Islam and Politics in Pakistan since 1956 to date





The study is aimed at establishing the relationship of Islam in Pakistan politics. Additionally, the study aims at identifying the similarities and differences of Islam involvement in Pakistan politics in the past and present. On the other hand, the paper is trying to establish whether Islam has facilitated democracy, in Pakistan or it is pushing democracy further. With the help of books and articles, this study will establish a clear relationship of Islam and Pakistan politics.


Politics and religion are two fundamental aspects of the society. Politics refers to the art of running the government and the affairs of the state. Politics is beneficial because it encompasses democracy. Religion is a collection of various beliefs, views and cultural systems that enable humanity to relate to their spirituality as well as moral values. There are a large number of religions in the world. These religions include Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and Buddhism. Pakistan is an Islamic state located in South Asia. It is officially referred to as the Islamic Republic of Pakistan since 97% of their population is made up of Muslims. It gained its independence in the year 1947 from the British Empire. Pakistan was formed from the west and east parts of India. These regions were predominantly comprised of Muslims, as opposed to the rest of India, which had a Hindu majority (Tunzelmann, 2007).

Pakistan was initially a dominion, but in 1956, it adopted a new constitution and became an Islamic republic. The Islamic Sharia law is used to run the Islamic countries. As opposed to popular belief, religion is one of the key factors that affect politics in most countries. The political arena in Pakistan has changed significantly in the past decade. In the past, many social and religious groups and societies had separated themselves from politics, but currently most of them are becoming involved in what is happening in the country’s politics. In particular, the Islamic religion has started to become an integral force in the political arena of many countries as compared to the past. For instance, in Pakistan, the involvement of Islam in the political scene since it was made an Islamic state has entirely changed. Therefore, for easier understanding, a comparison is required between Islamic relations to politics in Pakistan from 1956 to date.

Definition of terms

Islamism is commonly used in the Pakistan. It can be defined as the belief in Islam. Islamism is a set of beliefs that claim that Islam is not only a religion but also a political ideology that its followers must embrace. The meaning of the word may vary from one group to another, but the commonly used meaning is the control of political and social lives of its followers. In Pakistan, Islamists believe that Islam has the power to control the political and social lives of people. In this case, the Islamic laws are part of the government laws and people are expected to follow these laws to the letter. Failure to comply with these rules is met with a lot of force by the Islamists because they are staunch believers in the laws.

Another term that is common in Pakistan is Sharia law. The Sharia law can be described the moral codes of conduct in Islam. It addresses several topics that influence the lives of the Muslims such as crime, politics, prayer, fasting and economics. In Pakistan, these rules should be followed at all times. These rules and regulations, the Sharia law, have two primary origins. These sources include the precepts explained in the Quran, their holy book, and the example of the life of Muhammad as recorded in the Sunnah.

Muhammad was the most influential prophet in Islam, and as a result, his teachings are in the Sharia law. Qadhis are Islamic judges who are trained appropriately in order to interpret the Sharia law. Pakistan being an Islamic state, it uses many rules and regulations from the Sharia law. In this case, the government has borrowed some of laws from the Islamic religion to govern the nation. Therefore, Sharia law is commonly used in Pakistan to describe the laws borrowed from Islamic religion and in their governance, as well.

Democracy is another crucial aspect that is constantly used in the governance of Pakistan. Democracy can be defined as the process where the power of government leadership is vested on the people. In this case, people are given the power to vote for their leaders and, therefore, to participate in the legislative processes. In Pakistan, despite being started as a democratic state, they have never attained complete democracy. When the country was turned into an Islamic state, their quest for democracy was halted due to the introduction of the Sharia law. The country has divided opinions towards this issue, as only a third of the country’s population believes in democracy, another one third believes in the Sharia law while the rest of them support dictatorship. These conflicted ideologies have caused division between the citizens with different opinions.

Period of Comparison

In Pakistan, Islamism had started earlier in 1956 the nation became an Islamic state. The country started as a democratic state when it gained its independence in 1947. After a while, the country changed into an Islamic state and this greatly affected democracy. This is the reason why they have never attained complete democracy. All these years, Islam has been a dominant force in the politics of Pakistan. However, the way Islam has involved itself in the Pakistan politics is rather different. In the past, it employed many militias and delved on the use of force but presently they have opened up democracy in some regions of Pakistan. Thus, this paper seeks to compare the politics in Pakistan from 1956 to date and the role played by Islam in these changes, in governance of the state.


In order to perform an extensive comparison of the relationship between Islam and politics in Pakistan from 1956 to present it is crucial to use research materials. For this research, primary and secondary sources are required. In this case, historical books that have information about the development of Islam in Pakistan will be used. These books will clearly indicate how Pakistan became an Islamic state, the factors that led to its becoming an Islamic state and what role the Islamic religion has played in the politics of Pakistan. In addition, these books are going to provide evidence of how the involvement of Islam in politics has been changing from 1956 until present. The most probable place to obtain these materials is the library.

The use of secondary sources will be helpful to analyze the Islamic relationship to politics in Pakistan in the current time. The secondary sources will include the scholarly articles that have been written by various scholars on this topic. On the other hand, these scholarly articles will provide analyzed information of the roles of Muslims in Pakistan in the current time. In this case, it will be easier to evaluate the changes that have taken place due to Islam involvement in politics from 1956 to the present time. For this reason, the library and the internet will be a good place to locate the different scholarly articles for the work.

Literature Review

This section seeks to explain the effects of the involvement of Islam in the politics of the country. The main sources for this argument will be obtained from several books. These books will explain this matter in detail as is required.

I. History of Pakistan

The book ‘A brief history in Pakistan’ indicates the political background of Pakistan before independence and even after independence. This book starts to show how Pakistan was from the time of independence (Wynbrandt, 2009). It explains the problems faced by the native Pakistanis before thy gained their independence from the British Empire. Additionally, the book shows how Islam contributed to the struggle for independence leading to the country becoming an Islamic state. It explains the rise of the Pakistan Movement that was led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah. This movement was formed in order to fight for Pakistan’s independence. This book shows how Islam in the past was involved in politics. For instance, in the 1980s, Islamist communities in Pakistan supported Mujahideen groups in Afghanistan, which performed terrorist activities (Wynbrandt, 2009).

This made Pakistan seem to support of the terrorist groups that claimed to be participating in a jihad (holy war). In addition to this, the book shows how the different Islamic leaders had the perception that Islamic religion should become involved in politics. For example, after Pakistan became an Islamic state, the leaders started becoming dictatorial especially those in the army like General Ayub. He used Islam to his advantage and formed a dictatorial government (Wynbrandt, 2009). The only reason he succeeded was due to the citizens’ staunch belief in their faith, and this enabled him to enforce rules that were not initially in the laws of the country. Therefore, this book provides the historical background of Pakistan and the relationship between Islam and politics in Pakistan.

III. Democracy of Pakistan (Past and Present)

The study ‘Democracy in Pakistan’ is used to describe the aspect of democracy in Pakistan from 1956 until now (Rizvi, 2003). According to the studies, Quaid-e-Azam planted the seed of democracy in Pakistan. He was a professional lawyer who cared for the people of Pakistan deeply and this is why he did what he could in order to improve the quality of life in Pakistan. The problem is that the seed of democracy never blossomed. This is because after the demise of Quaid-e-Azam, the spirit of freedom died. The leaders who took over power from him were selfish thus; the nation never became fully democratized. As a result, the nation was taken over by Islamic militia leader Army Commander-in-Chief General Ayub Khan.

This study shows how the Islam started to take control of politics in Pakistan. Additionally, it establishes how Islam has played a part in democracy from 1956 until present (Rizvi, 2003). In the past, there was a time when the country did not have democracy at all. This was in 1956 when the militia rule was being used. This militia groups were controlled by Islam. Therefore, they applied Sheria laws in Pakistan (Rizvi, 2003). Recently, the militia groups have allowed the democracy to take part in the politics of Pakistan. This study will be helpful in establishing how Islam has affected the democracy of Pakistan from 1956 until present.

III. Current Information on Pakistan

The other source to be used is a book ‘Military, State and Society in Pakistan’ that shows the arms of government in Pakistan (Rizvi, 2000). Each arm of the government plays a particular role in the government especially in legislature- the process of making policies that are going to govern the country (Rizvi, 2000). The book has clearly identified the arms of the government and their involvement with Islam (Rizvi, 2000). Additionally, the book shows how Islam affects the different arms of the government during the process of making government policies. The book indicates how the Pakistani society perceives the involvement of Islam in the Pakistani politics and their view on the issue of democracy (Rizvi, 2000). In this case, the book shows a clear relationship of the people, the arms of government and Islam.

Pakistan had never stated their clear stand on the controversial issue of terrorism. However, after the bombing of the American Twin Towers in September 11, the Pakistani government declared to support the United States government in the war against terrorism (Khan, 2005). The Pakistan government started to attack all terrorist groups in 1994 but it became clear in 2001 when they declared publicly to support the United States on war against terrorism (Khan, 2005). Most of the citizens of Pakistan were not happy with this decision since they preferred to support their fellow Muslims in the holy war that they were waging against America. In this case, it is clear that the Islamic involvement in politics in the past is different from the current involvement of Islam in Pakistani politics.

The article ‘The Role of Islam in Pakistan’s Future’ indicates the current roles of Islam in the political landscape of Pakistan (Haqqani, 2005). According to the study, Islam cannot be separated from Pakistan politics due the roles that it plays in the country. Many of the laws have been borrowed from the Sheria law and are applicable in the Pakistan constitution. Additionally, the study shows how the involvement of Islam in Pakistan politics is affecting the external relationships of the country with the other countries that neighbor it (Haqqani, 2005). In this case, the study will be used to analyze the current roles played by Islam in Pakistan politics and its effects.

Theoretical Framework

According to the different articles, the information provided involves the present and the past of Islamic relationship in politics in Pakistan. In these articles, a clear historical background of the Islam relating itself to politics in the last decade since independence it has been provided. However, the studies have created a gap that need to be studied. The articles and the books have not indicated a comparison of the difference in time. It is because of this reason that the study will try to establish the relationship of Islam in politics from 1956 to present in Pakistan.

Secondly, the articles and the books have been keen to establish a relationship of how Islam is being used in politics of Pakistan. Additionally, the articles have indicated how the militia groups have tried to use democracy currently and in the past. The different articles and books do not indicated the reasons as to why the Islam involvement in politics has changed over the past few decades. Therefore, as the study is trying to compare the involvement of Islam in Pakistani politics, the study will also indicate the causes of these differences that have risen over the past few decades.


Religion has become a common figure in many countries’ political landscape. Many people are comparing their political ideologies with the use of religious laws. One of the religions that has become a driving force in many countries political driving force is Islam. Many countries in the Asia region like Pakistan have been declared Islamic states. To show the relationship of Islam and politics in Pakistan, a comparison of the past and the present political scenery and Islamic situation in Pakistan is necessary.

This is because it will establish how Islamic involvement in politics in the past was and how the government of Pakistan perceived the religion. Secondly, it shows how Islam affects politics of the government both in the past and in the present of Pakistan politics. Henceforth, this study evaluates the overall relationship or involvement of Islam in politics. It can be generally concluded that Religion plays an important role in Pakistan’s political arena as proven by the above sources.


Haqqani, H. (2005, May 18). The Role of Islam in Pakistan’s Future. The Washington Post Journal, pp.33.

Khan, A. U. (2005). The Terrorist Threat and the Policy Response in Pakistan. Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Rizvi, H. A. (2003). Democracy in Pakistan. Lokniti Centre for the Study of Developing Societies. Delhi.

Rizvi, H. A., (2000). Military, State and Society in Pakistan. London, UK: Macmillan.

Von, T. A. (2007). Indian summer: The secret history of the end of an empire. New York: Henry Holt and Co.

Wynbrandt, J. (2009). A Brief History of Pakistan. New York, NY: InfoBase Publishers.


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