'Religion, State, and Society in Pakistan' by Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa
Ayesha Siddiqa's talk on 'Religion, State, and Society in Pakistan- Searching for Identity in an ex-colonial state and elite circulation' was a lot about history: how extremism has flourished in Pakistan throughout country's short history.
This scribe had the following takeaways from Dr. Siddiqa's speech:
1. Pakistan's founder, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, was confused about the role religion needed to play in Pakistan. [In one speech he talked about people being free to follow whatever belief system they want; in another speech he talked about his desire to have Islamic Sharia as the law of the land.]
2. A lot of people focus on Zia Ul Haq when they try to identify the source of religious extremism ailing today's Pakistan, but state's shift towards religion had actually started way back and has continued even after Zia Ul Haq.
3. Today, extremism is growing in Sindh and Balochistan, and religious extremists have penetrated all organs of the state.
4. There is hardly any space for liberals left to operate, let alone challenge state's drift towards religious extremism.