I have heard a good part of the stirring Saturday speech of Prime Minister Modi in Kerala addressed to the people of Pakistan. I was touched by the emotion it conveys and the genuineness of his claim of being a real friend of the people of Pakistan. Yes he did attack the rulers but I do not blame him, instead I compliment him. If I were in his place I might have been perhaps more critical of the bogus claim of Pakistan’s governing class of being a democracy. The history of Pakistan falsifies this claim completely.
The creator of Pakistan, Mr. Jinnah was no genuine secularist despite his western education and un-Islamic mode of life. In 1944, he had declared that Islam was “Our bedrock and sheet anchor,” and he also therefore declared in 1944: “We do not want any flag excepting the League flag of the Crescent and Star. Islam is our guide and the complete code of our life. We do not want any red or yellow flag. We do not want any isms, Socialisms, Communisms or National Socialisms.” In April 1946 Jinnah embraced “in the name of Allah the Beneficent, the Merciful” as the League pledge for Pakistan. In general, after the creation of Pakistan references to the Quran and the Prophet became increasingly prominent in Jinnah’s speeches, and even if Jinnah had held on to a somewhat broad view of minority rights, those simply did not manifest themselves in any constitutional or institutional guarantees during his short reign as Governor General of the new state. Jinnah died in September 1948, barely 12 months after the state was formed. While his contribution to Pakistan’s initial state formation was huge, in terms of lasting institution – building in a positive sense, his impact virtually proved non-existent.
I have written before about how the Muslim League persuaded the British to declare that when they gave up the sovereignty which was vested in the British Crown it will revert not to the people of the princely States (more than 500 in number) but to the undemocratic rulers. The League had its eyes on Hyderabad ruled by the Nizam and the notorious Razakars. This design was frustrated by the wise Sardar Patel. After that Pakistan turned to Kashmir. The ostensibly tribal invasion by soldiers in disguise was frustrated by their own delay of full one day’s delay in raping or ravishing beautiful nuns and teachers in a well known convent on the way. During that one day two events took place; the Maharaja signed the Instrument of Accession to India and invitation to Indian forces to repel the threatened Pakistan invasion and India accepted the challenge and our brave soldiers repelled the tribal attack in nick of time. They threw the intruders back and would have got them out of the whole state of J&K but for Nehru Foolishly accepting a ceasefire with slightly less than half of J&K left in the control of Pakistan. India at least won an uneasy peace until 1965.
This was divine punishment for the illegitimate designs of Pakistan on Hyderabad, a predominantly Hindu state, right in the heart of India.
Pakistan did become an independent state which included the eastern state of Bangladesh. But let the world make no mistake. Sovereignty in Pakistan was captured by the Army and not the politicians as representatives of the people. Pakistan has been openly ruled by the Army and only half of the time by elected politicians that too only in name. The Stark truth has been that the people of the state have never become the real effective rulers.
Quaid-e-Azam claimed to be a great believer in the teachings of the great Prophet of Islam. This claim is also not true. The holy Quran declared a great truth: “When one walks in search of knowledge he is on the path of God; the ink of the scholar is holier then the blood of a martyr”. This is the essence of modern secularism, after all, secularism has the superiority of education over illiteracy; of reason over superstition and sciences over religion. What is now peddled as Islam is a counterfeit version promulgated by Wahhabi of Saudi Arabia who instead preached that all Mushrikun have no right to exist on this planet and his definition of Mushrikun included Jews, Christians, Hindu and even Shias and all non-Muslims. One has to see what is happening even to Shias in the Sunni world.
I invite all who wish to understand secularism at least to read and imbile the lessons contained in what I regard as one of the greatest book of this century. It is written by a trinity of three great world scholars - Imam Jamal Rahman, Pastor Don Mackenzie and Rabbi Ted Falcon. Every religion has a core and a disposable past dependent on time and circumstance. The core of Islam is the teaching of Prophet, I have quoted above. When Muslims followed the real teaching of the Prophet they mastered the known world and produced philosophers, physicians and even monarchs, like Haroun and Rashid. In the 13th century they followed the teaching of some mad Mullah who told them to burn all books except the Quran. I believe, and not all the scholars of the Muslim world will shake this belief of mine, that the Prophet of Islam was secular more than any counterfeit ones of today. The Taliban, the ISIS, the Hizbul Mujahideen and many such organisations are an insult to the Great Prophet of Islam. All the versions of Islam prevalent today, almost without exception, are counterfeit, most of them reflections of the Wahhabi teaching. No wonder Pakistan can never be truly secular nor a genuine democracy. Pakistan rulers have no commitment to the rule of a genuine democracy. The sad truth is that Pakistan is one of the weakest states globally. Today powerful warlords control many parts of the country. Taliban for example has become a key player in the political system. Conflicts between the key sectarian groups, Sunnis and Shias, and by ethnic groups such as Mohajirs (7.57% of the population) and Baloch (3.57%) have made Pakistani cities like Karachi, Peshawar, and Quetta unsafe for their inhabitants. In addition, key ethnic groups such as Baloch, Sindhis (14.1%), Pashtuns (15.42%), and Seraikis (8.38 %) demand autonomy from the Punjabi-dominated (44.68 %) country, some more forcefully than others.
The military is not only the security provider but has also emerged as a key economic force in Pakistani society. Senior military officers are given land grants by the state, and over the years they have emerged as a major land – owning class. They have a presence in all other key businesses as well. The economic domination of the military class has meant that major economic changes like those undertaken by Korea and Taiwan are not in the interest of the military elite.
I am deliberately skipping many smaller matters for lack of adequate space and time. I now proceed to concentrate on the subject of a non-existent democracy of Pakistan and the tragic reality of military dictatorship, which thrives on the tensions of the Kashmir boiling pot.
Pakistan specially since the time of Zia-ul-haq has consistently and deliberately pursued a two- track- policy of engaging in clandestine operations to weaken India while appearing to be willing to negotiate peace. In the book , The Quranic Concept of War, Brigadier S.K Malik states:
The Holy Quran wishes to see the Muslim armies always in an uppermost, dominating and commanding position over those of their adversaries. The Book wants the Muslims to retain the initiative to themselves through bold, aggressive but calculated and deliberate planning and conduct of war. We shall later see that, despite the gross inferiority of his numbers and material, the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) never let the initiative to pass on to his adversaries.
The First Military Takeover :1958
The major weakness of the Pakistani political order was the dearth of strong political leaders or political parties with a deep democratic sense or commitment. There were four governors general and seven prime ministers between 1947 and 1958, the most crucial period of state formation in terms of institution building. These weak civilian leaders , most of whom were drawn form the bureaucracy, lacked legitimacy and popular appeal. They also made no serious efforts to nurture democratic political processes, which required active political parties. The prime ministers and governors general jockeyed among themselves as to who should hold more authority.
The main purpose of the state was national security (a rare source of consensus among all the political parties and the bureaucratic elite), ensuring the defense spending took the biggest chunk of the national budget. Pakistan’s defense expenditure during 1948 to 1959 was 59% of total governmental expenditure, growing by 116% during this period.
By the second half of 1950s, the three A’s – “ Allah , Army and America “ – would emerge as the most powerful rallying forces in determining the destiny of Pakistan.
General Ayub Khan was appointed chief-martial-law administrator by President Iskander Mirza in October 1958, in a proclamation equivalent to a coup d’e’tat. The proclamation of martial law and the military takeover of power were momentous events for the state in Pakistan as they killed the possibility of nascent democracy emerging, with a military subservient to civilian control. Within a few weeks of the coup Ayub Khan managed to dismiss Mirza as president and then have him exiled.
In March 1963, he signed a border agreement with China, ceding 750 square miles of territory in Kashmir and in effect “making China a party” to the Kashmir dispute.
The warrior state Pakistan tested its military mettle in 1965 war with India. As a preclude to the war, in March 1965, Pakistan launched a limited incursion into the Rann of Kutch region of Gujarat. This was followed by a stalemate and New Delhi’s generous and principled stand of agreeing to an international arbitration of the dispute was completely misunderstood by Pakistan. Following what Pakistan thought was its success it conceived of the operation Gibraltar. The plan consisted of sending 7,000 to 8,000 specially trained mujahid soldiers into Indian Kashmir to dislocate and disorganize the Indian army by sabotaging Indian military installations and communication facilities. This was followed by distributing arms to Kashmiri liberation volunteers. Once the guerrilla operation gained momentum, it was expected that India would find the control of Kashmir too difficult to sustain and would seek a conciliatory settlement, especially under international pressure.
These assumptions would prove wrong. Indian forces struck back by opening a second front on the international border in the Punjab, and were able to get close to the Pakistan city of Lahore. Pakistan, as a result, had to pull out its troops from the Kashmir theatre, thereby nullifying the limited advances it had made. The superpowers diplomatically convinced both state to agree to a ceasefire. A meeting was held at the Soviet Central Asian city of Tashkent in January 1966, attended by Ayub Khan and Shastri, where a ceasefire agreement was signed. Pakistan gained little terrestrially and the status quo ante was restored. Most importantly, neither of Pakistan’s strategic allies , China or the United States, would come to the rescue of its military adventurism. The latter in fact imposed an economic embargo on Pakistan, and military transfers and economic aid to Pakistan were curtailed. This put pressure on Pakistan to agree to a ceasefire after 17 days of fighting between December 1970 and January 1971. In the elections, East Pakistan’s Sheikh Mujibur Rahman would emerge as the overall winner with 160 seats, although in West Pakistan, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) led by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was the front-runner with 81 seats.
By November 1971, India had intervened with troops, and on December 3, 1971, Pakistan declared war on both Eastern and Western fronts. The Indian army, led by General Sam Manekshaw and locally commandeered by Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Aurora, led a short blistering operation lasting 13 days, completely defeating the Pakistani army in East Pakistan and liberating Bangladesh on December 16, 1971. Some 93,000 Pakistani troops surrendered to India, resulting in national humiliation to the Pakistani people, especially the Army, the supposed custodian of Pakistan’s security. The country lost its eastern portion and more than half of its population. This pivotal event profoundly harmed Pakistan’s future relations with India.
The secession of East Pakistan was a crucial event that only strengthened the warrior nature of Pakistani state. Although at the post war Simla conference in 1972 Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto agreed to respect the Line of Control in Kashmir and seek an eventual resolution of conflict with India through bilateral negotiations, his policy became increasingly belligerent after returning home.
The Indian military victory in 1971 generated temporary period of calm on the subcontinent. Pakistan was much weaker than before: the eastern portion of its territory lost, its armed forces demoralized and its political elite groping for a second chance to build a national security state and re-establish strategic parity with India.
The military was waiting in the wings to stage a coup, as was evident when the civilian rulers’ rank incompetence mounted. The opportunity came in July 1977 when General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, a zealot in uniform with military competence, ousted Bhutto’s democratically elected government. The popular agitation by the opposition parties and Bhutto’s repressive approach provided an opportunity for such a coup. Zia not only destroyed civilian rule, but sent Bhutto to jail on trumped–up charges of connivance in the murder of a political opponent and then allowed him to be hanged on April 4, 1979.
Zia-ul-Haq continued the hyper-national security state policies and accelerated the covert nuclear weapons program. But Zia’s Major policy innovation was the introduction of Shariat Laws and the Islamization of Pakistan’s educational system. In that pursuit, he was helped by Saudi Arabia and its strict Wahabbi sect of Islamic preachers. More moderate elements of Islam were subjugated to this more orthodox view, and a generation of Pakistanis would grow up in a system of madrassas that his policies helped to set up. Many of them proved to be great seminaries of hatred, focusing almost exclusively on medieval teachings. The contemporary predicament of Pakistan in fact can partially be attributed to this one ruler whose policies have had a profoundly debilitating – and lasting – impact on the Pakistani body politic , its relations with neighbours , and even global security in the early twenty- first century. In many respects, Zia is akin to Aurangzeb , the Mughal ruler who introduced extreme Islamic ideas in South Asia in the seventeenth century and destroyed all the progress his predecessors , such as Akbar , had achieved in establishing inter-communal harmony.
US direct military and economic assistance to Pakistan over the 1980s amounted to over $7.2 billion, leaving it only behind Israel, Egypt, and Turkey in aid received from Washington.
The United States closed its eyes to Zia’s accelerated pursuit of nuclear weapons. Washington’s policies indirectly helped the Islamization of Pakistan as Zia engaged with different mujahedeen groups in both Afghanistan and in Pakistan. Zia used the war in Afghanistan to gain the support of Pakistan’s Islamist parties, thereby weakening opposition to his tenuous rule.
The American military drive against the Soviet Union was a major success, forcing Moscow to withdraw from Afghanistan , and eventually helping to bring about the collapse of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union as state. The end of the Cold War owes much to the Soviet Union’s failure in Afghanistan.
The Soviet retreat from Afghanistan in 1989 heralded momentous changes to the international system. It helped to end the Cold war and led to the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union. For Pakistan , it was disastrous as it released thousands of Mujahedeen warriors into its society, with over a million refugees serving as an easy recruiting ground for Jihadhist groups. Pakistan’s support of the mujahedeen has essentially created a war economy where narcotics and weapons became the most valuable currency, thereby further entrenching the warrior state. Washington made no real effort to settle the politically and strategically empty space created by the Soviet retreat. Its failure to do so would later haunt America , helping facilitate the September 11,2001 attacks , by al-Qaeda (terrorists ) supported by the Taliban, an entity which Islamabad had helped create.
Despite some limited attempts at democracy, from its early days Pakistan repeatedly found it immensely difficult to create or sustain democratic institutions. Indeed, it quickly became a garrison state where the ultimate authority rested with the military as the most powerful political and social institution, with the many privileges and risks that come with such a status. Since 1958, Pakistan has alternated between elected government and military rule, but democratic governance has been neither complete nor sustainable. The army has always been lurking behind the elected governments, holding real political power and the capacity to control the fate of the civilian elite. If the civilians failed to comply, the army would unleash its ultimate sword- coup d’e’tat. Even under civilian rule, the army and its spy wing, the ISI, never gave up their power over crucial national security and foreign policy matters, including the control of the Nuclear weapons that the country obtained in the 1980s.
Today, a leading scholar of Pakistan calls the military – intelligence establishment of the country the “deep state” which can “pick and choose policy towards extremists, refusing to fight those who will confront India on its behalf as well as those Taliban who kill Western and Afghan soldiers in the war next–door in Afghanistan. Those civilian rulers who dared to seriously challenge the military establishment risk assassination, as happened to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benzair Bhutto, or exile, as in the cases of Benzair Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif.
Pakistan ended up as a garrison or praetorian state and whenever the military ceded power to elected civilian governments, it did so only partially. This left Pakistan a hybrid democratic model where the ultimate power rested not with the people but with the military, as a veto player in any decisions the civilian government would take.
I have called Pakistan a Garrison state. I have borrowed this adjective for Pakistan from a great book ‘The Warrior State’ by one T.V Paul a book which I recommend to all my friends and in particular our External Affairs Minister Mrs. Sushma Swaraj. A Garrison state is a state which is preoccupied with danger, in which the specialist on violence are the most powerful societal group which appropriates a huge share of natural assets to itself; the army and those in command.
This has turned out to be a truth too long and I hope to complete it for my readers by the next week.