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CIAO Focus, January 2012: Pakistan, Islam and the State

The ability of Pakistan’s radical Islamic parties to mount
limited but potentially violent opposition to the government
has made democratic reform, and by extension the
reduction of religious extremism and development of a more
peaceful and stable society, more challenging. This is a reflection
of those parties’ well-organised activist base, which
is committed to a narrow partisan agenda and willing to
defend it through violence. While their electoral support
remains limited, earlier Islamisation programs have given
them a strong legal and political apparatus that enables them
to influence policy far beyond their numerical strength. An
analysis of party agendas and organisation, as well as other
sources of influence in judicial, political and civil society
institutions, is therefore vital to assessing how Pakistan’s
main religious parties apply pressure on government, as well
as the ability and willingness of the mainstream parties
that are moderate on religious issues to resist that pressure.

These parties’ ability to demonstrate support for their various
agendas is an expression of coherent internal structures,
policymaking processes and relations between the
leadership and the rank-and-file. These aspects of party
functioning are, therefore, as critical to understanding their
role in the polity and prospects of influencing policy in the
future as in understanding their relationship to the state.

--International Crisis Group


From the CIAO Database:

Islamic Parties in Pakistan

Coping with a failing Pakistan

The Future of Pakistan

Taking Stock: Madrasa Reform in Pakistan

Islam and the Paths of Pakistan's Political Development

CIAO Atlas: Pakistan (EIU)


Outside Sources: *

Islam and Politics in Pakistan: Backgrounder (CFR)

Islam and Pakistan (FPIF)

Vali Nasr: Political Islam & Pakistan (video)

Pakistan’s Islamist Frontier: Islamic Politics and U.S. Policy in Pakistan’s North-West Frontier (monograph)

Pakistan Security Research Unit (University of Bradford)

* Outside links are not maintained. For broken outside links, CIAO recommends the Way Back Machine.