Focusing on the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the book argues that Pakistan, as a concept, implicitly emerged from the cultural and political insecurities of the ashr?f, or the upper strata of the Indian Muslim society, and certain political missteps of the Congress. Once the administrative elite of the Mughal Empire, the ashr?f inhabited a cultural paradigm manifested by it?it is termed Islamicate. There was a relative decline in the worldly fortunes of the ashr?f under British rule. On the other hand, the Islamicate cultural paradigm, once hegemonic in the ashr?f-dominated qasb?s, or small towns, was increasingly imperilled with Hindus aggressively asserting their own cultural symbols. The colonial state exacerbated this volatile situation by introducing local self-government. Hindus, due to their advantage in numbers, used municipal politics to push their cultural agendas in the urban spaces. Consequently, an already insecure ashr?f grew wary of franchise-based political representation and opposed the Congress when it demanded the same at the provincial and central levels of British India. To bring them around, the Congress made some initial concessions which legitimised a distinct Muslim interest in Indian politics, while it later refused to substantively engage with this interest. Resultantly, it charted its own course through the ?Simla Deputation?, the All-India Muslim League and, finally, the idea of Pakistan.