Playing Nostradamus with Pakistan

22 Jul, 1999    ·   232

K.N. Daruwala says Pakistan has brainwashed its younger generations into believing that India wants to gobble up Pakistan

A country's future cannot descend like manna from heaven. It is determined by the past, or what, philosophically, could pass off for the collective karma. Hence, to make any forecast one would need to briefly touch upon the present state of Pakistan's (a) polity; (b) national obsessions; (c) military; (d) fundamentalist fringe; and (e) the opposition.



Some positive factors emerged after Ziaul-Haq's regime – namely a free press, human rights groups headed by people like Asma Jahangir, and a reversion to the rule of law. But the cleavage between the inner reality and its façade is significant in Pakistan . It would appear that the state and polity are secure, with a parliamentary democracy functioning. The President has lost the right to dismiss the Prime Minister and dissolve Parliament. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The polity is rickety after three dismissals of PMs in the nineties. Each time the PM went to court she or he got a different decision on the legality of the decision, depending on whether the PM was a Sindhi or a Punjabi. Each time a government is sacked a provisional government takes over in violation of the constitution. The people accept it. So does the ousted PM. One should not expect stability where law and the constitution enjoy such limited sanctity.



In keeping with its feudal traditions, there is no democracy in party functioning. Bhuttos and Sharifs dominate their parties much like the Gandhi's. The Islamicist parties may be despised by the voter (they have never managed more than six seats in a house of over two hundred), but they have an influence totally disproportionate to their mandate.



The military still rules the roost as its reckless adventurism during the Kargil episode proves. Surely, the Foreign Office would have opposed it had they got scent of it. The state is all powerful and the growth of other institutions and NGO's has not been adequate to check its excesses.



While the family domination of parties may end (both the Bhuttos and the Sharif brothers are wholly discredited) no sudden change is expected in other trends over the next two decades. The state will remain all powerful, buttressed by a powerful army and the ISI. Punjab will continue to dominate. The Islamicist fringe, with its ideological, as opposed to electoral, hold over the masses will remain a power and influence Pakistan 's intellectual and educational future for the worse. The poor will drift further towards medievalist, while the rich will move towards modernism and the internet. This class cleavage could become self-destructive.



The darkest shadow that the present casts on the future is Pakistan 's involvement with the Afghan jihad, the nexus between terrorism and fundamentalism, terrorism and drugs. With thousands of madrasas springing up in Baluchistan and NWFP, and the growth of organizations like the Markaz-ul-Dawa-Irshad, Tehrik-I-Jhangvi (fanatically Sunni,) Tehrik-I-Jaffaria and Sipah-I-Mohamadi (Shia) Pakistan has successfully traversed halfway to the days of the Tughlaks and the Khiljis. The opportunity given to the maulvi to brainwash the young into hating the unbeliever and the Communist, and the Kalashnikov culture it has spawned will trouble Pakistan for another twenty years and cloud its relations with India .



On the Indo-Pakistan front the auguries are not happy, especially after Kargil. Three decades after its defeat in 1971, Pakistan again thought it can take on India militarily. Its borrowed or stolen technological know-how has given it  dangerous confidence. One has only to read the Pak press to see how immature their thinking is. Their nuclear bomb is like a pistol in the hands of a juvenile delinquent. Their relations with rogue states like North Korea is another source of worry.



Relations with India are governed by the past. For fifty years the Pakistani politician has talked of India as their enemy number one. It has brainwashed its younger generations into believing that India wants to gobble up Pakistan; that the Hindu is cowardly and treacherous; blamed the liberation of Bangladesh on India, ignoring the atrocities Yahya and his army perpetrated on the East Bengali. Privately Pakistan leaders tell us they envy India and its democracy and would like better relations. They add however, that were they to say this from public platforms their political careers would be over; their own rhetoric has brought them to this pass.



The USA and China can help matters if they throw cold water on Pakistan 's juvenile enthusiasms like the chicanery in Kargil. Pakistan might them conform to international expectations.



Lastly, much as some right wing Indians wish, Pakistan is not going to break up. But that is another and longer story.