Pakistan that emerged out of the vivisection in 1947 was a concept that had no grounding in reality, both historical and geographical. It was a purely political concept designed to satisfy the whim and fancy of one man, and the impatience to rule, of another. The two parts of Pakistan shared nothing with each other except a common faith. They spoke totally different tongues, dressed differently, and had very dissimilar food habits. While West Pakistan chose to become predominantly Punjabi in language and culture, adopted the Persian script and the Urdu dialect, the Easterners were happy using the Bengali language and script as it was before Partition. The Punjabi dominated military and the bureaucracy looked down upon the Bengali citizens, and treated them with contempt.
Even those who chose to immigrate to Pakistan from Central India found that they were unwelcome. They came to be known as muhajirs, a rather derogatory term. Pakistan, without any roots in national history, and without any rationale for existence, soon deteriorated into a free-for-all, where the military eventually rode to power, due to its superior muscle and the legacy of British organizational ability.
The initial promise of it becoming a nation representing a majority of the Muslims of the subcontinent was also not realised, when it became a home for less than one-third of the Muslim population of undivided India. This led Pakistan to desperately look for a reason for its creation and continued existence. Since it had failed in its attempt to represent the Muslims of the subcontinent, including the Muslim majority province of Jammu & Kashmir, it resorted to a policy of subterfuge and deceit.
Beginning with the thinly veiled ‘tribal invasion’ of Kashmir in 1948, through the infiltration policy leading to a second war with India during Gen. Ayub Khan’s military rule in 1965, and until the bifurcation brought upon itself by its repressive policies in East Pakistan that led to the birth of Bangladesh in 1971, Pakistan has been living on a thin edge.
The humiliation of 1971 and the loss of East Pakistan, temporarily put a halt to Pakistan’s aggressive pursuit for a national identity for some time. But this was only a temporary halt.
On the eve of the Golden Jubilee of Bangladesh formation, it would be pertinent to recall one of the biggest political mistakes this so-called Iron Lady committed in her tenure as Prime Minister before she was violently removed from the scene.
It is my belief that Indira Gandhi made a grievous mistake when it sought the dismemberment of Pakistan and supported the creation of an independent Bangladesh out of East Pakistan. The Shimla agreement could have been radically different from the abject surrender our Prime Minister made to the charms of the wily Bhutto. The breaking away of the Bengali part of Pakistan removed whatever checks this part of the principally Islamic country exercised on the military adventurism of the Generals from West Pakistan.
At Shimla, in July 1972, Indira Gandhi should have insisted on the following points before returning the 93000 PoWs (Prisoners of War) captured during the war-
a) Pakistan would remain a whole entity and there would be no support for the creation of Bangladesh. (Sheikh Mujib should have been invited to be a part of this conference.)
b) Sheikh Mujib’s Awami League would be invited to form the Government of Pakistan with him as the Prime Minister
c) All civilian refugees from East Pakistan would be repatriated from India
d) All Indian PoWs held in Pakistan would be honourably returned to India
e) Only on fulfillment of the above 4 conditions would India release the 93000 Pakistani PoWs.
f) An agreement would be signed with Sheikh Mujib and Bhutto ratifying that the Government of Pakistan would recognise the LoC in Jammu & Kashmir as the International Border between the two countries. This agreement would be made inviolable and a suitable resolution passed in the Pakistan National Assembly.
However, today that is so much water under the bridge. Indira Gandhi and her advisers missed a fabulous opportunity to not only settle the Kashmir dispute but to end the state of hostility that Pakistan nurtured against India from the first day of its existence.
Pakistan would have remained whole, its military would have been tamed, and the large role played by the eastern wing in shaping its political and economic future would perhaps have allowed for a more peaceful era to evolve in the subcontinent. East Pakistan would have continued to have a large presence in the National Assembly, providing either ruling or the primary opposition party. The military would have no chance to intervene and shape the political future of Pakistan.
Freed from having to worry about a part that was so different from the West Pakistanis, not only in language, literature, history, culture, and an understanding of Islam, it was Zia-ul-Haq, who after seizing power, struck upon the idea of giving Pakistan a whole new identity.
Farzana Shaikh, Associate Fellow of Chatham House, and author of Making Sense of Pakistan, argues that “conflicting visions over the role of Islam in Pakistan have made it impossible to reach a broad consensus over fundamental questions about the purpose of Pakistan, or, indeed about the precise relation between ‘being Muslim’ and ‘being Pakistani”. This lack of consensus, she suggests, “gravely impeded the development of a coherent national identity for Pakistan.” The lack of a national identity has resulted in the emergence of a “negative identity” predicated on Pakistan’s opposition to India. “One of the most significant implications of this ‘negative identity’ that rests on no more than being ‘not India’ has been to dilute Pakistan’s South Asian roots in favour of a more robust Islamic profile informed by the Islam of West Asia.
The implications of this imported theology have been deeply damaging to Pakistan, “where the broadly pluralistic instincts, characteristic of local varieties of Islam have been forced to give way to harsher readings of Islam imported from abroad”. The transformation of Pakistan during the Zia years has had lasting effects on the psyche of its people who have been misguided to believe that they are a Muslim country chosen to become the guarantors of Islam in the world. It is this version of Wahhabi Islam that Pakistan tried to export to Kashmir through its lackeys in the Hurriyat and other subversive institutions, with the hope that it would turn the Muslims of the valley against their traditional ethos, and make them the instruments of success in breaking Kashmir away from the Indian Union. Pakistan, I am afraid, had largely succeeded in its designs. The people of the Kashmir valley, falling prey to this invidious propaganda, drove the Hindus and other non-Muslims out of the valley through terror and murder.
It has also resulted in Pakistan denying its pre-Islamic legacy, and suppressing the culture, history, arts and literature of the Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and other non-Muslim eras. This suppression has deep psychological implications for its people. Having been forced to deny their past, a large vacuum has been created in their consciousness. Lies, hatred, and notions of victimhood are filling this vacuum. People are being made to believe that they are being victimized and persecuted by the rest of the world for pursuing their faith. Lies and deceit have become ingrained in the Pakistani consciousness. It is this part of the consciousness of Pakistan that makes it “run with the hare and hunt with the hounds”.
The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan gave it the opportunity to divert Western military aid to the Afghan Mujahideen, whom it nurtured and supported, with the full knowledge of the Americans. After the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, it took no time in turning the Mujahideen into an anti-American/anti-Western force, and here again it was Pakistan that was supplying weaponry and personnel to the Mujahideen outfits. The Kargil war with India in 1999 is another example of Pakistani deceit.
While the Pakistani Prime Minister was receiving the Indian Prime Minister in Lahore, who had embarked on a friendship bus journey, Pakistani Army units were surreptitiously occupying positions on the Indian side of the LOC. While initially the Pakistanis maintained that the fighters were Kashmiri insurgents, but documents left behind by their casualties confirmed the involvement of Pakistani paramilitary forces led by Gen. Ashraf Rashid.
Image source: Quora
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