Pakistan and the Arab Spring

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It now appears that Islamic parties running on the platform of Sharia are well set to arrive at the corridors of power in the Middle East and Northern Africa following the Arab Spring. Understandably, some influential analysts have called for political inclusion of the religious groups and have warned us about the dangers of touting secularism in that part of the world.

How would the Middle East and Northern Africa’s landscapes look in a few decades, in the context of socio-economic stagnation, rights (the very issues that sparked the revolution) and violent radicalism?

Instead of speculation and wishful-thinking driving policies, I believe that we can make a well-educated guess on the future of the Arab Spring, based upon the evolution of Pakistan.

In 1947, a social experiment was launched, when British-ruled India was partitioned into two nations – Pakistan and India – for the Muslim minorities and Hindu majority, respectively. In the beginning, the people of these new nations had a common culture, language, ethnicity, and culinary habits. Despite their numerous similarities, however, these nations have embarked on drastically different paths. While India has become a secular nation with a thriving and diverse economy, the constitutionally Islamic Pakistan has declined into an economic basket case; many even see it as a fountainhead of terror.

I have argued that of all possible contributory factors associated with Pakistan’s descent into violent radicalism, Sharia and armed jihad not only stand out, but they also appear to have played an overarching role. Soon after 1947, Pakistan did what the Islamists in post-Arab Spring revolutions are intending to do: starting out slowly, the country set out to systematically increase the influence of Sharia at every level.

How popular is Sharia in Pakistan? A poll conducted by World Public Opinion in some relatively cosmopolitan urban areas of Pakistan in the years 2006-2007 found that 79 percent of the respondents agreed with “[requiring] Islamic countries to impose a strict application of Sharia.” According to a 2010 Pew Global Attitudes poll, 82 percent of those surveyed in Pakistan were in favor of harsh Sharia-driven penalties such as stoning those who had committed adultery.

Broadly speaking, there are three ways in which Sharia has influenced the society in Pakistan. First, certain aspects of Sharia are codified as law, mostly restricted to the arena of civil law. This has elevated the prestige of Sharia and that of the clerics in the society.

Second, the portrayal of Sharia as a divine law necessitates its interpretation by clerics of all persuasions and enhances their authority. This influence is readily leveraged by the subset of radical clerics to advance the cause of religiously endorsed armed jihad. For instance, a former jihadist commander thus noted the role played by clerics in providing leadership to the jihadist groups operating in Pakistan: “There are two bodies running these affairs: mullahs [clerics] and retired generals.”

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  • C"H"Martel

    My book, "Satan's Trinity: Hitler, Stalin & Muhammad, is available at For the first time in history "HSM" appear together on a book cover. The idea behind the book is to make headway against the ludicrous idea that Muhammad should be conjoined with any religious leader/founder. This book uses the specific names of Hitler and Stalin to efficiently identify the nature of Muhammad and by extension Islam. It compares the personalities and approach of each man to such categories as; war, peace, sex, torture, slavery, women, their respective childhoods and deaths, the critical affects of geography and timing, each man’s anti-social and narcissistic personalities.

  • 080

    The trouble with the Arab Spring is that they left out the part about where people get to eat.

  • WilliamJamesWard

    War is all that will stop Islam from moving and growing into the free world and
    bringing it's dark barbarism full of pain and suffering into our future. At some
    point tolerance which is cowardly suicide will have to end as there are enough
    sane people to desire to continue the American heritage and culture. I may be
    wrong and the creep may move forward to domination and damnation of all we
    have loved and held sacred. Our politicans today are traitors to the past, present
    and future. We are waiting on the man with the voice, strength of character,
    the will and vision to turn the tide and call it, showtime……………..William

  • LindaRivera

    Persecution of non-Muslims – Hindus, Christians and Sikhs in Pakistan and Bangladesh is so severe that all of the non-Muslims in these countries need to be rescued out. Unfortunately, Western nations ignore the terrible suffering of non-Muslims in Muslim countries and instead of rescuing non-Muslims, they take in huge numbers of Muslims.

    Many millions of Islam's foot soldiers colonize our countries. In Israel, India, Europe and the UK there are many no-go Muslim areas where it is too dangerous for non-Muslims to enter. In some Muslim areas of Europe, the hate for non-Muslims is so fierce that ambulances require a police escort.

  • Jaladhi

    Sharia is a set of seventh century stone age barbaric social laws. Following sharia simply drags Muslims back to the stone age of Mo/allah preventing any kind of progress. Pakistan is an example of recent history but go hundreds of years back and you will find the same backwardness in Muslim societies as shown by Pakistan!!.