Ayub Khan and Modern Islam: Transforming citizens and the nation in Pakistan

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11 Scopus citations


Pakistan is viewed today as a haven for fundamentalist Islamists. This essay probes the genealogy of Pakistan's Islamisation by focusing on the rule of President Ayub Khan (1958-69) and extends to the war of 1971 and the dismembering of Pakistan during Yahya Khan's presidency. I trace Ayub Khan's project of modernising Islam and the nation by probing three sites: the transformation of the Pakistani military into a jihadic army; the re-writing of history to craft an Islamic identity; and the reformation of East Pakistani Bengalis to make them good Muslim subjects. Ayub Khan's experiment was a failure, leading to the violent dismembering of the country in 1971, yet an ethical imaginaire of renewing the commitment to creating a humanistic moral community continues to be an ongoing quest in Pakistan, as reflected in my investigations of the oral testimonies of war veterans. Fulfilling these ethical concerns requires critical evaluation of the roots of Islamisation in Pakistan, beginning from the period of Ayub Khan's presidency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)292-305
Number of pages14
JournalSouth Asia: Journal of South Asia Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 3 2014


  • 1971 Bangladesh War
  • Ayub Khan
  • Islamisation
  • Pakistan Army
  • ethical imaginaire
  • national transformation
  • oral history

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science


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