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

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.