Glory, piety and politics in Pakistan

Nadeem F. Paracha in Dawn:

ScreenHunter_04 Mar. 16 09.22 The seeds of neo-religious traditionalism disguised as ‘modern Islam’ were thus sown, and a contemporary identification tool for a number of not-so-clear-minded middle-class youth was discovered. Hijab and beard became ‘cool’; so did the idea of trendy and hip looking folks sounding like 21st century versions of Abul Ala Mauddudi, or worse, yuppie adaptations of Mulla Omar! The tragic 9/11 episode, Bush’s diabolic invasion of Iraq, another military dictatorship in Pakistan, and the rise of the Taliban in the country, all this (and more), eventually began to politicise the otherwise apolitical wave of neo-traditionalist piety, attire and thought that had started sweeping across large sections of Pakistani middle-class.

TV personalities like Zaid Hamid and Aamir Liaquat, and politicians like Imran Khan and Munawar Hussan, are pegs of this new trend, mixing neo-traditionalist trappings of exhibitionistic piety, dress and claims with political discourses that may sound populist and radical, but in fact they are nothing more than the kind of reactionary and myopic mindset that sections of Pakistan’s military establishment started being plagued with during the Afghan jihad under Zia and after. Today society stands clearly polarised.

More here.