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by Khaled Ahmed
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Rationalist

Overcoming Pakistan’s national-security narratives.

[dropcap]P[/dropcap]akistan doesn’t know what to do with the Taliban who say they are ready for war as well as for talks. Normally when combatants talk, there is peace. But that is expressly not promised by the Taliban. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif helplessly mimicked them on Aug. 19, when addressing the nation. The Army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, says don’t talk to them, but Sharif and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s Imran Khan actually scored victories in the 2013 elections after pledging talks with the Taliban, asserting that it’s not “our war.”

Aamir Qureshi—AFP

Aamir Qureshi—AFP

Sharif is hamstrung. He thought he could normalize with India to relieve pressure on the national economy. Maybe he even thought he would buttress his unrealistic approach to the Taliban by reaching out to India, relieving stress on the eastern border to be better able to take on the Taliban more thoroughly instead of trying to fight internal and external enemies at the same time. He was wrong.

The Army will not accept normalization with India no matter what, as stated by numberless retired military intellectual-clones issuing ultimatums on TV channels, regurgitating the maunderings of ex-ISI boss Hamid Gul and ex-Army chief Gen. Aslam Beg, knowing that a more realistic General Kayani would be hestitant to break the mold of his Army’s “national security” brainwash.

Our national-security doctrine tells us when to feel secure and when to experience fear. This has been ingrained in the Pakistani population by the nation-state and its foundational narrative. All nation-states have a foundational narrative based on what may be called the “painful birth” syndrome. Each nation joins its people together by creating collective fear, and it begins with the story of the birth of the state amid bloody conflict.

Most states come into being like that. The question is who caused this painful birth? In the case of Pakistan, the answer is easy: India. This makes it easy to designate an enemy external to the country against whom it becomes essential to unite. Nationalism further consolidates this contrived “unity” through fear by manufacturing an identity hostile to the designated enemy. Since war unites, a defensive war is promised against this national “other.” But as a revisionist state challenging the status quo, Pakistan has a hard time convincing the world it fights defensive wars.

Some nations wisely abandon the national narrative to look for other cohesion narratives, as for instance the Americans, whose early nationalism was built around the birth of a nation made painful by Britain. Pakistan is still wallowing in its India-as-enemy national narrative expressed in its textbooks. An innovative prime minister must feel lonely facing up to an Army chief backed by the country’s indoctrination by textbook.

If it is any use, Babar Ayaz has written a book against the national narrative, What’s Wrong With Pakistan? (Hay House India, 2013), going against the tenets that there were two nations in India; that national poet Iqbal’s vision of a nonsecular state was valid; that Jinnah’s “centralizing” anti-provincialism was correct; that Pakistan’s wars with India were started by India; that Bangladesh was created by India and not by Pakistan’s neglect of East Pakistan; that apostatizing Ahmadis was needed and morally justified; that Shariah was mandated even if it curtailed women’s rights and the rights of non-Muslim minorities; that jihad was compulsory rather than worth avoiding; that use of jihadist militias was justified to attack enemy India in asymmetric war; that the West as led by America is an enemy of Islam; and that anybody seen as opposed to the ideology of Pakistan must be penalized.

Ayaz asserts: “On the one hand, [Pakistanis] talk of Jinnah’s secular Pakistan, and on the other they praise Iqbal’s idea where religion and the state should not be separated … They have failed either to deliberately or unwittingly understand that the modern nation-state is much different in essence from what Iqbal proclaimed.” Negating the national narrative, Ayaz states: “Historian Ayesha Jalal has concluded that Jinnah did not want a separate Pakistan when he campaigned for autonomous provinces within the framework of a Union. His was the secular view which had nothing to do with Pan-Islamism. According to her, Jinnah wanted a Pakistan and a Hindustan, which could jointly take stands in the hostile world. She is right to conclude that Pakistan happened because Jinnah had no control over other forces and thus Pakistan was the strategic collapse of Jinnah’s strategy.”

On why India’s Muslim elites favored Pakistan, Ayaz writes: “One of the major factors for supporting the Pakistan demand was that the feudal class of Bengal, Punjab, and Sindh could see the red herring of land reforms in the socialistic manifesto of the Congress [party].” The Muslim politician was not really inspired by Islam.

Today, Pakistan’s plight tends to prove what Prof. Hans J. Morgenthau of the University of Chicago said in 1956: “Pakistan is not a nation and hardly a state. It has no justification in history, ethnic origin, language, civilization or the consciousness of those who make up its population. They have no interest in common save for fear of Hindu domination … West Pakistan belongs essentially to the Middle East and has more in common with Iran or Iraq than with East Bengal. East Bengal, in turn, with a population which is one third Hindu, is hardly distinguishable from West Bengal which belongs to India.”

Pakistanis say Bangladesh was created forcibly by India. But take a look at the disparities allowed by Pakistan between the two wings: “The total government expenditure in 20 years, from 1950 to 1970, in Pakistan was $30.95 billion, out of which West Pakistan extracted the lion’s share of $21.49 billion, meaning over 69 percent, while East Pakistan, despite having 55 percent of the population, was doled out only $9.45 billion.”

Ayaz’s book answers the question often asked in Pakistan: If East Pakistan was wrongly created, why didn’t it relapse into India after 1971? The answer is because India didn’t try to annex it. One conjecture could be that perhaps Curzon’s partition of Bengal was right; and if Bengalis had evolved together in secular Bengal they could have achieved coexistence. Today the rise of Islamism, despite Bangladesh’s Supreme Court’s reversal of constitutional ideology is a more durable partition.

Pakistan mishandled East Pakistan by misunderstanding its language-based nationalism; it mishandled the next province Sindh also for the same reason. Refugees expecting to find Islamic cement instead faced the linguistic barrier and Karachi evolved an explosive chemistry of ethnic identities: “After the advent of immigrants from India, the population of Karachi swelled to over 1.13 million, which led to the Urdu-speaking population to become 50 percent in 1951 from a mere 6.3 percent in 1941. The major influx of immigrants, over 1 million, came to Karachi between 1947 and 1952; thereafter the flow slowed down,” writes Ayaz.

He adds: “According to a 1998 survey, the demographic break-up by language is as follows: Urdu 48.52 percent; Punjabi 13.64 percent; Pashto 11.96 percent; Sindhi 7.34 percent; Baloch 4.34 percent; Seraiki 2.11 percent, and the rest 12.09 percent.” (Fairness is reflected in the fact that Ayaz is himself a migrant from Bombay who came to settle in Sukkur in upper Sindh.) Pakistan failed to vault over this cauldron of identities; if there was any other gum binding the provinces it was washed away by the creation of One Unit Pakistan.

Wars bind a nation, but since Pakistan lost all of them, the state was held together with textbook fibs about the following bouts of jihad: Kashmir in 1948; Operation Gibraltar in 1965; the “conquest” of the Bengalis in 1971; the Afghan insurgency from 1978 to 1989; the Kashmir insurgency from 1990 onward; and Kargil in 1999. Defeat is normally more instructive than victory, but all of Pakistan’s defeats were reinterpreted as victories through the instrumentality of takeovers as surrogate internal victories.

Ayaz’s book delivers its concluding coup de grace: “Pakistan’s national-security policy is schizophrenic—one part of the strategy is to fight the militant Islamic groups who challenge the writ of the establishment, the other is to support the friendly jihadists who can be used against other countries when needed. Most TV anchors and columnists, instead of condemning terrorism, follow the official line and are apologists of terrorists in the name of anti-Americanism and an imaginary war and conspiracy against Islam.”

From our Sept. 6, 2013.

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7 comments

khalidmurad1 September 17, 2013 - 1:30 am

Ayaz may have his reasons to have drawn his conclusions, but the fact may be seen in another perspective:
1) The territorial configuration of Pakistan was by itself, disputed and confusion all together. Likewise the population of the area had also divided loyalties. The people owed centuries old loyalties to their Waderahs, Sradrars and Mashars and wouldn’t defy their instructions, may that be at the cost of their own personal benefit, just due to engraved fear of the lord. In West Pakistan the area above the River Indus was claimed by Afghanistan, area below River Indus, i.e. West Punjab, Rajhistan and Chulistan was claimed by the Indians and the area of Baluchistan, i.e. Kharan, Mekran, Kalat were being considered to be part of Iran. East Pakistan was supposed to be part of Indian Bengal. None of these areas were under effective control of any of the then governments either of Afghanistan, India or Iran and were controlled by the rebellious local feudal lords of the area. Neither the Mughal nor the British government had their writ in these areas, instead the controlled these area through their paid feudal lords. As soon as the British demarcated the area to form new state of Pakistan, there was simultaneous out cry of “Azad Pakhtoonistan”, “Sindhu Desh”, “Azad Baluchistan” and “Bangla Desh”. Since the people of Punjab were divided religion wise, thus no major voice were raised. Indians exploited these cries and organized the rebellious elements by financing, arming and guiding them to strike at sensitive points at sensitive time. Like “Mukti Bahinis” in East Pakistan, which couldn’t be controlled due to mishandling by the Politicians, combined by military shortcomings, i.e. disparity of fighting strength (as the Indian Army had completely encircled Pak Army with 7:1 ratio, while Mukti Bahinis hitting them from inside), poorly equipped units, raise and sent in hurry and the most crucial was the distance from base depots.
2) Even after independence the feudal lords maintained their century’s old grip over their areas now turned as constituencies under the cover of “Democracy” and ruled their areas by sale / purchase of votes and constituencies in so called elections. They did not let anyone enter in the so called politics from outside the feudal class. They eliminated all educated, patriotic and intellectual elite, which attempted to enter into politics like, Liaqat Ali Khan, Tahir-ul Qadri or Musharraf. The whole and sole political interest of these feudal lords has been to purchase power and scratch as much as they could use their power, even compromise amongst themselves and distribute the plunder. The people habitual of their behavior would just be quite and no one could hold them. Pakistani politicians tended to join the arch enemies, may that be RAW, Mossad or KBG, for their personal interest. Now these Sharif Brothers have invested 481 m $, in India, which they got as kick back from Motor Way. They get close to Indians only to get their sugar from India. These feudal lords cannot be called leaders, they are all instigators and their sole ground for exploiting the people has been on parochial basis. Thus they made the biggest hindrance in making a “Pakistani Nation”, as such. Due this parochial politics besides wastage of national resources the most important is brain drain, which has further reduce the chances of our unity and progress as a nation. The same boys are performing wonders in other countries.
3) They have completely destroyed the Beaurucratic Structure of the country, as beaurucrates hindered their plundering. The only unit, which could control them and put the country on some track, was Army, but Marshal Law can’t be a permanent solution. Just be honest and recapitulate, what all was done by Ayub Khan, was destroyed by Bhutta, in the name of “Democracy”. Which democracy in the world had nationalized private businesses, industries, banks and educational institutions of the people? Since then all these feudal lords have joined together against their common rival, i.e. Pak Army and they are ready to seek help from anyone, including India, USA, and Taliban etc, as was displayed by the “Memo Gate Scandal”.
Pakistan is very good country, with very friendly people may they be from any caste or creed, fertile lands and rich mineral resources. This we realize when we go out of Pakistan. The only thing lacking is sincere leadership, which can unite the whole lot of people and ensure optimum utilization of all available resources, including minerals, grains and brains, for the total benefit of Pakistan.

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sartaj hussain September 30, 2013 - 11:19 am

there is a confusion in the minds of the politicians and establishment or deliberately they are doing so, first people should know the Talibans are friends or foe,and talks and after failure operation what is this rubbish thought .

Reply
khalidmurad1 October 1, 2013 - 1:29 am

Our politicians are still working on the basis of “Pass the time and scratch maximum “. They have no interest in solving the national problems, may that be insurgency or power generation. They are confusing the whole issue and playing their old blame game. They are throwing away their responsibilities and pushing each others to do the dirty job, so as to beat drums on other’s failure. PTI, being the replacement of JI, is portraying TTP to be part of Afghan Taliban, i.e. subsidiary of Al-Qaida. They are coming out with funny reasons for their terrorist activities and giving even funnier solutions, like establishing offices for 38 different groups of TTP (so far traced). Meaning thereby the Pakistani PM and CM would go to Taliban’s offices to discuss security issues, instead of calling them to local Police Stations or maximum DC office and surrender their weapons. Army has been behaving very maturely till now, playing a second fiddle to these plundering politicians, who are more bothered for bringing their sugar consignment from India.
So called, TTP purely consists of left over Russians (mostly Uzbeks, Chechens and Tajiks) and the border smugglers on Pak – Afghan borders, such as Baitullah Mehsud and Hakimullah Mehsud, who were the bus conductors and smugglers. These element were organized, armed and financed by Indian RAW, on the line of old Mukti Bahinis” in East Pakistan and given cover name of Taliban, but they are not at all owned by the Afghan Taliban.
It would be worth mentioning that Indians made two major mistakes right after their independence, i.e. firstly they instantly inclined towards USSR, due to which, American supported Pakistan to their maximum, to make them effective anti communism force, secondly, Indians committed their “Himalayan Blunder”, waged border war with Chinese in Laddakh Sector, which aroused Chinese sympathies for Pakistan, as an antidote for Indians. These strategic mistakes by India resulted in stronger Nuclear Pakistan.
Politicians seemed to be absolutely nincompoops or least bothered or incapable of dealing with these Insurgency problems. Army will have to take up this task, but their involvement will spark large scale Indian retaliation on the Eastern Borders, as has been observed after small level operations by Rangers in Karachi. With Americans on Western Borders, terrorist groups inside and Indian’s threatening Eastern Borders, the battle scenario, would be quite tense.
The whole problem is being created by American’s insistence on making immature Indian, as the monitor of the region. Americans are not taking into account the Indian’s previous dealing with the USSR, due to which Russian’s 200 years old “Zeal for drive to Warm Waters”, nosedived into valley of death. American’s should not forget that their peaceful withdrawal could have turned into rout like Vietnam, had Pakistan not interfered and controlled Haqqani Group and had the Line of communication not been opened. The position would be further cleared after American withdrawal and final settlement of forces in Afghanistan. There is every likelihood that the Indian would start border clashes on Eastern Border of Pakistan, before the American withdrawals.

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kramasww October 20, 2013 - 6:48 am

It was Nawabzada L.A.khan who inspired M.A.Jinnah to join Muslim League,and feudalism is a state of mind ,party politicians just believe in dystopia.As taliban have become very powerful politicians and retired military generals have been trying to look somewhat sympathetic with Taliban only to avoid reprisal which shows their distrust upon security establishment for their mortal well being.Taliban just want to impose Arabic culture in Pak in the name of imposition of Sharia.None in Pak protests upon Emirate Sheikhs’s aishgahs they own there for bodily pleasure with young women.As for RAW that is not seen as a very competent agency.In a nutshell Bharat and Pakistan are victim of their history and similar culture ,they are immediate neighbourhood and fertile ground for outsiders and party politicians.Situation in both the countries are more or less the same so be happy.

Reply
sartaj hussain October 25, 2013 - 10:27 am

No serious thoughts and work on this issue because the authorities in Pakistan the government ,political parties, military,foreign office have no common thinking some say it is not our war ,a few of the view that it is our war ,and some believe to talk with Taliban and some say which group of Taliban ,a confusion and and attacks are continued in this situation and the demand of Taliban that Drone attacks should be stopped and the position of Taliban seems strong though Government enjoying the confidence of All parties conference with free hand on this issue to talk with Taliban and P M visited UN. and USA, its means delay showing reluctance to start talks wit Taliban and one voice is to allow Taliban to open their office in Pakistan is Taliban a country to allow embassy and first of all this should be decided that what is the status of Taliban as only military wing,political party or Terrorists what we think Taliban then we can go for talks and another view is Pakistani Taliban Afghani Taliban.

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khalidmurad1 October 25, 2013 - 11:56 pm

The biggest tragedy for Pakistan is the lack of political leadership, which consists of fraud degree, self-centered and plunderer feudal. They have converted their areas of influence as their constituencies and come in power by sale purchase of votes and constituencies. Specially in the rural areas no one dare refuse loyalties to their centuries old feudal lords.They don’t let any competent, patriotic brain come into politics, by waging large scale “Black” propaganda against them. The people like Asghar Khan, Tahir-ul-Qadri, Musharraf, Shaukat Aziz, who are respected internationally and highest paid for their potentials and brains are stamped as “American or Jews Agents”.
Due to centuries old Hindu influence, we have engraved nature of segregation and classification on parochial, linguistic, religious or class basis like, Brahman, Khatri and Shudhar etc. Somehow we couldn’t get out of strings of Punjabi, Pathan, Sindhi, Balochi and Mahajir. Even if we make efforts to be more liberal, then we get struck in Shia Sunni, Ahmedi. Then fauji or beaurucrate or a feudal Nawab or Mochi (boot maker family) and many more webs. Then we are still working on Quota System, having no criteria for brain, efficiency and working potentials, thus creating wedge amongst people right from their childhood.
The most drastic failure at all levels, i.e. the lowest literacy rate, due to utter government failure to organize and maitain effective educational system throughout the country including rural areas. The civil society didn’t make any contribution in educating the lower income segment of the society; rather they made private schools as profit earning business. The religious schools or Madrasas had a very limited and narrow visionary system of only religious education. Besides they started instigating children against the state and some of them played significant role in creating terrorist and suicide bombers, instead of producing scholars, thinkers or reformers of the country. This made the illiterate lot of people prone to black propaganda of waderah and sardars.
The above weaknesses had been exploited by the illiterate feudal politicians to their personal benefits, having no or little National or people interest. In fact the feudal are just against any general public welfare, may that be educational, health or communication development, as that causes loss of their command and control over their subjugates. Since independence these Waderas grabbed power, after killing L. A. Khan and plundered the country and the people, without caring for National or International standing of the country. The tragedy is that Pakistani doctors, administrators and scholars are performing wonders in the world, but our Legislative Assemblies have fraud degree members, the executives of cabinet have no knowledge or experience of the ministries they are heading. Funniest part is that we had a Matriculate President for 5 years and got no better replacement than a street vendor. Furthermore present PM is holding eight ministries, as he is either not finding suitable people or he lacks trust in his team or he may be planning to sell out these ministries as they sell the vacancies of government services. This has caused the biggest loss due to ‘Brain Drain’. Recently, instead of controlling detiorating law and order situation, these waderah politicians exploited the opprtunity and patronized the ransome or ‘Bhatta’ groups and made money. In the recent earth quack affected areas, instead of providing relief to their people, the relief workers and agencies were harrased by the local waderahs/ feudals, in the name of fighting a war of freedom from Pkaistan.
These feudal politicians had been fighting amongst them selves for power and there was no one to control them except Army. Army over threw so called political governments thrice and sorted out the filth created by these feudal politicians. Now these feudal have created new situation by joining together against their common enemy, i.e. Pakistan Army. Army is now reluctant to interfere in the political government as they fear joint instigation by these feudal causing a general public revolt against Army. Although Army after having controlled the law and order, restored democratic system by conducting fair elections and handing over the powers to winning politicians, considering that Army rule was not the solution to this National problem.
After having gone through this political rig marol, I consider that the solution lies in strong Presidential form of government, with competent Cabinets of technocrats, selected purely on merit and their passed record of performance and character assessment. Legislative assemblies should be limited to legislation only, without any financial power. Minimum qualification for participating in assembly’s elections should be Master Degree in Political Science and graduation in Law.

Reply
khalidmurad1 October 26, 2013 - 12:03 am

The biggest tragedy of Pakistan is the lack of political leadership, which consists of fraud degree, self-centered and plunderer feudal. They have converted their areas of influence as their constituencies and come in power by sale purchase of votes and constituencies. Specially in the rural areas no one dare refuse his loyalty to their centuries old feudal lords. They don’t let any competent, patriotic brain come into politics, by waging large scale “Black” propaganda against them. The people like Asghar Khan, Tahir-ul-Qadri, Musharraf, Shaukat Aziz, who are respected internationally and highest paid for their potentials and brains are stamped as “American or Jews Agents”.
Due to centuries old Hindu influence, we have engraved nature of segregation and classification on parochial, linguistic, religious or class basis like, Brahman, Khatri and Shudhar etc. Somehow we couldn’t get out of strings of Punjabi, Pathan, Sindhi, Balochi and Mahajir. Even if we make efforts to be more liberal, then we get struck in Shia Sunni, Ahmedi. Then fauji or beaurucrate or a feudal Nawab or Mochi (boot maker family) and many more webs. Then we are still working on Quota System, having no criteria for brain, efficiency and working potentials, thus creating wedge amongst people right from their childhood.
The most drastic failure at all levels, i.e. the lowest literacy rate, due to utter government failure to organize and maitain effective educational system throughout the country including rural areas. The civil society didn’t make any contribution in educating the lower income segment of the society; rather they made private schools as profit earning business. The religious schools or Madrasas had a very limited and narrow visionary system of only religious education. Besides they started instigating children against the state and some of them played significant role in creating terrorist and suicide bombers, instead of producing scholars, thinkers or reformers of the country. This made the illiterate lot of people prone to black propaganda of waderah and sardars.
The above weaknesses had been exploited by the illiterate feudal politicians to their personal benefits, having no or little National or people interest. In fact the feudal are just against any general public welfare, may that be educational, health or communication development, as that causes loss of their command and control over their subjugates. Since independence these Waderas grabbed power, after killing L. A. Khan and plundered the country and the people, without caring for National or International standing of the country. The tragedy is that Pakistani doctors, administrators and scholars are performing wonders in the world, but our Legislative Assemblies have fraud degree members, the executives of cabinet have no knowledge or experience of the ministries they are heading. Funniest part is that we had a Matriculate President for 5 years and got no better replacement than a street vendor. Furthermore present PM is holding eight ministries, as he is either not finding suitable people or he lacks trust in his team or he may be planning to sell out these ministries as they sell the vacancies of government services. This has caused the biggest loss due to ‘Brain Drain’. Recently, instead of controlling detiorating law and order situation, these waderah politicians exploited the opprtunity and patronized the ransome or ‘Bhatta’ groups and made money. In the recent earth quack affected areas, instead of providing relief to their people, the relief workers and agencies were harrased by the local waderahs/ feudals, in the name of fighting a war of freedom from Pkaistan.
These feudal politicians had been fighting amongst them selves for power and there was no one to control them except Army. Army over threw so called political governments thrice and sorted out the filth created by these feudal politicians. Now these feudal have created new situation by joining together against their common enemy, i.e. Pakistan Army. Army is now reluctant to interfere in the political government as they fear joint instigation by these feudal causing a general public revolt against Army. Although Army after having controlled the law and order, restored democratic system by conducting fair elections and handing over the powers to winning politicians, considering that Army rule was not the solution to this National problem.
After having gone through this political rig marol, I consider that the solution lies in strong Presidential form of government, with competent Cabinets of technocrats, selected purely on merit and their passed record of performance and character assessment. Legislative assemblies should be limited to legislation only, without any financial power. Minimum qualification for participating in assembly’s elections should be Master Degree in Political Science and graduation in Law.

Reply

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