ABSTRACT

Pakistan is no exception to this: in fact, ethnic confl ict has presented the most formidable challenge to Pakistan since its inception and has already led to two civil wars and to the secession of the country’s most populous province, East Pakistan, in 1971. Pakistan has sought to use Islam as a unifying force to bring different ethnic groups together, with few, if any, efforts on the part of the central elites to incorporate the history, language or cultural experiences of these ethnic groups into a modern sense of national identity. It was mistakenly assumed that different ethnic groups such as the Sindhis, the Baluch and the Pashtuns would willingly surrender their rich historical and cultural tradition in return for a narrowly defi ned Pakistani identity; this has not happened. Failure of the state to articulate a viable national identity only on the basis of Islam, and the simultaneous politicization of ethnic identities, has only complicated matters for Pakistan.