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the turmoil in pakistan

the turmoil in pakistan


the idea of pakistan is usually associated with allama mohammad iqbal. born in sialkot in a converted hindu family, the ancestors were sapru kashmiri brahmains, he was a scholar in arabic and persian. he started his career as a reader in arabic but was also asked to teach philosophy. he was a prolific writer and the famous poem tarana-e-hindi (sare jahan se achchha hindustan hamara) and parinde ki faryaad (aata hai yaad mujh ko guzra hua zamana). he did his higher study in england and germany. returning to india, he again joined his college but concentrated on writing. his persian writings were much appreciated in iran. he joined muslim league in 1908 but was not pleased with pro english policies of leaders. in 1930, he floated the idea of muslim majority provinces becoming a separate state to be called pakistan. he actively supported jinnah in his demand.

the idea of pakistan found a wide support amongst the muslims in uttar pradesh. in punjab, it had limited appeal. but it found a positive response in bengal. actually, muslim league was founded in dhaka in 1906 as a political party. it was probably the result of strong support for united bengal by the hindus. seeing the opportunity, the british sowed the seed of discord by pronouncing separate electorates with muslim seats for muslims in 1908.

after the khilafat movement in 1921-22, the separatist feelings in the mulims grew fast. it also resulted in communal riots all over india. the moplah rebellion was mostly against the hindus in which over 10,000 hindus were killed. but there were riots in bengal, uttar pradesh (lucknow, moradabad, allahabad, kanpur, north west india (pashawar, kohat), punjab (lahore, multan). there were 22 significant riots in 1928-29 and 12 in 1929-30 (including mumbai), the great killing in kolkata and noakhali in 1946 are too recent to be mentioned.

in the provincial elections held in eleven provinces in 1936-37, only 25 % of muslim seats were won by muslim league. it failed to form government in any state. its success was more pronounced in bengal where it won 43 0f the 119 muslim seats. in bombay, it won 18 out of 30 seats. in uttar pradesh, it won 29 seats of the 66 seats for muslims. it is to be noted that it drew a blank in north west province and sindh and won only two seats out of 86 muslim seats in punjab. in punjab unionist party won 95 seats out of 175 on offer. in nwfp, khudai kidmatgars party won 24 seats out of 50. the muslims in present day pakistan did not favour the idea of pakistan.

the support of muslim league was limited to uttar pradesh, bombay and bengal. of these, the former two are in india while the third is bangladesh. legitimately muslim league had no takers in present day pakistan.

but how did pakistan then come into existence? it was the british decision in which congress was totally involved.  the lure of power in their lifetime prompted congress leaders to go with the idea of partition. with guile, the unionist party in punjab was broken up and muslim league bolstered. in bengal, congress, though the largest party, did not form government and let muslim league form a government with support from a small party, which had originally proposed alliance with congress. thus, the partition took place on the notion of muslim majority in the various provinces and not based on muslim league popularity.

the same situation continued after the partition and formation of pakistan. the leaders influenced by the doctrine of muslims residing in uttar pradesh adopted urdu as the official language whereas the bengali speakers were in majority (and urdu speakers a minute minority). the army was dominated by the punjabies and benglees had only a notional participation in it. the domination of army was an established fact which had marked pakistan polity all through these seventy-five years. jinnah, the founder president, jinnah, died within months. liaqat ali, the first prime minister, born in karnal (haryana) was assassinated in 1951. he was succeeded by others but almost none of them completed their tenure. actually, one prime minister (nurul amin) lasted for 13 days only. another (shujat hussain) 54 days and third (ibrahim ismail) only 55 days.

cut to the newest elected national assembly. none of the parties could get a majority in the elections, the banned party emerged as the largest party through supported independents. three other major parties – muslim league- nawaz sharif, pakistan people party, muhatidda quami movement – have their area of influence. the first is the major party in punjab, the second and third in sindh province. the nwfp (or khybr pakhtunkhwa) is almost devoid of all three of them.

one needs to explain mqm – muhatidda quami movement. many of residents of bombay and uttar pradesh emigrated to pakistan after the partition. sindh being nearest to bombay was natural choice for them and it was attractive for those from uttar pradesh. these immigrants were called muhajir (equivalent word in urdu for refugee). most of them had urdu as their first language. they were not welcomed by the local residents of sindh and, all through these seventy-five years, they have remained unabsorbed in the local population. the religion is no guarantee of brotherhood. their language, their customs, their ideas of life differ. naturally the muhajirs formed a party of their own. some of its leaders are living in exile due to repression in pakistan. in the recent elections to national assembly mqm has won 17 seats and their participation is necessary for government formation. with hung assembly.  

not only the muhajirs, the local population of sindh is also not happy with domination of punjabies in government and the army. so also, with baluchistan. it also does not like punjabi domination, being essentially having tribal culture. a major part of baluchistan was never a part of british india having their own state kalaat. in khyber pakhtunkhwa, the tribal culture again predominates and the association with punjabies is difficult. they have their brother tribes across the border in afganistan.

the pakistan occupied kashmir – pok for short – has again a differnt cultural history than punjab and there is no assimilation there also.

thus pakistan, an artificial state created out of hatred of hindus in not free, and has never been free, association of people. it exists because of the army control who call the shots for all political changes. the army favored imran khan and brought him to power. when he proved difficult to manipulate, they removed him and have switched their preference to nawaz sharif (who was once deposed by the army under parvez musharraf.)  they could not manage majority for him and hence the future is uncertain for pakistan. it appears that military rule is the only workable preposition and the country is not suitable for real democracy. moment if reverts to real democracy, it may cease to be a separate entity. a country which is based on hatred is unviable. the hatred against hindus created it; the hatred against bengalees led to formation of bangla desh. the hatred against ahmedias, forming only 2,2 percent of population, is a persecuted community and faced serious riots in 1953, 1974 and 1984. they have been declared as non-muslims and had to shift their headquarters to london (the original headquarter was in qadian, now in india, and rabwah, after the partition). the shia community, consisting of 15 to 20 percent of population, also faces repression from the sunni majority and extremists.

pakistan is often called a failed state. its economic situation is quite often alarming. the debt trap may prove to be the serious problem. but the main problem is that a failed state, especially when sustained by decades of hatred, is a threat to its neighbours. india has to be very vigilant about it.


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