Ayesha Jalal on Jinnah’s Pakistan and other issues

Quoted from here

If you’re talking about Pakistan as it stands today — Pakistan with its bouts of unreasonableness, its treatment of minorities, the killing of minorities, the blasphemy laws, a whole succession of things — it’s clearly not the Pakistan that the founder of Pakistan imagined. The founder of Pakistan was first and foremost a constitutional lawyer, who believed in the supremacy of the law — something that has never somehow caught the imagination of Pakistanis. They may talk about it, but there is no law. Each man is a law unto himself. Whoever can grab it, that’s it. So that’s a fundamental departure. Second, when Jinnah spoke of Pakistan as a Muslim state, he envisioned a democratic, enlightened Pakistan. So what I’m saying is that there are many levels at which this country departs from Jinnah’s ideals. But the most interesting thing I’ve discovered is that by the same token, everyone or most people do hark back to Jinnah’s Pakistan. So while they have moved away from Jinnah’s Pakistan as an ideal, it remains as a main point of discussion. That is something hopeful, I think…

Pakistan’s problems go back to the moment of its creation. But there’s no denying that changes in the strategic situation post the Soviet invasion [Christmas eve, 1979] were a watershed. The military regime was not simply ridding the region of the Soviet presence, but was using that threat to Pakistan’s existence to solidify its own rule within Pakistan. The Soviet invasion came as a great boost to General Zia’s regime. It brought him lots of greenbacks. It was a period of prosperity. And it was a decisive step not only because of the uses made of militant Islam to allow the war against the Soviets, but also because the infusion of US dollars (matched dollar for dollar by Saudi money) resulted in a scenario where the society was up for sale. It was a transformative process. It saw the further entrenchment of the military’s role in Pakistan. It resulted in a further fragmentation and polarization of civil society. There is no question that a three-decade-long policy has taken a very heavy toll on Pakistan: the arms and drugs economy, the weapons that made their way into Pakistan — they didn’t all go to Afghanistan; a lot of money came to Pakistan as well. That is where the qualitative changes take place… The 80s are crucial in Pakistan’s history, and I think in global history.

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