Tuesday, September 2, 2014


L. Premashekhara

Pakistan has been moving back and forth on democratic path and it has been the fate of its people to roll the democratic boulder uphill and helplessly watch it rolling back just like the mythical Sisyphus and, to repeat this at least thrice so far in their six decade long history as independent nation.  The reasons for this Sisyphean futility are rooted in the way Pakistan was created and subsequently managed.  The Homeland for Indian Muslims was not for the masses, their voices were not to be heard, their aspirations were not to be recognized and respected, and to sum it all, there was no place for democracy in Pakistan.  This explains Pakistan’s Sisyphean futility as far as democracy is concerned.

Perhaps no other Asian event has attracted more curiosity and concern, comments and laments, debates and discussions, researches and analyses than the partition of India in 1947.  The volume of arguments justifying the need of Indian Muslims to have their own homeland is indeed overwhelming and intimidating.  They all talk of brute Hindu majority out to gobble up the minorities once the colonial masters left the country.  All these arguments, however, are mere facades to the two hidden reasons behind the emergence of Pakistan on 14-15 August 1947.  They are- first, British design to have a politically friendly, strategically reliable and militarily weak[1] independent political set up in the northwest of India to check Russian/Soviet advance towards the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean beyond; second, desires of a few selfish aristocratic Indian Muslims gathered under the bandwagon of Muslim League to have a sovereign political set up for themselves in predominantly Muslim areas in the northwest and northeast of the subcontinent for securing political power and perpetuate their socio-economic status which they thought, would not be guaranteed in Congress-ruled, `Hindu-dominated’ independent India.  Thus, Pakistan was conceived and created to safeguard the interests of, on one hand, a colonial power which calculated that its strategic interests in the altered international political scenario could be best served by Asianizing the future Asian wars and sponsoring them as and when required and, on the other, a small set of elite who dreamt of carving out a political space for themselves in order to perpetuate their socio-economic status with political power, the new country was to exist and serve these two purposes only.  This boils down to one bitter truth: Pakistan was not meant for the people of the land.  Since the Homeland for Indian Muslims was not for the masses, their voices were not to be heard, their aspirations were not to be recognized and respected, and to sum it all, there was no place for democracy in Pakistan.  This explains Pakistan’s Sisyphean futility as far as democracy is concerned.
It is not the objective of this paper to present the evolution of politics in Pakistan in a chronological order emphasising on individuals and events.  Rather, the questions of why Pakistani politics is the way it is; what are the historical roots of authoritarianism, Islamization and, heavy dependence on external patron or patrons, that have become the ostensible faces of Pakistan are addressed here.  Accordingly, this paper has been divided into three sections.  The elements that were responsible for the creation of Pakistan and their intentions in the division of India in 1947 are looked into in the first section.  The sources of Pakistani politics especially the legacy left behind by its founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah are analysed in the subsequent section.  The third section is the logical continuation of the first two and an attempt is made there to link the historical experience of Pakistan to the `undemocratic’ nature prevalent in its politics.
It is not the aim of this paper to probe the creation of Pakistan, a vast, complex and inconclusive subject.[2]  It is rather an impossible and needless task too.  However, a `peep’ into this subject in a rather unorthodox way and highlighting the aspects of the same that are necessary to prepare the reader to follow the arguments put forth in the subsequent pages is very much required.
Internal Elements behind Pakistan’s Creation
In the words of Mushirul Hasan:
India’s independence in August 1947 was the culmination of a prolonged and sustained movement.  The birth of neighbouring Pakistan, on the other hand, would seem to be an aberration, a historical accident caused by a configuration of forces at a particular historical juncture.  Even at the most euphoric stage, the campaign for a `Muslim’ nation was hardly embedded in the `historical logic’ of the two nation theory.
(Hasan 2001: 1)

In other words, Pakistan, unlike India, earned its freedom not through mass based freedom movement based on the concept of nationalism and common historical identity, values like liberty and representative democracy and, not even through rejection of alien rule.  Instead, the leaders of Muslim League relied upon the British colonial masters for a share in the political power which they were unsure of gaining on their own and for which they willingly cooperated with the latter.  They pledged loyalty to the Crown and in return demanded job quotas and separate electorate for Muslims in what was described as policy of positive discrimination.  The very fact that the Muslim League was founded in 1906 after a meeting between the then viceroy, Lord Minto and the Simla Deputation organized by the Muslim elites of northern India who felt that their interests were under threat from British educational policies, bureaucratic reforms and powerful `Hindu revivalist campaigns’[3] (Ibid; 4); and colonial policies thereafter were tilted towards the Muslims through legislations like the Minto-Marley Reforms reveal beyond any doubt the collaboration between the Muslim elite and the British colonial rulers.
The League’s base was very narrow with only the Muslim elite as its members and decision makers.  The common Muslim masses were conveniently kept out of it.[4]  The consequence of this faulty approach was a rude shock to the League when, in the elections of 1937, it failed to secure popular mandate even in Muslim majority provinces like the Punjab and the North West Frontier Province (NWFP).  Things changed, albeit slowly, and with the pro-separatist activities of the League and its leaders especially Mohammad Iqbal and Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the attractive picture of the Muslim homeland the former painted, and the support the latter received from the British rulers in the 1930s, the dream of a separate state for Muslims appeared realizable.  This `dream’ tempted more and more Muslims into the fold of the League and its support base gradually widened.  Still, a vast majority of Muslims, both elite and otherwise, consciously stayed away from it.  There were two viewpoints among the Muslims of India during the 1930s and 1940s regarding their future.  First, Indian “Muslims must have a territory of their own, a homeland, where they could make the obligatory experiment of living according to the shari`ah”, and second, “Muslims must live and work with non-Muslims for the realization of common ideals of citizenship and culture” (Mujeeb 2001: 403).[5]   They, however, could not choose between these two diametrically opposite viewpoints decisively and, that failure was, in the final count, responsible for the mighty Indian Muslim community splitting into two nationalities on 14-15 August 1947 and into three on 16 December 1971.
To a dispassionate observer Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of a Pakistan was a man with both religious and secular credentials which made many wonder whether these credentials were dubious[6] and, if they really were, did they cover his hidden agenda of serving, along with his own, British interests.  His calculated arguments, passionate appeals and colourful oratory as the occasion demanded compounded the persistent suspicion about his real intentions and that is the reason why his role in Indian’s freedom struggle is still a hotly debated subject.[7]
Jinnah started his political career in the 1910s with secular mindset and was rightly identified as an “Ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity.  When in 1925, to a question, the Raja of Mahmudabad answered that he was a Muslim first and then an Indian, Jinnah corrected him: “My boy, no, you are an Indian first and then a Muslim” (Mahmudabad 2010: 420-21). He once again exhibited the same secular mindset when he successfully created Pakistan almost single-handedly and delivered his first presidential address to the Constituent Assembly of the new nation on 11 August 1947.  He declared:
If you change your past and work together with a spirit that everyone of you, no matter what is his colour, caste or creed, is first, second, and last a citizen of this State with equal rights, privileges and obligations, there will be no end to the progress you will make… We should begin to work in that spirit and in course of time all these angularities of the majority and minority communities, the Hindu community and the Muslim community, because even as regards Muslims you have Pathans, Punjabis, Shias, Sunnis, and so on, and among the Hindus you have Brahmins, Vaishnavas, Khatris, also Bengalees, Madrasis, and so on, will vanish… You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this State of Pakistan.  You may belong to any religion or caste or creed—that has nothing to do with the business of the State.
(Khan 1987: 159; Ali 2008: 43-44)
What happened during the intervening period is a subject of endless inquiry and debate.  The fact, however, remains that he perennially, till the last year of his life, switched between the two diametrically opposite standpoints of secular outlook and commitment towards United India on the one hand, raise the bogey of Hindu communalism and imperialism and, demand the creation of a homeland for Indian Muslims on the other, with remarkable ease and eloquence.
External Elements behind Pakistan’s Creation
On the other hand, the British imperialists didn’t have the dilemma Jinnah faced with regard to India’s future.  They had made a calculated determination to create a dependent state in the northwest of India during the turn of the twentieth century following Russian moves across the Pamirs.  The British had clearly realized the extent of danger from the northwest and took adequate measures to minimize the same.  They did something no Indian ruler had done earlier.  They demarcated the Indo-Afghan boundary and formalized the same with a written treaty in 1893.  Though the British failed to extend India’s north-western frontier up to the Hindukush Line, the line that ran along Kabul, Ghazni, and Kandahar, the scientific boundary line for the defence of northern India, they succeeded in delineating the India-Afghanistan border (the Durand Line) that firmly placed in their control the Khyber Pass that, for millennia, had been the gateway to the Indus plains from the northwest.  The Durand Line followed the eastern limits of the “Hindukush-Khyber Corridor” (Premashekhara 2008: 22).
It was the activities of the Imperial Russian Army that prompted the British to go for delineating Indo-Afghan border and to strengthen their positions there.  The defence of the Punjab plains assumed importance in 1888 when the Imperial Russian army under the leadership of Captain Grombechevsky reached Hunza in northern Kashmir.  The British apprehension and their threat perception vis-à-vis Imperial Russia were demonstrated by Durand, the experienced frontier expert, when he said, “the game had begun” (Woodman 1969: 72).  The Russians were, if allowed, capable of threatening the security of the densely populated Punjab which was not only the wheat bowl of the crown colony but also the largest supplier of men to the imperial army.  The British administration overcame this menace by formally delineating Afghanistan’s border first with India in 1893 and with Russia in the Pamirs two years later.  The two European powers who were involved in the “Great Game” in the northwest of India made significant moves towards ‘peace’ by signing a treaty on 11 March 1995.  Accordingly, a narrow corridor called “Wakhan” was created between the Russian controlled Tazhik territories and the princely state of Jammu & Kashmir of the British Indian Empire, and the same was placed under the control of Kabul.  Further, with the Anglo–Russian Convention of 1907, London succeeded in getting Moscow accept Afghanistan as a buffer between Russia and India and never to cross it.  Not fully convinced of Russian sincerity, the British rulers took from the State of Jammu & Kashmir the Gilgit region[8] that shared common boundary with the Wakhan Corridor, and placed an army unit there in order to monitor the movement of the Russian army across the Corridor and deter any possible Russian adventure.  Still not convinced of the security of their Indian empire and control over Indian Ocean they calculated to create an independent state in the northwest of India which would accept British military presence on its soil and serve as their base against the Russians.[9]  Since the land where the proposed new state was to come up consisted of a Muslim majority, it became quite imperative for the British colonial masters to tilt towards the Muslim community in India.  Indian constitutional developments of the 1920s and 1930s, the Minto-Morley reforms and the Montague-Chelmsford Reforms and the Government of India Act of 1935 which all ensured the Muslim League a share in the power were based on this approach.  Jinnah turned this British policy to his own advantage:
The fact that Pakistan separated from India on the issue of religious politics reveals one of the effects of British rule that nationalism has not yet been able to submerge.  Encouragement of political organization within the framework of religion had, after the First World War, become the principal British device for splitting the onslaught of a united nationalism. British official and semiofficial literature persisted in referring to a supposed Hindu Congress long after All-India Congress had made it a major policy to stress the union in nationalism of people of different religious faiths. Mohammed Ali Jinnah developed the momentum of his political career by turning this British policy to his own advantage.
(Lattimore 1949: 184)

 In this regard, the divergent attitudes of Congress and Muslim League towards the British during the Second World War proved to be decisive:
During the war when the hub of the British Empire was fighting for its existence, the Congress Party of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru demanded immediate independence so that a free India could determine whether it should participate in the war effort.  The British were angered by the request and refused.  The Congress contemptuously broke off relations with the British and boycotted its institutions.  The colonial power was even less pleased when after the fall of Singapore to the Japanese in February 1942, Gandhi proposed and launched “Quit India” movement in August.  An offer from the British cabinet pledging independence at the end of the war was rejected with a biting phrase-“a blank cheque from a failing bank,” retorted Gandhi who was convinced the British would lose in Asia...
In polar contrast, the Muslim League had always remained on the British side.  It was firmly supportive of war efforts.  The British responded in kind.  Pakistan, was in effect, a big thank-you present to the Muslim League.  Had the Congress Party adopted similar strategy the result might well have been different. 
(Ali 2008: 32-33)  

Thus, it was a British policy to create Pakistan for its strategic needs and Jinnah and the Muslim League used this for their end.  The British strategic experts were quite content with their half a century old scheme in the subcontinent neared its logical end when the creation of Pakistan became certain by the middle of 1947.  A top secret report prepared by the chiefs of staff on 7 July 1947 reveals:
The area of Pakistan [West Pakistan or the northwest of India] is strategically the most important in the continent of India and the majority of our strategic requirements could be met... by an agreement with Pakistan alone.  We do not thereafter consider that failure to obtain the agreement with India [Hindustan] would cause us to modify any of our requirements...
(Sarila 2009: 28)

Since Pakistan was created by a few elites, one man to be precise; and a foreign power, it drew strength from these elements only, and its purpose was to serve their interests only.  The only change that occurred after the creation of the Muslim state was that, internally local elite replaced the Indian Muslim elite who had brought the state into being and externally, US and, to a lesser extent China, replaced Britain.  In other words, the scenes and casts changed periodically, but the stage and story remained the same.  Ideas and methods to create a new, vibrant, modern state with domestic democratic political system and independent foreign policy did not emerge and, policies and approaches of initial leadership especially Jinnah himself were largely responsible for this.  It has become a joke in streets as well as in academic circles especially in South Asia that Pakistan is ruled by three `A’s- Allah, the Army and America; and if they are taken as symbols of Islamization, authoritarianism and, external patron respectively, their origin can be traced to the policies and attitudes of one man -Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan.
Jinnah’s Legacy
Jinnah was not democratic.  For all his ideals repeatedly stated eloquently in colourful and mesmerising language, he never behaved democratically as head of the state.  From the moment of Pakistan’s birth, he assumed, without any seeming inhibition, all key levers of power and decision making in the new state with three most important positions in his hand.  He was not only the governor general, but also president of the Muslim League and chairman of the Constituent Assembly.  Being the founder of Pakistan he had such a massive authority in his hand, few dared to challenge him and, the process of Jinnah assuming authoritarian power in Pakistan was very swift and in a sense, continuation of his pre-Partition attitude and approach towards Muslim League of which he was the undisputed leader.  Leading a separatist movement is one thing but, leading an independent state is quite another.  The problems of multi-ethnic and multi-lingual Pakistan which comprised of two distinct geographical units which had nothing in common except religion and separated from each other by twelve hundred mile-long hostile Hindu territory were many fold, multi-layered and the task of nation-building demanded accommodation and democratic approach.  Jinnah on the other hand, chose to address these challenges through authoritarian approach with his misplaced judgment that the internal problems rooted in the demands of different regional and ethnic groups for political and economic power could be extinguished through diverting the attention of the people towards external threats, real or assumed.  In this regard, he demanded unopposed and complete loyalty from every section of the politico-administrative set up and citizens of all shades in order to enable him to effectively counter and protect the Muslim homeland of which he was the founder and saviour.  This way, in the name of defending the country Jinnah set out to create a system of centralized or authoritarian powers in his own hands and his “framework was presidential or imperial” (Jalal 85: 50); and this is what exactly every successive ruler of Pakistan –military or civilian- did.
Jinnah did not favour a political system based on the principles of constitutional checks and balances as a basis of political development.  An “unusual” resolution passed by the Pakistani cabinet of Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan on 30 December 1947 testifies to this.  It states: “no question of policy or principle would be decided, except at a meeting presided over by the Quaid-e-Azam.  In the event of any difference of opinion between him and the Cabinet, the decision of the Quaid would be final and binding” (Lambah 2003: 154).  This gave absolute power to Governor General Jinnah.  He, however, was not there to exercise this power for long as he succumbed to tuberculosis and cancer on 11 September 1948 barely thirteen months after the creation of Pakistan; and this power was transferred to his successors who kept it intact.  When the Constituent Assembly attempted to change the provision that had given the governor general powers above the prime minister and the cabinet, it was dissolved by the then governor general, Ghulam Mohammad.  The constitutions of 1956 and 1962 kept the provision intact.  The 1973 Constitution, the brainchild of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, did omit that and made the president a figurehead, but, barely four hours after its proclamation Bhutto issued an ordinance that placed president’s powers above the prime minister’s.  Zia-ul-Haq brought it back into the constitution in 1985 with the notorious Eight Amendment and the first victim was Mohammad Khan Junejo in 1988.  Since then it has been used by every president to dismiss every cabinet till 1996 with Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif earning the dubious distinction of getting dismissed twice each.  Thus, the policy of placing head of state above head of government, a `tradition’ set by Jinnah in the very first year of Pakistan’s existence, still haunts that country.
Jinnah argued, along with Liaquat Ali Khan, that Pakistan could not afford the luxury of an opposition in politics (Rajan and Ganguly 1981: 113-16).  In a fitting corollary, Ayub Khan, the general who staged Pakistan’s first military coup in October 1958, seized power and didn’t let it go out of his hand for full eleven years maintained: “The Western type of parliamentary democracy could not be imposed on the people of Pakistan” (Khan 1967: 208).
Bureaucrats turned politicians Ghulam Mohammad and Iskander Mirza[10] repeatedly and blatantly abused their powers as governor general and president in early 1950s.  From Ayub Khan to Parvez Musharraf, all the military rulers who assumed positions like president or chief marshal law administrator took authoritarianism to newer heights and abuse of power during their regimes was total and blatant.  This tendency was not limited to military rulers alone.  Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the civilian leader Pakistan saw after thirteen years of military rule following the breakup of the country in 1971 was equally autocratic.  He demanded complete loyalty from his party and the nation.  He used Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) as a tool to achieve his personal ambitions.  Those who disagreed with him were removed from party position, and many were imprisoned too on one other charge (Ziring 1998: 380).  Bhutto, much to the discomfiture and dismay of the Army generals, created a paramilitary outfit called Federal Security Force (FSF) which was widely seen as his personal army.  He used it against his political opponents, many of whom were harassed and some even murdered (Ibid: 381; Talbot 1999: 219).  His daughter Benazir Bhutto demonstrated scant regard for democratic values by bequeathing the party headship to her son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari through a will treating the PPP as her personal fiefdom,
In the same manner the ascendency of Islam in Pakistani life can also be traced to Jinnah.  His attitude to Islam was dubious and questionable.  When he was campaigning for Pakistan, he used religion to garner support for his scheme.  He used Islam as bait to attract Muslim provincial leaders, tribal chieftains and individuals who mattered.  He wrote to Amin ul Hasanat, the Pir Sahib of Manki Shariff in NWFP in 1946 that Pakistan would be an Islamic State and Islamic laws ordained by Shariat would be followed.  His real intentions were, however, contrary.  Iskander Mirza states:
Before we left Delhi, I said to the Quaid-e-Azam one day, “Sir, we are all agreed to go to Pakistan; but what kind of polity are you going to have?  Are you going to have an Islamic State?”  “Nonsense,” he replied, “I am going to have a modern State.”
(Khan 1987: 158)

His contradictory attitude towards place of Islam in Pakistan continued even after the Homeland for Indian Muslims came into being.  As mentioned earlier, in his first address to the Pakistan Constituent Assembly on 11 August 1947, he called upon the people of Pakistan to work together forgetting to what caste, community or creed they belonged.  He changed his approach rather soon.  The touch of secularism in his speeches in 1947 gave way to recognition of the utility of Islam in Pakistani politics as a cementing factor against internal divisions (Rajan and Ganguly 1982: 113).  Addressing the agitating crowd in Dhaka on 21 March 1948 he said:
Have you forgotten the lesson that was taught to us thirteen hundred years ago?  Who were the original inhabitants of Bengal-not those who are now living.  So what is the use of saying “we are Bengalis, Sindhis, or Pathans, or Punjabis”.  No, we are Muslims.  Islam has taught us this, and I think you will agree with me that whatever else you may be and whatever you are, you are a Muslim.  If I may point out, you are all outsiders here.
(Jinnah 1963: 84)

Thus, again he set a trend.  Most of his successors did exactly what he did and relied on Islam when challenged by problems that required political and constitutional solutions. The spectre he unleashed grew into a Frankenstein monster very soon with Jamaat-e-Islami spearheading Islamic revivalism in Pakistan.  Jamaat’s leader Maulana Maududi, in fact, had opposed the creation of Pakistan as “un-Islamic” on the ground that ascribing different nationalities to Muslims of the world was against Islamic values as the religion Holy Prophet preached considered all Muslims as citizens of one nation.   He, however, chose to migrate to Pakistan on its creation and began opposing Jinnah’s initial secular talk.  To him and his followers, it was a sin to talk of secularism and equality of all religions in a country created in the name of Islam and for Muslims.   So, when they began their determined campaign to purify Pakistan of all its un-Islamic influence, the first victim was, ironically, the creator of Pakistan himself.  In this way, the Orwellian double-speak with regard to secularism and Islam Jinnah had adopted to create Pakistan made him irrelevant in the state he created before he was consumed by consumption and cancer barely one year after it came into being.  His tactics worked in pre-1947 India but, failed miserably in Pakistan.  The Pakistan Constituent Assembly attempted to define both the state and the idea of Pakistan in the Objective Resolution it adopted in 1949.   According to this Resolution Pakistan “was to be a federal, democratic, and Islamic entity, but there was no mention whatsoever of a secular Muslim life, a secularized Islam, or even the term `secular’ ” (Cohen 2006: 57).  It is this Resolution that had guided Pakistan all these years, not the speech Jinnah delivered in the Constituent Assembly on 11 August 1947.
The activities of Maulana Maududi and his followers created worst anti-Ahmadiya riots in the Punjab in 1953 that brought the Army into action in Lahore.  Pakistan officially became an Islamic Republic with the promulgation of its first constitution in 1956 and there was relative calm for more than two decades as the country grappled with more serious problems like provincialism that threatened its very survival.  Islamization came back in a big way in what was left of Pakistan in the 1970s.  Ironically it was the civilian prime minister, Z. A. Bhutto who in 1974 implemented three of the long-standing demands of the Islamists; banned alcohol, converted Friday in the place of Sunday as official holiday and, declared the Ahmadiyas as non Muslims.  He, like Jinnah, was a non-practicing Muslim[11] and turned to Islamists for support when the combined opposition challenged his authority following his victory in the rigged elections of March 1977.  Bhutto’s approach was elevated to the level of a state policy by Zia-ul-Haq who usurped power from him in a coup in July 1977.  By promulgating the Hudood Ordinance which made several Islamic practices mandatory and imposed severe restriction on women and their status in society, allowing religious schools or Madrasas to come up in thousands all over the county, he hastened the process of Islamization in Pakistan and earned the distinction as “Soldier of Islam.”  He defended his actions vehemently saying: “Pakistan which was created in the name of Islam will continue to survive only if it sticks to Islam.  That is why I consider the introduction of [an] Islamic system as an essential prerequisite for the country” (Talbot 2000: 196).  He also declared that preservation of the ideology of Pakistan and the Islamic character of the country was “as important as the security of the country’s geographical boundaries” (Ibid: 201).
As far as the third “A” i.e. America is concerned, the process of taking Pakistan closer to US also began by Jinnah himself and he did it even before Pakistan came to existence as an independent state.  Although, Britain initiated the process of creating Pakistan for its strategic needs in Asia, its power and position in global politics weakened, a process hastened by the Second World War, before its “Pakistan Scheme” reached its logical end.  This made Jinnah search for alternative, a dependable foreign patron with money who could assume the mantle of patronage of the Muslim nation as its emergence became imminent by early 1947.  An assessment the US State Department made with inputs and reports from New Delhi based American mission to US Secretary of State on 2 May 1947 reveals Jinnah’s mind:
On 1 May Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Leader of the Muslim League, received two American visitors at his Bombay residence.  They were Raymond A. Hare, Head of the Division of South Asian Affairs, Department of State, and Thomas E. Weil, Second Secretary of the US Embassy in India.  Jinnah asserted that under no circumstances would he accept the concept of an Indian Union since the Muslim League was determined to establish Pakistan.  He sought to impress on his visitors that the emergence of an independent, sovereign Pakistan would be in consonance with American interests.  Pakistan would be a Muslim country, Muslim countries would stand together against Russian aggression.  In that endeavour they would look to the United States for assistance, he added.  Jinnah coupled the danger of ‘Russian aggression’ with another menace that Muslim nations might confront.  That was ‘Hindu imperialism’.  The establishment of Pakistan was essential to prevent the expansion of Hindu imperialism into the Middle East, he emphasised.
(Foreign Relations 1972: 154–55)
It is clearly evident that Jinnah had analysed the prevailing international scenario in 1947, grasped US need to possess dependable allies in its campaign against Soviet expansionism in the Balkans and the Middle East, and planned to turn it into Pakistan’s advantage.  Once Pakistan was created, however, his attention changed, rather expanded, to include his desire for personal material benefit as well.  Paul H. Alling, first US ambassador to Pakistan reveals, in his report to the then Secretary of State John Marshall on 22 March 1948, a rather unusual portrait of Jinnah.  According to Alling, he was invited for a picnic with Jinnah and his sister Fatima.  Assuming that important matters of state might be discussed, Alling prepared himself as best he could.  Discussion went otherwise.  Jinnah and his sister probed the possibility of selling their house “Flagstap” to the US mission.  In the words of Alling:
Both he and his sister... inquired whether we were interested in their house “Flagstap” which he had told me a few days previously was available for purchase.  I explained that our negotiations for the purchase of an Ambassador’s house... had progressed so far... that it had proved impossible to withdraw.
He then asked if “Flagstap” would not be suitable for the use of other personnel of the Embassy.  In reply I said that we had, of course explored that possibility but that our building expert felt he could not justify the purchase of such an extensive property for any of the subordinate personnel.   I added that actually we were interested only in purchasing a few small houses or flats whereupon he said he would send us details of one or two such properties.  I could sense, however, that Mr. Jinnah and his sister were disappointed that we had been unable to purchase “Flagstap.”
(Ali 2008: 41-42)
Sadly, it was not a good beginning and `Flagstapping,’[12] meaning turning ‘American connection’ for personal benefit, became rampant among politicians and senior army personnel when after the end of the brief Jinnah – Liaquat era[13] a transfer of power occurred within Pakistan from the “Indian Muslims” to the “pro-US, pro-military” bureaucrats and the first among them was Ghulam Mohammed who headed the country as its third governor general during 1951-55 (Burki 1986: 48).  In fact, Ghulam Mohammed and, Iskander Mirza who succeeded the former as the country’s fourth head of state, had been in contact with the US government since Pakistan came into being and, actively seeking for developing a Pakistan-US alignment against India and the Soviet Union.  It was Ghulam Mohammed’s concept that massive dependence on the US was necessary to meet the “administrative expenses” of Pakistan, especially in the “field of defence” (Venkataramani 1982: 16).  Iskander Mirza was regarded as reliable and co-operative by US officials (Ibid: 144).  Ghulam Mohammad-Iskander Mirza duo’s attempts were successful when Washington made a decision to develop strategic ties with Pakistan to ‘contain’ India in September 1949, a month before the Indian premier Jawaharlal Nehru’s visit to the US capital.  With this, the US had replaced Britain as Pakistan’s main foreign patron.
Elite Interests
Following their success in achieving Pakistan without a politicized mass base, struggle and sacrifice, and instead, with active support from the ruling foreign power, Pakistani rulers continued to rely upon foreign powers and domestic elite for support while formulating their domestic and foreign policies.  Jinnah was a stranger in West Pakistan, nor did his party have any strong base there before 1947.  This led him to simply confirm provincial landlords, feudal chiefs in power as representatives of his party there.  The result was that Muslim League, the party that spearheaded the Pakistan movement in India with considerable mass support, failed to acquire a mass base in West Pakistan and what remains as Pakistan today, and consequently the ruling elite in Pakistan never possessed a reliable political party capable of controlling the masses.  Jinnah was surrounded by “swarm of young men” that were in the habit of talking of a “new spirit” without ever being able to explain what it meant (Ali, 2008: 35).  Thus the Muslim League soon became a “church of corrupt and quarrelsome caciques” who discredited it permanently. (Ibid: 43).  The Muslim League’s support base was limited to only the elite who bothered more about their well-being rather than the state.  The League’s condition during those days, in the words of Chaudhri Mohammad Ali, Pakistan’s fourth prime minister was:
The pillars of society, the landlords, the well-to-do lawyers, the rich businessmen, and the titled gentry were its main support.  With some exceptions, they were not men noted for their total commitment to any cause.  Their willingness to sacrifice their personal interests or comfort for the sake of the nation was often in doubt.
(Ali 1967: 371)
The League failed to provide effective political leadership to Pakistan.  The new nation’s first generation of politicians was inexperienced and unable to face the daunting challenges of the new nation.  About them, Ata Rabbani, Jinnah’s aid d’ camp writes:
...our senior politicians had little experience of the running of a government for they had spent most of their lives criticising governments in power.  Now saddled with the responsibility they took the easy way out.  Instead of applying themselves to the task and working hard to learn the ropes they relied on the adivice of senior bureaucrats.
 (Rabbani 1996: 142)
Because of the inability of the politicians, the power, as explained by Rabbani, inexorably slipped into the hands of Pakistan’s small cadre of highly educated civil servants, the only people capable of delivering any semblance of governance during the initial chaotic years.  Jinnah, being scornful towards the politicians, too recognized the central place of the bureaucracy in the administrative, political, and economic life of Pakistan, a policy continued by his successors.  Pakistan was thus from the very beginning “firmly dominated by its civilian bureaucracy and the army, both of which had faithfully served the British” and they exercised “political paramountcy” in Pakistan (Ali 2008: 43).  The CSP (Civil Service of Pakistan) comprised a closed oligarchy of five hundred functionaries commanding the state (Ibid.).  Both Ghulam Mohammad and Iskamder Mirza were co-opted directly from its ranks.
Thus, the Pakistani elites, both the politicians and bureaucrats, inherited and adopted the British colonial model of administration with a strong authoritative executive.  This filled the power vacuum, created by the withdrawal of British colonial power, at the top but failed to address the issues concerning the masses- political, economic and social change that would bring empowerment of the masses, in other words, democracy.
The Army
Pakistan has been under military rule for more than half of its existence so far. Authoritarianism which the military rule symbolises can be traced to the attitudes and approaches of the initial leadership.  Jinnah’s authoritarian and autocratic approaches were continued by his successors with the possible exception of his immediate successor Khwaja Nazimuddin, a Bengali with a soft nature.  He was, in fact, a puppet in the hands of Ghulam Mohammad who relegated him to the position of prime minister and assumed the governor-generalship himself in October 1951.
Ghulam Mohammad and his successor Iskander Mirza demonstrated least tolerance for opposition and brazenly abused their powers as governor general and president.  In 1953, Ghulam Mohammad set an unfortunate precedent when he dismissed Khwaja Nazimuddin’s government citing its failure to resolve the difficulties facing the country and installed Mohammad Ali Bogra.  When Bogra tried to limit the governor general’s powers Ghulam Mohammad dismissed him too.  Ministries came and went.  There were seven prime ministers in as many years during 1951-58 i.e. regimes of Ghulam Mohammad and Iskander Mirza.  Both had scant regard for the parliament and were “shocked by what they regarded as the corruption, selfishness, opportunism and disloyalty of the politicians in public office” (Wilber 1964: 126).  They were also ‘in close touch with commanders of the armed forces, and when they faced tests of strength with the politicians, believed that the army would intervene on their side to assure public order and stability” (Ibid.).  Thus, they manipulated the token parliamentarism to such an extent that they not only discredited it but also discredited the very concept of civilian rule itself and set the stage for military takeover which did happen in 1958.
Because of all these, army became increasingly involved in political decisions and it delivered where civilian administration failed.  It was frequently called upon to fulfil functions like maintaining law and order which normally was the responsibility of police.  When Lahore witnessed anti-Ahmadiya riots in 1953, General Azam Khan restored order swiftly and the army soon became the only organization in the country capable of maintaining law and order.  Moreover, General Azam Khan’s “Cleaner Lahore Campaign” too became highly popular among the people of the metropolis, the cultural capital of Pakistan.  By asking the army to manage a political crisis the civilian regimes undermined their own authority.  Thus, the Ghulam Mohammed-Iskander Mirza duo paved the way for General Ayub Khan’s military coup in 1958 which surprised few.  Thereafter it did not take long for the army to grow into the biggest and most organized political player in Pakistan.
All these factors -authoritarianism, dragging religion to solve social political and economic problems, placing power in the hands of the elite, allowing army to occupy centre stage in country’s politics and, playing client to external powers created a condition in Pakistan that was not conducive for the growth of democracy.  In other words, the political culture that evolved in Pakistan has been anti-democratic.

The consequence of the attitudes and approaches adopted by the initial leaders and bureaucrats towards politics in Pakistan, dealt with in the previous pages, was two-fold: one, haunting structural dilemma in organizing internal power relationships and, second, failure to find a stable and legitimate basis for political and constitutional arrangements in a nascent nation which was struggling to have an identity not only of its own but also markedly, if not totally, different from that of India.[14]  In the process, the “Indian Muslims” who created Pakistan were marginalized gradually and replaced by local or “Pakistani” elite.  With this, the secular tendencies the founders of Pakistan adopted during their formative years in the pluralistic society of `Hindu’ India and brought to Pakistan in 1947 were the first casualty.  In their place came the feudal values like the patron-client relationship based on centuries-old religious and social practices with which the local elites were comfortable in a predominantly agrarian Muslim society and, they became the driving forces of Pakistan’s domestic politics in the years to come.  They were freely adopted not only to organize power relationships at both provincial and central levels but also to advance the economic well-being of the dominant elite groups (Callard 1959: 27-36).  After this, it did not take long for personal aggrandizement and autocratic rule to become the hallmarks of Pakistani politics and they brought about infighting among members of Pakistani elites irrespective of their credentials -military or otherwise.  These constant struggles for power with its accompanied features of backstabbing, deceit, and intrigue never allowed a particular political ideology or practice to become the guiding principle.  Nor did it allow any political personality or personalities to become trend setters and show a particular path to the future generation of leadership to follow.  Leaders were scorned at and consigned to the dustbin of history the moment they left office.  They didn’t become icons and national heroes and help develop a Pakistani nationalism or identity.  Consequently, the post-1947 generation in Pakistan groped in the dark searching for its national identity and finally found past Muslim glories and reactionary religious traditions as reservoirs of stimulants for Pakistan’s nationalist conceptions, and successive generations in Pakistan have been doing exactly that.[15]
Having failed to produce its own national heroes, Pakistan, tragically, looks at foreign military heroes like Mohammad Ghazni, Mohammad Ghori and Ahmad Shah Abdali as its own heroes, and Pakistani missile directed at India are named after these warriors.  The historical fact is that these Afghan warriors of yester centuries did not differentiate between what are now India and Pakistan when they raided the lands south of the Khyber.  This speaks volumes about the flight path nation-building has taken in Pakistan.
There are other negative trends that emerged in Pakistan and hindered the process of democratization and helped strengthen authoritarianism further.  Anti-majority or rejection of majority voice is one such and it was so deeply ingrained in the psyche of the Muslim League and supporters of Pakistan movement that they could not shed it off even after achieving Pakistan, and this tendency continued unabated much to the detriment of the state and its people.  It was displayed in an extremely unabashed manner when the issue of choosing an official language for Pakistan came up in early 1950s.  Despite the fact that majority of Pakistanis, about sixty percent of the total population, lived in East Pakistan and spoke Bengali, a forceful attempt was made to impose Urdu on them.  Bengalis, unlike any other linguistic group of West Pakistan, resolutely refused to permit any downgrading of their language.  That was the beginning of East – West divide.  The minority West which controlled military, bureaucracy and political leadership treated the majority East as a colony and resorted to its economic exploitation.  Thus, the majority was prevented from playing a role in the national life of the new state and determining its future.  The result was, Pakistan’s future became bleak and it split into two in violent upheaval in 1971.
Even electoral verdicts and majority parties’ right to government formation were seldom respected in Pakistan.  The popular verdict accorded in favour of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s Awami League in the first ever general elections conducted in December 1970 was not respected by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and the military ruler General Yahya Khan.  Instead, they resorted to military means to violently crush Bengalis’ legitimate right to form the government at the centre.  Six years later, Bhutto found himself at the receiving end when the opposition parties and the Army refused to accept his PPP’s victory in the general elections of 1977.  A decade later, his daughter Benazir Bhutto and her political adversary Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan Muslim League suffered the same fate repeatedly when the governments they established with popular mandates were initially respected but dismissed after a while by the presidents again and again.  This political farce continued for a whole decade till General Parvez Musharraf staged a coup and seized power in October 1999.  The present post-Musharraf era too continues to be dominated by the Army albeit it wields power indirectly.  In this way, the Army has continuously refused to play apolitical role.  Thus, anti-majority theme has become a central feature of Pakistan’s political culture since its inception and it has been dominating Pakistani elite thinking ever since.
Another notable negative aspect of Pakistani political culture has been the undemocratic mode of transfer of power and it has been dominated by intrigue.  In the words of Indian diplomat S. K. Singh: “State power in Pakistan has all along been attended by Machiavellian intrigue and violence, resembling curiously all that had followed in Arabia after the death of the Prophet, when violence attended all but one of the Caliphs who succeeded the Prophet. (Singh 2003: 14).  Almost all governments of Pakistan -both civilian and military- have been sent out of power unceremoniously either by dismissal or toppling by military generals.[16]  Liaquat Ali Khan, the first prime minister was assassinated in 1951 while addressing a rally, a murder which has not been solved.  The speculation is that he died at the order of Ghulam Mohammed (Venkataramai 1982: 190-82).  The man who shot Liaquat Ali Khan was himself shot dead by a police officer, and the plane carrying the forensic samples from Rawalpindi to Karachi blew up in mid-air and with that crucial evidences were lost.  The case of Zia is similar.  Although he died in a plane crash it is widely speculated that it was an act of sabotage.  A crate of mangoes loaded into the plane at the last moment is suspected to have contained explosives.  Z. A. Bhutto’s end came through execution on controversial grounds.  About two decades later Nawaz Sharif faced similar fate but escaped gallows by Saudi intervention.
Proper treatment of leaders after they demit their offices is an important value civilization has taught Mankind and it reflects the culture a nation has evolved over centuries of historical experience.  To quote diplomat S. K. Singh again:
While assessing the resilience and durability of new sovereign states, historians and political scientists often make a review of the way their peoples have accorded respect or otherwise to the heroes and founders of such new states and nations; those who had wielded the supreme or sovereign state power during the early days of their existence.
An analytical review of the story of the early decades of a new state indicates a great deal about the character, idealism and ideology of its people.  Studies of post-1776 USA, or post-1917 Soviet Union, or of the leaderships of post-colonial Indonesia, India, Nigeria and Ghana have provided an assessment of the future of these nations, especially the principles and philosophy that motivated the founding fathers, the intrinsic national character and grit of those who followed these early leaders and the ethical values and human attitudes of the societies that emerged as nation states.
(Singh 2003: 9)
Even in this count Pakistan fairs poorly.  Treatment of leaders who lost power and position in Pakistan has not been worth emulating.  The first thing Ayub Khan did following the coup he enacted in 1958 was to put deposed president, Iskander Mirza into a waiting plane and sending him to London with a one way ticket.  Shortly after this, former prime minister, H. S. Suhrawardy fled to Beirut where he was murdered under mysterious circumstances.  It is alleged that the act of murder was carried by Ayub Khan’s intelligence personnel on his order.  About half a century later, former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto was assassinated while addressing an election rally in Rawalpindi and it has not been convincingly solved yet.
Ethnicity-based provincialism is another negative feature of Pakistani politics.  It raised its ugly head rather early, during Jinnah’s life-time itself.  He recognized from the beginning and “knew better than anyone else that the greatest threat to Pakistan’s survival would be internal not external’ (Jalal 1985: 50).  He advised his countrymen against this on 21 March 1948 during his first and last visit to Dhaka:
You belong to a nation now; you have now carved out a territory, vast territory, it is all yours.  It does not belong to a Punjabi, or a Sindhi, or a Pathan, or a Bengali; it is yours.  You have your central government where several units are represented.  Therefore, if you want to build yourself into a nation, for God’s sake, give up this provincialism.
(Jinnah 1963: 84)
His appeal was in vain.  Divisive tendencies gained firmer ground in East Pakistan as, along with the language issue, by the mid-1950s, the Punjab and feudally dominated Pakistani civil and military elites began depriving the Bengalis of their economic and political rights.  The result was the 1971 war and dismemberment of Pakistan.  Later, other ethnic minorities in the remnant of Pakistan began to highlight the domination by Punjabis in the national affairs and the five sub-nationalities of Punjabis, Sindis, Baluchis, Pathans and Mohajirs (Muslims migrated from India during Partition) are at constant odds since then.  The ethnic and regional sub-nationalist forces with competitive interests and images of the future are constantly threatening the survival of Pakistan.[17]
As far as army occupying the centre-stage in Pakistani politics is concerned, it is true that the army delivered where civilian administration failed and many Pakistanis prefer army rule for civilian leaders who, right from Ghulam Mohammad to present Asif Ali Zardari, are known for brazen corruption.  Popular opposition to military rule is least and, in other words, general public have been indifferent towards civilian regimes toppled by the army.  They did not express any visible opposition even to Bhutto’s execution by the Zia regime.  But the problem of the army is that it is too big for Pakistan’s political needs and too small to manage hostile neighbours.  This sense of insecurity the army possesses makes it vulnerable to any extra-regional power’s overtures to expand its own strategic interests in the region.  This explains the ease with which the US and China have been successful in maintaining continued military influence in the South Asian region.  The process, on the other hand, has led to Pakistan Army overly dependent on these two countries for military capability and political ideas, and in turn willingly working as their client.  The feudal value of client-patron relationship which is ingrained in Pakistani thinking is thus extended to Pakistan’s foreign policy as well.  It is an established practice that a feudal lord treats one below him as client and demands complete loyalty on one hand, accepts the one above him as patron on the other and extends similar loyalty.  Pakistan Army behaves as feudal lord within the country and acts like a client in foreign relations where it is the client and, the US and China are the patrons.  This client-patron approach had its own toll on Pakistan’s foreign policy decision-making and it “was never to be a question of objectively evaluating Pakistan’s real needs.  As in the case of its British predecessor, U. S. interests were paramount.” (Ali 2008: 32).  This needs some elaboration as it has tremendous bearing on what ails Pakistan today.
Washington enlisted Islamabad as an important cog in its global strategy against the Soviet Union.  The Ayub Khan Regime allowed the US to establish a top-secret base at Badaber near Peshawar in 1959 from where, in May 1960, the U-2 spy plane took off, flew over the Soviet territories till the Russians chose to down it.
It was Pakistan’s geography, as in the case of Anglo-Russian rivalry decades ago, that guided US policy towards Pakistan.  The utility of Pakistan’s location came to the fore in a big way in 1979 when Soviet troops entered neighbouring Afghanistan.  The US covert involvement in Afghanistan, in fact, began five months after the Iranian revolution of February 1979.  Establishment of anti-American Islamic regime in Tehran played a major role in hardening American stand on Afghanistan where communist infightings had considerably weakened Moscow’s influence much to the concern of Kremlin.  Washington initiated its secret aid to anti-communist and anti-Soviet elements in Afghanistan in July 1979 five months before the actual entry of Soviet troops into that country. (Mamdani 2004: 123-24).  The Carter and Reagan Administrations supported the Afghan Mujhahideens openly and massively throughout the eight years of Soviet military presence there.  Interestingly, contrary to its support to secular Iraq against fundamentalist Iran, here in Afghanistan, Washington chose to support Islamic resistance movement against the Soviet Union for the simple reason that these Mujhahideens were regarded as an effective barrier to prevent Moscow’s attempted expansion towards the Indian Ocean in order to fulfil Russia’s age old dream of acquiring a warm water port.
            It is a historical fact that Imperial Russia indeed tried to move, first, towards Mediterranean Sea at the cost of the Ottoman Empire and later, when failed because of strong British and French support to Turkey, towards Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea during the second half of the 19th Century.  They were, however, effectively prevented by the British through a series of moves that involved less force and more diplomacy (Premashekhara 2008: 22).  Moscow’s recent attempt to advance towards the eastern Mediterranean through Dardanelles in 1946-47 failed miserably as Truman Administration reacted forcefully.[18]  Against these historical experiences and present geopolitical and geo-strategic realities, it was unlikely for Moscow to attempt again given the massive US presence in the Indian Ocean region.  The odds against Soviet Union in 1979 were far greater than what they were in the 19th Century and late 1940s.
Fiercely nationalist and anti-communist Khomeini’s Iran was not going to allow Moscow’s expansion towards the Persian Gulf.  The only other route left for Soviet Union was towards the Arabian Sea via Baluchistan province of Pakistan which was an impassable path given US clout in that South Asian country and American military strength present in the Indian Ocean region.  The ailing Soviet economy was not capable of overcoming US resistance should Kremlin attempted to cross the Durand Line.  In fact, Kremlin threatened to attack Pakistan only when the US attempted to extend anti-Soviet Islamic guerrilla war from Afghanistan into the Soviet Central Asian Republics of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan (ibid: 129).  It was an act of self-defence.  Notwithstanding these facts, Washington adopted Pakistan as its frontline ally in the Afghan war and committed nearly $ 7 billion in military and economic aid to Islamabad between 1981 and 1988 (Weaver 2002: 59).[19]  Consequently, Afghanistan became Soviet Union’s Vietnam as predicted by Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter Adminstration’s national security adviser (Woodward 1987: 78-79).  Moscow suffered setbacks and withdrew its forces from that country after more than eight years of war.
            Whenever Afghanistan became geo-strategically important for the West, Pakistan, or the territory where it is located in, invariably assumed tremendous importance.  When Czarist Russian forces marched into Central Asia in late 19th Century, Britain, the then supreme military power in the region took all means to prevent Russian dominance in and around the Pamirs.  The British Indian army marched into the tribal areas of what later came to be known as “North West Frontier Province” (NWFP) and annexed the same to the Indian Empire.  Competing with the Russians in what was described as the “Great Game,” the British even attempted in vain to establish control over southern Afghanistan, and when failed, followed the path of diplomacy and convinced the rulers of Kabul to maintain neutrality between Russia and Britain (Woodman 1969: 47-107).  Further, London initiated series of negotiations with the Russians which finally culminated in the signing of the “Anglo-Russian Convention” in 1907 thereby getting Moscow’s commitment to a buffer Afghanistan (Premashekhara 2008: 22).
            Afghanistan assumed significance once again to the West now represented by the US when the Soviet influence in that country, political and economic initially and shortly afterwards military, increased following the communist Spring Revolution of April 1978.  As it happened eight to nine decades ago, the southern frontiers of Afghanistan assumed great geo-strategic importance and the US moved into Pakistan which possessed NWFP following the political developments in the Indian Subcontinent in 1947.  This happened after a brief period of chillness in the US – Pakistan relations.
            Following the thaw in the superpowers relations in the 1970s, Pakistan’s strategic importance to the US reduced considerably.  Moreover, disturbed by the military takeover in Islamabad in July 1977 and the subsequent execution of former prime minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Washington had distanced itself from Pakistan, its erstwhile Cold War ally in Asia.  But the entry of Soviet forces into Afghanistan instantly brought back the strategic importance Pakistan had lost a few years earlier.  NWFP became the scene of hectic activities with Pakistan and the US using that territory as training field and transit route for Afghan guerrillas fighting the Soviet forces.  As it has been already mentioned, Pakistan became a “Frontline State” in US strategy against the Soviets in Asia and received huge economic and military aid from Washington.  Interestingly, the major component of military hardware to Pakistan was the sophisticated F-16 fighter planes which had no use either for the Afghan guerrillas or for the Pakistani army in its ‘anticipated’ fight with the Russians in the rugged mountains of NWFP.  The Pakistani army never faced such an eventuality as the Soviets never had any serious plan of crossing the Durand Line.  It’s now well established that Islamabad used its sudden elevation to the position of a strategic partner in US game plan to enhance its fire power against India with Washington’s active encouragement.  Thus it was the developments in Afghanistan that helped Pakistan to get closer to the US again and achieve its own hidden agenda of not only gaining military parity with India but also to undermine India’s stability by encouraging dissidence which Islamabad did in Punjab for a substantial part of the decade of 1980s.
            The US turned cold towards Pakistan once again when the war in Afghanistan ended in 1988.  Shortly afterwards, Pakistan’s strategic importance to the US dwindled greatly with the formal end of Cold War.  The US literally abandoned Pakistan and moved swiftly to establish greater economic ties with India which offered great opportunities to the US following the economic liberalisation drive initiated in 1991-92.  US military aid to Pakistan ended and the economic aid dipped to the low.  Joint exercises involving Indian and American forces that were unheard of during Cold War era became regular in the 1990s.  The Clinton Administration was categorical in expressing its disapproval of Pakistan’s Kargil misadventure in May-June 1999 and successfully exerted pressure on Islamabad to withdraw its forces and honour the sanctity of Line of Actual (LOC) thereby supporting Indian position on the crisis.  Washington further distanced itself from Islamabad when General Parvez Mushsrraf seized power by overthrowing the democratically elected Nawaz Shariff government in October 1999.  At this moment of Pakistan’s reduced importance, Afghanistan came to its rescue again as it did during 1979-80.  The 9/11 events and the alleged presence of its perpetrators in Afghanistan turned Washington’s attention towards that country once again.  US Air Force was in action in Afghanistan within a month and Washington, to fight its war in that mountainous country, once again chose Pakistan as an ally.  In all these cases it has been geography that has favoured Pakistan.[20] 
Washington was forced to opt for Pakistan as an ally and Islamabad was, ironically, forced to fight Taliban which it had propped up all these years.  There was reversal in Washington’s Pakistan policy which prompted reversal in Islamabad’s Taliban policy.  Of late, Washington has not been satisfied with Pakistan’s efforts to dismantle Taliban’s support bases in NWFP.  Taliban, basically a Pushtu speaking ethnic Pathan band, finds friends and allies in the NWFP which is also a predominantly Pathan territory.  Media is periodically abuzz with news about the presence of the remnants of Taliban and Al Qaeda in the rugged mountains of the tribal areas of this Pakistani province where Islamabad’s authority is being challenged again and again over the last nine years.  Bickerings over these issues is straining the relations between the two allies.  US missiles and drones periodically target Taliban bases within Pakistani territory.  One such attack sometimes in July 2008 either injured or killed Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al Qaeda’s second highest leader and believed to be the mastermind of 9/11 attacks (New Indian Express 3 August 2008).  Moreover, there are veiled threats from Washington that its ground forces would enter Pakistan if situation warranted.  Pakistan finds itself in an extremely discomfort position and this is what the Pakistani leaders have achieved by accepting the US as patron for what mattered to Washington most was not democratic Pakistan but a client Pakistan.  In the words of Stephen Philip Cohen:
The American agenda was clear: a pro-Western Pakistan, a stable Pakistan, a prosperous Pakistan, and a democratic Pakistan were all desirable, but in that order.  When democracy threatened to remove a leadership that was less than pro-American, the U.S. Embassy conveyed this priority to Pakistanis and for decades got a hearing-over the years the embassy, and most ambassadors, have been major participants in the Pakistani political process, even when they did not seek such influence.
(Cohen 2006: 56-57)

Six long decades have elapsed since the dream of Homeland for Indian Muslims was realised; that dream has now turned into a nightmare.  Pundits contemplate branding Pakistan as a failed state.  Pakistan has become sick man of South Asia.
Pakistan’s politics does not draw strength from masses, so there is no democracy there.  Politicians, generals and, civil servants who have participated in Pakistan’s political affairs -domestic as well as external- have been motivated by personal ambitions and sheer selfish goals.  They came and went, gaining power through fortunate circumstances, intrigue and, losing it because of weakness in their character and power base.  They all ignored their historical responsibility of reforming Pakistan’s political system along democratic lines on long-term strategy.  The perennial bad governance has provided a fertile ground for the growth of religious extremism and Pakistani Talibanis are gaining ground in urban Pakistan as well as rural areas.  There are indications that, for the first time in Pakistan’s history, there has emerged a movement involving the masses.  This process, apart from raising disturbing speculations about the future of the country, makes one wonder whether this is the path the masses are taking to turn the table against those who denied them a say in the nation’s affairs all these years.
The present ‘democratic’ regime of Zardari-Gilani combine is gasping for breath, under constant danger of being either toppled by the army or ravaged by religious extremist surge.  Not many will shed tears if it really comes down as many feel a strong military ruler will restore order in disorderly Pakistan.  The army, on its part, is battling the religious extremists in the hills and gorges of the NWFP.  In such a delicate domestic situation, the US, which distorted Islamabad’s foreign and military policies and impeded Pakistan’s internal political development by supporting power elite and military regimes with no mass base, is now threatening to send its troops into Pakistani territory.  Pakistan finds itself in an extremely discomfort position.
What went wrong?  Israr Ahmad, a tourist guide in Lahore, undoubtedly a man from the masses, might possibly guide us to find answers:
He [Musharraff] is good for the country, but not for democracy.  He has fundamentalism under control.  The world does not realise how complex Pakistani politics is.  Indira Gandhi did a very good thing with the non-aligned movement, which is why Indian foreign policy is sound.  India knew that there would be problems in Afghanistan because of the Taliban so it did not openly support it.  Our fault is that not only did we align with the western bloc and become its puppet, but we also supported the Taliban regime, we were with them.  We are simpletons.  America that has all the sophisticated equipments in the world, could not find WMDs, and it wants us to go and look for Osama among 150 million people.  Why should we look for him?  He is not our problem.  We were not involved in 9/11.  Who knows, he must have shaved his beard and must be doing some farming in Kabul.
(Versey 2008: 272)


[1] It has been British policy in Europe and elsewhere to support weak powers against strong ones in order to establish balance of power.  At the same time in Pakistan’s case, London preferred it to be militarily weak so that it would not hesitate to accept British dependency.  Such a `dependency’ was very much needed by London to carry on  its “Great Game” against the Russians in Central Asia and prevent them from reaching the Arabian Sea.

[2] Some excellent works that deal with subject in divergent ways and together provide a wider and balanced picture of the Partition are: Kaura, U., (1977): Muslims and Indian Nationalism: The Emergence of the Demand for India’s Partition, 1928-1940, South Asia Books, New Delhi; Wolpert, Stanley (1984): Jinnah of Pakistan, Oxford University Press, New York; Jalal, Ayesha (1985): The Sole Spokesman: Jinnah, the Muslim League and the demand for Pakistan, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge; Sarila, Narendra Singh (2009): The Shadow of the Great Game: The Untold Story of India’s Partition, HarperCollins Publishers India, New Delhi; Godbole, Madhav  (2006): The Holocaust of Indian Partition: An Inquest, Rupa & Co., New Delhi.

[3] Arya Samaj and Hindu Mahasabha.

[4] This was the case even after the League succeeded in creating Pakistan.  The new nation’s first Prime Minister, Liaquat Ali Khan, himself a member of the landed gentry of the United Province made open statements that Muslims of Delhi and UP should stay where they were, implying that there was no place in Pakistan for middle and lower middle class Muslims.  See: Ali, Tariq (2008), The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power, Simon and Schuster, London, p.30.
[5] This was the topic of a frank discussion between Mohammad Iqbal, the author of the “two nation theory” and Mohammad Mujeeb, former vice chancellor of Jamia Milia Islamia University, New Delhi in 1935.  While Iqbal stuck to the former viewpoint, Prof. Mujeeb, on the other hand, recognized the latter, the principle, according to Prof. Mujeeb, Jamia Milia was established with.  See: Mujeeb, Mohammad (2001), “The Partition of India in Retrospect” in Hasan, Mushirul (2001): India’s Partition: Process, Strategy and Mobilizaion, Oxford University Press, New Delhi.

[6] While Jinnah was hailed by the Muslim League as Qaid a Azam, Moududi of the Jamaat-e-Islam-i-Hind ridiculed him as Kafir e Azam.

[7] Ayesha Jalal presents a brilliant argument that he was not for partition and his demand for Pakistan was just a bargaining chip he intended to use in his campaign to secure the interests of Indian Muslims.  See: Jalal, Ayesha (1985): The Sole Spokesman: Jinnah, the Muslim League and the demand for Pakistan, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

[8] It was called “Gilgit Agency” during the British period and as “Northern Territories” under Pakistani rule and was under the direct rule of Islamabad till recently. However, these regions have been rechristened as “Gilgit – Baltistan” and political processes to create a legislative body with members elected by the people of the region are underway these days.  Interestingly, this region was and is not a part of Azad Kashmir or Pakistan Occupied Kashmir or POK as it’s known in India.

[9] This is diligently analyzed in Sarila, Narendra Singh (2009): The Shadow of the Great Game: The Untold Story of India’s Partition, Harper Collins Publishers, New Delhi.

[10] Ghulam Mohammed (1893–1956) was in official service of the British Indian Empire from 1923 to 1947; Finance Minister of Pakistan from 1947 to 1951; and Governor-General of Pakistan from 1951 to 1955.  Iskander Mirza (1899–1969) joined the Indian Army in 1921 and was selected for political service in 1926; was Defence Secretary of Pakistan in 1947; Minister for Home Affairs in 1954; Governor-General in 1955 and President of Pakistan from 1956 to 1958.

[11] Like Jinnah he too indulged in un-Islamic practices of drinking etc.  When ridiculed by the opposition about implementing Islamic rules while being un-Islamic in personal life, he quipped: “I drink wine, not anyone’s blood.”
[12] I have borrowed this word from London base Pakistani journalist Tariq Ali.  Ali, Tariq (2008), The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power, Simon & Schuster, London, p. 42.

[13] Jinnah died of cancer and tuberculosis in September 1948 and Liaqat Ali Khan was assassinated in October 1951.

[14] In the words of novelist Salman Rushdie, who traces his heritage back to both India and Pakistan, “to build Pakistan it was necessary to cover up Indian history, to deny that Indian centuries lay just beneath the surface.”  See: Rushdie, Salman (1983): Shame, Jonathan Cape, London, p. 87.

[15] For an excellent analysis of Pakistan’s search for an identity through fabricated history, see “Chapter 6” titled “History and Local Absence” in Ayres, Alyssa, (2009): Speaking like a State: Language and Nationalism in Pakistan, Cambridge University Press, New Delhi, pp. 105-137.

[16] Liaqat Ali Khan, the first prime minister was assassinated.  Feroz Khan Noon, Z. A. Bhutto and Nawaz Shariff were toppled in military coups.  All other prime ministers were dismissed by heads of state, governor general or president.  Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Shariff have the dubious distinction of being dismissed twice.

[17] For details on the various aspects of linguistic and regional nationalism in Pakistan, see: Ayres, Alyssa, (2009): Speaking like a State: Language and Nationalism in Pakistan, Cambridge University Press, New Delhi.

[18] After succeeding in communizing and establishing firm politico-military control over Eastern European countries of Poland, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria in the spring and summer of 1945, and inching towards the eastern Mediterranean Sea, Moscow encouraged communist insurgencies in Greece and Turkey which were the final barrier between itself and the Sea.  Establishment of communist regimes in Athens and Ankara would have given free access to Moscow to the Mediterranean through Bosporus and Dardanelles.  Sensing the danger US interests would face in eastern Mediterranean which was key to Washington’s link to West Asia, should those waterways fell into Moscow’s hand, President Harry S. Truman of the United States initiated firm moves to nullify Soviet efforts with what has been described as “Truman Doctrine.”  He declared on 11 March 1947: “I believe that it shall be the policy of the United States to support free people who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by external pressure.”  Massive military and economic assistance to the beleaguered regimes of Greece and Turkey were initiated and consequently the communist insurgents crushed.  In fact, this was the beginning of US policy of “containment” which eventually culminated in the creation of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) two years later.

[19] Within days of Soviet entry into Afghanistan, President Carter announced a $3.2 billion military aid to Pakistan.
[20] In fact, when the US ‘identified’ its enemy and there were rumours of American air strikes at suspected bases of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, India voluntarily came forward to offer its air base at Avantipur near Srinagar for use by US Air Force.  Washington didn’t take this offer and instead turned to Pakistan.  Though this action of Washington was viewed as continuation of its traditional pro-Pakistan policy and resented, in India, anyone with the minimum knowledge of geography would easily understand the rationale behind the American choice.  If Afghanistan bound US bombers take off from any Indian air base, they are, invariably, forced to cross Pakistani air space.  In such a situation avoiding Pakistan in any war against Afghanistan would be impossible and Pakistan obviously becomes indispensable for any extra-regional power that targets Afghanistan from the south.  At the same time, in any war against Afghanistan, Pakistan’s long border with that country would serve as a suitable launching base and transit zone.  Pakistan can be kept out of the war only at the cost of losing all these advantages.   Thus Washington was forced to opt for Pakistan as an ally and Islamabad was, ironically, forced to fight Taliban which it had propped up all these years.  There was reversal in Washington’s Pakistan policy which prompted reversal in Islamabad’s Taliban policy.

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