Political Culture and Heritage
Pakistan came into existence as the fulfillment of a dream to create a Muslim homeland in South Asia. Consequently, Pakistan's dominant political values and beliefs have revolved around alternative interpretations of the meaning of "Muslim nationalism." To so-called nationalists, Muslim nationalism has come to mean the ideal of pursuing a stable democratic polity that represents the people who reside within the territorial confines of Pakistan. In this context Muslim nationalism is indistinguishable from "Pakistani nationalism," which in turn is functionally equivalent to the expression of other state nationalisms in South Asia (e.g., Indian nationalism). To so-called Islamists, on the other hand, Muslim nationalism has an entirely different meaning. Islamists favor the expansion of Islamic law in various spheres of Pakistani national life--in regard to punishments and the style of dispensing justice or as the source of provisions of law, the method of training judges, or the final arbiter of legislation. They may also favor the expansion of Islamic practices such as the abolition of financial interest (riba), prohibition of alcohol, gender segregation, establishment of Islamic taxation, and so forth. Finally, they may favor a severing of ties with Western society and culture. The basic thrust of such Islamist thought is not conservative, in the sense of preservation of institutions; rather it is activist. The goal is to restructure Pakistan in a form more in accord with perceptions of what an Islamic state should be. Conversely, nationalists take a much more restrictive view of the role of Islam in a Muslim state. They may be opposed to the expansion of Islamic law and the enforcement of Islamic practices, and they may favor development along the secularist lines of the West.
Pakistan's founders were ambivalent with respect to the meaning of Muslim nationalism. For instance, an important early proposal for a separate state based on the principle of Muslim nationalism was made by