Pakistan's Defining Moment.

Pakistan has suffered from a debilitating crisis of identity ever since independence. This has prevented it from charting out a definitive strategic direction for itself. All its rulers, civilians and military dictators alike, have made flamboyant power grabs and unabashedly tried to define/re-define its raison d'etre. The religious right has also made its bid to give an overwhelmingly Islamic tinge to the nation's outlook and demeanour. Non-State Actors/terrorists too have staked their claims to establish an Islamic Caliphate in its territories. The cross-currents of these clashing ideologies have left the nation thoroughly confused. It remains directionless, undecided, and unsure of where to seek its destiny; in nationalism or pan-Islamism, in extreme-moderate conservatism or rank secularism. Thus, this battle for the soul of Pakistan continues unabated.

The 1950s saw Pakistan being governed without its own Constitution till 1956 (when it became an Islamic Republic). This created space for the bureaucracy and the military to move in, sideline the politicians and take on the mantle of governance for themselves. It was a democratic rule for the better part of this decade till a military takeover in 1958. Pakistan remained moderately conservative with a splash of secularism. The 1960s saw the perpetuation of military dictatorship. Although Pakistan saw good economic prosperity and industrialization, yet the economic and political disparity and ethnic, social, and linguistic divides between its two wings laid the foundations for its eventual breakup. The nation remained moderately conservative and adhered to secular values where necessary but failed miserably to create and maintain unity and territorial integrity.

The 1970s, arguably the most brutal decade of Pakistan's existence, saw the break up of the country and a mixture of civilian and military rule. The earlier part of the decade saw Pakistan flirt with a strange political concoction-Islamic Socialism. It did not find favour with the public at large, which remained moderately conservative and shunned its rather secular outlook. The latter part of the decade saw a military dictator take over with a renewed emphasis on conservative Islam, Islamic values, and the exacting imposition of a rather harsh version of the Islamic Shariah. So, within the space of a decade, Pakistan swung from moderate conservatism to Islamic Socialism and on to a severe version of Islamic Shariah. The nation...

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