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Pakistans ideological project: A history

NADEEM F. PARACHA UPDATED about 5 hours ago


Pakistan came into being in August 1947 on the back of what its founders called the Two Nation Theory.
The Theory was culled from the 19th Century writings of modernist Muslim reformers in India who, after the
collapse of the Muslim Empire in South Asia, began to explain the regions Muslims as a separate political and
cultural entity (especially compared to the Hindu majority of India).
This scholarly nuance, inspired by the idea of the nation-state first introduced in the region by British
Colonialists, gradually evolved into becoming a pursuit to prepare a well-educated and resourceful Muslim
middle-class in the region.
Eventually, with the help from sections of the Muslim landed elite in India, the emerging Muslim middleclasses turned the idea into a movement for a separate Muslim homeland in South Asia comprised of those
areas where the Muslims were in a majority.

This is what we today understand to be the Pakistan Movement.

However, when the countrys founding father, Muhammad Ali Jinnah - a western-educated lawyer and head of
the All India Muslim League (AIML) - navigated the Movement towards finally reaching its goal of carving
out a separate Muslim homeland in South Asia, he was soon faced with an awkward fact: There were almost as
many Muslims (if not more) in India than there were in the newly created Muslim-majority country of
Jinnah was conscious of this fact when he delivered his first major address at the new countrys Constituent
Assembly on August 11, 1947.
Though during the Movement some factions of his party (especially in the Punjab and the former NWFP) had
tweaked the Two Nation Theory to also mean that the Muslims of India desired an Islamic State, Jinnah was
quick to see the contradiction in this claim simply because millions of Muslims had either been left behind in
India or had refused to migrate to Pakistan.
Islam during the Movement was largely used as a cultural and quasi-ethnic proposition to furnish and flex the
Muslims separate nationhood claims. It was never used as a doctrinal roadmap to construct a theocratic State
in South Asia.
In his August 11 speech Jinnah clearly declared that in Pakistan the state will have nothing to do with the
matters of the faith and Pakistan was supposed to become a democratic Muslim-majority nation state.
Within the Muslim community in Pakistan were various Muslim sects and sub-sects with their own
understanding and interpretations of the faith. Then the country also had multiple ethnicities, cultures and
Keeping all this in mind, Jinnahs speech made good sense and exhibited a remarkable understanding of the
complexities that his new country had inherited.
But many of his close colleagues were still in the Movement mode. Not only because the Pakistan Movement
was a fresh memory but also because when the Muslim League became the first ruling party of the country, it
had to constantly evoke faith in places like the Khyber Pukhtunkhwa (former NWFP) where the Pukhtun
nationalists had refused to join Pakistan.
Also, another region, Kashmir, having a Muslim majority but an aristocratic Hindu regime, had controversially
opted to stay out of the Pakistan federation.
So a number of League members thought that with his August 11 speech, Jinnah was a bit too hasty in
discarding the relegious factor and opting to explain the new country as a multicultural Muslim-majority state
even though these leaders too had had very little idea exactly what would be the ideological make-up of the
Jinnah died in 1948 leaving behind a huge leadership vacuum in a country that had apparently appeared on the
map a lot sooner than it was anticipated to by even those who had been striving hard for its creation.
The leadership of the founding party, the Muslim League, was mostly made up of Punjabs landed gentry and
Mohajir (Urdu-speaking) bourgeoisie elite. The bureaucracy was also dominated by these two communities,
whereas the army had an overwhelming Punjabi majority.

Either the multi-cultural connotations of Jinnahs speech were not entirely understood by his immediate
colleagues or were simply sidelined by them.
These connotations somewhat threatened the Leagues leadership because the Bengalis of East Pakistan were
the majority ethnic group in the new country and the democratic recognition of multiculturalism and ethnic
diversity of Pakistan would have automatically translated into Bengalis becoming the main ruling group.
After Jinnah had promptly watered down the religious aspects of the Pakistan Movement, the Leagues
leadership that followed his unfortunate death in 1948, decided to reintroduce these aspects to negate the
multicultural tenor of Jinnahs speech.

Jinnah addressing the Constituent Assembly (August 11, 1947).

But things in this respect get even more complicated when one is reminded of how it was actually Jinnah who
triggered the first serious expression of ethnic turmoil in Pakistan.
In March 1948 Jinnah delivered two speeches in Dhaka (the largest city of the Bengali-dominated East
Pakistan). The speeches were delivered in English and were made at the height of a raging debate within the
ruling Muslim League on the question of the countrys national language.
Bengali leadership in the League had purposed the Bengali language on the basis that Bengalis were the largest
ethnic group in Pakistan.
However, the partys Mohajir members led by one of Jinnahs closest colleagues, Liaquat Ali Khan (who was
also Pakistans first Prime Minister), disagreed by claiming that Pakistan was made on the demands of a
hundred million Muslims (of India) and that the language of these Muslims was Urdu.
Of course, it was conveniently forgotten that quite a large section of these millions of Urdu-speaking Muslims
had been left behind in India and that at the time of Pakistans inception, Urdu was spoken by less than 10
percent Pakistanis.
Faced with this dilemma and aggressively pushed by the arguments of Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan to
declare Urdu as the national language, Jinnah arrived in Dhaka and in his two speeches there insisted that
indeed Urdu was to become the countrys national lingua franca.
Bengalis went on strike and held widespread demonstrations, but Urdu did become the national language.

Dhaka, East Pakistan: A large number of people gather (to protest) at the site of a road sign that was
changed from Bengali to Urdu.
The Bengalis resentment found immediate sympathisers within other non-Punjabi and non-Mohajir ethnic
Sindhi, Pukhtun (and eventually, Baloch) intelligentsia were alarmed by the way the state and government had
treated the Bengalis demands, and foresaw the same happening to their own languages and cultures.
The government, instead of anticipating future fissures in the country on ethnic lines, became even more
myopic and wallowed in its self-serving naivety about using faith as a slogan that was supposed to dissolve
ethnic nationalism among the Muslim majority of the country.

Slogans underlined by faith might have worked to haphazardly pull together the Muslim minority of various
ethnicities of India during the Pakistan Movement; there was no guarantee that it would be able to do the same
in a country where the same Muslims had become an overwhelming majority.
Ideally a system and constitution advocating democracy should have been worked out to facilitate and
streamline the political and cultural participation of all ethnicities in the nation-building process.
But this wasnt done. After Jinnahs demise, political and cultural expressions of ethnicity were immediately
treated as being threats to the unity of the nation.
Prime Minister Liquat Ali Khan, though steeped in the modernist Muslim tradition of Sir Syeds Aligarh
School of Thought, was, however, willing to continue to use religion selectively to maintain the cherished
unity of the Muslim majority of Pakistan.
He wasnt the son of the soil. Meaning, unlike most Sindhis, Pukhtuns, Punjabis, Baloch and Bengalis, Liquat
was born outside of what eventually became Pakistan and didnt have a large constituency based on language
and ethnicity in the new country.
So it is understandable why the notion of Islam being a unifying factor was important to him, as well as to
most other Mohajirs of the country.

Liaquat Ali Khan, Pakistans first Prime Minister.

But the question was what kind of Islam?
This question hadnt really mattered during the Pakistan Movement in which the Muslims of South Asia were
agitating as a minority. But then, when a large part of this minority became a majority in Pakistan, the
historical, political and theological divisions and crevices between this majoritys many sects and sub-sects
began to seem starker than before.
The Muslim League, bred on the theories of Muslim nationalism that evolved from the scholarly works of Sir
Syed Ahmed Khan, and philosopher and poet, Muhammad Iqbal, had understood all the Muslim sects and subsects of South Asia to be a community united by various doctrinal and political commonalities and a rich
history of conquest, and scientific and cultural achievements.
After lamenting the decadent state the Muslim community had slipped into after the fall of the Muslim Empire
in India, these men pointed towards a renewed and updated look at Islam. Such an exercise to them would help
revive the political, social and economic vitality of the community.
To men like Liaquat Ali Khan, Pakistan was to be explained as the organic culmination and natural result of
what Sir Syed and (especially) Iqbal had been contemplating and advocating.
It was to make all ethnicities and sectarian differences secondary compared to the precepts of Pakistani
But what exactly was this nationhood about?
A good part of the answer first came from a man, who during the Pakistan Movement had actually denounced

Islamic scholar and founder of the Jamat-e-Islami (JI), Abul Ala Maududi, was not an Islamic cleric.
He was a well-read and prolific journalist and author. Though his commentaries in this respect were highly
conservative, his was a radical conservatism because not only did he challenge the Muslim nationalism of the
likes of Jinnah (claiming nationalism had no place in Islam); he even managed to offend many scholars
belonging to Sunni sub-sects by accusing them of being wedged in ancient clerical traditions, and distorting the
true message of Islam through unsavoury innovations.
To him the Muslims renewal as a political and cultural force depended not on Muslim nationalism but on an
evolutionary process across all Muslim societies in which the people were to be Islamised from below so that
they could be prepared for Islamic laws (Shariah) imposed from above (the state).
So it was ironic when Liaquat and his aides, after being confronted by the grumblings of ethnic nationalists,
agreed to adopt a portion of Maududis thesis on Political Islam while passing the 1949 Objectives Resolution
in the Constituent Assembly.
The Resolution was supposed to be an outline of what the final constitution of the country should look and
sound like and also what Pakistani nationhood should be about.
Just a year and a half after Jinnah had described Pakistan to be a pluralistic Muslim-majority state, the
Resolution declared Pakistan to be an Islamic entity.
Maududis JI decided to end its boycott of conducting politics in Pakistan after the Resolution, despite the fact
that the Resolution did not translate into meaning that the government would begin to legislate Shariah laws
immediately (or was even willing to).
The government might have thought that it had successfully defined the finer points of Pakistani nationhood
through the Resolution, but things in this context got even more complex.
In 1951, Liaquat Ali Khan was assassinated and in 1954 vicious riots erupted in Punjab against
the Ahmadiyya community when JI and another party, the Majlis-e-Ahrar, demanded that the community be
declared non-Muslim (for holding heretical views).
The military had to be called in and it crushed the riots with an iron hand. It arrested a number of JI and Ahrar
leaders and Maududi was sentenced to hang for inciting the riots. The judgement was later reversed.

General Azam Khan in Lahore: He planned and oversaw the crushing of the 1953 anti-Ahmadiyya riots in
the Punjab.
In 1956, the Constituent Assembly (made up of indirectly elected members of the Muslim League and the
Republican Party), got down to finally author the countrys first constitution.
In the constitution, the non-Punjabi and non-Mohajir ethnic nationalists were appeased with the promise of
direct elections based on adult franchise, while the religious parties were given the space to define Pakistan as
an Islamic Republic.
Whereas most activists and politicians on the left and ethnic nationalists werent entirely happy with the
contents of the Constitution, Maududi readily exhibited his satisfaction by declaring it to be sufficiently

Members of the Constituent Assembly debating the 1956 Constitution.

In 1957 most of the detractors came together in the left-wing National Awami Party (NAP) and were confident
that the party was in a good position to win the most seats in the promised direct elections (that were to be held
in 1958).
But in late 1958, President Iskandar Mirza, who wasnt happy with the Constitution nor with the potential of
parties like NAP to win the election, colluded with the military chief, Ayub Khan, and dismissed the assembly
and imposed the countrys first Martial Law.
Mirza had described the 1956 Constitution as the selling of Islam for political ends.
But soon after the imposition of Martial Law, Mirza was dismissed by Ayub and forced to leave the country.
Ayub, as Chief Martial Law Administrator, became the sole centre of power in the country.

The chiefs of the armed forces with President Iskandar Mirza after the 1958 Martial Law. Mirza was soon
removed by Ayub Khan (right) and sent into exile.
Ayub wasted no time in exhibiting his disgust at what had transpired in the countys politics after Jinnahs
death, and got down to completely scrapping whatever that had emerged as Pakistani nationhood in the
preceding decade and took it upon himself to once and for all give a definitive shape to Pakistani nationalism.

Society 1947-1950
A group of people raising the Pakistani flag one day after Pakistan came into being on August 14, 1947.
Eid prayers in Karachi, 1948.
Boy Scouts in Jinnah Caps in Karachi, 1949.
Men and women labourers working on the construction of a building in Karachi, 1951.
A British tourist trying out traditional shoes at a shop in Swat (NWFP) in 1952.
Students relax at a medical college in Lahore (1953).
A wedding ceremony in Lahore (1954).
A locust attack in Karachi (1956).
Famous Pakistan cricketer, Fazal Mahmood, signing autographs for fans in Lahore (1954.
Pakistani film actresses, Sabiha Khanam and Zeenat, doing a photo shoot in 1954.
Controversial Urdu short-story writer, Sadat Hassanh Manto in Lahore.

Pakistani sprinter, Abdul Khalique (left), on his way to winning Pakistans first international gold medal in
athletics. He won this honour in the 1959 Commonwealth Games in the 100 meters dash.

An early fleet of planes of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) lined up at the Karachi Airport.
A participant films a festival in Karachi (1958).

The great debate

Ayub Khan was a practicing Muslim but almost entirely secular in his political and social outlook. He claimed
that he wanted to liberate the spirit of religion from superstition and move forward under the forces of modern
sciences and knowledge.
Understanding that a nation-state requires powerful myths to base its justification on, Ayub became the first
Pakistani head of state to overtly use the state to devise a more holistic national ideology.
He formed the Advisory Council on Islamic Ideology (ACII) and the Islamic Research Institute and populated
both with liberal Islamic scholars.
Imagining himself to be a Pakistani Kamal Ataturk and a Muslim de Gaulle, Ayub posed to express Jinnahs
vision of Pakistan. To him, this vision was about a modern Muslim-majority state with a strong economy
(based on heavy industry) and a sturdy military that would not only protect the countrys borders but its
ideology as well.

Ayub relaxing at an arts exhibition in Karachi a month after he took power through a military coup in

Incensed by his policies and the fact that he was getting most of these sectioned by the ACII, the religious
parties finally moved in to directly challenge him.
Political parties had been banned by Ayub but he lifted the ban in 1962. The parties on the left such as the
National Awami Party (NAP) opposed him for his overt capitalist manoeuvres, his regimes more-than-close
relationship with the United States, and his insistence on refusing to entertain the demands of the Sindhi,
Baloch, Bengali and Pusktun nationalists for decentralisation, democracy and provincial autonomy.
The religious parties, especially the Jamat-i-Islami (JI), largely focused their opposition on Ayubs
modernisation policies.

Ayub offering a toast to Pak-Indonesia friendship with famous Indonesian leader, Sukarno.
Rather uncannily, by attempting to mould a national ideology, Ayub gave JI the idea to take the concept and
turn it on its head.
The term Pakistan Ideology was nowhere in the founders speeches during the creation of Pakistan in 1947.
And nor was the Urdu expression, Nazriya-e-Pakistan (Pakistan Ideology).
When Ayubs 1962 Constitution highlighted his regimes understanding of Pakistani nationhood to mean being
a Muslim-majority state where a modern and reformist spirit of Islam would guide the countrys politics and
society, the JI opposed it.
It was at this point that the term Nazriah-e-Pakistan emerged. It is largely believed that it was first used by the
JI that suggested that the Pakistan Ideology should be squarely based on policies constructed through the
dictates of Muslim holy scriptures and should strive to turn Pakistan into becoming an Islamic State because it
was on the basis of religion that the country had separated from the rest of India.
Of course, very little was mentioned in this context by the JI about the fact that the party had opposed the
creation of Pakistan, and had described the Muslim League as a westernised and pseudo-Muslim party.

A newspaper report (from DAWN) on the banning of the Jamat-e-Islami by the Ayub regime. The ban
was, however, overturned by the Supreme Court.
The debate as to exactly what kind of a vision drove Jinnah to demand a separate Muslim country in South
Asia and what should constitute Pakistani culture and nationhood hit a peak in the late 1960s.
In 1967, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto formed the socialist Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), and the Sindhi, Baloch,
Pusktun and Bengali nationalists accelerated their agitation for provincial autonomy.
To the JI the story of Pakistan began not during the Pakistan Movement, but with the invasion of Sindh by
Arab commander, Muhammad bin Qasim, in the 8th Century CE who defeated the regions Hindu ruler, Raja
On the other hand, incensed by Ayubs version of Pakistani nationhood and as well as by JIs Nazriah-ePakistan, Sindhi scholar and nationalist leader, GM Syed, went to the extent of declaring Sindhi culture
squarely at odds with the Pakistani states understanding of Islam and nationhood. He also insisted that to the
Sindhis, Muhammad bin Qasim was the usurper and Raja Dahir the hero.

GM Syed
The PPP saw itself being pulled into the debate when, after witnessing the ascendency of leftist parties in
Pakistan in the late 1960s, the JI declared that socialism was an anti-Islam ideology akin to atheism.
Prominent intellectuals in the PPP and those sympathetic to its cause, specially Hanif Ramay, Safdar Mir and
poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz, retaliated (though pro-PPP magazines) by first emphasising the JIs pre-1947 antiJinnah rhetoric, and then suggesting that Pakistani nationhood and culture were multi-ethnic and multicultural
and best served by democracy and socialism.
The JIs founder and Islamic scholar, Abul Ala Maududi, saw the leftist and liberal Pakistani political
organisations and cultural outfits as Trojan Horses through which they had infiltrated the Pakistani society,
government and polity to erode Pakistans Islamic character.

Abul Ala Maududi

Interestingly, as the movement by leftist political parties, trade unions and student groups against the Ayub
regime gained momentum in the late 1960s, Ayubs Information Ministry had already begun to mend fences
with the JI.
By the time Ayub resigned in 1969 and handed over power to General Yahya Khan, the JI rebounded to
become an ally of the regime.

A pro-Bhutto leftist student rally in Karachi in 1968. Such rallies demanded the ouster of the pro-US
Ayub regime and the imposition of Socialism.
General Yayas Information Ministry tried to use the JI to blunt the leftists unprecedented push against the
military regime.
As Ayubs idea of Pakistani nationhood dwindled, the JI made its concept ofNazriah-e-Pakistan one of the
main planks of its election manifesto for the 1970 General Election (the first in Pakistan based on adult
During the 1970 election campaign the JI appealed to the voters to defeat the left and ethnic-nationalist parties
because they were a threat to the ideology of Pakistan.
But in the election, the JI and most other conservative parties were routed by the PPP and NAP (in West
Pakistan) and by the Bengali nationalist party, the Awami League (in East Pakistan).
Yet again the project of moulding an ideology of Pakistan acceptable to all Pakistanis had hit a dead-end.
However, after the 1970 election, it seemed that the idea of Pakistani nationhood being advocated by left
parties was to prevail.
It may as well have had Pakistan not gone to war with India in 1971 and then lose its Eastern Wing.
Shiekh Mujeebur Rhemans Awami League had won the highest number of seats in the 1970 election (albeit all
in East Pakistan).

Bengali nationalist leader, Shiekh Mujeeb, adressing an election rally in Dhaka (1970).

In theory his party should have been invited by Yahya to form Pakistans first popularly elected government.
But the military regime and Bhuttos PPP pointed at Mujeebs anti-Pakistan rhetoric and suggested that he
would use the Parliament to separate East Pakistan from the rest of the country on the basis of Bengali
A delay in the handing over of power to Awami League saw the eruption of a full-scale civil war in East
Thousands of Bengalis lost their lives in the conflict as the Yahya regime employed brutal tactics to stem the
Bengalis march towards independence.
Acts of brutality were also committed by the militant wings of the Bengali nationalists, as well as against
military personnel, non-Bengali residents of East Pakistan and those Bengalis who were accused of
collaborating with the Pakistan Army.
Thousands of Bengalis crossed over into Indian Bengal as refugees. Though India was by now backing the
militant Bengali nationalists, it was in December 1971 that it fully entered the battlefield.
East Pakistan became the independent republic of Bangladesh. In late December 1971 a group of military
officers forced Yahya Khan to resign and hand over power to Z A. Bhutto.

Society 1960-70
A scooter-rickshaw riding across a road in Karachi in 1960.
Pakistan hockey team is greeted on the runway of the Karachi Airport after winning the 1960 Olympic
Hockey title in Rome.

Eid prayers at Lahores Badshahi Mosque (1959).

A man in Lahore prepares to leave for his office on his bike (1961).
Stewardesses of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) in 1961.
Children line up to receive food and medicines donated by the US in Chittagong (East Pakistan) in 1961.
A sprawling slum in Karachi (1960).
People buying snacks for Iftaar in Karachi during the 1961 Ramazan.

Tourists sunbathe at a Karachi beach in 1962.

The inside of Lahores famous Pak Tea House (1963). During the 1950s and 1960s this caf was
regularly frequented by famous Urdu poets, writers, journalists, political activists and intellectuals.
A Pakistani man about to board a flight to London in 1964. At the time Pakistanis
got their visas on arrival in most European countries.
Workers building the Mangla Dam near Jhelum River (1963). It is still one of the biggest dams in
A classical dancer performs her art during the first ever television transmission in Pakistan in November
A Pepsi factory on the outskirts of Karachi (1964).

Madam Noor Jehan recording her famous national song, Ay Watan Kay Shajeelay Jwanaoun at EMIPakistans studios in Karachi during the 1965 Pak-India war.
Children at a fishing village near the Hawks Bay Beach in Karachi (1966).

Scenes from the famous Urdu film, Arman (1966).

Karachis busy financial district in 1967.
Pakistans newest city, Islamabad, under construction in 1966. It was made the countrys capital in 1967.
Two girls in a village in Punjab (1967).
An article in the National Geographic magazine about a traditional Pakistani wedding (1968).
A conductor of a bus that ran from Peshawar to Kabul (and back) waits for passengers in Peshawar

Tourists and locals enjoy dinner and drinks at Karachis Beach Luxury Hotel during the 1969 News Years

Famous Pakistan TV actor, Shakeel, at a Karachi restaurant in 1970.

An uneasy consensus
Bhuttos party, the PPP, that had swept the 1970 election in former West Pakistans two largest provinces,
Punjab and Sindh, on a socialist manifesto, and formed the government at the centre and in the mentioned
Another left-wing party, the National Awami Party (NAP) that had won a number of seats in the former NWFP
and Balochistan was able to form coalition governments in these provinces.
The first phase of the Bhutto regime (1972-74) was dominated by the radical left-wing of the PPP. However,
since Pakistan found itself reeling from an expensive war, a demoralised army, and fears that India may go on
to fan separatist movements in the NWFP and Balochistan, his government sanctioned a project to mould an
ideological narrative that would help the state redeem the floundering belief in a united Pakistan.

Bhutto speaking at a rally in Karachis Nishtar Park.

It is believed that the narrative was first and foremost devised to uplift the morale of the army. But by late 1972
it began to make its way into school text books as well.
In a nutshell, the narrative went something like this: West Pakistan was always the real Pakistan because its a
cohesive and seamless region that runs from north to south along the mighty Indus River. This regions
population had predominately been Muslim (ever since the 12th Century), and though it may have a number of
ethnicities, its population has largely remained aloof from the happenings in Indias ancient seat of power in
Delhi, and had similar views on Islam.
This conveniently meant that the Bengali-majority East Pakistan that lay thousands of miles away from West
Pakistan was an unnatural part of what had appeared on the map as Pakistan in 1947.
In 1972 the study of Pakistan Studies, a subject that exclusively dealt with the history and culture of the
country, was introduced and then made compulsory for school and college students.
But in the early 1970s it was still very much a work-in-progress.
In 1973, the PPP government organised a large conference in which some of the countrys leading intellectuals,
historians and scholars were invited. They were requested to debate and thrash out a nationalist narrative that
could then be turned into a state ideology and imposed through legislative means and school text books.
Though the Bhutto regime was populist and posing to be socialist, in 1973 it managed to get a consensus from
all the parties to unveil a new constitution that reintroduced Pakistan as an Islamic Republic.

Bhutto speaking to a guest at a state dinner after the National Assembly passed the 1973 Constitution.
The JI and other religious parties had explained the breakup of Pakistan in 1971 as a consequence of its rulers
failing to turn the country into an Islamic state and thus giving leftists and ethnic nationalists enough reason
and space to dictate terms and harm the unity of the country.
The second half of the Bhutto regime (1974-77) saw the slowing down of its socialist projects and the
declining influence of PPPs socialist and Marxist ideologues in the policy-making process.
The regimes capitulation in the event of the agitation and the demands of the religious parties to declare the
Ahamadiyya community as a non-Muslim minority was at least one symptom of Bhuttos rightward shift.
By the 1977 election, the PPP had all but eliminated the word socialism from its manifesto. Its regime, elected
on a relatively radical socialist program in 1970, had (within a matter of five years), become a somewhat odd
mixture of nationalist populism and an equally populist expression of Political Islam.
Bhutto it seems had sensed the Islamic revival taking place across the Muslim world after the 1973 Arab-Israel
War. Though the war had ended in a stalemate, oil-rich Arab monarchies enjoyed a sudden rise in profits after
they slowed down oil production and greatly jacked-up petroleum prices.
The profits gave the oil-producing Arab countries power to influence Muslim regimes that did not have the
fortune of owning vast oil fields.
Saudi Arabia hardly played a role in the matters of Pakistan before 1973. But after 1973, Bhuttos Pakistan
began to court the oil-rich Saudi monarchy, hoping to fatten Pakistans struggling economy with hearty handouts from its wealthy Muslim brethren (Petro Dollars).
But, the money came with a condition.
The Saudi monarchy was a passionate proponent of a rather puritanical strand of Islam. It had alarmingly seen
the rise of socialist regimes in Egypt, Iraq, Yemen, Algeria, Sudan, Somalia and Pakistan.
After 1973 when Saudi Arabia began to pump in huge amounts of money into Muslim countries, with the
money also came allusions and nudges to undermine leftist ideologies and kick-start an intellectual and
political exercise to Islamise governments and societies according to the Saudis interpretation of the faith.

Fiery Marxist leader, Miraj Mohammad Khan, speaking at a PPP rally. He was ousted from the party in
Arab monarchies had struggled to stay afloat against the onslaught and rise of progressive Arab nationalism in
the 1950s and 1960s. And in spite of the fact that most of them were allies of Western powers, these
monarchies were also conscious of Western political ideas trickling into the minds of their citizens, especially
the younger lot.
From 1973 onwards a huge amount of Petro Dollars began to be disbursed and distributed among Muslim
academics, intellectuals, governments and religious leaders.
What began to emerge from this exercise was a Political Islam that was anti-socialism/communism and antiZionism, but (curiously) pro-West, pro-monarchy and with a healthy bank balance!

Saudi monarch, King Faisal with ZA Bhutto at the Lahore Airport (1974).
Bhutto, apart from trying to appease the religionist lobby by reintroducing certain clauses in the 1973
Constitution, and then giving revisionist narratives a run across Pakistan Studies books, then moved in to
appease his new-found Saudi friends and donors.
Since by now the Pakistan Ideology had begun to place Pakistans historical roots in lands from where Arab
horsemen had invaded India in the 8th Century, it was decided that the Arabic language too, should be adopted
and taught in schools.
Bhutto felt secure in the belief that he was successfully keeping his left and liberal constituencies satisfied
along with the conservative religious sections of the society and also Pakistans new Arab donors.
So it must have come as a rude shock to him when in December 1976 a nine-party alliance of religious and
other anti-Bhutto parties united under the umbrella of the Pakistan National Alliance (PNA).
The alliance geared up to face Bhuttos PPP in the 1977 election. And it was only when the PNA used the
words Nizam-e-Mustafa (The Prophets System) as its main slogan, that it became apparent that the Bhutto
regimes experiments in the still elusive territory of the Pakistan Ideology had actually ended up providing his
opponents the space and idea to use religion as an effective electoral tool.
Another factor that Bhutto might have undermined was that Saudi Arabia was not only cultivating relations
with the Bhutto regime, it was also on very good terms with religious parties, such as the JI.
The PPP went on the defensive because according to Bhuttos analysis it was the Islamic revival factor that
now needed to be fought for and grabbed.
The word Islam outnumbered the word socialism in the partys new manifesto and for the first time religion
became the focal point of debate and discussion during an election in Pakistan.

Cover of a March 1977 Urdu magazine with pictures of PNA leaders and rally.
The PPP trounced the PNA in the National Assembly election. The PNA cried foul and accused the Bhutto
regime of rigging the polls. The truth was that the regime had rigged only a handful of seats (in the Punjab)
and would have won the election anyway.
But Bhutto wanted to change the countrys parliamentary system into a Presidential one and for that he desired
a big majority in the National Assembly.
The PNA refused to contest the Provincial Assembly elections and instead began a protest movement that soon
turned violent.
PNA supporters - mostly made up of urban middle-class youth and supported by the industrialist and trader
classes that were greatly stung by the Bhutto regimes wayward socialist manoeuvres - poured out onto the
Surprised by the tenacity of the protesters, Bhutto began emergency talks with the PNA leadership.
The ironic aspect of the movement was that when the PNA and the protesters began to use religious symbolism
and slogans, these were culled from what the Bhutto regime had inducted into school text books.

A PNA protest rally in Rawalpindi being led by members of the student-wing of the Jamat-e-Islami
But since both the PNA and the PPP were going on and on about Islam without ever bothering to explain
exactly how they were planning to turn a religion based on moral and social codes into a functioning political
and economic system, this eyewash was addressed by another eyewash.
In April 1977 the Bhutto regime met with the main religious leaders of the PNA belonging to the JI, Jamiat
Ulema Islam (JUI) and Jamiat Ulema Pakistan (JUP) and agreed to make Friday the weekly holiday instead of
Sunday (as was the case in Saudi Arabia). He also agreed to ban the consumption and sale of alcoholic
beverages (to Muslims) and close down all nightclubs and bars.
But this did not save him from receiving another shock. In July 1977, his own General toppled his regime in a
reactionary military coup and promptly arrested him.
General Ziaul Haq was handpicked by Bhutto, in spite of having a history of being highly conservative. Bhutto
was assured by the outgoing Army Chief, General Tikka Khan, that Zia was completely apolitical and
When he imposed the countrys third Martial Law, Zia took the PNAs Nizam-e-Mustafa rhetoric and turned it
into a draconian and then a legislative ideological project, giving the whole concept of the Pakistan Ideology
its starkest religious aspect thus far.

Zia announcing the implosion of Martial Law (July, 1977).

Bhutto was hanged in April 1979 through a sham trial, political parties were banned, and perhaps for the first
time, the Pakistan Ideology was consolidated into becoming official state policy.

Society 1971-77
Pakistani model and actress, Rakshanda Khatak, on the set of the 1971 Urdu film,
Operation Karachi.
Pakistan playing against Germany in the hockey finals of the 1972 Munich Olympics.
Pakistani painter and sculptor, Sadequain, drawing a portrait of a fan during an arts festival in Lahore
Visiting US astronauts of Apollo 17 being carried in a motorcade across the Saddar area in Karachi in
A bus for tourists in Peshawar (1973).

Two women at Karachis Clifton Beach (1972).

A club band in Karachi (1973).
People at a mela (local festival) in the ancient city of Sindh, Thatta (1973).
An eastern classical and folk music gathering in Lahore (1973).

Students take a smoke break at the canteen of the Punjab University in Lahore (1973).
Karate students in Karachi (1973). Popularity of Judo and Karate rose with the popularity of Bruce Lee

The ruksati ceremony at a wedding in Karachi in 1973.

Hippie tourists mingle with the locals at an eatery in Ziarat, Balochistan (1974).
A young boy fills the tank of his dads motorbike as a girl walks towards her school in Lahore (1974).
Poster of an Iranian pop group that toured Pakistan in 1974.
Students learning English at a modern language institute in Karachi in 1974.
A Pakistani Jazz and club band shooting a scene for the 1974 Urdu film Dhamaka. The film was scripted
by famous Urdu spy novelist, Ibn-e-Safi.
Karachis largest working-class area Lyari in 1975.

Students outside the Arts Lobby of the Karachi University in 1974.

A screen shot of PTVs live telecast of the Pakistan-India Hockey World Cup final in 1975.

Eid prayers in Lahore (1974).

Pakistan cricket captain, Mushtaq Mohammad and fast bowler Imran Khan celebrate Pakistans first Test
match victory on Australian soil (1976).

Spectators watching a Pakistan-England Test match at Lahores Gaddafi Stadium (1977).

Special Blue Planes introduced by PIA in 1977 for its flights to Europe. They were discontinued in the
An old woman reciting the holy book in Lahore, 1977.
A German tourist outside a legal hashish store in the North Waziristan area of Pakistan (1976).
Special coins that were minted in 1976 to mark the 100th birth anniversary of the founder of the nation,
Mohammad Ali Jinnah.
Pop singer, Alamgir, with famous comedian, Moin Akhtar in Karachi (1977).

The grand concoction

The initial model for Zias so-called Islamisation project was based on Maulana Maududis theories on the
Zia began a project to enforce Nizam-e-Mustafa, marking a major shift from Pakistan's predominantly AngloSaxon laws.

Religion was the perfect kind of excuse for a dictator to flex his muscles at the time, especially in a country
where the middle-classes and upstarts who had travelled to oil-rich Arab countries had confused the power of
the Petro-Dollar with the power of the strands of the faith that they came into contact with there.
Maududis concept of the Pakistan Ideology that had been battered by the voters in 1970 and then mutated into
meaning something closer to Bhuttos equally convoluted Islamic Socialism, fell into the hands of Zia who
gave it his own twist.
But, he not only made it a part of school text books, he also began to express it through draconian laws that he
described as being Islamic.
Law after law based on a particular understanding of the faith was rolled out, so much so that by the time of his
death in 1988, the 1973 Constitution, that had originally been a product of pluralistic intent, became the
enshrinement of certain laws and clauses that till this day give a constitutional cover to what are indeed acts of

An anti-Zia journalist being publically flogged in Rawalpindi (1979).

After toppling the Z. A. Bhutto government in July 1977, Zia almost immediately got down to the business of
radically transforming the ideological complexion of Pakistan, changing it from being a democratic Muslim
majority state (as envisioned by its founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah), into peddling it as a state that was
supposedly conceived as a theocratic entity.
In 1979, Zia and his ideological partners hit a brick wall when they couldnt endorse their revisionist narrative
with any of the sayings and speeches of Jinnah.

As a first step, Zia banned the mention (in the media and school text books) of Jinnahs famous speech that he
made to the Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947.
Zias information ministry spent days on end studying Jinnahs speeches and sayings to dig out anything that
could be used to endorse Zias version of Pakistans emergence.
They came up with nothing, until one fine day Zia (in 1983) enthusiastically announced the discovery of
Jinnahs personal diary.
While talking to his ministers, Zia claimed that in the newly discovered personal diary of the founder, Jinnah
had spoken about having a powerful Head of State (read: dictator), and the dangers of parliamentary
democracy. He conveniently concluded that Jinnahs views were very close to having an Islamic system of
The right-wing section of the Urdu press and state-owned TV and radio gave lavish coverage to the event, even
publishing a page from the supposed diary.
But, alas, the euphoria around the farce was short-lived. Two of Jinnahs close associates and direct
participants of the Pakistan Movement, Mumtaz Daultana and K H. Khurshid, rubbished Zias claims by
saying there never was such a diary.
After this, a group of senior intellectuals from the Quaid-e-Azam Academy also denied that such a diary ever
existed in the Academys archives.

An anti-Zia procession being led by a 5-year-old kid in 1985. The kid, Faraz Wahlah, was actually arrested
by the cops and held behind bars for hours!

Police attack an anti-Zia rally held by a radical womens organisation in Lahore (1984).
Whats even curious is the fact that once his claims were trashed, not only did Zia never mention anything
about the supposed diary ever again, a number of Urdu newspapers that had splashed the dramatic discovery
went completely quiet.
In desperation, the regimes information ministry simply ended up advising PTV and Radio Pakistan to only
use those quotes of Jinnah that had the word Islam in them.

Zia playing golf in Islamabad, 1986.

DAWN cartoonist Zahoor mocks how (ever since the 1980s) some leaders have tried
to Islamise Jinnah.
The practice only stopped with Zias controversial demise in August 1988 and Jinnah was finally spared the
false beard Zia kept pining on the founders otherwise shaven chin.
Nevertheless, no civilian government has dared alter or expunge the so-called piety laws planted in the
Constitution by the Zia regime. The fear of being declared anti-Pakistan Ideology overrides the will to
neutralise these laws.
Thus, in the last two decades, whole generations of educated, middle-class, young Pakistanis have grown up
believing that a theocratic state was Jinnahs main aim, and that the so-called Pakistan Ideology emerged from
the days of the Pakistan Movement.
Of course, many have also continued to oppose these views and moves.

A supporter mourns at Zias funeral in 1988. Zia died in a controversial plane crash in August 1988.
Society 1978-88

One of the first waves of Afghan refugees arriving in Pakistan after Soviet forces occupied Afghanistan in
Indian ghazal singer, Jagjit Singh, performing at Lahores Shalimar Garden in 1979.

Young children beat the heat by taking a dip in the bogy washing area of Peshawar Railway Station in

Pakistani cricketers at a party in 1979 (From Left): Sadiq Mohammad, Abdul Qadir, Mudassar Nazar and
Imran Khan. Wasim Raja is standing behind Qadir.
A scene from super hit Punjabi film, Maula Jat (1979). The film herald in the rise of Punjabi films and the
collapse of Urdu cinema.
A busy street in Bahawalpur, 1980.
The LP cover of Nazia and Zoheb Hassans first album, Disco Dewane (1980).
Future US President, Barak Obama, at a Pakistani friends house during his visit to
Pakistan in 1981. Obama was a college student at the time.

A 1980 model of the VCR. This machine became immensely popular across Pakistan in the 1980s.

Pakistan hockey squad after winning the 1982 Hockey World Cup.
A street at a slum in Karachi, 1984.
A fishing boat and its owner in Karachis Kimari area, 1984.

A busy shopping street in Karachi, 1985.

Actors Rahat Kazmi and Marina Khan in the popular PTV serial, Tanhaiyaan (1985).
Pakistani cricketer, Mohsin Khan, with Bollywood actress Reena Roy in 1986.
Karachis Sahrah-e-Faisal in 1983.
A heroin addict in Karachi, 1985. Heroin sale and addiction shot up
dramatically in Pakistan across the 1980s. By the mid-1980s, Pakistan had the
second highest number of heroin addicts.
Guest Afghan insurgents hold a press conference in Peshawar in 1985.
Hosts of PTVs marathon transmission during the 1988 general election.

The idea that ate itself

During his 11-year rule, Zia furthered the project of the Pakistan Ideology and turned it into a dogma that
explained Pakistan as a unique emergence in the Muslim world that was conceived to become a bastion of faith
driven entirely by divine laws.

What made it a dogma (that was aggressively proliferated through school textbooks and propaganda), was that
it refused to recognise the multi-ethnic and multi-sectarian make-up of the country and, instead, offered a
rather convoluted, rigid and artificial understanding of the faith.
This ended up promoting inelastic and entirely myopic strands of the faith, pushing them from the fringes of
society into the mainstream and in the process, retarding the natural evolution of Pakistans multicultural ethos
and polity.
It also ended up offending various Muslim sects and sub-sects, creating serious sectarian tensions. It also
alienated the minorities.
But Zias manoeuvres in this context were a culmination of what began as an ambitious project in the 1950s.
The project reached its limits during the Zia regime.
The shape that it finally took was so inflexible that it could not adapt to the rapid political changes that
followed after the end of the Cold War (in 1989) and during the emergence of the severe forms of religious
extremism and terrorism that engulfed the country after 9/11.
It can thus be suggested that the project is now facing a serious crises. It cannot be stretched any further. It ate
itself after devouring everything that could have halted the political and social retardation that it triggered over
the decades.
Thats why today, Pakistans ruling and military establishments and intelligentsia are now trying to replace it
with a thinking that would directly challenge the doctrinal rigidity and the political and cultural isolation the
so-called ideology ended up promoting and encouraging.
Pakistans existentialist status is in dire need of a fresh new narrative a narrative that should have begun
where Jinnahs first speech to the Constituent Assembly had left off.

Society & Politics 1989-2015

Three times boxing heavy weight champion, Mohammad Ali, visits a college in Lahore during his 1988
trip to Pakistan.

Supporters of the PPP celebrate the partys victory in the 1988 election in Karachis Lyari area. A poster of
the then PPP chairperson, Benazir Bhutto, can also be seen. She became the first ever woman Prime
Minister in the Muslim world.
A building in Karachi draped in a massive MQM flag during the 1988 elections. The party swept the polls
in the city.
Cover of the first album by Pakistani pop band, Vital Signs (released in 1989). The success of the album
kick-started a vibrant pop scene in the country that lasted well into the 1990s.
World No: 1 and 2, Jahangir Khan (right) and Jansher Khan (left) battle it out in the final of an
international squash tournament in Karachi (1990).
A 1990 billboard in Lahore eulogising Mian Nawaz Sharif. He became PM in 1990.
American cyclists in Swat, 1990.
A poster of the 1991 film, International Gorillay which portrayed controversial
author Salman Rushdie, as a man out to destroy Pakistan.
Kids enjoy a round of gola gunda (snow ice-cream) at Karachis low-income Orangi area in 1992.

Pakistan wins the 1992 Cricket World Cup.

Famous TV actress Atiqua Odho on the cover of the March 1993 Urdu monthly, Khawateen Digest.
Pakistan wins the 1994 Hockey World Cup.
Morgues in Karachi pile up with bodies as the conflict between MQM and the state intensifies in 1996.
A teacher and student at a government school in Lahore (1996).
Australian TV commentator, Ian Chappell, interviews Sri Lankan captain after PM Bhutto hands him the
trophy of the 1996 Cricket World Cup. The final of the event took place at Lahores Qaddafi Stadium.
Lady Diana with Jemima Khan (former wife of Imran Khan) and Imran Khan during her trip to Lahore in
An armed man at a rally of a sectarian outfit in Lahore (1998).
Poster of Ajoka Theatres 1998 stage play, Bala King, that addressed the rise of sectarian and gang
violence in Pakistan.

Soldiers climb the gates of the PTV headquarters in Islamabad during General Parvez Musharrafs 1999
military coup.
A crumbling cinema in Peshawar in 2001.
A street in Rawalpindi in 2002.
An anti-US rally in Peshawar after American forces invaded Afghanistan in 2002.
The 2003 Lux Style Awards in Karachi.

A Pakistani snow leopard was gifted to New Yorks Bronx Zoo in 2006.
Rubble of a an apartment block that collapsed in Islamabad during the devastation 2005 earthquake in the
countrys northern areas.
Nawaz Sharif returns to Pakistan in 2007 after he was flown into exile by the Musharraf regime.
DAWNs headline the morning after former PM and chairperson of the PPP was assassinated in
Rawalpindi in December 2007.

Islamabads Marriot Hotel goes up in flames after it was attacked by suicide bombers belonging to
extremist outfits (2008).
Women members of Islamabads controversial Lal Masjid (2007).
Police guard a polling station in Lahore during the 2008 elections.

Pakistan win the 2009 Cricket T20 World Cup.

Soldiers move towards the spot in Lahore where extremists attacked the visiting Sri Lankan cricket team
in 2009.
Youth celebrate Pakistans Independence Day in Lahore (2009).

A member of the Pakistan womens cricket team pads up in Lahore (2010).

Two kids kiss a pigeon in a working class area of Lahore (2011).

Gangsters in Karachis poverty-stricken Lyari area (2012).

A road in Rawalpindi lined up with posters during the 2013 election. The elections were swept by Nawaz
Sharifs PML-N.

A car bomb goes off in Karachi just before the 2013 election. Extremist outfits regularly attacked
members of MQM, PPP and ANP during the election campaign.
Wreckage left behind by an extremist attack on a school in Peshawar (2014). Dozens of students lost their

A rally against extremists in 2014.

An anti-extremism rally in Islamabad (2014).

Pakistan military begin clearing and securing areas infested by extremist groups after the government and
the parliament gave a go-ahead to the armed forces to begin one of the largest anti-terrorism operations in
the country (2015).
Pakistan military chief, General Raheel Sharif, who is the main architect of the militarys widespread
operation against terrorism, meets some students of the school that was earlier attacked by militants.

Afnan Khan, The Threat of Pakistans Revisionist Text (The Guardian, 18 May, 2009).
Stephen Alter, Amritsar to Lahore: a journey across the India-Pakistan border(Penn Sylvania Press, 2002 )
Maneesha Tikar, Across the Wagah (Bibliophile South Asia, 2004) p.210
Neelam Hussain, Samiya Mumtaz, Samina Choonara, Politics of Language(Simorgh Publication, 2005)
T Rahman, Government Policies & The Politics of Teaching Urdu in Pakistan(Annual Urdu Studies, 2002).
Amy Bik May Tsui, James W. Tollefson, Language Policy, Culture and Identity in Asian Contexts (Routledge,
2007) pp.244, 245.
Thomas Oberlies, Pali: A Grammar of the Language of theTheravda Tipitaka(Walter
de Gruyter, 2001).

Ayesha Jalal, Self and sovereignty: Individual & Community in South Asia Islam Since 1870 (Routledge,
2002) pp.174,175,176
Manas Chatterji, B. M. Jain, Conflict & Peace in Asia, (Emerald Group Publishing, 2008) p.251
Irfan Ahmad, The Transformation of Jamat-e-Islami (Princeton University Press, 2009) p.6

Abul Ala Maududu, The Islamic Law & Constitution (Islamic Books, 1986).
Selig S. Harrison, Paul H. Kreisberg, Dennis Kux, India & Pakistan: The First Fifty Years (Cambridge
University Press, 1999) p.47
GS Bhargava, Pakistan in Crises (Vikas Publications, 1971) p.75
John L. Esposito, Islam & Politics (Syracuse University Press 1998 ) pp.120-121
Husain Haqani, Pakistan: Between the Mosque & Military (Carneige, 2010) p.43
Martin E. Marty, R. Scot, Fundamentalisms Observed (University of Chicago Press, 1998) p.474
Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Culture and Identity (Oxford University Press, 2005).
Saadia Toor, The State of Pakistan (Pluto Press, 2005) pp:112-115
KK Aziz, The Murder of History (Renaissance Publishing House, 1998) p.111
Martin E. Marty, R. Scot, Fundamentalisms Observed (University of Chicago Press, 1998) p.473
Ishtiaq Ahmed, State, Nation & Ethnicity in Contemporary South Asia(Continuum International Publication,
1998) p.284
A Zubair, The Silent and the Lost (Pacific Breeze Publishers, 2010) p.321
Strategic Digest Vol: 3 (Institute of Defence Studies & Analyses, 1973) p.16
Aitzaz Ahsan, The Indus Saga (Roli, 2005).
Dr. Mubarek Ali, Interviews & Comments (Fiction House, 2004) p.66
Zaid Haider, The Ideological Struggle For Pakistan (Hoover Institution Press, 2010) p.16
Thomas Borstelmann, 1970s: A New Global History From Civil Rights to Economic Inequality (Princeton
University Press, 2011) p.267
Rubina Saigol, Radicalisation of State & Society in Pakistan (Heinrich Boll Stiftung) p.10 Walid
Phares, The War of Ideas (Macmillan, 2007).
Vali Reza Nasr, Islamic Leviathan (Oxford University Press, 2001) p.80
Mubashir Hassan, The Miraj of Power: An Inquiry into the Bhutto Years - 1971-77(Oxford University Press,
2000) pp.299-300
Khaled Ahmed, Pakistan Behind The Ideological Mask (Vanguard, 2001).
The Political Economy of Pakistan: 1947-85 (Taylor & Frances, 1988) p.180

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Nadeem F. Paracha is a cultural critic and senior columnist for Dawn Newspaper and
He tweets @NadeemfParacha