Accepted Paper:

Rise of religious fundamentalism: an institutional comparison of Pakistan and Bangladesh  


Urmi Tat (Institute of peace and conflict studies, New Delhi, India)

Paper short abstract:

The paper proposes to examine the factors that continue to provide a breeding ground to radical/extremist elements in contemporary times, primarily focusing on the impediments to autonomy and capacity of institutions of governance and legitimacy in Pakistan and Bangladesh over the last decade.

Paper long abstract:

State and civil society institutions in South Asia have faced the brunt of internal strife as well as regional politics, and have been consistently tested over the past decade. Though durability and outcome varies, the political culture, temper of dissent, and independence/autonomy of institutions has greatly been compromised, especially with the proliferation of groups propounding particular interpretations of doctrines and using terrorism as their modus operandi.

The paper proposes to examine the impact on institutions of governance in South Asia due to the presence, actions, agenda and motives of radicalizing elements within the polity, particularly in Pakistan and Bangladesh. The effect on the autonomy and capacity of institutions in continuing to provide a breeding ground to radical elements in contemporary times will be further examined.

State institutions (Judiciary/Executive ) have been weakened due to a number of factors: years of authoritarian political culture; the nexus of several radical groups with institutions such as the military; the destructive potential and capacity of these groups; growing disillusionment with apparatuses of government and increasing appeal in terms of recruits; economic predicament of the people; the ideology of pan-Islamism; external financial networks; impact of radical Wahhabism, are among the factors that have entrenched a space for radical elements and posed a challenge to governance. Groups have further secured and legitimized their positions with their control over cultural apparatuses like educational institutions. Further, with the expansion of ISIS, the threat to sanctity of institutions seems overwhelming in South Asia and will be examined.

Panel P21
South Asia's changing security environment