Once a model of Muslim enlightenment, Pakistan is now facing a lethal Islamist threat. Many believe this is due to Pakistan's partnership with the United States, while others see it as the consequence of an authoritarian rule that has marginalized liberal opinion while creating inroads for the religious right.
Farzana Shaikh argues that though external influences and domestic politics have unquestionably shaped Pakistan, an uncertainty about the meaning of Pakistan and the significance of "being Pakistani" lies at the heart of the state's social and political decline. Making Sense of Pakistan shows how these concerns have contributed to the spread of Islam in the public sphere. They have also widened the gap between personal piety and public morality, compromising the country's economic foundations and social stability. This uncertainty has also affected Pakistan's foreign policy, which compensates for the country's poor sense of national identity. Even more ominous, national insecurities have given rise to a dangerous symbiosis between Pakistan's armed forces and Muslim extremists, rival contenders in the struggle to redefine the meaning of Pakistan. Drawing on extensive research into the origins and evolution of the country, Shaikh follows the forces of culture and ideology that pressured Indo-Muslims in the years leading up to Partition and continue to resonate throughout the country.