Gene Expression

Pakistan is already an Islamic State

So claims Ali Eteraz:

Most people in the world, including some Pakistanis, live under the illusion that the country is secular and just happens to have been overrun by extremists. This is false. Pakistan became an Islamic state in 1973 when the new constitution made Islam the state religion. Under the earlier 1956 constitution Islam had been merely the “official” religion. Nineteen-seventy-three, in other words, represents Pakistan’s “Iran moment”–when the government made itself beholden to religious law. Most western observers missed the radical change because the leader of Pakistan at the time was Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, a whiskey-drinking, pseudo-socialist from a Westernized family. Those that did notice the transformation ignored it because the country was reeling from a massive military defeat in 1971, which led to half the nation becoming Bangladesh.

Comments

  1. #1 Joshua Zelinsky
    April 30, 2009

    That’s a fascinating essay. I had been aware that the Pakistani Constitution explicitly made Islam the state religion but I had more or less thought that until recently that had been similar in effect to the Church of England. The essay makes a good case that even if was simply in name in 1973 that the country became Islamic, it became Islamic in fact not long after that.

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