A lesson from Pakistan on letting religion dominate politics

Watching Rick Santorum rise in the polls by positioning himself as the real Christian presidential candidate is like watching the sequel of a horror movie — one I literally lived through in the 1980s while growing up in Pakistan. There, another religious zealot, Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, played the lead role of the real Muslim.

The plot went like this: The clerics called for candidates with "true" Muslim values, the masses demanded a "Muslim candidate for a Muslim state," the leaders proved their "Muslimness" by quoting scripture and calling others lesser Muslims, and the candidate who was able to appease the clergy privately and please the masses publicly held on to power. The never-ending horror in the name of religion is what followed in Pakistan.

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