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Religious sovereignty and transnationalism in a nation-state

Postcolonial identities in Northern Pakistan

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Shafqat Hussain

This paper examines how the people of Hunza in Pakistan experience multiple claims of sovereignty, including religious claims, and how they respond to these in their everyday lives. The principal focus is on how Shimshalis perceive the role of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). I argue that various social and economic development institutions of the AKDN claim both a «soft» (through its NGO network) and a religious (through the figure of the Aga Khan) form of sovereignty over the people by providing them with protection and welfare. By showing how the development institutions of the Aga Khan incorporate supra-national modernist discourse and practice I demonstrate how the analysis of sovereignty must extend beyond the boundaries of the nation-state in order to include networks of NGOs and religious authority, both of which the Shimshali people imbue with sovereign-like status.