Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2013

Document Type



International Affairs

First Advisor

Gregory Young


Sectarian conflict is a recent phenomenon in Pakistan’s history. Pakistan lost its secular nature when it underwent a process of Islamization during Zia-ul-Haq’s rule, which created extremist Sunni militants. The Iranian Revolution and Saudi religious donations also caused the Pakistan population to become more religious and the target of a Saudi-Iranian proxy war. In this thesis, I explore how the stability-instability paradox helps explain why the Saudi-Iranian proxy war will lead to domestic instability and increased sectarian conflict in Pakistan once Iran acquires nuclear weapons. The Saudi-Iranian proxy war has manifested itself in sectarian terms in Pakistan because both countries fund religious schools and militant political organizations. Because Iran and Saudi Arabia are competing for regional hegemony, they have turned Pakistan into a battleground between pro-Saudi Sunni forces and pro-Iran Shiite forces. When Iran acquires nuclear weapons, Pakistani Shiite groups will become aggressive and Iran will become emboldened in its support of unconventional warfare thus leading to domestic instability and increased sectarian conflict in Pakistan.