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By Iftikhar H. Malik

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Similarly, ethnic diversity was temporarily subsumed in the wholeness of a Pakistani Muslim identity. After 1947, when the time came to transform it into a full-fledged party the AIML, now the Pakistan Muslim League (PML), lost its core leadership and failed to provide a national agenda. Submerged differences resurfaced and the League itself became the first casualty of a politics where personal loyalties overrode party interests. Problems of membership and of formulating a viable manifesto together with the absence of a realistic policy based on a synthesis of the polarising forces of religion and reformism catapulted the PML into chaos.

4 Religion has certainly played a crucial role in the recent history of the sub-continent and continues to do so, particularly in India, with a new-found vigour. However, as mentioned earlier, after independence it was language that was destined to create fissions - amply helped by geography and uneven politico-economic development. As elsewhere in South Asia, linguistic and geographic factors in Pakistan have continued to play a significant role in ethnic identification. Pakistan was and is a multi-lingual and essentially plural society.

The former East Pakistan, however, despite its numerical preponderance and socio-cultural homogeneity found itself relegated to a diminished status. In a similar though less antagonistic way the elites from smaller provinces have had feelings of awe towards the Punjab and, over the years, 'Punjabi domination' has become a frequent reference in Pakistani political parlance. Sindh Sindh, the second largest province in the country with a significant share in the national population and socio-economic activities, was designated as a separate province in 1936.

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