Date of Completion

Spring 5-5-2014

Thesis Advisor(s)

Elizabeth Hanson

Honors Major

Political Science


Asian Studies | Other Political Science | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies


The role of religion in Pakistani political and civil life has had a defining role in the political development of the nation. The country is now a breeding ground for religious extremism, with militant groups conducting brutal attacks against the Shia, Ahmedi, Christian and Hindu communities of Pakistan. There have been few explanations attempting to describe the problem of religious violence domestically, within Pakistan’s borders towards Pakistani citizens. This essay examines how, despite Pakistan’s initial conception as a secular state, the country has become haunted by intense religious violence. It links the lack of consensus around national identity with the state’s political exploitation of an exclusive and conservative version of Islam that laid the foundation for the development of groups hostile to religious minorities, following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.