Vaqar Ahmed


The problems that Pakistan faces today are a direct and logical consequence of the basis of the creation of the country.


The Two Nation Theory on which Pakistan was created stipulated that Hindus and Muslims were different nations and the rights of the Muslims could not be protected in a Hindu majority undivided India. This basis immediately drew a clear line between a  Hindu State  and a  Muslim State  and put them in an adversarial position. The Two Nation Theory also completely ignored the fact that a very large number of Muslims left behind in India would become an even smaller minority in the Hindu majority India.


The driving force behind this solution were the British who had encouraged the Hindu-Muslim divide to help maintain their colonial presence in India.  The Muslims who supported the idea of Pakistan were mainly large landowners of the Punjab and Sindh who had derived their power through the lands and privileges bestowed by the British.  These Muslims had a better chance of benefitting from their largess in a separate country in which they held un-challenged power. Mr. Jinnah was simply an ambitious lawyer who pleaded the case of these interests in return for a leadership of a country   an ambition that was denied to him by the All India Congress.  The class of Muslims that held power in the newly formed country were the landowners, bureaucracy and the army.  The first group had derived its power through the lands and privileges while the latter two had been trained by the British to serve imperial interests.


In terms of the composition of the newly formed Pakistan only Punjab and Sind could be considered  liberated  from the British as the British had much less real control of either NWFP and, to even a lesser degree, of Baluchistan.  With inclusion in Pakistan, Baluchistan transited in effect from being an almost autonomous province to becoming  colonized  by the powerful Punjab.  Leaders in both NWFP and Baluchistan resented their inclusion in Pakistan and wanted to be independent states.  Bengal met the same fate of domination of a minority Punjab over a majority East Bengal.


Thus the genesis of Pakistan was a country created for some of the Muslims of India based on the hatred and distrust for a larger mass of people who were Hindus.  This divide was manifested immediately after the division of India by way of the bloodshed that took place between the Muslims crossing into Pakistan and the Hindus and Sikhs leaving Pakistan for India.  The trend of hatred and distrust of India has remained the primary underpinning of the ethos and policies of Pakistan.  As soon as 1948 another armed conflict took place between the two countries on the issue of Kashmir.  This was followed by more military conflicts in 1965 when Pakistani forces entered the disputed Kashmir, then in1971 in the aftermath of Pakistans military action East Pakistan, then in 1999 when the Pakistani army made another abortive attempt to gain an advantage in Kashmir through the Kargil intrusion.  Currently, Pakistans Afghan policy of supporting the Talibans is again prompted by its distrust of Indias influence in Kabul. 


Every government in Pakistan has milked the twin cows of  Islam  and  enemy India  to the maximum as these were the basis of Pakistan and thus had the right resonance among the people of Pakistan.  Mr. Jinnahs occasional utterances that Pakistan was created to be a secular, democratic state fell on deaf ears as he was in reality contradicting himself as a logical question would be asked as to what was the need for Pakistan if it were to be secular since an undivided India would have been secular too?  Once Mr. Jinnah was dead his clients the feudal forces, the bureaucracy, and the army quickly dispensed with any pretence of being secular and strengthened the two pillars of the  ideology   of Pakistan as being a country for Muslims, and India as the enemy of the Muslims.


The perpetuation of these legitimizing bases were drilled in the psyche of the Pakistanis through the speeches, statements and writing of the political and religious leaders and through the textbooks taught in schools.  With the not too distant memories of the bloodbath that took place between the Hindus and Muslims at the time of partition of India such a propaganda was extremely effective.  The pot of hatred was kept steaming by continually keeping the issue of Kashmir burning on high flame.


The complete negation of the two nation theory took place as early as just 24 years after the creation of Pakistan.  The creation of Bangladesh was a direct result of where the power lay at the time of partition.  Pakistan was run by the Punjab with support from the junior partners Sindh and NWFP and this power base had no interest in sharing the power with the majority East Pakistanis.  When the Bengalis won the first democratic election held in Pakistan in 1971 the West Pakistani army and politicians raised the spectre of the Bengalis being separatists and of getting Indian support for achieving their objective.  Based on this completely bogus premise a major military repression took place that resulted in the creation of Bangladesh.  Thus the country created for the Muslims of India now left the Muslims of India in not two but three national boundaries; India, the new Pakistan and Bangladesh with the largest number of Muslims in Bangladesh, followed by India and lastly in Pakistan!


The rise of Muslim fundamentalism is the direct result of the notion of Islam being the ideological basis of Pakistan.  The use of Islam for legitimacy paved the way for strengthening the fundamentalist elements.  Many in Pakistan blame the  un-educated clerics  for the fundamentalism and social backwardness of Pakistan. This is completely incorrect.  The religious zealots were never in power from 1947 to 1979.  Ironically, their strength was recognized as augmented by none other than the  secular  Mr. Bhutto who for his political survival declared Ahmedias as non-Muslims and banned alcohol in Pakistan. From 1979 to 1989 the fundamentalist did get state sponsorship under the military dictator Gen. Zia-ul-Haq.  However, the elections held after Gen. Zias death once again demonstrated that the fundamentalists had no popular support.


The real threat to Pakistan is not from religious fundamentalists but the  Political Fundamentalists  of the which the Pakistan army is the most powerful that holds Islam and the anti India premise for maintaining its political and economic power by ruthlessly exploiting the Pakistani people and destroying any emerging democratic political structure.  Unfortunately, the civilian political ruling class follow the same  Political Fundamentalism  to promote their own looting of the country.  Pakistani politics is thus no more than a musical power chair game in which the player are using the same rules to exploit the country.  In this game of musical chairs lead by the Army and the Punjab, and Sindh and NWFP are junior partners and Baluchistan is not allowed to participate as was East Bengal.  These ruling forces have been further strengthened by the events in Afghanistan as there was a need to counter the  Un-Islamic  intruders (the Russians) and later the demon of  Expansionism  which the Indians are carrying out by their support of the relatively moderate Afghans.  The Kashmir issue has also served the  Political Fundamentalists  well.


Today Pakistan is teetering on the verge of a political and economic collapse.  The only way to arrest this headlong slide (that started right at its inception in 1947) into disaster is first for the people of Pakistan to recognize that the basis for the creation of Pakistan was not in the interest of the Muslims or for Islam but for allowing a small powerful elite to maintain its stranglehold in the newly created country.  Thus Pakistan declared itself to be a secular republic where religion is a personal matter and nothing to do with the laws that govern running the state. Second, reject the notion of India being an enemy and accept the current line of control in Kashmir.  Third, find a solution to the issue of Afghanistan is collaboration with India and moderate Afghans.  This would be a very hard pill to sell and most likely the pill seller will be taken to the gallows.  But without this cure the whole country is doomed with all its uncertain but certainly tragic consequences.


(January 8, 2011)

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