Sikh and Hindu Religious Minorities in Pakistan: An Exploratory Study of State Ideology and Minority Discourse

Zaheer Ali

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


This thesis is focused on exploring the experiences and perceptions of Hindus and Sikhs in relation to the state ideology of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. This project unpacked the experience of Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan in relation to their notions of social identity construction, identity performance, belonging to the land of Pakistan and the impact of state discourse on their lives as viewed through the lens of Pakistani citizenship. The thesis draws upon concepts from sociology of religion and political sociology to explain the negotiation and performance of social, religious, and cultural identities under the theocratic state ideology. The findings presented in this thesis are based on participant observation and 38 semi-structured interviews conducted with Hindus and Sikhs in Sindh and Punjab provinces of Pakistan. The existing literature on religious minorities in Pakistan explores the inception of a strong religion-based Muslim Identity in a historical context and its role in the evolution of Pakistan into an Islamic state. However, this study explores the experiences, and perception of Hindus and Sikhs through this historical transformation of the sub-continent (partition of 1947) and later of the state ideology of Pakistan. Research findings suggest that the Hindus and Sikhs have embodied social identities drawn from the ancestral and spiritual relationship which they share with their land of birth and heritage. These diverse area-specific identities provide Sikhs and Hindus with a sense of everyday security and safety in an increasingly Islamised Pakistan. The study also unravelled that the historical events in the sub-continent such as the partition of 1947, the subsequent turbulent India-Pakistan relationship and the political instability of the region have shaped the experiences of Hindus and Sikhs Pakistan. Additionally, the holistic perspectives and experiences of Hindus and Sikhs echoed through the findings of this study will help bridge the gap on academic scholarship on Hindus and Sikh of modern-day Pakistan.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Barn, Ravinder, Supervisor
  • Jago, Robert, Supervisor
Award date1 Dec 2021
Publication statusUnpublished - 2021


  • Discrimination
  • Religious minorities
  • Human rights

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