Radicalisation of Civil Society: A Case Study of Pakistan
SOUTH ASIA: ENVISIONING A REGIONAL FUTURE, p. 149, S. Pattanaik, ed., Pentagon Security International, August 2011
16 Pages Posted: 22 Apr 2012
Date Written: 2011
The history of Pakistan’s civil society is fraught with the role played by religion/politicisation of religion that can be traced back to the nationalist struggle in the early 20th century. Irrespective of diverse religious rituals and practices among Pakistani Muslims, religion remained a uniting force, albeit for a brief period, after 1947. The break-up of Pakistan in 1971 was a blow to the Islamic/religious identity of Pakistan. In subsequent years the civil regime led by Z. A. Bhutto tried to revive this religious identity, but it was the military regime of Zia that laid the foundation of radicalisation of civil society. Zia not only introduced Islamic laws but also distorted the political rhetoric to an extent that a whole generation was indoctrinated into an Islamic mindset. Paradoxically this generation was not schooled in madrassas but is the product of the public school system. The current turmoil in the country is an expression of the trend that became more apparent after 9/11. This overt ritualism and piety has taken a new form - public display of religiosity and becoming members of ‘apolitical’ dawah groups. This paper explores the role played by these groups in the radicalisation of civil society and the implications of this for the future of civil society in Pakistan.
Keywords: Pakistan, Civil Society, Radicalism
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