Document Type



Institute for Educational Development, Karachi


This paper examines the ‘textbook controversy’ (2000-2005) that arose when the Pakistan state introduced new, overtly Sunni textbooks in the Northern Areas, and the local Shia population began to agitate for a more balanced curriculum. The conflict reached an acute stage during 2004-2005, as violent confrontations took place between Shia and Sunni communities, and a constant curfew paralyzed daily life in Gilgit for eleven months. I argue that the Shia mobilization against textbook Islam was not just a form of “sectarian” outrage; rather, it symbolized a broader political claim to inclusion in a context of long-standing regional subordination and religious suppression. The politics of sectarian emotions in the Northern Areas must therefore be understood in relation to the regulatory processes of state-making, which are the very source and embodiment of ‘sectarianism’ and ‘outrage’ in the region.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.


South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal