Since its inception in 1947, the idea of Pakistan has been a contested one. Today, Pakistan faces a militant Islamist threat that its elected government is trying to combat in fractious collaboration with the army. As the country finds itself on the defensive against an array of groups claiming to wave the banner of Islam, it must counter their ideology decisively. This assessment of the struggle for Pakistan's identity, from its birth to the present day, provides a political and cultural understanding of the role and use of Islam in Pakistan's evolution.
Author Ziad Haider, a Pakistani scholar, shows clearly how Pakistan's viability as a state depends in large part on its ability to develop a new and progressive Islamic narrative. He identifies the key questions: How can religion in Pakistan be channeled as a force for progressive change, and what form should an enabling narrative of Islam in Pakistan assume? As the United States becomes more involved in Afghanistan and Pakistan, we shall need deeper understanding of both countries. This portrait of Pakistan is a valuable contribution to that endeavor.