Shaharyar Ali’s candid expose is a summary of Pakistan’s woes and afflictions that have once again brought us closer to war. We hope that the current tensions will subside when both India and Pakistan use diplomacy, cooperation and trust-building as strategies that will replace jingoism and war-mantra. At least, some of us in Pakistan are willing to be self-critical. Let’s hope our friends across the border undertake a similar exercise. (Raza Rumi -editor)
Pakistan is not a democracy; it’s a country in democratic transition. After a long military rule, the oligarchy which has been ruling this country since day one has agreed to share some power with politicians. This arrangement is being hailed as “democracy” in Pakistan and which is also being blamed for every thing, from incompetence to corruption, two of the most frequently used charges which have been used by oligarchy to take power directly in their hands. Whilst corporatization of media is being hailed as “freedom of media”, aestheticization of radicalism is going on, the anti-establishment slogans of democratic forces are being converted into mantras chanted by every one from Jamate Islami to General Hameed Gul, and no one bothers to understand what the values of oligarchy were and what the values of democratic forces in Pakistan were.
With a country in democratic transition, we often forget that policies of post-colonial states especially those like Pakistan which had taken Neo-fascist turn some time in their history [Zia era], cannot be reversed in few months. It needs a structural reform within the state itself. With a few months of PPP-ANP coalition such a structural reform has not yet occurred. Attempts to do such reform have been severely criticized by dominant classes in Pakistan and hence have to be abandoned. Attempts by PPP to bring ISI under political control were converted into a scandal by corporate media and its allies. Similar campaign is going on with the Pakhtoonkhawa issue where Right wing has openly come up in arms against government. These two issues represent the core issues when it comes to challenge the oligarchy. ISI has been blamed by almost all political forces in Pakistan for its attempts to control democracy and for spreading Jihad. [Jamate Islami and PML-N joined this anti-ISI campaign during Musharraf era, once he has gone both of them have again joined the so called “patriotic camp” as opposed to Socialists and Nationalists who were historically considered Indian agents and security risks].
Mumbai attacks have once again exposed this paradox in Pakistan. In the name of Patriotism, public opinion in Pakistan is again being mobilised in favor of certain values of oligarchy. Every where we are listening to media , liberal and right wing intellectuals condemning “blame game” and “India’s knee jerk reaction” against Pakistan. We are being reminded of the geographical remoteness of Fareed Kot and other “holes” in Indian propaganda. In all this patriotic discourse, what we are forgetting is that it’s Pakistan not India which has more at stake. The first victim of this sort of patriotism, which subscribes to values of Oligarchy and its State and not to the values of people, will be democracy in Pakistan and this time the state may not recover from its consequences. When Mr Manmohan Singh talks about “certain elements within Pakistan” being responsible for the attacks we are fast to condemn it. But are we that naive or suffering from collective amnesia. Have we forgotten that our agencies along with CIA supported insurgency in a country against a government which we recognized as legal government and had diplomatic ties with. For all the period of Afghan Jihad, our government at all international forums shamelessly maintained that Pakistan is “not interfering” in Afghanistan and our support is strictly moral and humanitarian in nature. Then any one who tried to warn oligarchy against it was termed as a “soviet agent” or “RAW agent”.
Did our denial do us any good? Today we are facing the consequences of our denials. The holy warriors we created with help of USA are now the greatest security threat our nation has ever faced.
Now lets come to India, we for the last 50 years or more are saying again and again at every international and national forum that Pakistan’s support to Kashmiri cause is “strictly moral, political and humanitarian”. Who are we trying to fool? India, the world or our selves? Have we not seen in our colleges and universities “Kashmir chalo” and “Jihad e Kashmir” programmes of Jamate Islami and Lashker e Toiba etc. Have we forgotten the money boxes at our departmental stores to fund “Kashmir Jihad”. Or have we forgotten the slogans of “Al-Jihad Al-Jihad”. Have we forgotten the press conferences of Sallahuhdin of Hizab ul Mujaideen. Have we forgotten the CDs and DVDs of Kashmiri mujahideen , the messages of mothers that “if I had another son ill send him to Kashmir as well”. Was all this very far back? Most of these organizations were allowed to operate by different names in General Musharraf’s time but were they were destroyed? Have Mureedke and Mansoora been shut down? Hafiz Saeed and Molana Masood Azhar serving time in prisons?.
Have we forgotten Kargil as well? Didn’t it happen when Pakistan had a “democratic government.” Isn’t it a fact that the then Prime minister who was chief executive of Pakistan , with far more powers than PM Gilani, to this day maintains that he was “not aware” of this operation at all. Have we forgotten as well that once again we maintained that those at the Kargil peaks were “Mujahideen” fighting Indian occupation, and than we accepted it was our regular Army troops and we had the audacity of giving our martyrs “Nishan e Haider”, those very officers whose corpses we were reluctant to accept a few days back. Have we forgotten all that? Have we forgotten that Right wing till few days back was calling to hang General Musharraf, for Kargil operation? So what great revolutionary reform Pakistan has done in her security establishment that they are now completely following political authority? What have been done to counter the Fatwas telling us about the great gifts in paradise for engaging in “Ghizwa e Hind”. Have some of our political parties and patriotic generals offered Toba for their ambition of putting “green flag” of Red Fort. Have we really forgotten all this?
Our great patriots through out 1990s kept vehemently denying repots in Indian and United States press regarding nuclear proliferation. We also kept denouncing Pervez Hoodbhoy , Munno Bhai and others who pointed fingers at Dr AQ Khan. Then one day whole world knew. Did our denials help? We had to bring “Mohsin e Pakistan” on TV to confess to his crimes. Now our patriots want us to believe that “only AQ Khan” was involved. Iqbal’s Merd e Momin use to load tonnes of equipment himself on planes and than use to fly it himself. Have we ever looked at our denials?
With this track record is it fair to blame India for a “knee jerk reaction”?
If we don’t have such “elements” in Pakistan, who are we fighting in FATA? Who are we fighting in Swat? If Pakistan does not have such elements then who is blowing these bombs in Pakistan? Or have Osama Bin Ladin, Bait ullah Mehsood and Mullah Omar signed a decree that India is not their target? Or have they declared Kashmiri Jihad invalid? Let’s take this argument that India is our professed enemy and threat to our state [Which Zardari denied in his interview], so she blames us for every thing. Who is killing Chinese persons in Pakistan? People’s Republic of China has similar complaints. Russia, Iran and Central Asian Republics all have at one time or another blamed these “elements within Pakistan”. So is every one our enemy? Is this paranoid and schizoid mentality with overt narcissism an expression of Patriotism?
The result of all these denials and non critical approach toward every declaration of oligarchy as patriotic values Pakistan’s very existence is now at stake. We find a strange pleasure in reminding ourselves that there are 17 insurgencies going on in India. Though we never bother to know about these insurgencies, most of them are Maoist insurgencies, which have very different character than Islamist insurgency [we can look at Nepal to see how these insurgencies work, how politics is always the base of such insurgency or one can read Eqbal Ahmad’s studies on Vietnam and Algerian resistance and Left wing guerrilla warfare to differentiate it from Islamist terrorism] or let it be A, B or C insurgency. We have 4 provinces, and we have insurgencies in 2. The third one is in midst of ethnic conflict between Mohajir and Pathan and a possible Mohajir-Sindhi conflict. Punjab has a deep conflict with Sariaki region, which is strongly becoming hub of religious extremism. Many suicide bombers belong to Saraiki South Punjab. Ghazi Brothers of Red Mosque also belonged to southern Punjab.
Furthermore, Linguistic chauvinism of Pakistani establishment has resulted in deep conflicts in all nationalities of Pakistan, Bengali, Sindhi, Baluchi and Pakhtoon. The Oligarchy’s refusal to resolve the Nationalist Question has pushed Pakistan to the limit. The disillusioned Pakhtoon Nationalists are joining ranks of Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Asfand Yar Khan is loosing legitimacy fast in Pakhtoonkhawa because nothing promised to him has been delivered yet. On the other hand a vicious campaign by Oligarchy against ANP is going on. Targeting Pakhtoon population in Karachi by a party with close ties to GHQ is yet another pressure tactic to discredit and break Asfand Yar Khan. How long ANP can withstand the rapidly growing deep resentment in Pakhtoon population living across both sides of Durand Line and keep insisting on doing politics of federation, [ANP opposed other nationalist parties position of converting Pakistan into a loose confederation of nationalities and on this issue didn’t joined PONAM. It kept supporting a strong federal system with genuine provincial autonomy] is a matter I leave to history. But if ANP stopped federal politics it will be a tragedy similar to Awami League’s.
The same is happening in South Punjab. Baluchistan is already at a very advance level of chaos. One only has to observe what happened in Baluchistan on the death anniversary of Ballaj Murree to see the real situation. Mir Raisani’s puppet government has no legitimacy within the Baluch population. Oligarchy’s policy of divide and rule when it comes to national question has pushed Pakistan on verge of collapse.
With Karachi riots time has come that we should stop looking at others “knee jerk” reactions and first put our own house in order. For us this is an existential question. We need to reform our state structure; resolve the National question; redefine our provinces and undertake constitutional reform to make Pakistan a secular democracy. Ritualistic chanting of progressive slogans and cursing mullahs will not do us any good. We need to see what the progressive values were and who is behind the Mullah.