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Sumrin Kalia


Muslim Identity and Civic Engagement; Exploring Pakistan’s Urban Youth Attitudes

Muslim Identity and Civic Engagement; Exploring Pakistan’s Urban Youth Attitudes

Islam has remained a model of public order and personal ethics in Pakistan. Founded on the basis of a religious identity, it is a country that has culturally and politically institutionalized Islam. Religious networks, celebrations and organizations have served as a forum where people come together to develop mutually beneficial connections. These associations are instrumental in setting social and political discourses.


This study attempts to contextualize macro-level debates around political Islam, by exploring how religious narrative, influences and shapes social and political participation at the micro-level. It aims to focus on the different forms of civic engagement among urban religious groups to understand how religious language is employed to construct collective identities which in turn result in collective action. Local political dynamics, presence of competing interest groups, ethnic and sectarian faultiness tend to have an influence the many ways religious rhetoric is used by the actors. Hence this inquiry is situated in the broader context of affiliations (whether political or social) rather than within narrow confines of religious beliefs.


The focus of my study are the young members of three religious groups based in Karachi, Pakistan. Through a comparative analysis of religious discourse, political aspirations and self-interest among them, I aim to understand how religious identity is contrived in a situation where opportunism dominates political life and where ethnic and sectarian fault lines permeate social life. Does religious participation help mitigate these divisions or does it deepen these schisms? And what are the reasons, these young people chose one type of participation over another?


First Supervisor: PD Dr. Dietrich Reetz

  • Kalia, Sumrin. 2016. "Criminal Networks and Governance: A Study of Lyari Karachi.”, The SouthAsianist 4 (2): 101-118.
  • Kalia, Sumrin. 2015. "Human Development in Pakistan and Bureaucratic Predicaments.", International Journal of Public Administration 38 (3): 216-226.
  • Kalia, Sumrin. 2013. "Bureaucratic Policy Making in Pakistan.", The Dialogue 8 (2): 156-170.
  • Kalia, Sumrin & Iqbal, M. Asif . "Local Governments and Urban Service Delivery" In The State of Development in Urban Pakistan Annual Review 2014/15: 111-128.