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190,291,129 (July 2012 est.)


$2,800 (2011 est.)


Muslim (official) 95% (Sunni 75%, Shia 20%), other (includes Christian and Hindu) 5%



Events (9)

The often-troubled relationship between religion and politics in Pakistan is the product of a complex history. Islam arrived in the Indian subcontinent in the eighth century, establishing itself as the predominant tradition over the next millennium. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, India was gradually incorporated under the British Raj. Under British rule, Hindu-Muslim relations grew strained, leading to the eventual partition of British India and the formation of an independent, Muslim-majority Pakistan in 1947. Since independence, Pakistan has been plagued by periods of civil unrest, war with India, and despotic military rule. It also saw a marked increase in religious influence in the sociopolitical sphere, particularly under the military dictator General Zia ul-Haq (1977-1988). Islam is the state religions and laws are required to be in accordance with Islam. An increasing number of blasphemy accusations since ul-Haq’s legal changes took effect reflect the growing turbulence and instability in Pakistan over the last 30 years. Muslims and non-Muslims alike live in fear of blasphemy accusations because of the violence that often follows, while religious minorities are additionally subject to extreme discrimination and persecution.

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  • April 12, 2011
    The Berkley Center led its first conference for the US Air Force on "US Policy in a Highly Religious World: Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Beyond" at the Armed Forces Chaplains Center, Ft. Jackson, South Carolina. The conference was open to chaplains from all the services and was led by Berkley Center Associate Director Eric Patterson. Experts provided the chaplains with contemporary thinking on issues of international religious freedom and national security policy, the intersection of faith and...
  • December 3, 2010
    This student discussion explored the ways religion and interreligious communities can be forces to bring peace and prosperity in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and learn about strategies and best practices for interreligious cooperation and intercultural understanding. This event was cosponsored by HASC, The Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs, and the World Faiths Development Dialogue.
  • October 28, 2010
    With the growth of religious pluralism on a global scale, freedom of religion has emerged as more than a fundamental human rights issue. It also intersects with other foreign policy challenges, including political, social, and economic development. One of the most important but most poorly understood connections is with national security.
  • August 31, 2010
    In her August 31 lecture, Carole Rakodi outlined the findings from a five-year collaborative research project funded by the UK Department for International Development (DIFD), which is now reaching its conclusion. The research program was launched to help fill knowledge gaps on the links between religion and development, and was designed to fully engage partners in four countries where the UK supports important development programs: Pakistan, India, Nigeria, and Tanzania. The...
  • February 24, 2010
    As part of its occasional focus on the role that faith plays in conflict resolution, the Post-Conflict Reconstruction Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies hosted a discussion between the Wahhabi Ahle Hadith madrassa and religious leaders from remote regions in Pakistan about the role of faith leaders in countering radicalization and combating violent conflict. One goal of the event was to point out that even highly conservative schools of Islamic thought can be...
  • May 6, 2009
    During this lecture, sponsored by the Henry R. Luce Foundation, C. Christine Fair discussed Pakistani attitudes towards militancy in and beyond the region. She focused on Pakistanis' distinction between acknowledging the militant threat and welcoming official participation in the US war on terror. She also addressed active minority group support for terrorist entities. C. Christine Fair was the 2009 Luce Fellow at the Religion and Human Security Program at the University of Washington's Henry...
  • March 24, 2009
    On Tuesday, March 24, 2009, the Berkley Center and the Office of the President of Georgetown University hosted "From Iraq to Pakistan: The Arc of Turbulence" featuring MJ Akbar on the geopolitical consequences of America's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.The US military presence in the region has unintentionally strengthened the position of Iran, America's principal regional foe, and undermined its principal regional ally, Pakistan. Instability in Pakistan, a country that combines toxic ideology...
  • February 3, 2009
    The panel discussion on "Engaging Madrasas: Three Voices from Pakistan" discussed efforts to counter extremism by engaging religious schools and offering madrasa teacher certification programs. Discussion focused on a current pilot program at the University of Karachi developed in collaboration with the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy. Participants included Dr. Abdul Rashid, faculty of Islamic Studies at the University of Karachi; Abbas Husain, Teachers' Development Centre at...
  • February 12, 2007
    Dr. Doug Johnston and Azhar Hussain spoke about their experiences traveling to Pakistan in an attempt to engage madrasa students and to institute changes within Pakistani school systems. This discussion, sponsored by the Berkley Center, took place on February 12, 2007 in Georgetown University’s McShain Lounge. Specifically, the goals discussed were: (1) expansion of madrasa curriculums to include the scientific and social disciplines, with a special emphasis on religious tolerance and...