Zia-Ul-Haq and the Rise of Religious Extremism in Pakistan
Pakistani society faces the scourge of religious extremism. It has turned into the most challenging issue. Though Islam is deeply rooted in Pakistani society, but power politics, militarization of extremist elements and the instrumental use of Islam led to its aggressive expression. It was Zia-ul-Haq who greatly radicalized the Pakistani society with the obvious aims to legitimatize his dictatorial rule. His rigid and dogmatic interpretation of Islam led to the birth of extremism, intellectual obscurantism and fundamentalism in Pakistani society. His religious policies have changed Pakistani society from a moderate into a society hijacked by the religious fanatics. Pakistan experiences the worst law and order situation, incongruity, instability and insecurity mainly, as a result of extremism initiated by Zia-ul-Haq’s regime. It gave birth to both violent and non-violent religious organizations in Pakistan. The main objective of this paper is to highlight the genesis of extremism in Pakistani Society; explore the role of Zia-ul-Haq’s policy of Islamization of state and society in the proliferation of religious extremism in Pakistan; and its implication for the Pakistani state and society.