Pakistan issue is deep rooted in historical mishaps - Part 1

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The roots of Pakistan's problems can be traced to undivided India's Freedom Movement. The "divide and rule" policy of British Raj, Mohammad Ali Jinha's differences with Congress and his own political ambitions, the infamous partition, Kashmir Conflict, Bangladesh liberation war (1971 Indo-Pak War), the cold war and subsequent balance of power in the world have all contributed to current mess in Pakistan.

1. When Lord Curzon adopted the policy of "divide and rule", little did he know that his narrow imperialistic approach would one day affect the world peace. The unity and integrity between Hindus and Muslims was impeccable before British came to India. During 1857 Revolt, Bahadur Shah Zafar was proclaimed the Emperor of Hindustan, mutineers considered him as a symbol of "united India" against the foreign (British) rule. Swami Shradhananda was allowed to preach from the pulpit of Jama Masjid. There were many glorious instances of Hindu-Muslim fraternization. But British did exactly what they needed in order to break the unity, i.e. to divide Indians and rule over them. Lord Curzon decided to divide Bengal province citing administrative reasons and pronounced that easter Bengal will be Muslim majority area and Wenstern Bengal will be Hindu Majority area.

Mistake 1: Muslim League okayed Bengal Partition and allowed different policies for Hindus and Muslims.

2. In 1933, a group of Punjabi Muslim students led by Choudhary Rahamat Ali floated the idea of Pakistan. Ali demanded a separate national status for Muslims for which he coined the name 'PAKISTAN' - 'P' for Punjab, 'A' for Afghan province (North-West Frontier Province), 'K' for Kashmir, 'S' for Sindh and 'TAN' for Baluchistan. No one took this demand for separate state seriously until 1937 when Muslim League formally accepted the idea. Muslim League and Congress failed to realize the true motives of British policies and engaged themselves in repeated confrontation. Subsequently, Muslim League opposed Congress and forced the then Leaders of Congress to accept the demand for separate nation.

Mistake 2: Congress and even Britishers tried to convince Muslim League to give up the idea of Pakistan (Ex: in August Offer 1940, Cripps Mission 1942, Cabinet mission plan 1946) but Mohammad Ali Jinha would not be satisfied with anything less than the partition of the country.

Had Mohammad Ali Jinha and his followers avoided their parochial attitude and inclination towards partition on religious grounds, all the problems in the region could have been obviated by United India.

3. In the aftermath of Partition, the princely states of India, which had been left by the Indian Independence Act 1947 to choose whether to accede to India or Pakistan or to remain outside them. While most of the princely states decided to join either India or Pakistan, Maharaja Hari Singh of Jammu and Kashmir decided not to join any of the newly formed countries. The history will remember Maharaja Hari Singh for his indecisiveness. If he had made a timely decision to join either India or Pakistan, the question of Kashmir Conflict would have never arose. When Azad Kashmir forces and tribal Pathans attacked Kashmir, Pakistan gave every possible support to them. Maharaja Hari Singh desperately needed Indian support to avoid the invasion. Indian Government demanded Maharaja Hari Singh to join Indian union if his state needs Indian military support. Subsequently, he signed the Instrument of Accession. India dispatched it's military to Kashmir and routed Pakistan supported forces. United Nations intervened and asked both India and Pakistan to hold the plebiscite to decide whether Kashmir should join India or Pakistan.

Mistake 3: At that time, the Indian and Pakistani governments agreed to hold the plebiscite but Pakistan did not withdraw its troops from Kashmir thus violating the condition for holding the plebiscite. Later, under UN's revised conditions for plebiscite, Pakistan accepted to hold plebiscite but India refused. Plebiscite was never held and Pakistan continued to support militants in the region. Thus paving the way for building safe haven for terrorism.

4. Before 1971, Bangladesh was a part of Pakistan and was called East Pakistan. In 1970 Pakistan Elections, "East Pakistani Awami League won 167 of 169 seats in East Pakistan and secured a simple majority in the 313-seat lower house of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament of Pakistan). Awami League leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman presented the Six Points to the President of Pakistan and claimed the right to form the government. After the leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, refused to yield the premiership of Pakistan to Mujibur, President Yahya Khan called out the military, which was made up largely of West Pakistanis.

Mass arrests of dissidents began, and attempts were made to disarm East Pakistani soldiers and police. After several days of strikes and non-cooperation movements, the Pakistani military cracked down on Dhaka on the night of March 25, 1971. The Awami League was banished, and many members fled into exile in India. Mujib was arrested and taken to West Pakistan. On 27 March 1971, Ziaur Rahman, a rebellious major in the Pakistani army, declared the independence of Bangladesh on behalf of Mujibur [wiki]."

Mistake 4: Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Yahya Khan did not respect the electoral verdict. If they have allowed Awami League to form the government, Pakistan would have harbingered democratic rule for generations to come. Instead, both the leaders allowed their narrow political interests to rule over law of the land. Subsequently, India supported Bangladesh Liberation forces for it's own strategic reasons. Bangladesh liberation was irrecoverable damage to Pakistan and further fueled Indo-Pak hostilities.

5. The Cold War saw periods of heightened tensions and the Soviet war in Afghanistan (1979–1989) was one of them. Soviet Union forces were supporting the Marxist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) government against the Mujahideen resistance. Mujahideens in Afghanistan were actively supported by United States and Pakistan extended all possible support to help Mujahideens win over Soviet forces. Operation Cyclone was the code name for the United States Central Intelligence Agency program to arm the Afghan mujahideen during the Soviet war in Afghanistan. Operation Cyclone is one of the longest and most expensive covert CIA operations ever undertaken.

Mistake 5: United states engaged general Zia-ul-Huq to fight a US-aided war by proxy in Afghanistan against the Soviets.  Zia now found himself in a position to demand billions of dollars in aid for the Mujahideen from the Western states. Ronald Reagan's government met all his expectations. Pakistan continued to fight proxy war which in no way benefited it's people. "The war left deep scars to the Pakistani society with the menace of Kalashnikov (AK-47 assault rifle) culture spreading all over the country. Many Afghan Mujahideen later converted to new forms of Jihadist outfits in the shape of Taliban and Al-Qaeda in the early 1990s. The Pakistan and US trained Arab and Afghan fighters later in 2001 initiated a 'Jihad' against US. The links of the spectacular and deadly events of September 11 attack were deeply rooted in the Soviet-Afghan war. Osama bin Laden invested his inherited money into the Soviet-Afghan war to fight the 'infidel communist power' and was abetted by CIA, ISI, US and Pakistani military establishments for over 10 years.[wiki]"

To this day, Pakistan is confronted by the legacy of Zia's policies.

6. The Pakistani military has played an influential role in mainstream politics throughout Pakistan's history, with military presidents ruling from 1958–71, 1977–88 and from 1999–2008. The first Constitution of Pakistan was adopted in 1956, but was suspended in 1958 by General Ayub Khan. The Constitution of 1973—suspended in 1977, by Zia-ul-Haq, but re-instated in 1991. In 1999, general Parvez Musharraf seized the power from Nawaz Sharif led civilian government and suspended the constitution twice and re-instated.

Mistake 6: Pakistan has proved over the time that, It's harder for them to run a constitution than to frame one! Repeated military coups in Pakistan have given a death blow to the spirit of democracy. Subsequently, Pakistan began a marked shift from the British-era secular politics and policies, to the adoption of Shariat and other laws based on Islam. This facilitated religious fanatics to hate democratic ideals. Pakistan-Taliban peace pact in February 2009 is an example for Pakistan's failed democracy.

Above examples of Pakistan and it's leaders' misadventures are just a tip of the iceberg. Successive army dictators, from Ayub Khan to Pervaz Musharraf, "have attempted to rewrite this 'unfortunate country’s' history for their own narrow motives [Kamran Shafi]."

To be Continued...

[Update: Click here to read Part -2]

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This work by Manjunath Singe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License. The views and opinions expressed in this work are strictly those of the author and do not represent his employer's views in anyway.