Reading Between the Lines: The Mullah-Military Alliance in Pakistan

Aasim Sajjad Akhtar, Asha Amirali, Muhammad Ali Raza

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15 Citations (SciVal)


While the history of political Islam is intricately connected to southwest Asian geo-politics, there is evidence that the emergence of the religious right as a political force in Pakistan is an outcome of state patronage. Following the ‘War on Terror’, corporate media and official western representations of revivalist trends in Pakistan have been almost completely de-contextualised. This representation has provided both the dominant military state oligarchy and the religious right an ideal opportunity to reinforce an old alliance previously supported by western imperialism, while eroding the organising capacity of progressive social and political forces in Pakistan. This paper traces the historical contours of the mullah – military alliance in Pakistan, arguing that the political and social survival of both its armed forces and the religious right is based on the persistence of a dialectic relationship between a secular modernity and Islamic ethos that can be traced back to the country's creation. The evolution of this state ideology since Partition demonstrates how the religious right has emerged as a social and political force under state patronage. The paper examines how two critical junctures in this mullah – military alliance—namely, the Afghan jihad (struggle) of the 1980s and the post-9/11 War on Terror—have allowed the state and the religious right in Pakistan to overtly consolidate this historical alliance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-397
Number of pages15
JournalContemporary South Asia
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jul 2007


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