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The Islamic Republic of Pakistan, a nation born from the partition of the South Asian subcontinent by the British at the end of their colonial rule, was founded in 1948 on the idea that a nation should be carved out of South Asia to protect the region's Muslim population. Hence, it has had an Islamic character from the beginning. It is also home to several important Sufi shrines, including the Data Ganj Baksh Shrine in Lahore, and to what was for three centuries—until another surpassed it in 1986—the world's largest mosque—Lahore's Badshahi mosque. As of 2009, Pakistan contained more than 174 million Muslim citizens, making it the second largest Muslim country in the world, after Indonesia.

Though Islam unites the country, it is separated along several ...

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