Islam, militancy, and politics in Pakistan: Insights from a national sample

C. Christine Fair, Neil Malhotra, Jacob N. Shapiro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


We use data from an innovative nationally representative survey of 6,000 Pakistanis in April 2009 to study beliefs about political Islam, Sharia, the legitimacy and efficacy of jihad, and attitudes towards specific militant organizations. These issues are at the forefront of U.S. policy towards Pakistan. Four results shed new light on the politics of militancy and Islamic identity in Pakistan. First, there is no relationship between measures of personal religiosity and the likelihood a respondent expresses highly sectarian sentiments. Second, militarized jihad is widely seen as legitimate in Pakistan but there are substantial regional differences in the acceptance of militarized jihad. Third, attitudes towards militant groups vary dramatically across groups, particularly when it comes to the efficacy of their actions. Fourth, while Pakistanis express massive levels of support for Sharia law, this is driven by its perceived connection with good governance, not by sympathy with the goals of militant groups claiming to implement it.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)495-521
Number of pages27
JournalTerrorism and Political Violence
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Safety Research
  • Political Science and International Relations


  • Militancy in Pakistan
  • Pakistani religious identity
  • Politics of militancy


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