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Monday, December 22, 2008

PAKISTAN: Idea and State
Will the idea of Pakistan hold the State of Pakistan together or will the idea become a victim of State’s failure
If the past is only an experience Make of the future a meaning and a vision Mahmoud Darwish
THE transformation of Pakistan Movement into the state of Pakistan was accompanied by certain faults of meaning and action that later resulted in its troubled political history leading to the loss of Western part (now Bangladesh), ethnic tensions, a web of violence encircling politics, society and economy on Western borders and a permanent source of tension with India over Kashmir
Pakistan was born to Two-Nation theory. This theory witnessed its genesis within the larger political struggle, carried jointly by Hindus and Muslims in undivided India. Although many believe that the seeds of separate Muslim political power were sown at the time of 1857 Mutiny and the same were watered by Syed Ahmad Khan in Aligarh Movement, but it formulated into a concrete political programme, in the shape of a demand for separate land for Muslims- Pakistan, in the middle of the twentieth century. Chowdry Rehmat Ali, Allama Iqbal and Syed Maududi were the key figures to underline the distinctive cultural and historical identity of Muslims as against the Hindus of undivided India. Ultimately it was Muhammad Ali Jinnah who led the political struggle of the Muslims of undivided India and succeeded in achieving a separate state for them under the name of Pakistan. In one of his interviews Jinnah talked about the validity of Two Nation theory thus: “As for the two nation theory, it is not a theory but a fact. The division of India is based on that fact and what is more, that fact has been proved beyond doubt by the ugly and deplorable events of the past two months, and by the action of the Dominion of India in pulling out Hindus from Pakistan as their nationals. How then can it be said that there is one nation? But unlike India Pakistan had a difficult birth, and inherent weaknesses in its political structure, both at the level of state and society.
The element of hurry: Since the demand of Pakistan was the outcome of the sense of insecurity, and the entire politics of Muslims League revolved round this theme, it resulted in the failure of this political body to grow on positive lines. Its energy was consumed in dealing with Congress that led the Indian Freedom Movement, and the supporters of united nationality among Muslims. The party got engaged in the politics that was based on suspicion, mistrust and protest. Unlike Congress it could not build a socio-economic programme for the future state and also could not focus on aligning various social and cultural divisions among the Muslims to fall in a favourable pattern for the future State. Further, the excessive reliance of Muslim League on Muslim identity made it oblivious towards a myriad of cultural and ethnic forces that were to come in the way of future State formation. Although, it would be naive to assume that the leadership of Muslim League could have been ignorant in this regard but the kind of politics that was unleashed by Muslim League and the way Pakistan Movement got entangled in the larger politics of the day ( the one that revolved round the waning of British power and the rising political influence of Indian National Congress) would give it little chance to engage with the factors and forces that were to raise their heads once the State of Pakistan was a reality. Underlining the fallacy of the idea of cultural oneness and purity, Muhammad Yousuf Abbasi, makes a pertinent comment that ‘it would be a fallacious assumption that Pakistani culture is the unalloyed product of this area. Culture like the winds knows no barrier, and seeds of cultural cross pollination travel from one land to the other’, and ‘Pakistani culture despite the avowed emphasis on its Islamic orientation is a composite phenomenon as the European culture. So the element of Time and Timing was decisively against Pakistan. It was not just a truncated Pakistan that was born but an essentially unstable organism that witnessed its birth in the shape of Pakistan. The idea of Pakistan was inadequately worked on. The price of this inadequacy has been immense. When the demand Pakistan was finally accepted, and the time came for the state of Pakistan to materialise, things again ran short of time. Shuja Nawaz, in his book Crossed Swords – Pakistan, its Army, and the wars within, underlines the factor of the partition plan getting pre-poned by some months that resulted in creating the initial mess, “.....the Pakistan Army was being created in a hurry. Mountbatten had rushed through plans for partition, even sooner the original plan of June 1948, to 14 august 1947. He announced on 3 June 1947 that the sub continent would be divided into two dominions by August. This left a gigantic logistical task for the civil and military officials entrusted with the division of forces of the British Indian Army.” So this element of hurry had an everlasting effect on the unfolding of the events in Pakistan. Army, the most powerful institution that was to emerge in the future of Pakistan, became central to its existence as immediately after Pakistan came into being it entered into war with India over Kashmir. In the absence of coherent political force, Pakistan Army emerged as the sole defender of the country, hence the centre of power. This became an in-built and compulsive defect in the State of Pakistan and resulted in the country being ruled by Army directly for the most part of its existence, political leadership always remaining under the influence of Army and violence seeping into the deeper layers of society. About this over-engagement of Pakistan and its destabilising effect on the country, Stephen Cohen in his book, The idea of Pakistan, puts the weight of his opinion in favour of this proposition thus; “One important difference between the two states is that Pakistan’s domestic and external policies are more entwined than those of India, partly because of Pakistan’s more perilous geostrategic position and partly because the dominant Pakistan Army looks both inward and outward.” Another inherent flaw in the making of Pakistan was that its political leadership was shallow and incoherent. Without undermining the importance of Jinnah to the Pakistan movement, there is no harm in accepting that it solely depended on him. Ailing Jinnah effective meant a leadership terminally ill. Apart from Jinnah Pakistan could not produce a leader of the calibre that could handle the enormity of the situation that this country would find herself in, from time to time. (There was a possibility of Islamic Movement, under the guidance of Maududi, filling the gaps at social and intellectual level, but the protest politics of Jamat-e-Islami, right from the beginning, did not allow that to happen.) The tragedy with this country was that Jinnah lived little after the formations of Pakistan. Pakistan was a fatherless child, left to survive in barren lands. Jinnah, while he was in command of the Pakistan Movement, could not elaborate on the strategic future of the Pakistan. Earlier, Iqbal, who was the ideologue of the Pakistan Movement, did not elucidate on this important aspect of the future state. Stephen Cohen highlights this aspect of Pakistan by remarking that “Iqbal wrongly believed that the Islamic nature of a new Pakistan would give it inherent strength. Instead, Pakistan has had to draw power from its relationship with other states and thus lacked the capacity to prevent the breakup of 1971. Jinnah, too, was excessively optimistic in the thinking that the minorities in Pakistan would be hostage to good behaviour, and the natural cultural and economic linkage would strengthen relations between its various groups.” Method and spontaneity: Muslim League was less of a political party and more of a political movement. As a movement it succeeded in achieving Pakistan, because the idea of Pakistan was quite strong and deeply embedded in the Muslim heart of sub-continent, but when it came to acting as a party and dealing with Pakistan, the State, it failed. The failure of Muslim League was accentuated and exacerbated by the immediate death of its top notch leadership, Jinnah and Liyaqat Ali, and its week presence in the areas that eventually made Pakistan. Since Muslim League was the party of Muslims that mostly comprised Muslims of Central Province and Bengal, of the United India, it had its roots in the lands that remained in India. This way Muslim League was a party in exile. The original Muslim League never had deep roots in the provinces that eventually made up Pakistan. This made transformed it into an elite party with an undemocratic structure. The impact of week political leadership, absence of a Pakistan wide political party, and emergence of Army as the most powerful institution, put Pakistan on a perilous journey. The ship struck the iceberg first in the east; Bangladesh was born just almost two and a half decades after the birth of Pakistan. The seeds of suspicion and doubt had been sown even before. It was not the reluctance of General Yahya Khan to allow East Pakistan’s Sheikh Mujibur Rehman to form the government, even though his Awami League had won more seats in the National Assembly elections, held in December 1970, than Zulfikar Ali Bhotto’s Pakistan People’s Party, that the East Pakistan thought of an existence independent of Pakistan. The schism had occurred in the war of 1965 when Ayub Khan believed that it is practically impossible to defend East Pakistan. His expression of inability to defend East Pakistan, once India engaged mainland Pakistan at multiple fronts, became a major Bengali grievance after the 1965 war with India. If Pakistani generals thought that East Pakistan could be sacrificed to India to save West Pakistan, why should Bengalis stay in the Pakistani federation? From the womb of this grievance was born a new country – Bangladesh. The accounts of the times written by Pakistani civil and military officers make it abundantly clear that how the absence of political leadership and overindulgence of Pakistan Army in the matters of Pakistan resulted in the breaking up of the eastern wing of Pakistan. Imagined uniformity Vs. Functional multiplicity: Another perennial destabilising factor in Pakistan is the ethnic divide that remains exposed to exploitation in the absence of an effective and countrywide structure of political parties. The power of the state, in Pakistan, is monopolised by the Establishment that mostly comprises feudal lords, industrial elite and Army. This encircling of state power by a small section of select segments leaves out the larger society as powerless. In this state of powerlessness different ethnic identities invoke their provincial, linguistic, and tribal identities resulting in divisions running deep into the Pakistani society. Creating a monolithic identity for the entire Pakistan, was the greatest blunder that was committed by the State of Pakistan. The inability of Pakistani leadership to distinguish between the idea of Pakistan and the State of Pakistan led to this faulty practice. The examples of this are the emergence of Bangla Nationalist Movement in East Pakistan and Jai Sindh Movement in the Sindh province of the West Pakistan, Pakhtunistan demands etc. These were the earlier appearance. In the tribal regions and Baluchistan same things are being witnessed at present. Although East Pakistan had a strong presence of Muslim League and one of the prominent centres of Pakistan Movement was East Pakistan, its separation from the State of Pakistan was actually the result of the failure to accept that this part of Pakistan, even though sharing the idea of Pakistan, was different in terms of its culture and language from the mainland Pakistan. Failure to accommodate multiple identities became another reason for Pakistan to emerge as one political unit. The second example is furnished by Sindh. G M Syed, the founder of Jiye Sindh Movement, was initially attached to Muslim League. Ironically, it was under his leadership that the Sindh Assembly, as a part of Indian Legislature, first passed a resolution in favour of Pakistan. His apprehensions about the behaviour of the state of Pakistan towards the sub-national identities made him raise the banner of Sindhi nationalism.External projects: Pakistan’s another fault-line is the sinister ways in which its leadership has tried to find solution to the domestic issues by shifting the focus of external issues. This, combined with other factors, has turned Kashmir and Afghanistan two permanent sources of trouble wreaking havoc on the stability of Pakistan. On the front of Kashmir, Pakistan has already faced three full scale wars ( 1947, 1965, 1971) and the low intensity military clash at Kargil in 1999. Besides it is believed that Pakistan is the originator and sustainer of the armed militancy in Kashmir. On the side of Afghanistan, Pakistan has been engaged, without break, ever since Russia invaded Afghanistan. The engagement continues when Russia having left Afghanistan and America ruining the land from past almost seven years. The kind of pressure that Pakistan’s stability, and even the very existence, has come under, because of the crisis in Afghanistan, are absolutely clear. Now that America is trying to take direct control of military affairs in Afghanistan and is occasionally dipping the tip of the sword into the Pakistani territory, and India has got involved militarily into Afghanistan, Pakistan finds herself besieged. About the current US led NATO deployment Pakistan suspects strengthening an India-allied regime in Kabul. This comes as a grave threat to Pakistan’s stability. While proposing an international central group to take care of the crisis in Afghanistan, Ahmad Rashid and Barnett R. Rubin emphasise on the vulnerability and growing apprehensions in Pakistan that its territorial integrity is endangered. The following lines from the article that appeared in the Foreign Affairs, under the title of ‘From great game to grand bargain’, are instructive in this regard;“A central purpose of the contact group would be to assure Pakistan that the international community is committed to its territorial integrity--and to help resolve the Afghan and Kashmir border issues so as to better define Pakistan's territory. The international community would have to provide transparent reassurances and aid to Pakistan, pledge that no state is interested in its dismemberment, and guarantee open borders between Pakistan and both Afghanistan and India.” Having witnessed crises of all kinds, will the leadership of Pakistan learn from its mistakes, or would it be an unceasing repetitions of blunders. Will the idea of Pakistan hold the State of Pakistan together or the State of Pakistan bleed the idea of Pakistan to death!

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