A Problematic Idea: The Curious History Of The ‘Pakistan Ideology’

A Problematic Idea: The Curious History Of The ‘Pakistan Ideology’
The Presence of Absence

‘Pakistan Ideology’ was an afterthought. As a term it is nowhere to be found in the speeches of the country’s founders. What one does find in textbooks between 1947 (the year Pakistan came into being) and 1978, though, is the term ‘Two-Nation Theory.’ This ‘theory’ was said to have been formulated by the country’s primary founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah to posit that the Muslims and Hindus of India were two, separate ‘nations.’

During the first 30 years of the country, textbooks and nationalist historians posited that it was this theory that had propelled the ‘Pakistan Movement.’ Indeed, from 1940 onwards, Jinnah did begin to speak openly about the separateness of India’s two major religious communities, adding that, “Islam and Hinduism are not religions in the strict sense of the word, but are, in fact, different and distinct social orders.” (Jinnah, March 20, 1940).

Then, in 1944, he said, “We maintain and hold that Muslims and Hindus are two major nations by any definition or test of a nation.”

Yet, he was conscious of a forgotten fact. A fact that most Pakistani and Indian nationalist historians and ideologues have continued to suppress. This fact has to do with early Hindu nationalists. During a Muslim League session in Delhi in 1943, Jinnah asked, “Who gave us this word Pakistan?” His question was answered with cries of “Hindus.” Smiling at the response, Jinnah went on to say, “Let me tell you it is their fault. They fathered this word upon us.”

What was Jinnah implying here? On the surface, this may seem to be about Jinnah criticising the Indian National Congress for being inflexible towards the demands of Jinnah’s Muslim League. But then, why did so many early Pakistani and Indian nationalist historians shy away from these words? This is because Jinnah was alluding to the Hindu nationalists who first came up with the idea of Muslims and Hindus being separate nations.

In a 1924 article for the now defunct Indian daily Tribune, a prominent Hindu nationalist Lala Lajpat Rai suggested that Hindus and Muslims should throw out the British and then create separate states for themselves. Rai wrote there should be “a clear partition of India” and that the Muslims should create their own states in NWFP (present-day Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), West Punjab, Sindh and East Bengal, and/or regions where they were in a majority.

Other prominent Hindu nationalists of the period too saw no place for non-Hindus (especially Muslims) in India.

Lala Lajpat Rai: the real Two-Nation theorist?

So, basically, the Two-Nation Theory was built on an idea first aired by a Hindu nationalist, and Jinnah was quite aware of this. This may also be the reason why he waited till 1940 to even mention the word ‘Pakistan,’ despite the word being present since 1933.

When Jinnah and his comrades came close to creating a separate Muslim-majority state, none of them spoke of an ideology that would navigate the polity of the new country. What’s more, there is enough evidence to even suggest that after Pakistan’s creation, Jinnah consciously downplayed the Two-Nation Theory in the hope that the new country would evolve into becoming a modern nation-state albeit with a Muslim majority.

Jinnah’s speech during the inaugural session of Pakistan’s first Constituent Assembly quite clearly demonstrates his desire to move forward as a leader of a modern, inclusive nation-state and leave behind the implosive communal politics that he had been pushed into before the creation of Pakistan. It had also taken a toll on his health. Even years after Jinnah’s demise in 1948, there was still nothing called ‘Pakistan ideology.’ However, the Two-Nation Theory was firmly woven into textbooks. It was slightly expanded to mean that the Muslims of India were a nation that had overcome their ethnic, sectarian and sub-sectarian differences to defeat Hindu hegemony and live peacefully in a separate country of their own. However, it is also true that at the time of Pakistan’s creation, there were as many (or even more) Muslims in India than there were in Pakistan.
In a 1924 article for the now defunct Indian daily Tribune, a prominent Hindu nationalist Lala Lajpat Rai suggested that Hindus and Muslims should throw out the British and then create separate states for themselves. Rai wrote there should be “a clear partition of India”

Mohammed Ali Jinnah

A 1957 book Pakistani Way of Life by the eminent Pakistani historian late Ishtiaq Husain Qureshi does not mention the word ideology, but it states that the country’s polity is regulated by a nationalism driven by the Two-Nation Theory, and “an enlightened Islam.” This was how the authors of the country’s first constitution in 1956 had described Islam as well after declaring Pakistan an ‘Islamic Republic.’ The constitution, however, was largely secular.

Yet, when in 1958, President Iskandar Mirza and military chief Ayub Khan imposed the country’s first martial law, they described the constitution as a ploy “to peddle Islam for political purposes” (Martial Law in the Indo-Pakistan Sub-continent, by A Munim, 1960). Ayub also went to the extent of suggesting that the constitution could have provided the clerics enough space to takeover the state (The Vanguard of the Islamic Revolution, V. Nasr, 1994). In 1959, when Ayub got himself ‘elected’ as president, he changed the country’s name to “Republic of Pakistan” from 1956’s “Islamic Republic of Pakistan.”


Early Ripples

To Ayub, the three greatest threats to Pakistan were ethnic-nationalists, communists and Islamists. He called them agents of anarchy. He lamented that the politicians had begun to move away from ‘Jinnah’s Pakistan.’ He said he was committed to restore it in a rational, modern and organised manner. He saw himself as Pakistan’s Kemal Ataturk and began to place ‘modernists’ in the armed forces and in the civil services (Nasr, ibid). He also surrounded himself with liberal Islamic scholars such as Fazalur Rahman Malik.

To him, the country that the Two-Nation Theory had birthed should be organised as a national whole, navigated by a rational set of ideas that were ‘modern.’ But whereas, of course, this set of ideas did not include Islamists, communist and ethnic-nationalist points of view, it also did not include the concept of parliamentary democracy nor of political parties. To create a national whole, Ayub began to ponder the possibility of formulating an overarching national ideology. In a 1959 speech, he said, “Every human being needs an ideology for which he should be able to lay down his life.” He reached out to various intellectuals for the purpose of formulating a national ideology.

That same year, Ayub wrote a paper which he titled Islamic Ideology in Pakistan. The paper was circulated among army officers. After getting input from the intellectuals, Ayub had begun to shape an ideology himself. He wrote: “in our ignorance we began to regard Islamic ideology as synonymous with bigotry and theocracy and subconsciously began to feel shy of it […] We must define this ideology in simple but modern terms.” (Between Mosque and Military, H.Haqqani, 2005). Ayub was evoking the ‘Islamic modernism’ pioneered in South Asia by the likes of 19th century scholars such as Sir Syed Ahmad Khan. Ayub envisioned Islam as a nation-building tool, controlled by an ‘enlightened’ military leadership rather than by the clerics (Haqqani, ibid).

In a 1960 speech, Ayub said, “Pakistan was not achieved to create a priest-ridden culture but instead, it was created to evolve an enlightened society. It is a great injustice to both life and religion to impose on 20th-century man the condition that he must go back several centuries in order to prove his credentials as a true Muslim.” But there was still no mention of a Pakistan Ideology. Nor did Ayub publicly speak of his ‘Islamic ideology.’

In 1962, Ayub lifted the ban on political parties and approved the passage of a new constitution. Ironically, the 1962 Constitution was quite similar to the 1956 Constitution. The only difference was that it did not recognise parliamentary democracy and replaced it with a presidential system. Also, unlike the 1956 Constitution, the new constitution did not declare Pakistan an Islamic republic. A new National Assembly came into being, ‘elected’ through a complex electoral system called ‘Basic Democracies.’ The assembly was packed with members of the party that Ayub had formed (Convention Muslim League). But some members of other parties too managed to enter.

It was in this assembly that the term ‘Pakistan Ideology’ (Nazriya-e-Pakistan) was first heard. The assembly had just one member from the Islamist outfit, the Jamat-e-Islami (JI). During a debate, the JI member mentioned the words “Pakistan ideology.” Originally, JI had opposed the creation of Pakistan and had denounced JinnahWhen asked to define this ideology, the JI member responded by saying, “Islam is Pakistan’s ideology” (From Jinnah to Zia, M Munir, 1980).

Ayub Khan

But the term vanished after this exchange. It returned six years later in 1968, during the height of an anti-Ayub movement. The Islamist ideologue, Abul Ala Maududi, who was also the chief of the JI, began to speak of a Pakistan ideology, knowing that the Ayub regime was on its last legs. The regime had banned the JI in 1964, but the Supreme Court overturned the ban. There is every likelihood that Maududi was aware of Ayub’s paper on ‘Islamic ideology,’ and believed that he (Maududi) should be the one shaping this ideology instead of Ayub. Another reason why Maududi exhibited urgency in this context was the rapid rise of ZA Bhutto’s left-leaning Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), the growing influence of the Bengali nationalist outfit the Awami League (in the erstwhile East Pakistan), and the ‘leftist’ nature of the anti-Ayub movement.
Ayub wrote a paper which he titled "Islamic Ideology in Pakistan." The paper was circulated among army officers. After getting input from the intellectuals, Ayub had begun to shape an ideology himself. He wrote: “in our ignorance we began to regard Islamic ideology as synonymous with bigotry and theocracy and subconsciously began to feel shy of it […] We must define this ideology in simple but modern terms”

Maududi had been a severe critic of the Ayub government and of the regime’s ‘modernist’ understanding of Islam. But he became equally perturbed by the spread of leftist ideas on campuses. He wrote that the so-called modernist dictators in the Muslim world were the ‘Trojan horses of the West’ that had sneaked in to spread secularism among Muslims (Islamic Foundations of a Free Society, N. Harmouzi, ‎L. Whetstone, M. Acar, 2016). He also saw the communists and socialists as Trojan horses, but of communist powers. According to Maududi, Pakistan’s ‘Islamic’ polity was being invaded by secularists on the one hand, and communists on the other.

He underlined the need for having a national ideology that could navigate the rulers to ‘Islamise’ the society and then enact a ‘Shariah state’ which Maududi called ‘hakumat-e-ilahi.’ The latter was an outcome of Maududi’s political theory that he had shaped in the 1940s. Ayub resigned in March 1969 and handed over power to General Yahya Khan. A JI delegation led by Maududi met the new military dictator and came out of the meeting looking satisfied. The delegation told the press that unlike Ayub, the new ruler had agreed to serve Islam and form a Pakistan Ideology based on Shariah (Pakistan Affairs, May 15, 1969). Ironically, though, the General who had agreed to do this was notorious for being an alcoholic and a womaniser (The Murder of History, KK Aziz, 1988).

Abul A'la Maududi

Maududi’s idea of Islamic ideology was countered by intellectuals in the PPP who equated Islam with socialism and began to formulate an ideology which they called ‘Islamic socialism.’ In a series of essays for the progressive Urdu weekly Nusrat, PPP men such as Hanif Ramay and Safdar Mir explained ‘Islamic socialism’ as an idea whose immediate roots could be found in concepts such as ‘Arab nationalism’ and also in the writings of the philosopher-poet Muhammad Iqbal (d.1938).

Ramay then went on to explore Islamic socialism’s deeper roots. He claimed that the earliest seeds of socialism were sown in the days when Islam first established itself as a faith (‘Ideological Orientation of Pakistan People’s Party,’ SA. Shah, Journal of the Research Society of Pakistan, 2011). And according to Bhutto, it was Islam that gave birth to the principles and concepts of socialism, and ‘this was the Islam of the people of Pakistan.’ Just before the 1970 elections, 113 ulema authored and signed a fatwa declaring socialism as a great threat to the ‘ideology of Pakistan’ (The Pakistan People’s Party: Rise to Power, P.E. Jones, 2003).

The odd thing in this is: there was absolutely no articulation of an ideology of Pakistan other than by individuals, and some political parties. The fatwa does not explain what the ‘ideology of Pakistan’ was. Of course, the authors of the fatwa would have replied by saying “Islam.” But then, Islam to the founders of Pakistan and Ayub had meant something very different to the way it was being explained by Maududi, especially in the context of the faith’s ideological and political roles.


A Work-in-Progress

In the 1970 elections, the Islamist parties were routed. Awami League swept the election in East Pakistan and the PPP won an outright majority in West Pakistan. But due to the inability of the military regime, the PPP and the Awami League to agree on a ‘power sharing formula,’ violence erupted in East Pakistan. The violence soon mutated into becoming an all-out civil war in the eastern wing of the country. It was during this commotion that two books appeared. Both were titled Ideology of Pakistan. One was authored by the journalist and author Sharif Mujahid and the other by Justice Javed Iqbal, son of Muhammad Iqbal. In content, both were similar to Ayub’s 1959 paper, even though Justice iqbal explained that the unity which binds the country’s diverse ethnic communities together was ‘spiritual’ in nature. By this he meant Islam, or an Islam that was not theological or theocratic, but “roohani.”

The latter is also how the ZA Bhutto regime would begin to explain Islam, mainly by romanticising folk cultures and Sufism. Due to the 1971 civil war, East Pakistan broke away to become Bangladesh, leaving behind a disoriented, disillusioned and angry polity in West Pakistan. Bhutto replaced Yahya as president. A new National Assembly came into being based on the results of the 1970 elections (in West Pakistan). The historian Ishtiaq Husain Qureshi saw the country sliding into an existential crisis. What was Pakistan now about? Did the acrimonious departure of East Pakistan signal the demise of the Two-Nation Theory? Would Pakistan even survive as a nation-state? These were some of the questions that Qureshi asked. In 1972, he answered them by writing, “countries come and go, but religions stay.” This was his way of recommending the dialling up of the role of Islam in the country’s politics and the curriculum.

Hanif Ramay: the ‘Islamic Socialist’

In the 1973 Constitution, the formation of a Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) was mandated, which was to aid the government in ‘Islamising’ the country’s laws in all areas. The same year, a department of ‘Pakistan Studies’ was established at the Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad to formulate a Pakistan Ideology. However, the government informed the Parliament that it would take up to seven years at least to Islamise the country’s economy and laws. In the textbooks, the notion that ‘Pakistan was made in the name of Islam’ was dialled up, but the term Pakistan Ideology was still missing. The Islamist parties wanted to expand the aforementioned notion to mean that “Pakistan was made in the name of Islam so that an Islamic state could be built.” But the government avoided using the term “Islamic state.”

In 1976, Pakistan Studies departments began authorising textbooks that would embody the notion of ideology, develop a cohesive understanding regarding it at the national level, and then project this ideology as national ideology of Pakistan (“Ideology of Pakistan and Pakistan Studies,” F Khursheed, Dr Altafullah in the Journal of the Research Society of Pakistan, 2022). The common themes of these textbooks were to be ‘the struggle for freedom’ based on the Two-Nation Theory with references to the Quaid-i-Azam and Allama Iqbal, initial problems of the new state, constitutional developments focusing on Islamic provisions in the constitution, economic and industrial development, steps for Islamisation, Pakistan and the Islamic world, and Pakistan as a welfare state’ (Khursheed, Altafullah, ibid).
Maududi’s idea of Islamic ideology was countered by intellectuals in the PPP who equated Islam with socialism and began to formulate an ideology which they called ‘Islamic socialism’

ZA Bhutto

Bhutto’s PPP swept the 1977 elections. A nine-party-alliance, the Pakistan National Alliance (PNA), alleged that the elections were rigged. The alliance then began a protest movement which turned violent, especially in Karachi and Lahore. The country’s main Islamist parties were at the core of the PNA, even though the alliance also consisted of centre-right but secular parties, left-wing Pashtun nationalists, and even some Marxist outfits. Yet, the alliance promised enacting a Shariah state (Nizam-e-Mustafa). Much of PNA’s support came from urban-middle-and-lower-middle-class segments. Industrialists too helped bankroll the protests (Politics in Pakistan: Nature and Direction of Change, KB Sayeed, 1980).

In July 1977, the Bhutto regime was toppled in a military coup by General Ziaul Haq. Haq immediately adopted PNA’s Islamist narrative and promised to “properly Islamise the country.” Maududi’s JI agreed to join the new military regime’s first cabinet.



In a 1978 article, the prominent lawyer and a staunch opponent of Bhutto, AK. Brohi wrote, “Pakistan was formed in the name of religion and religion alone.” According to Brohi, who also became an early confidant of the Zia dictatorship, “only an Ikhwan could keep Pakistan together” (Quoted in Pakistan: Origins, Identity and Future, Dr P Hoodbhoy, 2023). By “ikhwan,” Brohi meant a brotherhood or community of believers. The same year, Pakistan Studies was made a compulsory subject at secondary, intermediate and graduation levels. A ‘Pakistan Ideology’ was thus, officially launched, embedded in Pakistan Studies textbooks. The first chapter was titled “The Ideological Basis of Pakistan.” This chapter was then evolved and frequently added to across the 1980s.

Looking for Nizam-e-Mustafa: anti-Bhutto protests, Karachi, 1977

So, what was the ‘Pakistan Ideology’ in these new textbooks that the students were (and still are being) taught?

  • Pakistan was made in the name of Islam.

  • The Two-Nation Theory is still relevant because India wants to reintegrate the Muslim-majority regions into India.

  • Pakistani Muslims have deeper ancestral and spiritual roots in Arabia, Central Asia and Persia than in South Asia.

  • Muslims of varied ethnicities residing along River Indus were always ‘different’ from the people living in regions that are now part of India.

  • The seeds of Islam in South Asia were first sown by the 7th-century Arab commander Muhammad Bin Qasim. He is, therefore, a kind of a proto-Pakistani.

  • The main roots of Muslim nationalism in South Asia can be traced in the long Muslim rule in India that lasted from the 13th till the 19th centuries.

  • Iqbal ‘dreamed’ of a separate Islamic republic and Jinnah worked this dream into reality.

  • Jinnah looked to turn the republic into an Islamic state.

  • The ulema worked closely with Jinnah to help him create Pakistan.

  • Islam is at the centre of all state and government institutions of Pakistan and navigates the everyday lives of the Pakistani nation.

  • Pakistan Ka Matlab Kya, Laillaha Illahah.

Father of the 'Pakistan Ideology': Zia-ul-Haq

Since Islam is at the core of this ‘ideology,’ the authors of the ideology conveniently forget to mention that the Islam that the founders of Pakistan advocated and spoke of was quite different than the Islam that the Islamists (and later, Zia) looked to impose. In fact, both the variants were hostile towards each other. The Islam of the founders was ‘modernist’ and entirely anti-theocratic, whereas the one mentioned in the ideology was the one developed by 20th-century Islamists and looked to create a theocracy or at least a theodemocracy. Also, major ulema outfits and Islamist parties in pre-partition India were opposed to Jinnah and the whole idea of Pakistan.

Pakistan Ka Matlab Kya, Laillaha Illahahwas derived from a 1944 poem by an obscure poet. It was turned into a slogan by the Muslim League during the 1946 election, especially to stir the emotions of voters in rural Punjab. It was never uttered even once by Jinnah. It was then completely discarded and forgotten about until it was revived 32 years later in 1978 by the Zia dictatorship. Its grammar is awkward and it really means nothing (Hoodbhoy, ibid). It is as ambivalent as the ideology that it is a part of.

In 1983, the University Grants Commission issued a directive. It stated: “textbooks should demonstrate that the basis of Pakistan is not be found in racial, linguistic or geographical factors, but in the shared experience of a common religion. To get students to know and appreciate the ideology of Pakistan, and to popularise it through slogans. To guide students towards the ultimate goal of Pakistan — the creation of a completely Islamised state.”


A Problematic Idea 

Pakistan was created ‘in the name of Islam.’ The issue with this statement is not only about the fact that the Islam of the country’s founders was quite different than the Islam that the state began to adopt from the mid-1970s onward. The problem with this statement is also about its inherent singleness. Arabs recognise their Arabian identity as a pre-Islam construct, Iranians embrace their ancient history, as do the Turks and Malays, but Pakistan by being defined as a state for Muslims, denies Pakistanis any identity that supersedes their religious identity. Therefore, with religion becoming a matter of belief and faith: the powerful elite can, and have exploited it for their social and political goals, thus remaining unchallenged in their control over Pakistani society (Internal instability in Pakistan, A Ali, Islamabad Institute of Strategic Studies, 2014).

Apart from the fact that Pakistan is a multiethnic society, it is also multi-sectarian, with various Sunni and Shia sects and sub-sects. During the 1977 movement against the Bhutto regime, a press conference by the PNA leaders at the Karachi Press Club witnessed a slightly embarrassing and even somewhat comical episode. Urdu newspapers reported that when the heads of the three main Islamist parties in the PNA rose to offer maghrib prayers, members from some non-Islamist outfits in the PNA suggested that they all pray together. Remember: till then, saying one’s prayers didn’t have the same degree of urgency in Pakistani society as it started to enjoy from the 1980s.

After agreeing to pray together, the question as to who would lead the prayers created some commotion. The leader of the party representing the Barelvi Sunni sub-sect declined to say his prayers behind the leader of the party representing the Deobandi Sunni sub-sect. Then both were unwilling to say their prayers behind a member of a non-sectarian Islamist party. One is not sure how the problem was resolved, but this exhibits that even though Islamist groups often agree to join forces for momentary political causes, they have serious theological issues with each other.

ZA Bhutto (right) with a parliamentarian after the passage of the 1973 Constitution

The Pakistan Ideology was formulated by a military dictatorship in the 1980s. It really did not have any grand or noble intention. It was shaped to legitimise a dictatorship that had overthrown an elected government. The main aim of authoring and the proliferating this ideology was to provide the dictatorship a national and even divine purpose. After the Pakistani armed forces were defeated in East Pakistan in 1971, Islamist parties had lamented that since the soldiers weren’t defending an ideology, they lost. This curious little narrative then engulfed the military, which became the first state institution to be indoctrinated with what became Pakistan Ideology.

The armed forces were now to also ‘defend Pakistan’s ideological borders.’ Then, other state and government institutions such as the judiciary, the senate and the parliament were to do the same. Yet, despite the fact that presidents, prime ministers, judges, Islamists, and military generals often speak of a Pakistan Ideology, they do not do so in any coherent manner as such. Just like Zia whose regime moulded an ideology that could serve his political purpose, judges and prime ministers use this term in similar vain. “Pakistan Ideology” is only limited to mean anything that can benefit a personal or institutional cause or desire. This ‘ideology’ therefore serves little or no purpose outside of it being a convenient catchphrase.
In 1976, Pakistan Studies departments began authorising textbooks that would embody the notion of ideology, develop a cohesive understanding regarding it at the national level, and then project it as the national ideology of Pakistan

Its ambiguous, rhetorical, anti-historical and largely reactionary nature has also produced oddities in which various banned militant sectarian players have often raised their hands to become its ‘defenders.’ But the most curious oddity in this respect is that both militant and mainstream Islamists believe it is not Islamic enough. Others, such as the liberals, moderates, leftists and non-Muslims, bemoan it for being too Islamic. By this they mean Islamist. Pakistan was made in the name of Islam, not in the name of Islamism or by Islamists.

Leaders of the Difa-e-Pakistan Conference: an umbrella organisation of several religious and political forces that support conservative policies under the notion of 'Pakistan Ideology'

Pakistan is a Muslim-majority state that has been experimenting with parliamentary democracy and constitutionalism, which pose to be inclusive in respecting the cultures of the country’s varied ethnic groups, Islamic sects and sub-sects and ‘minority’ communities. In his first speech as governor general, the country’s primary founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah insisted that Pakistanis belonged to a specific physical territory as citizens of this territory which happens to have a Muslim majority but where the state will remain impersonal towards the ‘personal’ religious beliefs of its citizens as long as these do not try to impose a theocracy.

However, this narrative was not turned into a national ideology, because the state increasingly began to co-opt and usurp Islamist ideas as a way to keep at bay the highly exaggerated fears of a communist takeover, and the more realistic possibility of ethnic-nationalisms undermining the federation. Democracy was supposed to resolve this. But it came too late in the day (1970) and triggered a rupture in 1971 due to the utter mishandling of ethnic-nationalism, especially in East Pakistan. The 1973 Constitution was thus enacted in an environment pregnant with uncertainty and even paranoia. Two views emerged in 1972 on how to fortify the country’s existence from further breakages.

The first view included the wholesale acceptance of the country’s ethnic and sectarian diversity and the accordance of democratic autonomy to the ethnic groups in return for their acceptance of and allegiance to Pakistan as a federal unit. This view also traded a middle-path between Islamism and secularism and the adoption of a modernism that respected local cultures but eschewed any theocratic aspirations. This view also understood Pakistani society as a combination of various historical influences that include South Asian, Persian, Arab, Central Asian, European, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Zoroastrian cultural currents.

In 1967, the progressive Urdu poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz wrote that Pakistan’s culture was a mixture of varied influences and that Islam was a prominent but just one such influence. He wrote, “it was an important part of the body, but not the whole body.”

After the shock of East Pakistan in 1971, such views struggled to compete with the second view. The second view derided the first view as the reason behind Pakistan’s ideological weakness that led to the defeat of its armed forces in East Pakistan. The second view also bemoaned that Islam was not given any serious thought nor was it used as a source to shape the country’s state, governance and polity which remained rudderless, vulnerable and disunited. It was this view that largely informed the contents of the 1973 Constitution, even though advocates of the first view also managed to influence the contents after pleading a middle path and not allowing democracy to be transformed into becoming a theodemocracy.

Nevertheless, from 1974 onwards, this is exactly what it became. The Pakistan Ideology, formulated in the 1980s, was a way to not only legitimise a dictatorship, but it also became a tool to rationalise the further ‘Islamisation’ of the constitution and the country’s penal codes. These have turned Pakistan into a theodemocracy with an ideology that fortifies it.

Nation-states shape ideologies that seek to instil in its citizens a sense of belonging and national purpose. The Pakistan Ideology is not about this. With its Islamist core, it alienates large segments of its diverse polity which also include large groups of Muslims. It is seen as an ideology that was patronised by the armed forces and then adopted by militant Islamists, some of whom actually turned anti-state. The Pakistan Ideology is, thus, a caricature of what a national ideology is supposed to be. It needs to be refurnished with ideas from the first view with an understanding that it wasn’t these ideas that caused the 1971 rupture, but it was the callousness of a state that refused to recognise the democratic rights of its many ethnic groups.

The Pakistan Ideology needs to be embraced by most, if not all Pakistanis, no matter what their ethnicity, sect, sub-sect or religion – and not just by those who want to turn the country into an outright theocracy or a chauvinistic sectarian monolith.

The writer is a journalist, author, cultural critic, satirist and historian.