T h e

K a s h m i r

T  e  l  e  g  r  a  p  h

Second Edition

A Kashmir Bachao Andolan Publication

June 2002


In The Groove    B Raman


Straight Face Romeet Watt

To The Point Bashir Manzar

And Them           S N Gilani

Fundamentals    Praveen Swami

InsideTrack       Romeet Watt

Firing Line          B Raman

PersonalJournal G N Fai

Special Report   

May Edition

A b o u t  U s

F e e d b a c k

D i s c l a i m er

C o p y r i g h t s


 S T R A I G H T  F A C E


Pakistan: The Stark Realities

Romeet Kaul Watt

The article was first published by The Frontier Post, Peshawar, Pakistan. It analyses the post January 12 scenario that was likely to emerge in Pakistan.

During the American Revolution, when the work of the courts was disrupted, a public-spirited citizen called Charles Lynch took charge of law and order as an unofficial Justice of Peace in Bedford County, Virginia. General Musharraf, the self-proclaimed Junta ruler of Pakistan, in his post January 12 speech has assumed the role of “Lynch Law” enforcer, set out to initiate remedial measures to bring to order the Pakistani society, a task of gigantic and Herculean proportions. For a State that has experienced 24 years of military rule in 52 years of nationhood, the process of transition from a radical Islamic State to a ‘progressive democratic republic’ will not be an easy one. 

The law and order in Pakistan has been in the state of anarchy and pandemonium, a problem that emerged and evolved out of the Theo-fascist tendencies of the Pakistani rulers, who have over the period of time experimented with various forms of governance, largely at the expense of its own people. Says Pratap Mehta, Professor at JNU, “Pakistan was, during much of the last two decades, in the impossible situation that it could neither endure its condition, nor the means of changing it. It tried everything to no avail; authoritarian rule, democracy, religious fundamentalism and military dictatorship.” 

Pakistan, unlike India doesn’t have equal dispensation of power amongst its ethnic population, a factor that has been responsible for the growing resentment among sections of society, who feels marginalized in the day to affairs of the country. Mani Shankar Aiyer in his book, Pakistan Papers, writes, “Pakistan after separation of East Pakistan, may be geographically cohesive than the Pakistan of the yore, but all the other fissiparous forces remain: language and culture divide the Punjabi from the Sindhi; the Baluch from the Pathan, and equally each of them from the other; the vexed question of a unitary or a federal or a confederal constitution runs like a rift valley through the polity of the country.” 

The ethnic and religious schism within Pakistan threatens the cohesiveness (single religion), which has been the basis of the formation of Pakistan. Says a former Indian diplomat, “the votaries of Islamic Pakistan are pitted against those who say a Pakistani may be a Muslim but a Muslim’s relations with God are no concern of the state; worse, those who wand an Islamic state bitterly fight each other about which school of Islam – the Wahabi or the Brehelvi or the Deobandi -------. The Nationhood of Pakistan remains as elusive a chimera as it ever was.” 

The social and political reach of the Theo-fascist forces in Pakistan has scaled new heights with the aid of state sponsorship. Professor K N Pandita, a known strategic analyst, believes that these forces have ideologically integrated with their counterfoils in the Islamic world and also with the strong Muslim Diaspora in the West. He says, “Pakistan is wearing alternatively the mask of Democracy, martial law administration or theocratic dispensation. She is a moderate Islamic democracy to the West, a staunch Sunni-Wahabi pro-monarchy theocracy to the Saudis, a progressive, liberal and scientific Muslim state to the Central Asians, the only sympathetic fraternity to the Indian Muslims, and the milk and honey flowing cherished haven for the Kashmiri Muslims.” Pakistan seeks to identify itself with West Asia and knowingly undermine the significance of the subcontinent as a strategic entity.  

Pakistan, over the years has clearly demonstrated its inability to set itself free from the quagmire of fundamentalist tendencies, a factor responsible for the rise of militant activities in Pakistan. Commenting on the sorry state of affairs in his country, a Pakistani columnist in his article, ‘A City Without Leadership’ in Nation says, “The ethnic and religious schisms have still not been successfully exploited by those interested in Pakistan’s destruction but they can be unless we bind ourselves together and create conditions where terrorism can never be nurtured let alone have places of sanctuary to operate from only sound, mature governance that must equally exploit both the carrot and the stick to create a conducive environment that will allow the citizens of this city to breathe the Pakistani air with freedom.”

A State like Pakistan is characterized by an overriding concern with domestic security threats and by insufficient political and societal consensus to enable them to eliminate the large-scale use of force. Nobel laureate V S Naipaul, in his book, Among the believers, throws light on the dominant role of the army in the domestic affairs of Pakistan. He observes, “In the new state only the armed forces flourished. They were seen first as defenders, and possible extenders, of the Islamic state. Then it became apparent that they were the state’s only organized group. They become masters, a country within a country. The armed forces were mainly of the Northwest, with the cultural prejudices of the Northwest; in time they found they forced the eastern wing of Pakistan into secession as Bangladesh.”

We must also recognize that Pakistan will accommodate itself to the wishes of its external benefactors because it is too small and unimportant to be truly non-aligned. Uncle Sam has played a significant role in transforming Pakistan into a Radical Islamic state, primarily to safeguard its interests in the region. Says Dr Parvez Hoodbhoy of the Quide-Azam University, “The lack of scruple and the pursuit of power by the United States combined fatally with this tide in Muslim world in 1979, when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. Radical Islam went into overdrive as its superpower ally and mentor funneled support to the mujahadeen.” 

The costs and the consequences of the American Imperialistic tendencies has been articulated by Chalmers Johnson, a known critic of the American foreign policy, in his critically acclaimed book, Blowback. He observes, “The bombing of Afghanistan will certainly produce unintended negative consequences throughout the Islamic and underdeveloped worlds. Moderate Muslim governments, especially in the Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Pakistan, will almost certainly face growing internal dissent and may be overthrown. America has played its role by funneling money through I S I, which has taken lead since 1982 in recruiting the radical Muslims to come to Pakistan, receive training, and fight on the Afghanistan side, in its fight against the erstwhile USSR.”  

Doubtless India and Pakistan are separate geographical entities. But, then, is it fair to undermine the legacy of their shared past and collective memories? On the contrary, many in Indian, according to a senior analyst, feel that the anti-Indianism is so much at the core of its identity that it is difficult to imagine that anti-India sentiments will not reassert itself in Pakistan after a while. 

Many in India believe that Pakistan would have to under a radical transformation as a result of the war against terrorism. The reform process initiated by General Parvez Musharraf, in the opinion of many analysts, will require support from the Indian establishment, something that is not forthcoming in the present scenario. The former chief of the Intelligence Bureau, M K Narayanan says, “Musharraf’s sleigh-of hand policies is seen as a manifest attempt by a Muslim leader to posit a real challenge to the radical political Islam, one that goes well beyond merely regulating mosques and madrssas and the one that deserves to be fully backed.” The Indian establishment has also to come in terms with the ground realities; a senior strategic analyst says, “a weak and self-doubting Pakistan is trouble for us and it is dangerous to harbour the illusion that many in India share, that Pakistan can somehow be broken up.” 

General Musharraf spent seven years of his childhood in Turkey – one of the world’s most secularized Muslim countries and is known to have learned to speak Turkish. So, it is not much of a surprise that the General seeks to take leaf out of Kemal Ataturk’s book, in separating the mosque and state. He has the additional advantage of having the backing of Uncle Sam and the rest of the international community. Musharraf has the distinction of being the first leader of Pakistan who has followed the footsteps of the founder of Pakistan. 

However, his critiques see him as the architect of Kargil, and the man who rubbished the Lahore Declaration. Many in India believe that the General has been clever enough to create fresh space for himself to manoeure; an Indian rope-trick on India. However the General has received accolades, especially from the International community, for his decision to withdraw state sponsorship of militant Islamists. However, many feel that there is an urgent need of a stable political framework, something that is unlikely to emerge if, through administrative manoeures, the key segments of Pakistani society continue to be excluded from the power structure. 

Husain Haqqani, who has served both Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, believes that the process of reforms in Pakistan is incomplete without a process, which will ensure free judiciary, non-political civil service or a non-interfering military. 

In his paper titled, Pakistan’s Madrassas: Ensuring a System of Education not Jehad, P W Singer, foreign policy studies fellow at Brookings Institute, says that any direct operation against the schools themselves could undermine the military’s unity and hence, its role as a bulwark of the secular Pakistani state. He further observes: “even if Pakistani government was willing to make such an aggressive step at this time of tension, any such direct move against the schools could potentially backfire and hasten the collapse of the Pakistani state.” Many will argue that the paper has gone into a pessimistic over-drive but one thing is certain that Pakistan has to be “purged of fundamentalism just as Gemany was denazified and Japan was demilitarized.”

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