In Pakistan Muslim shrines have traditionally been maintained by hereditary saints (pirs), who often command a large following. Leaders of Pakistan have felt that the organization of the shrines has been incompatible with their political and religious goals. This article examines how the governments of Ayub Khan and his successors not only have established an administrative policy aimed at direct control of the shrines and a diminution of the power of the hereditary saints; they have also attempted to present a coherent ideology concerning the significance of the saints, which, though drawing on the Sufi tradition, diverges sharply from many popular beliefs. Despite a basic continuity of policy toward the shrines, however, each administration has also had its own central symbols and has drawn on Islam in different ways. These differences are reflected in the changing significance of the saints from one administration to the next.

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