Nadeem F. Paracha in Dawn:
I have never been a very religious person. But I’ve always been a firm believer. And ironically, over the decades as the intellectual credence and credibility of secularism has continued to grow in my eyes (now more than ever), so has my fascination with religion, especially with the way it is indulged in by my fellow countrymen and women, or for that matter, by me.
I was a child of the 1970s, an era in the sociology of Pakistan that began to seem rather alien when I entered my teens in the 1980s.
One of the major triggers in this respect was, of course, the mushrooming of exhibitionistic religiosity, preliminarily initiated by the state, and then eventually undertaken by large sections of the society as a whole.
I see this process as a kind of self-hypnosis, partaken to not only project religious exhibitionism as some sort of a reflection to define (or redefine) one’s identity as a Pakistani or Muslim, but also (on a more cynical level), understand it as something that attracts economic and political benefits.