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Is Pakistan a Failed State? An Assessment of Islamist Ideals, Nationalist Articulation and Ground Realities

Like most Muslim nation-states, Islamic ideals inspired Indian Muslims during their struggle against colonialism and potential prejudiced Hindu domination. These Islamic ideals entailed recognition of individual dignity and rights, equality and justice for all citizens in an independent nation. After independence, Pakistan deviated from those ideals and an independent Bangladesh emerged. Although Pakistan survived, jihad movements in Afghanistan and Kashmir gave rise to extremism in the name of Islam which has led to ethnic and sectarian clashes challenging the very existence of the country. This paper examines the significance of Islamic ideas in contemporary Pakistan.

Is Pakistan a Failed State An Assessment of Islamist Ideals


The Times of India noted in an article published in February 2005 entitled “Pak Will Be Failed State by 2015” that: 

Forecasting a “Yugoslavia-like fate” for Pakistan, the U.S. National Intelligence Council (NIC) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in a jointly prepared Global Futures Assessment Report have said “by year 2015 Pakistan would be a failed state, ripe with civil war, bloodshed, inter-provincial rivalries and a struggle for control of its nuclear weapons and complete Talibanisation.”1

The chorus of Pakistan being a failed state was followed by many “experts.”2 But the view has been challenged by others.3 In this essay we examine Pakistan’s historical foundation and its state of affairs today.

Pakistan today stands at a crossroads of history. Prior to the British rule in India, Islam was spread by means of Arab merchants and Sufi teachers and many Muslims came with invading armies from the West and Central Asia. Muslims established political domination in India and during over thousand years of Muslim rule not only Muslims flourished in India, the majority Hindu community too participated and benefitted from the economic growth of the country. However, a distinct Muslim identify consciousness began to take root during the European colonial rule of the Indian sub-continent which began around the middle of the 18th century. This awareness emerged partially in response to the Orientalist/Christian missionary attack on Islam and partially due to the high probability of domination of Hindu Brahmanism in

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