As a state whose principal raison d'être is for the protection of Muslims, Pakistan had historically struggled with defining what its Islamic mandate entailed. Arriving in power via a coup d’état, Zia-ul-Haq employed religion to attain popular legitimacy, orchestrating Islamic reform as a deceitful pretence for securing power (Kennedy 1990: 73). Correspondingly, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan solidified the role of Islamic politics, with Zia-ul-Haq exhibiting a distinct preference for radical groups as a counterweight to communist ideology (Fuller 1991: 11). The most visible sign of creeping religiosity appeared in 1982 with the declaration that “national dress” and Islamic studies were mandatory for government employees (Cohen 1988: 314). Underlying this conversion, the government funded the expansion of an increasingly radical madrasa based education system - with the intention to transform the electoral landscape and boost support for Islamic parties (Nasr 2000: 147). Through th...
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...ndamentalists who demur at the state’s very existence, we can opine that Pakistan may already have crossed the Rubicon.
This essay has elucidated that Pakistan and Afghanistan are a point of convergence for a litany of failed, arguably asinine policies by both the chief protagonists and outside interests. As such, the rise of Islamic fundamentalism represents the logical endpoint for an array of policies that mobilised extremist religious dogma to achieve geostrategic objectives. Crucially, the abject failure of all involved to disband and reintegrate those forces into a legitimate Afghan state has proved calamitous in its consequences. With recent international intervention bolstering the ideological sources of fundamentalism and with the nexus of instability spreading deep into Pakistan, the continued prominence of Islamic fundamentalism appears inevitable.
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