Conflict and Mediation
PAKISTAN HAS SUFFERED since independence from internal conflict stemming from ethnonationalism and sectarianism. The former characterized the dismemberment of the state in 1971 and has helped to define competing nationalisms in the truncated state ever since. The latter encompasses conflict within Islam (Sunni-Shia conflict) and conflict defining Islam (Muslim-Ahmadiyya conflict). This chapter details such conflicts.
As we have seen, the homeland for the Muslims of South Asia was formed with little concern for the ethnic homogeneity of its peoples. Today Pakistan encompasses five major ethnic groups, and eight major languages are spoken by its population. Ethnonational identifications roughly correspond with provincial domiciles, but the fit is imperfect owing to the effects of partition and internal migration. Perhaps more important than the objective differences between peoples, however, are the perceptions of ethnonational differences held by Pakistan's population. Indeed, the perception of ethnic discrimination against Bengalis that resulted in the eventual secession of Bangladesh was spawned in the contentious ethnonational environment of Pakistan. 1 Unfortunately Pakistan is still beset with such perceived grievances, and the threat of additional "Bangladeshes" is real.
At the heart of ethnoregional sentiment in Pakistan is the perception by Punjabis and non-Punjabis alike that the Punjabi community dominates the politics and society of the state. There is considerable objective support for this perception. First, Punjabis constitute a majority of the population, approximately 60 percent. 2 Second, Punjabis dominate membership in the civil bureaucracy 3 and the military. 4 Third, Punjab is by far the