The modern nation-state has a national space and national borders. Yet borders are not always for defense. In Pakistan, since 2001, and from as far back as the 1980s, the premise (or implied threat) of unsecured borders on the North-West Frontier has become an unadmitted aspect of state policy which can be partly explained by a distinctive factor: the commitment of the post–General Zia state (or part of it) to a militant version of Islam. Pakistan owes its being to Islam. In August, 1947, the eastern border of the new state was opened to the flow of Muslim refugees from India. Even in those early days, the “homeland for the Muslims of India” was conceived (ideally) in two guises: either as a container for the Muslims that lived or migrated there, or as a project for making Pakistanis. The Indian Islam of large sections of the existing population was not of a kind to be respected by all architects of the new project. Before the 1980s, the state took a defensive (though sometimes accommodating) attitude toward the demands of a radical minority that society in Pakistan be brought into accord with Islamic norms. But state-sponsored processes of Islamization have since come to be deeply entwined with the cross-border conduct of policy and war in Afghanistan. Drawing particular attention to the Munir Report (1954), an inquiry into civil disturbances soon after the foundation of the country, this paper considers the events of more recent times in terms of the interdependence of two kinds of question: that of the nation-state and its borders, and that of the character of Islam in a particular country.
Research Article| May 01 2012
Ian Bedford; A Door Ajar: National Borders and the Character of Islam in Pakistan. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 1 May 2012; 32 (1): 255–269. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/1089201X-1545490
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