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Sunday, December 07, 2008

Why Pakistan Behaves the Way it Does

Two articles give a somewhat different perspective on why Pakistan does not behave like a normal country - that is, taking care of its own people and having a defensive posture rather than playing too smart for its own good without a care for its people. Both go back to the Two Nation Theory that was used by Islamists and Muslims elites to create the Land of Pure in the first place.

K. Subrahmanyam writes for the Reuters in terms of LoP's obsession with military parity with Bharat.

A section of Pakistani establishment had always claimed parity with India going back to the British colonial days when the British in pursuance of the Divide and Rule policy equated the two parties -- the Congress and the Muslim League.

Sections of Pakistani establishment therefore desired parity militarily, in nuclear arsenal and missiles. For such elements in Pakistan the Indian unity was artificial and they did not expect India with its enormous diversities to survive as a united nation. They have talked about bleeding India through a thousand cuts....

Long before Professor Samuel Huntington formulated his 'clash of civilisations' thesis Mohammed Ali Jinnah and his followers had formulated the two-nation theory and argued that Hindus and Muslims could not coexist in a nation and therefore the Muslims must have a separate nation of their own.

Elaborating this to the US media in 2002, the Delhi-born General Pervez Musharraf pointed out that while the Hindus venerated the cows the Muslims ate them. While Hindus worshipped thousands of gods the Muslims worshipped only one God. Therefore he argued they belonged to different civilisations.

It is the same argument which make Pakistanis believe that Kashmir should have gone to them though it was Jinnah, the constitutional lawyer who insisted that with lapse of British paramountcy each princely ruler was entitled to accede to the dominion of his choice or become sovereign.

This clarification is necessary to explain that there are significant elements in Pakistan which subscribe to the 'clash of civilisations' thesis and for them it is natural to accept that the westerners (the crusaders), the Zionists (Israelis) and the Hindus are the enemies.

M.J. Akbar writes in the Times of India about the origins of Two Nation theory and links it to the then impending post-independence Nehru socialism. Sri Akbar is true in that jagirdari is still the bane of ordinary Pakistanis. (Apparently positions in Agriculture Department are the most sort after for officers from Pakistani Army because they can get their hands on land.) One of few things that Indira did during her long tenure as prime minister that I approve of was the dismantling of the jagirdari system in Bharat although her motivation was not altruistic. Sri Akbar also talks about J&K troubles and relates it back to current Mumbai Islamic massacers.

Neither history nor theology could have sustained such a slogan, but Muslim elites in British India, particularly landlords and capitalists, manipulated the incipient ideology of the Muslim League, and fuelled it with incendiary sentiment in order to create a state where they could protect their vested interests. They were not really afraid of "Hindu Raj"; they were terrified of land reform and socialism - however pale a version it might be - that the Congress would enforce. It is no accident that till today there has been no serious land reform in Pakistan. Gandhi's honest faith in Hinduism was maliciously exploited to spread the perfidy that India would never offer an equal place to Muslims.

The idea of Islam being in danger was particularly attractive to a section of the ulema - but not to all of them; the Jamaat-e-Ulema- e-Hind (now led by Maulana Mahmood Madni), unlike the Jamaat-e-Islami, was very clear-headed about the potential pitfalls and opposed the creation of Pakistan. The pro-partition ulema, however, discovered a unique opportunity for power. If Islam was going be the raison d'etre of the new nation, then who else could be its true guardians? The elites took control of the economy and politics; the upper middle classes dominated the administration; and the two shared authority in the armed forces. The clergy gradually took control of educational and legal space.....

Kashmir became the implicit sanction for the emergence, under Zia's beneficial watch, of terrorist groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba, or the Army of the Pure. Zia's successors, starting with Benazir Bhutto, did little to contain these terrorists. When India protested, Pakistani diplomats were polite across the table, and probably had a good laugh behind Delhi's back. Since Zia's time Pakistan has been asking for "evidence" or proof, and encouraging skepticism or conspiracy theories (dutifully lapped up by sections of the Indian media). Well, this time there is a canary singing in custody, and a satellite phone abandoned by terrorists with five logged calls to members of the Lashkar. Just in case you did not know, it is the declared intention of the Pure Army to fly the Pakistani flag on top of the Red Fort. Its plans are not secret. They are on its website. Its leader, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, certainly gets a wink if not a nod from the Pak establishment.