Pakistan, 1997

By Craig Baxter; Charles H. Kennedy | Go to book overview

Golimar) where the majority of both the Shias and Sunnis belong to the working class, poorer sector of society.

Three groups have been most active in sectarian violence in Pakistan in recent years: the bazaar merchants, the madrassah students, and the semi-educated, unemployed youth of the urban centers of Punjab. The bazaaris, whose Islamic religiosity is integrally linked with their commitment to sectarian-based rituals, provide the financial wherewithal to sustain sectarian movements, protests, and leaders. Madrassah students provide the manpower (or "muscle power") and act as a vanguard in sectarian clashes. The unemployed youth of Pakistan's urban centers, who constitute roughly a quarter of Pakistan's labor force, also become an easy prey to religious demagogues and are readily available on hire as agents of violence."

A few general observations are in order to conclude this chapter: "Islamization" measures introduced in Pakistan during the Zia regime became associated with the increasing sectarian tensions because of their emphasis on Shariah andfiqhi (juristic) hair-splitting, rather than on maqasid-i-Shariah (objective of Shariah). This legalistic approach to "Islamization" naturally raised the question as to which interpretation of the Islamic law is more Islamically authentic and should, therefore, be incorporated in public policy. Islamic revival has thus created dissensions among various Islamic sects more than it has unified different social strata of Pakistan society. A different set of Islamic agenda, signifying freedom and tolerance and concern for Islamic principles of social equality and economic justice, would have certainly received much more enthusiastic popular response and would have enhanced social harmony and national integration.


Notes
1.
Jago, Jago, Sunni Jago ("Wake Up, Sunnis!"), an Urdu pamphlet distributed by the activists of Sipah-i-Sahaba outside a Sunni mosque in Rawalpindi in 1995.
2.
The earliest, and probably the most serious, sectarian violence that took place in Pakistan was caused by the ulama-led agitation against the Ahmadis (also known as Qadianis) in 1953 in Punjab. The popular feelings against the Ahmadis were stirred up by the ulama to such a high pitch that Punjab, and especially its capital city Lahore, became the scene of a "vast heresy hunt" where "thousands of citizens--rioted murderously, in almost pogrom- like fashion" against the Ahmadis. Violence spread so quickly throughout the province and assumed such alarming proportions that the civil authority totally collapsed and, in order to control the situation, martial law had to be imposed in Lahore. For a detailed account and analysis of the 1953 anti-Ahamdi sectarian violence, see: Government of Punjab, Report of the Court of Inquiry Constituted Under Punjab Act II of 1954 to Enquire into the Punjab Disturbances of 1953 ( Lahore: Government Printing, 1954).

-118-

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Pakistan, 1997
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • 1 - Pakistan Elections 1997: One Step Forward 1
  • Conclusion 14
  • Notes 15
  • 2 - Is Pakistan's Past Relevant for Its Economic Future? 17
  • Notes 33
  • 3 - Pakistan and the Post-Cold War Environment 37
  • Notes 57
  • 4 - Judiciary in Pakistan: A Quest for Independence 61
  • Conclusions 73
  • Notes 75
  • 5 - Liberalization of the Economy Through Privatization 79
  • Conclusions 89
  • Notes 97
  • 6 - Revivalism, Islamization, Sectarianism, and Violence in Pakistan 101
  • Notes 118
  • 7 - Challenging the State: 1990s Religious Movements in the Northwest Frontier Province 123
  • Notes 138
  • 8 - Pakistan's Environment: Pressures, Status, Impact, and Responses 143
  • Notes 159
  • Chronology (september 1994-April 1997) 163
  • About the Contributors 181
  • Index 183
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