Ideology of Pakistan

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  • What is an Ideology what are the meanings of Ideology and its constituent elements.
  • What is Two Nation Theory and Ideology of Pakistan?
  • What were the factors that led the Muslims of British India to demand a separate state for Pakistan?
  • What are the implications of the Two Nation Theory and Ideology of Pakistan for Pakistan’s political process and institutions?


At the simplest level Ideology is a political statement however every political statement cannot be describe as an ideology. This is very important to repeat it. If you find newspapers you will find statement by political leaders, statement by political parties and senior govt officials President, PM and cabinet ministers. They make statements on social economic and political issues and all these are political statements. However none of these can be described as ideology, then what is ideology. Ideology is a set of beliefs, values and ideals a group or a nation subscribes to, this set of principles or ideals has to be ingrained over a period of time in the social consciousness of the society. Therefore, it becomes a part of the psychy and part of a social heritage of a group and also of a nation. In other words ideology is a set of principles; it is a framework of action and a guidance system that gives order and meaning to life and human action. It endorse a nation or a group with a sense of purpose, a sense of commitment, a sense of identity, a desire to work for achievement for certain objective and goal therefore ideology plays a very dynamic role in the lives of nations as well as groups because it shows them the path and destination which they want to achieve.

In other words we can say that ideology emphasizes certain things.

  • Ideology is a set of principles, ideal and blueprints for the future that is one of the important characteristics.
  • It offers a review of the existing political, social and economic arrangements.
  • It had to create a thinking and consciousness based on the principles and ideals of the ideology, a commitment and a sense of direction.
  • Ideology plays the role of legitimization and delegitmization that is both roles are played by the ideology. By legitimization means that the ideological principles and values are used to justify certain actions and certain developments. Similarly ideology is also used to delegtimize to criticize and to condemn certain actions and developments that do not fall within the framework of an ideology.
  • We have to talk about the role of the leadership and the state. There has to be a leadership that mobilizes people on the basis of that ideology, similarly a state can play such a role. State can be instrumental to implement the ideology so both leadership and state are needed.

The role of institution in strengthen an ideology:

When we are discussing ideology or its principles basically we are discussing things at the level of abstraction at theoretical level. We are basically talking about certain theoretical abstract principles which emphasize certain things for example somebody would say we should speak the truth, we should be honest now these are principles, in the case of ideology these principles have to be shifted from level of abstraction to level of reality. You will have to create institution and societal processes that reflect ideological principles, once you do that, such institutions and processes will re-enforce your ideology. This creates an interesting and challenging situation that your institutions must reflect the ideology and if they do this in turn will strengthen the ideology and this circle goes on.

Ideology gives you world view and certain set of principle; it is your responsibility to implement it and ideology must address the societal problem if it doesn’t, then in the long run ideology suffers. We have talked about the concept of ideology and its meaning now let’s see what the ideology of Pakistan is.

In the light of our discussion when we talk of ideology of Pakistan first we have to talk about TWO NATION THEORY which was the basis of the establishment of the state of Pakistan.


Two Nation Theory means that there were two major nations in British India the Muslims and the others, the argument is that Muslims are not a community but a nation, a nation with distinctive identity, culture, civilization and outlook on life and outlook of life, therefore Muslims are a nation, now this concept the concept of Muslims of British India, Muslims of the Sub-Continent are a nation developed long before the establishment of Pakistan. In fact the concept of Muslims as a nation led to the establishment of Pakistan. Pakistan itself did not created nationhood, nationhood came into existence before and then on the basis of the concept of nation the new state of Pakistan came into existence.

Development of two nation theory:

The underlying idea was that the Muslims of this Sub-Continent wanted to preserve and protect their distinctive identity and advance their interests, they also wanted to order their lives in accordance with their ideals and the philosophy of life without being overwhelmed by an unsymphetic majority.

Initially, the Muslims demanded certain safeguards, certain constitutional securities; they also demanded a federal system of govt for India where provinces enjoy autonomy. It was at a later stage that the Muslims demanded a separate state. The reason being that both the British and the Congress was willing to accommodate these demands by the Muslims and they thought that the constitutional safeguards and provincial autonomy will ensure them a safe future. Now the basic question is what is the basis of this distinct and an exclusive Muslim identity or Muslim nationhood in this region.


Nation is a dynamic concept; it is a desire to live together under mutually agreed institutions and political arrangements for the objective of achieving certain goals and objectives. This kind of sentiment amongst the Muslims developed with reference to Islam. It was the Islamic identity that led them to this consciousness that they are a separate identity with separate interests which they must protect and promote.

Factors behind the development of Muslim Nationhood:

If you look at the whole history we can talk about other factors, we can talk about the role of history we can talk about the economy but it was Islam which was central to the development of the national consciousness amongst the Muslims of South Asia. Islam entered in the Sub-Continent first through the traders that came to the western parts of India then the Muslim conquerors came to India from north western regions that is from central Asia. They got settled here. They became part of this society. They were influenced by some of the local customs and the geographic conditions the environmental conditions also influenced their living style their habits and attitudes.

However, Islam continued to be the core of their identity and Muslims jealously guarded this distinctive character which was Islam. Four factors influenced the development of Muslim consciousness and identity in this region.


  • First, Islam could not be absorbed into other religious and cultural systems that existed in India at that time; different systems interacted with each other but Islam maintained its cultural identity, there were some efforts to create some kind of mixing of the local culture of Hinduism of Islam but these efforts did not succeed and there were movements in Islam in India that fought against these struggles for exp, the role played by sheikh Ahmed Sir Hindi is very important to maintain the distinct and separate identity of the Muslims of the region.

Conversion of Non-Muslims to Islam:

  • And then the second factor that shaped the consciousness of the Muslims of this region was the conversion of non Muslims to Islam. Islam upheld the doctrine of social justice and equality as against the caste system that was prevalent in India therefore a large no. of non Muslims got converted to Islam because Islam ensured them equality and social justice and this contributed to enlarging the Muslim community in this region.

The Muslim rule:

  • The third factor which is important is the impact of the Muslim rule, Muslims ruled over India for several hundred years and this rule created self pride and attachment with the religio political identity. The Muslims became consciousness of the fact that they are important and they cannot be steamrolled by the majority community or the British who had come into India.

The advent of the British:

  • The fourth factor that shaped their disposition and consciousness was the challenge of the western expansion in India especially the advent of the British. The impact of the British rule was not equal for both communities that are the Muslims and non Muslims especially the Hindus. The Muslims who were rulers before the British came to India felt the brunt of the rise of the British more than any other community. The British established themselves in India and they created new governmental system and recruitment to services. Two of the policies that the British adopted made relevant weither a person was a Muslim or not. First the recruitment to services through open and competitive exams, 2nd the gradual introduction of the elective principle in India that is the gradual principle of electing the representatives. That principle and also the pattern of competitive exams created a competition between the two communities and the issue like who is who became very important.

The major Muslim concern was that how to protect and promote their identity against the pressure that was being generated because of British rule and also the attitude of the majority community. Coming to the attitude of the majority community I first can mention two major developments that would elaborate what I am saying here.

Urdu-Hindi controversy:

In 1867 the Hindu leadership in Banaras started a movement for replacing Urdu with Hindi written in Devnagri script what is often describe as Hindi-Urdu Controversy that started in 1867 and this was basically design to push back the Muslims some of whom were still important in the administrative system and it was also meant to push back the Muslim which was obviously wide spread at that time.

The Revivalist Hindu Movements:

Towards the end of the 19th century a series of Hindu revivalist movements developed although they were targeting the British but in reality the target shifted from the British to the Muslim and in the last decade of the 19th century you see a lot of anti Muslims riots and propaganda which created a sense of insecurity amongst the Muslims who felt that a partnership, a cooperative interaction and environment of working together would not be created therefore by the beginning of the 20th century the issue for the Muslims of the Sub-Continent was how could they protect their identity and in what manner they should present their demands. It is because of these reasons that in the last quarter of the 19th century and in the beginning of the 20th century you had certain Muslims organizations coming up that were demanding that Muslims rights should be protected and how should the Muslims deal with the other community.

In the beginning of the 20th century there were significant developments which help us to understand how the separate identity began to crystallize in the political domain, how on the basis of their separate identity they were making political demands.

The Simla deputation (1906):

The Muslim elite, the Muslim leaders got together and met the viceroy in 1906 demanding that Muslims should elect their own representatives to the elective bodies the British was creating, to the legislative assembly and to the other bodies, this is of what is called as the principle of Separate Electorate that Muslims elect their own representatives and others elect their own separately and exclusively. This principle was incorporated into the govt of India Act 1909, and from onwards Muslims were electing their own representatives because they were convinced because of the political experience. That their interest could not be protected by others and they should have their own representatives.

The establishment of Muslim League (1906):

The other important development during that time was the establishment of the Muslim League. He political movement that ultimately led to the establishment of Pakistan. This was set up in Dec 1906 in Dhaka by the Muslim elite in order to provide a political platform to the Muslims of this region so that they can review their situation and formulate their political demands and also present their demands to the British govt, keeping in view what they defined as their interests.

Other important developments:

Lucknow Pact:

If you look at the subsequent developments you will find that the same theme runs through, you take other developments where this very notion that Muslims are a separate nation with their own distinctive cultural heritage, their religio-political identity, interest and also certain shared goals. For example take Lucknow Pact an arrangement that was signed between the ML and the Congress party was a kind of formula for the new constitutional and political for India. If you read the text you will find that major thrust of the Muslim demand was some kind of legal and constitutional arrangements which could ensure safeguards and guarantees for their interests.

Quaid-e-Azam’s Fourteen points:

Similarly if you look at the Quaid-e-Azam’s Fourteen points which is a comprehensive statement about Muslims interests and perspective and demands on the political situation and constitutional development in India. The basic difference between the approaches of the Congress and the ML was very clear and diametrically opposed. The Congress did not attach much importance to the identity derived from Islam. Their argument was that the religious differences are scanty, if you scratch your skin below that there is Indians below that we are all Indians irrespective of the fact whether you follow this religion or that religion and Congress was arguing that they should all get together and struggle against the British for the freedom of India, that was the Congress point of view.

The policy of Muslim League:

The ML was in favor of fighting against the British for independence, however the ML was emphasizing that first the question of Hindu-Muslim relationship or what was describe at that time the Hindu Muslim question should be settled. They should know what would be their position in the new constitutional arrangements and unless there is a political arrangement on these issues, the ML could not leave these issues to the goodwill of the majority or could not leave these issues to be settled after independence because their fear was that after independence the majority which was unsympathetic would steamroll their demands and ignore them.

Discussion on ideology:

The attitude of the Congress reflected a lack of appreciation and understanding of the role Islam had played and continued to play in shaping the psychy and worldview of the Muslims of the Sub-Continent. Islam is integral to Pakistani identity and this is because of the political experience of the Muslim community. Ideology here you could say ideology of Pakistan, ideology can be derived from a spiritual framework. It can also be derived from worldly intellectual exercise, when we say ideology can be derived from spiritual system we can give the example of Islamic ideology based on the Islamic principles and the other ideologies we can give the example of Marxist ideology which is worldly intellectual exercise. However an ideology to become a political ideology, an ideology to become a basis of political action must be relevant to the conditions of a society. That is at the operational level, in the world of reality, the ordinary people must see that this ideology is relevant, is valued by them and politically they have come to the conclusion that without that they will be in trouble. So the Muslims of South Asia initially started with demands like safeguards, constitutional securities and as I said earlier a federal model.

The Muslim alienation from Indian National Congress:

However by 1940 they learned from political experience, especially to live under Congress Ministries at the provincial level during 1937 and 1939.In 1937 elections were held in India at the provincial level and the Congress formed ministries in most of the Indian provinces. The Muslim’s experience under these ministries was very bitter, they for the first time realized that what would be their fate if the Congress rule over India and this experience played an important role in converting their demands for safeguards to a separate state Pakistan and that is why in 1940 a resolution was passed by the ML in its annual session at Lahore which called for the establishment of a separate state for the Muslims of this region. It was what they had learned over a period of time that they have a separate state wherein they could implement the principles and ideals which are dear to them and which they emphasize to define their identity and these were the principles which they have acquired from Islam and principles of Islam for human beings and Muslims, therefore Islam had been and continued to be integral to Pakistani identity. After the establishment of Pakistan TWO NATION THEORY which emphasizes that Muslims and others are different nations transformed itself into Pakistan, s ideology. Islam is central to the lives and worldview of Muslims of Pakistan.

The role of Islamic ideology after the creation of Pakistan:

Now the important issue is what it stands for, when we say that Islam is integral to Pakistani identity or Pakistan ideology is derived from Islam or Islam serves as the ethical foundation of Pakistan what does all this mean in practical terms.

This means that Islam plays an important role in the establishment of political institutions and political processes and these institutions will emphasize; Rule of law, socio-economic justice, equity and fairplay. Equality of opportunity to all citizens irrespective of caste, creed and region. Respect for human dignity and rights. Religious and cultural tolerance. Protection of the rights of the religious minorities their religious freedom. In other words these are the principles, the foundation of the political system of Pakistan and it is we who had to create the institutions on the basis of these principles.


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