Posted on 13-10-2009
Filed Under (Current Affairs, Foreign Policy) by Rashtrakut

A follow up to the preceding post regarding Pakistan.  The New York Times is reporting about the divides within the Pakistani establishment about conditions attached to aid from the United States.  Ever since its first military coup in 1958 the Pakistani army has held a stranglehold over its political life.  Civilian attempts to rein in the security establishments have been promptly snuffed out.  While the current head of the Pakistani Army has shown a disinclination to interfere with the day to day workings of the civilian regime, it has still protected its turf – notably after the attacks on Mumbai last November when it squashed President Zardari’s offer to send the head of the ISI to India for talks.

It is understandable why Washington does not wish to give the Pakistani military a free hand.  The dictatorship of Pervez Musharraf diverted the aid provided after 9/11 to beef up Pakistani military preparedness against India instead of tackling extremists.  However, the opposition appears to arise more from nationalistic saber rattling rather than concerns about what the Pakistani Army will be prevented from doing.  Add to that national pride bruised by American bombing of targets within Pakistani borders.

With its economy in shambles Pakistan is unlikely to refuse American aid and my guess is that after a suitable amount of bluster and the requisite face saving compromises the money will be accepted.  But it does raise an important point regarding Pakistan’s future.  Future military chiefs may not be professional soldiers who stay out of civilian affairs.  Ultimately a democracy is not created by a public franchise but by the willingness of institutions to accept the rule of law and the mandate granted by the franchise.  If Pakistan is genuinely to become a democracy civilian control of its military is a necessity, however venal the public leadership is perceived to be.  In this regard the epithet “Mr. Ten Percent” bestowed on President Zardari during his wife’s tenure as Prime Minister and the stench of corruption attached to the other national leader, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, does not help.

However, absent that control and the creation of the institutions necessary for the survival of a modern state, Pakistan will not be able to forge a national identity to help it survive as a nation.  The “two-nation” theory was discredited by the creation of Bangladesh.  The only other item that unites Pakistan appears to be reflexive hostility towards neighboring India, a posture the Pakistani army is only too eager to accept since it allows for military expenditures far in excess of Pakistan’s needs.  Meanwhile, Baluchistan is in open revolt, Sindhis resent the Punjabi domination of government, Muhajirs (the descendants of immigrants from India after partition) resent being treated as second class citizens while other ethnicities resent the competition for jobs the Muhajirs bring, and many Pashtuns have never accepted their inclusion in Pakistan as a result of the Durand Line drawn by the British in 1893.  A Pakistan operated under the principles Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s speech on August 11, 1947 quoted below would have been an inspiration to many of the world instead of the spawning ground of global terrorism that is its current sorry state.

“I cannot emphasize it too much. We should begin to work in that spirit and in course of time all these angularities of the majority and minority communities, the Hindu community and the Muslim community, because even as regards Muslims you have Pathans, Punjabis, Shias, Sunnis and so on, and among the Hindus you have Brahmins, Vashnavas, Khatris, also Bengalis, Madrasis and so on, will vanish. Indeed if you ask me, this has been the biggest hindrance in the way of India to attain the freedom and independence and but for this we would have been free people long long ago. No power can hold another nation, and specially a nation of 400 million souls in subjection; nobody could have conquered you, and even if it had happened, nobody could have continued its hold on you for any length of time, but for this. Therefore, we must learn a lesson from this. You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State. As you know, history shows that in England, conditions, some time ago, were much worse than those prevailing in India today. The Roman Catholics and the Protestants persecuted each other. Even now there are some States in existence where there are discriminations made and bars imposed against a particular class. Thank God, we are not starting in those days. We are starting in the days where there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State. The people of England in course of time had to face the realities of the situation and had to discharge the responsibilities and burdens placed upon them by the government of their country and they went through that fire step by step. Today, you might say with justice that Roman Catholics and Protestants do not exist; what exists now is that every man is a citizen, an equal citizen of Great Britain and they are all members of the Nation.

Now I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State.”

Time is not the friend of the Pakistani state, but a failed nuclear state is not a pleasant prospect for the world to face.

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Narendra on 14 October, 2009 at 7:25 pm #

There surely is a very strong force within US which is making US govt to turn its eye from where its aid to Pakistan is going. Us was party to the open secret that Musharraf has divulged. One does not need F-16s to fight Taliban. But then selling arms is big money to a needy economy


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