Navigating Pakistan’s Religious, Social and Political Fault Lines in the 1980s: Contemporary Trends and Relevance

Published date01 June 2024
DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1177/23210230241235363
AuthorFarhan Hanif Siddiqi
Date01 June 2024
Subject MatterSpecial Section on South Asia in and after the 1980s
Navigating Pakistan’s Religious,
Social and Political Fault Lines in
the 1980s: Contemporary Trends
and Relevance
Farhan Hanif Siddiqi1
Abstract
How do sociopolitical developments in the 1980s endure in contemporary Pakistan? The article
answers this question across three dimensions: first, the religious, as witnessed in General Zia-ul-Haq’s
weaponization of blasphemy laws that shaped the rise of a majoritarian political actor in the shape of
the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) in 2017. Second, the social, with Zia-ul-Haq’s Islamization laws
denigrating the agency of women leading to their resolute mobilization in the 1980s and again in 2018
in the shape of the Aurat March and Aurat Azadi March movements. Finally, the political, where the
military takeover in 1977 invited a counter-movement in the form of the Movement for the Restoration
of Democracy (MRD) in 1981. In 2020, opposition parties formed the Pakistan Democratic Movement
(PDM) as a counterweight to the incumbent civil-military hybrid regime. The article concludes that
Pakistan’s failure to improve on the religious, societal and political indicators lies at the core of its
dishevelled polity.
Keywords
Pakistan, civil-military, democracy, blasphemy, Aurat March, social movements
Introduction
The 1980s with the military in power was characterized by a domestic sociopolitical order that was tur-
bulent, chaotic and disorderly. Politically, the Zia regime which came to power after overthrowing the
elected government of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1977, contended with popular domestic resistance in
the form of the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) where nine political parties came
together in 1981 seeking an end to military rule. The MRD represented the wider civil society’s yearning
for democracy and political participation and its distaste for the military regime’s authoritarianism.
Original Article
Studies in Indian Politics
12(1) 65–77, 2024
© 2024 Lokniti, Centre for the
Study of Developing Societies
Article reuse guidelines:
in.sagepub.com/journals-permissions-india
DOI: 10.1177/23210230241235363
journals.sagepub.com/home/inp
1 Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad , Pakistan
Corresponding author:
Farhan Hanif Siddiqi, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad 45320, Pakistan.
E-mail: fhsiddiqi@qau.edu.pk

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