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Why has Pakistan experienced so much ethnic and sectarian strife since 1947?

Any answer to such a broad question is complicated enormously by the widely differing experiences of the different regions of Pakistan and the fact that this is, in itself, one of the explanations. One conclusion seems to be common to all regions, however. The interefence, repressive tactics and simple incompetence of successive Pakistani governments has only served to exacerbate the strong regionalist tensions which already exist due to stark ethni-linguistic and economic differences. 

Unlike in India, where ethnically-based 'communalism' tends to prevail, ethnic tension in Pakistan tends to take the form of sub-national movements demanding refional autonomy and directed against the central power. The auticratic nature of central government is viewed by these movements as evidence of Punjabi domination over the other 'nationalities' of Pakistan. Ethnicity is made up of a number of competing criteria, such as language, religion and region, so is largely determined on the part of the individual. Since 1947 radical realignments have taken plan in people's perception of themselves as ethnic beings, showing an unusual fluidity in ethnic status, which suggest that regionalism, rather than racism, is the major driving force. 

Authored by Stewart Morris

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