190,291,129 (July 2012 est.)
GDP PER CAPITA
$2,800 (2011 est.)
Muslim (official) 95% (Sunni 75%, Shia 20%), other (includes Christian and Hindu) 5%
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 8th century, establishing itself as the predominant tradition over the next millennium. During the 18th and 19th centuries, India was gradually incorporated under the British Raj. During 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 has also seen a marked increase in religious influence in the sociopolitical sphere, particularly under the military dictator Zia ul-Haq (1977-88). Pakistan remains unstable in part due to its ambivalent relationship with religious extremists. Islam is the state religion and laws are required to be in accordance with Islam. Although the Constitution formally grants religious freedom and makes provisions for religious minorities, non-Muslims are subject to discrimination in rural areas.Pakistan’s Penal Code (revised 1986) has the authority to impose draconian punishment for blasphemy against the Prophet. While there have been over 127400 people charged with blasphemy between 1986 and 2011, very few people have been legally tried or convicted.” In some cases when people have been convicted in the lower courts, the higher courts and judges have overturned the decisions creating further discord between the Muslim majority and religious minorities in the nation.
August 11, 2011
This case study explores the shift away from interreligious harmony and toward sectarian strife in Kashmiri society, particularly over the last three decades, and how religious antagonisms have played into both local politics and warfare between India and Pakistan. The case study exposes the nature of the situation in Kashmir through five questions: What are the historical origins of the conflict over Kashmir? How are religious factors involved in the conflict? How important were...
November 7, 2008
Virtually every trouble spot on the planet has some sort of religious component. One need only consider Iraq and Afghanistan, Iran, Israel and Palestine, Turkey, India, Pakistan, Russia, and China, to name but a few. Looming behind national issues, of course, is the problem of regional Islamist extremism and transnational Islamist terrorism. In all of these sectors, religious tensions, ideas and actors are of great geo-political importance to the United States. Yet, argues Thomas Farr, our...
March 1, 2008
January 1, 2007
, March/April 2008
Thomas F. Farr
The United States is a religious nation, but neither scholars of U.S. foreign policy nor its practitioners have taken religion very seriously. From the inception of international relations as a discrete discipline, its approach has been defined by the seventeenth-century Westphalian subordination of religion to the state. Consequently, as the international relations scholar Daniel Philpott has observed, most in the field have simply "assumed...
This book by Muhammad Qasim Zaman examines the evolving public role of religious scholars in contemporary Muslim societies. It focuses on the Deobandi community in Pakistan, and places it in a broader comparative perspective that includes cases from Iran to the Philippines. Zaman analyzes the substantive transformation of the ulama and their religious and political discourse, showing how their self-understanding as guardians of tradition interacts with their participation in contemporary...
December 1, 2005
In this in-depth study of the Chitral region of Pakistan’s North West Frontier, Magnus Marsen challenges the many stereotypes that dominate conventional accounts of this troubled area. In order to do so, he presents a detailed account of the complex interaction between religion, politics, and gender that shape the daily lives of men and women in Chitral. By focusing on rural settings often neglected by extant scholarship and by remaining attentive to the cultural, intellectual, and moral...
January 1, 2001
In Islamic Leviathan, Vali Nasr explores how and under what conditions states use Islam to consolidate their hold on power. Focusing on the cases of Pakistan and Malaysia, he argues that these multi-ethnic post-colonial states came into being with a weak sense of national unity and an elite that had close ties to the colonial establishment. He identifies the 1970s as a key period, in which secular national ideologies began to fail, prompting their replacement by explicitly religious notions...