In Pakistan and, in fact, most of the Islamic world, the very concept of secularism is completely misunderstood. Somehow the concept has been thoroughly confused and amalgamated with Atheism. An overwhelming majority of politicians, and even intellectuals, often try to defend themselves when “accused” of being secular, particularly on mainstream online media and Urdu print media. To declare oneself as a secular is considered equivalent to being considered an atheist in the public imagination.
The entire atmosphere is riddled with severe misconceptions about secularism. Due to fear of being branded as “Atheist” and anti-Islamic the word secular, in both letter and spirit, is virtually absent from the discourse. Even those who understand that secularism is fundamentally different from atheism often raise the question: “what good is secularism?” and ” All we need is the right interpretation of religion.”