving force behind this convergence was Pakistans policy of proxy war in Kashmir and Afghanistan, which aimed to redress the regional strategic balance with India.50 It relied on an irregular force of volunteers drawn from militant Islamic groups who were prepared to execute army policy across Pakistans porous borders by invoking the language of Islamic universalism. Pakistans role in the Afghan civil war was structured by the constraints of the Cold War: while it brought the army huge amounts in US aid, no direct US assistance to anti-Soviet forces in Afghanistan could be given and the training of an essentially volunteer force of Islamic combatants with global connections was entrusted to Pakistani military commanders. Although they mainly sought military control over the direction of events in Afghanistan, some among them already subscribed to the discourse of shariatisation which lent legitimacy to the regimes transnational adventure in Afghanistan and appeared to supply a national identity at a time when the break-up of Pakistan as a territorial entity had revived fundamental questions about it even as it did so in terms that transcended common notions of a nation as bounded by territory. While the engagement of pro-Islamic groups with Pakistans armed forces goes back to late 1947, when Pathan tribesmen, with the backing of the military and political establishment, joined religious zealots in staging armed incursions into Kashmir in an eort to liberate its Muslim population from Indian control, the active involvement of militant Islamic groups with the senior military leadership, notably of the army, was rmly cemented during the Afghan civil war. Islamic parties and their more radical o-shoots responded enthusiastically, making available teams of volunteers dedicated to the pursuit of transnational Islam and eager to act as conduits of covert assistance for the Afghan mujaheddin.51 Moreover, Olivier Roy has suggested that Zias Afghan policy was premised on the twin options of playing the ethnic and Islamist cards simultaneously. By favouring Pakhtun (or Pathan)-led Islamist parties in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and by appealing to Islamic solidarity, he argues, Zia hoped to supersede and neutralise the Pakhtunistan issuethe demand for an autonomous Pathan state in Pakistans North-West Frontier Province: instead of repressing their own Pathans, the Pakistani military establishment (in which Pakhtuns were over-represented in terms of their demographic weight), chose to turn the Pakhtunistan issue the other way round, by blurring the contested borders and taking root inside Afghanistan.52 It is worth noting that most of the Pakistani generation of army ocers were rst exposed to transnational Islam by non-militant Islamic movements such as the Tablighi Jamaat, whose ostensibly non-political ideology emphasises the concept of faith renewal through personal reform. Originally a loosely structured organisation, with a local base in the central Indian region of Mewat where it emerged in the late 1920s as a response to Hindu revivalist campaigns, it had spread rapidly across South Asia by the 1980s. Its transnationalism, while rooted in the critique of Indian Islam of the 19th century and powering its spreadthe assumption being that the more the 604

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Jamaat expands transnationally the more universally its ideology is recognized53was naturally boosted in the context of the Afghan civil war. Much of the Tablighi Jamaats appeal among Zias ocer corps lay in Zias own strong preference for its organisation and ideology.54 He was the rst Pakistani head of state ever to attend a Tablighi annual congregation (ijtima) in 1979 at the organisations national centre in Raiwind, near Lahore.55 Its initial appeal in the army may, ironically, have been rooted in its apolitical character, since feigning distaste for politics has been, for the army, the necessary ideological counterpart of its repeated and active political participation. But the Tablighi Jamaat is only apparently apolitical, believing that making Muslims conscious of their separate identity and aware of their social obligations from a religious perspective ultimately serves a political purpose.56 Moreover, its invocation of the faith (dawa) is squarely in the Deobandi reformist tradition, emphasising external aspects of the sharia, over its inner meanings, as favoured by most Su traditions. The party-political eect has been for members of the Tabligh to prefer more orthodox, Deobandi ulema parties, including the JUI.57 Finally, as a proselytising force, the Jamaat harbours a strong activist component ostensibly directed towards enjoining good and forbidding evil (amr bil maruf wa nahiy anil munkar)a core concept in Tablighi versions of jihad as action (not excluding violent action) in the service of God.58 Nevertheless this public disavowal of politics had the advantage, in the 1970s, of permitting large numbers of ocers and enlisted men to engage in Tablighi activities and demonstrate their religious disposition without fear of raising suspicions of their engagement in Islamic activism. By the mid-1980s the presence of so-called Tablighis in the army was common knowledge. Few ocers made a secret of their attendance at Tablighi congregations or masked their involvement in Tabligh-led missionary work; indeed, one senior Tablighi activist, General Javed Nasir, rose to assume the post of head of the powerful military intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in 1991 93.59 Entrusted with the task of continuing the ISIs responsibility for the execution of Pakistans Afghan policy, he chose to discharge his functions through a combination of conventional intelligence techniques and the holding of dhikr (ritual remembrance of God) assemblies.60 The military authorities not only looked benignly upon these developments, assuming the Tablighi Jamaat to pose no political threat, the organisation was encouraged as a counter to the more strident discourse of Islamist parties like the Jamaati-Islami, whose insistent demand for an Islamic political state was seen as a challenge to the military high command. The shariatisation and paradoxical transnationalisation of Pakistani nationalism was rooted, nally, in Zias regional policy, which sought ostensibly to privilege ideological over territorial boundaries. The question of Pakistans ideological boundaries was of course closely tied to the quest for political legitimacy, which involved re-casting the army from an institution dedicated to the defence of the states territorial borders to one concerned with guarding the ideological frontiers of the Muslim nation, the limits of which were deemed to be set by adherence to the sharia. In doing this, Zia 605

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opened up for debate the very legitimacy of the modern nation-state system under which Muslims were forced to live apart with separate armies. Indeed, it was not uncommon at the time for discussions of strategic military doctrine to deem the territorial state as something of an interim measure to be replaced in due course by a more broadly-based Islamic political entity.61 In its place there emerged a preference for an alternative model that was held to be more consistent with the aims of an avowedly Islamic state like Pakistan. Its contours were increasingly dened by reference to Tabligi ideas of umma consciousness62 that, by drawing attention to global Muslim unity, oered an implicit critique of the nation-state system. This model also redened the nature and conduct of state institutions under Zia. Directly challenging the assumption that what was authentic was necessarily national, Zia also transnationalised Pakistans army along lines more in keeping with the contours of extra-territorial Islam. Its authenticity would now be judged by how far it could extend its reach beyond the frontiers of the nation-state, whether in Afghanistan or Kashmir. Owen Bennett-Jones, who has explored the relationship between the army and the transnational Islamic militant networks it deployed in these countries, concluded that it is far from a one-way street. Common perceptions that the army merely aided and abetted Islamic militant groups overlook an altogether more insidious aspect: the motivation of Pakistani soldiers who fought alongside the Afghan mujaheddin in Afghanistan and, later, with pro-Islamic militant groups in Kashmir. These soldiers were bound to be aected by their experience of working and ghting with Jihadis. Caught up by the romance of the Mujahideens struggle, [they] have come to admire their civilian militant counterparts.63 The inuence of the Tabighi Jamaat on the military establishment must also be assessed, however, in light of Zias attempts to diversify the religious basis of his regime. Having started out as an admirer of the Jamaat-i-Islami and its blueprint for an Islamic society, Zia grew increasingly wary of its strident politics and impatience at his regimes pace of Islamisation. Soon the Jamaat, which once enjoyed exclusive access to the armed forces, found that it was required to share its space with other groups Zia regarded as less politically suspect, notably the Tablighi Jamaat. It has also been argued that Zia himself had become disenchanted with the Jamaat-i-Islamis failure to put forward concrete proposals for an Islamic state or to come up with any eective substitute for the secular state, whose ideology, Zia believed, had hastened the demise of earlier military regimes.64 But Zias transnational vision would have mattered less for the state and the nation had the army itself not undergone changes that made it more responsive to its appeal. To a younger generation of ocers, less condent about the identity of their nation and, by denition, the boundaries of their state, Zias image of the Pakistan army as an army of Islam entrusted to protect the territorial and ideological frontiers of the state presented one way of resolving its issue of identity. No doubt his recourse to the normative symbols of Islam was dictated in very large part by his concern to develop a legitimising strategy for his regime; it also furthered the debate that had raged inside the army 606

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since the 1950s about its transformation from a colonial to a national institution.65 Zia reasoned that this institutional transformation could not be achieved without redening the parameters of Pakistan as a nation and a state. Increasingly what emerged in the discourse of the ruling ocer corps in the late 1970s and early 1980s was the notion that, while the frontiers of the state of Pakistan were territorially demarcated, the boundaries of its nation were not. On the contrary, these were ideologically dened by broad adherence to the shariathe ultimate boundary line of the Pakistani nation. This may explain the powerful resonance at the time of Zias appeal to recast the armys role as the defender of the territorial and ideological frontiers of the state.66 Conclusion This analysis of the mutation of Pakistani nationalism under the pressure of global forces ought not to suggest that its course is in any sense unilinear. There are powerful countervailing inuences at work. These stem, however, not from a beleaguered liberal consensus in Pakistan but from the politicisation of Sunni Shia sectarian divisions in the country. These divisions have gained momentum in recent years, and by unleashing a discourse of religious and communal purity centred on rival interpretations of the sharia, threaten the universalist vision nurtured by transnational Islamic groups currently seeking to dominate the nationalist discourse in Pakistan. The outcome cannot be predicted with any certainty at this point in our history.

Notes
1 M Hasan, India and Pakistan: why the dierence?, in M Hasan & N Nakazato (eds), The Unnished Agenda: Nation-building in South Asia, New Delhi: Manohar, 2001, p 337. The historian Ian Talbot has challenged the view that the League had no economic programme but suggests that, if it did end up in the dustbin of History, it was because of its status as a mere target rather than a blue-print. I Talbot, Planning for Pakistan: the Planning Committee of the All India Muslim League, 1943 46, Modern Asian Studies, 28 (4), 1994, p 888. 2 For an illuminating discussion of this subject and its relation to the rise of new religio-political groups in Pakistan, see S Shafqat, From ocial Islam to Islamism, in C Jarelot (ed), Pakistan: Nationalism without Nation, New Delhi: Manohar and London: Zed Books, 2002, pp 131 147. 3 I owe my use of the term shariatise, and later of the term shariatisation, to Mumtaz Ahmad. His reference to Shariazation to describe the policies pursued by General Zia ul Haq in the late 1970s and 1980s helped capture the essence of a process that marked a radical break with earlier attempts at Islamisation. See M Ahmad, Pakistan, in S Hunter (ed), The Politics of Islamic Revivalism: Diversity and Unity, Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1988, pp 236 239. The purpose here is to amplify the meaning of that process by teasing out more rigorously its dierences with Islamisation and to identify the main agents driving that process with a view to elaborating how it transformed the debate on the national community in Pakistan. 4 SVR Nasr, Islamic Leviathan: Islam and the Making of State Power, New York: Oxford University Press, 2001, p 134. See also R LaPorte, Jr, Urban groups and the Zia regime, in C Baxter (ed), Zias Pakistan: Politics and Stability in a Frontline State, Lahore: Vanguard, 1985, p 14. 5 K Pasha, Savage capitalism and civil society in Pakistan, in A Weiss & SZ Gilani (eds), Power and Civil Society in Pakistan, Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2001, p 32. 6 Ibid, p 35.

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FARZANA SHAIKH 7 SVR Nasr, The Vanguard of the Islamic Revolution: The Jamaat-i-Islami of Pakistan, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1994, p 193. 8 See SFD Ansari, Su Saints and State Power: The Pirs of Sind, 1843 1947, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992; D Gilmartin, Empire and Islam: Punjab and the Making of Pakistan, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1988; U Sanyal, Devotional Islam and Politics in British India: Ahmed Riza Khan and his Movement, 1870 1920, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1996; and J Malik, Colonialization of Islam: Dissolution of Traditional Institutions in Pakistan, New Delhi: Manohar, 1998. 9 M Abou-Zahab & O Roy, Islamist Networks: The Afghan Pakistan Connection, London: Hurst, 2004, pp 19 46. 10 G Kepel, Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam, London: IB Tauris, 2002, pp 98 105. 11 SVR Nasr, The rise of Sunni militancy in Pakistan: the changing role of Islamism and the ulama in society and politics, Modern Asian Studies, 34 (1), 2000, p 149. 12 For an excellent discussion of contemporary Islamic neo-fundamentalism and its basic tenets, see O Roy, Globalised Islam: The Search for a New Ummah, London: Hurst, 2004. See also his earlier discussion in Roy, The Failure of Political Islam, London: IB Tauris, 1999, pp 75 88. 13 M Ahmad, Revivalism, Islamization, sectarianism and violence in Pakistan, in C Baxter & C Kennedy (eds), Pakistan, 1997, Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1998, pp 101 121. 14 A Ahmad, Studies in Islamic Culture in the Indian Environment, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1964, pp 210 212. See also P Hardy, The Muslims of British India, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1972 for the best survey of this and other similar Islamic movements. 15 G Minault, The Khilafat Movement: Religious Symbolism and Political Mobilization in India, New York: Columbia University Press, 1982. 16 K Masud (ed), Travellers in Faith: Studies of Tablighi Jamaat as a Transnational Islamic Movement for Faith Renewal, Leiden: EJ Brill, 2000. See also Y Sikand, The Origins and Development of the Tablighi Jamaat, New Delhi: Orient, Longman, 2002. 17 F Shaikh, Millat and mazhab: re-thinking Iqbals political vision, in M Hasan & A Roy (eds), Living Together Separately: Cultural India in History and Politics, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2005, pp 366 388. 18 Nasr, The Vanguard of the Islamic Revolution, pp 103 115. 19 L Ziring, Pakistan: At the Cross-current of History, Oxford: Oneworld, 2003, p 130. 20 According to Mumtaz Ahmad, Although the Islamic measures introduced by Bhutto were piecemeal and peripheral to the core of his socio-economic policies . . . [b]y incorporating extensive Islamic provisions in the 1973 constitution and by declaring Ahmedis non-Muslims, Bhutto . . . prepared the ground for a full blown islamization movement during Zias regime. M Ahmad, Pakistan, in JL Esposito (ed), The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World, Vol 3, New York: Oxford University Press, 1995, p 292. For a somewhat more nuanced view, which attempts to set Bhuttos proIslamic policies in the context of Pakistans increasing nancial dependence upon the Arab world, especially Saudi Arabia, see I Talbot, Pakistan: A Modern History, London: Hurst, 1999, pp 237 238. 21 On this controversy in the 1950s, see L Binder, Religion and Politics in Pakistan, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1961, pp 259 296; and Y Friedmann, Prophecy Continuous: Aspects of Ahmedi Religious Thought and its Medieval Background, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1989, pp 38 46. 22 SVR Nasr, The rise of Sunni militancy in Pakistan: the changing role of Islamism and the Ulama in society and politics, Modern Asian Studies, 34 (1), 2000, pp 145 154. 23 Ibid, p 152. 24 Nasr, Islamic Leviathan, p 143. 25 M Qasim Zaman, Religious education and the rhetoric of reform: the madrasah in British India and Pakistan, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 41 (2), 1999, pp 294 323. 26 See International Crisis Group, Pakistan: Madrasahs, Extremism and the Military, Asia Report No 36, 29 July 2002, p 2, at http://www.crisisgroup.org/library/documents/report_archive/A400717_ 29072002.pdf, accessed 21 June 2005. 27 J Malik, Dynamics among traditional religious scholars and their institutions in contemporary South Asia, The Muslim World, 87 (3 4), 1997, pp 216 217. 28 See International Crisis Group, Unfullled Promises: Pakistans Failure to Tackle Extremism, Asia Report No 73, 16 January 2004, pp 5 10, at http//www.crisisgroup.org/library/documents/asia/ south_asia/073_unfull_promises_Pakistan_extr.pdf, accessed 21 June 2005. 29 Nasr, The Vanguard of the Islamic Revolution, p 201. 30 For what still remains one of the best accounts, see A Rashid, Taliban: The Story of the Afghan Warlords, Basingstoke: Pan Macmillan, 2001. 31 Shaikh, Millat and mazhab. 32 Kepel, Jihad, p 104.

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CULTURAL TRANSNATIONALISM IN PAKISTAN 33 M Daechsel, Military Islamisation in Pakistan and the spectre of colonial perceptions, Contemporary South Asia, 6 (2), 1997, pp 141 160. 34 Ibid, pp 150 54. 35 M Ahmad, The crescent and the sword: Islam, the military, and political legitimacy in Pakistan, 1977 1985, Middle East Journal, 50 (3), 1996, pp 372 386. 36 H Alavi, The state in post-colonial societies: Pakistan and Bangladesh, in K Gough & H Sharma (eds), Imperialism and Revolution in South Asia, New York: Monthly Review Press, 1973, pp 155 156. 37 Ibid, p 156. 38 H Rizvi, The military, in Weiss & Gilani (eds), Power and Civil Society, pp 202, 207. 39 A typical and perceptive assessment of this period is oered by Veena Kukreja, who observes that The denite appeal of Islamic slogans to General Headquarters could plausibly be interpreted in terms of the changing ethos of Pakistans military leadership. A throwback to Islamic slogans appeared very attractive to the homespun ocerstrained at Quetta and Karachiwho had suered the humiliation of 1971 when Sandhurst-trained generals were in command. See V Kukreja, Contemporary Pakistan: Political Processes, Conicts and Crises, New Delhi: Sage Publications, 2003, p 168. 40 For an outstanding recent study of the economic opportunities aorded by the military and its interest in consolidating this economic empire, see A Siddiqa, Military Inc: Inside Pakistans Military Economy, London: Pluto Press, 2007. 41 S Cohen, The Pakistan Army, Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1998 (rst published 1984). 42 Ibid, pp 55 63. 43 Ibid, pp 63 70. 44 Ibid, p 70 45 Ibid, pp 113 117. 46 Ibid, p 54. See also O Bennett-Jones, Pakistan: Eye of the Storm, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2002, pp 253 254. 47 H Rizvi, Military, State and Society in Pakistan, Lahore: Sang-i-Meel, 2003, pp 245 248. 48 Ibid, pp 240 245. 49 B Cloughley, A History of the Pakistan Army: Wars and Insurrections, Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1999, p 278. 50 Rashid, Taliban, pp 181 195; and Abou-Zahab & Roy, Islamist Networks, pp 19 46. See also W Maley, Fundamentalism Reborn? Afghanistan and the Taliban, London: Hurst, 1998. 51 Kepel, Jihad, pp 101 105. 52 O Roy, The Taliban: a strategic tool for Pakistan, in Jarelot, Pakistan, p 151, emphasis added. 53 Masud, Travellers in Faith, p xvi. 54 S Cohen, The Idea of Pakistan, Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2004, p 116. 55 H Rizvi, The military, in Weiss & Gilani, Power and Civil Society, p 207. 56 K Masud, Ideology and legitimacy, in Masud (ed), Travellers in Faith, p 99. 57 M Ahmad, Tablighi Jamaat, in Esposito, Oxford Encyclopedia, p 168. 58 K Masud, Ideology and legitimacy, in Masud, Travellers in Faith, p 105. 59 Y Sikand, The Tablighi Jamaat and politics, ISIM Newsletter, 13, 2003, p 43. 60 Ahmed, Tablighi Jamaat, p 169. 61 From a preface by AK Brohi, in SK Malik, The Quranic Concept of War, Lahore: Wajidalis, 1979, p viii. 62 Khalid Masud, Ideology and legitimacy, in Madud, Travellers in Faith, p 99. 63 Bennett-Jones, Pakistan, p 260. 64 Nasr, The Vanguard of the Islamic Revolution, p 194; and Nasr, Islamic Leviathan, p 136. 65 Daechsel, Military islamisation, p 150. 66 See speech by General Zia ul Haq, in Dawn, 6 September 1977.

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