PAKISTAN - A NATION AT WAR WITH ITSELF
Pakistan was possibly the first nation state founded on the basis of religion alone with no historical background or culture as a country. Pakistan, a country for Muslims, was born out of the efforts of Indian Muslims most of whom finally did not migrate to Pakistan and decided to stay in India. The birth of Pakistan was midwifed by British not out of any love for Islam but as a strategic move to further their interests as perceived by them during the post world-war-two period. British created a bundle of contradictions that served the interests of not just the British but also the Americans for almost half a century. The contradictions kept growing internally and Pakistan had no internal systems or strengths to resolve them. British and Americans used the contradictions to their advantage as long as it suited them. Now, the contradictions have grown to a full blown scale and have made Pakistan a classic case of schizophrenia.
Pakistan consists of Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan and North West Frontier. Portion of Kashmir claimed to be a part of Pakistan is just a colony of Pakistan and can hardly be described as part of Pakistan. The integration of Sindh, Baluchistan and Frontier into Pakistan has been far from smooth. Even today it is possible to hear and see slogans in parts of Sindh proclaiming "NA KHAPE PAKISTAN" (translating broadly as Pakistan not acceptable). All provinces of Pakistan (Except Punjab) see themselves as colonies of Punjab exploited by a ruling elite. Pakistan as a state has failed to arouse in a majority of its subjects a feeling of participating in the process of running of the state or even a feeling of solidarity with the state. A feeling of dis-satisfaction with being a part of Pakistan extends not only on regional basis but also on the basis of community. All minorities including Shia Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Ahmediyas etc. are treated in a highly discriminatory manner in Pakistan and feel that creation of Pakistan has hurt their interests. Pakistan was founded as a country for Indian Muslims. Yet, it has failed to absorb and integrate the handful of Muslims that migrated to Pakistan. Even after fifty two years "MOHAJIRS" or refugees are subject of social discrimination. It is most inconceivable that a country which has problems keeping its pack together would like to add to its troubles by adding a region like Jammu & Kashmir which except for its scenic beauty has neither natural resources nor agriculture nor industry. Kashmir is a poor region that contributes nothing to the exchequer of India and is in fact a big drain on the resources of India. The irrationality of Pakistan in whipping up domestic sentiments and making Kashmir a central issue of its foreign policy best illustrate the contradictions that underlie the existence of Pakistan as a state.
Islam is a religion which has strong linkages with Arab Nationalist movement. Arab culture and Islam cannot really be separated. The cultural affinity of the Pakistani population is more with Indian people and culture than with their Western neighbours. Even in Baluchistan (an area adjacent to Iran), Indian film music is better appreciated than Iranian music. A person in Lahore or Karachi or even Peshawar is eager to know all about events in India rather than about events in Kabul or Teheran or Baghdad. Centuries of history cannot be wiped away with an Act of British Parliament. Though Pakistan is founded on Islam, it has no love for centuries old Arab Nationalist movement. This creates a fundamental contradiction which leads to a complex mindset. On the one hand people of Pakistan love India and everything Indian. On the other hand, at the level of collective psyche as a nation, they must continuously justify to themselves their existence as a separate country. The attempts at justification force them as a society to be more Islamic than the most staunch Arab Nationalist country can ever be. Yet, an average Pakistani is not a fundamentalist and is not even a staunch Muslim in his personal life.
Internationally Pakistan is seen by more and more people as a state supporting terrorist activity. Pakistani newspapers are full of news about well-attended rallies and other programs organized by militant Islamic fundamentalist groups in various cities of Pakistan. Yet, none of the militant groups or their front organizations can win an election in Pakistan. The total votes polled by extremist parties in any general election is less than five per cent of the total votes. An overwhelming Ninety Five per cent of Pakistan's electorate is peace-loving and possibly would like to have their country purged of the fanatic elements. The penetration by the minority fanatical elements in the policy making bodies and army of Pakistan as well as the inability of the mainstream political parties of Pakistan to catch the bull by the horn has led to a situation when the loud noise of the fanatics has drowned the voice of all sensible persons.
At a time when Western Europe and USA were fighting the so-called devil of communism, Pakistan was a strategically located backyard of USSR and China. It suited the interests of USA and Western Europe to use the fanatic elements in Pakistan in their fight against the common enemy of communism. With the fall of communism as the ruling devil of the world and rise of the spectre of Islamic Fundamentalism, Pakistan is no longer a convenient backyard against the devil. Pakistan has now become a shelter for the new devil - fanatic fundamentalist Islamic terrorists. The weak machinery of the state coupled with a desire of the country's collective will to prove its Islamic credentials has provided a fertile ground for the growth of fanatic elements. The growth of such elements has been further fuelled by money from drugs and easy availability of arms. Government of Pakistan has tried to feed and ride the tiger in the belief that they know how to control the tiger. Even USA helped in this misadventure at the time of Afghan war. The tiger has now grown to Frankenstein proportions and is endangering peace and security of not just Pakistan but of the entire world. Osama Bin Laden is just one facet of this Frankenstein and though it may be desirable to eliminate Osama Bin Laden, that will not eliminate the Frankenstein which must be eliminated in the best interests of the world including the people of Pakistan.
In the eyes of Pakistan, its biggest problem is Kashmir. From the viewpoint of the civilized world, the problem is Pakistan itself. Just as a schizophrenic loses its ability to analyze and solve its problems, Pakistan as a country has lost its ability to understand and analyze its real problems. A country of the size, population and resources of Pakistan heading towards anarchy can spell real trouble for the whole world. It is high time that the world realized that it is not a problem of Kashmir or Indo-Pak relations. It is a problem of a nation at war with itself. It is a problem of a devil capturing the minds of a handful of people of the country and the silent majority acting as sheep to the ones possessed by devil. Hasn't the world seen this before in Germany under Hitler? It is time the world learnt from history and helped the peace-loving majority of Pakistan to save their country as well as the world.
VT JOSHI & ANIL CHAWLA
2nd October, 1999
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VT JOSHI (1925-2008) worked for more than fifty years as a journalist. He retired from THE TIMES OF INDIA in 1989. During 1985-89 he was the Special Correspondent of THE TIMES OF INDIA in Pakistan. His books "PAKISTAN: ZIA TO BENAZIR" and "INDIA AT CROSS ROADS" (co-author GG Puri) were widely reviewed in both India and Pakistan.
ANIL CHAWLA is an engineer by qualification but a philosopher by vocation and a management consultant by profession.
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