By Dr. Khurshid Alam-The demography plays an important role in the stability, peace, progress and smooth running of a country and the foreign and domestic policy is grossly rest on demography, strategic location. Watan (Motherland) and country are inherently different words. Countries are made by people and disintegrated by people. Watan (Motherland) is a more natural entity, owned by a race or inheritance of the same history, culture, language and an ancestral legacy. It carries genetic prints. I don’t think that pure racial homogeneity is possible in the present day globalization evolvement.
In social sciences, we always talk of relativity. Bangladesh is relatively more racially and culturally homogenous state compare to India and Pakistan. Afghanistan though multiethnic in nature but other factors like history and culture are so closely binding and integrated to call it, Watan. There are some Arab states they are in this category. In Watan diversity is comparatively less.
In a country with diversity the fissures are more visible. India is a huge country with enormous diversity. It needed statesmanship and insightful political shrewdness to hold diversity together. Nehru said, “India derives its strength unity from its diversity.” He deserve the praise to give a system to India to change diversity in to a strength by establishment of institutions. Institution is the second name of collective leadership. Collective leadership derive its strength from devolving of power to the masses to broaden its base. Centralization of power in diversity is invariably lethal. India is a union of states. Wherever there is diversity there must be conflict of interest or fear of hegemony. These frictions and fears, if suppressed by force will result in Hatred and hate disintegrates. Collective leadership or institutions blunt the talons of brute force and strengthen the force of logic. Confrontation gives space to logic that in turn strengthen coherence.
Pakistan has comparatively less diversity but grossly asymmetrical or demographically imbalance country. We neither have statesmen nor institutions. The power and state are residing in individuals. Whims replaced logic, discussions were put on backburners and whims and wishes occupied the central stage. Every reasonable vision is crucified at the holiness of “the Ideology of Pakistan”, a concept I am yet to understand. Individuals and dynasties are sanctified to keep them unquestionable. Every endeavor is made to avoid collective leadership in the form of institutions. Adhocism is the order of the day.
Though diversity was less than India but asymmetry was too deep. The fear and facts has no place to get rectified. Bengal had numerical superiority, Punjab was rich, educated and the
citadel of power. As soon as the religious sentiments settled down the era of conspiracies took off. The official cum national language, Urdu, deepened the cleavage between Bengalis and the rest. The founder rushed to Dacca to plead the case of Urdu in English to Bengali speaking. But the damage was done.
In the Process poor Jinnah lost his personal originality. He was stripped paw by paw like an onion, dressed and undressed several times to be of some use to the vested of the of the rulers. He was totally retailored. He didn’t live long otherwise he would have not been treated any differently than his sister. It is still the case. Pakistan is sitting on the volcano of contradiction.
The disturbances in Dacca, did create uneasy feelings in the nucleus of power for future uprising and tolerance threshold was brought zero. The smuggled bureaucracy and Punjabi dominated army and civil elites came out with a strange formula of “PARITY” which was two edged sword. On one hand it negated the numerically superiority of Bengalis 54% was made equal to 46%, on the other hand Karachi, Peshawar and Quetta were made subservient to Lahore. Nationalism was declared anti-Islamic but Pakistani nationalism was bestowed upon heavenly sanctity and was started building without success.
After the fall of Dacca, the diversity with asymmetry became more bitter and tyrannical. Punjab with numerical superiority is home to 90% security forces, civil elites and industrial magnets with advanced established irrigational system having strong agricultural base from British raj. United Punjab was food basket for India, West Punjab is the same for new Pakistan.
Karachi is another ectopic of industrial glomerulus. The whole Pakistan has been invested in these two places. In last 42 years KPK and Baluchistan is home to terrorists. Fata is Kakool of un-owned terrorists, though made in Pakistan. Baluchistan is under long boots so is the Federal area. No national & international investor can invest in hot spots. Punjab is getting two budgets provincial and federal (Shares of the King & Crown Prince) plus almost 80% foreign investment are done in the same basket. That is to say all the eggs are in one basket. The 3 hinterlands are at the total mercy of the Punjab.
No questions can be raised about security linked mega projects. Security belongs to the Punjab and the three federates are security risk in Punjab dominated State. Indian monstrosity is used when needed. New Economical & strategic tunnel is being made from China to Punjab. Army will look after its security and make sure that the “desired result” are achieved. Its economic viability is in question as it links Pakistan with the Western Province of China which has less economic base than Pakistan. Most of China Industrial growth is on Eastern coasts with most developed sea ports. Western China is spread over 60% of main land China with 6-10 % of population
In this backdrop, where do we stand whether it is democracy or military rule? The rulers will be definitely from the mainland? Yes; if it is civil rule we can bark a bit more but we have no coherent voice to be understood. Nor we will ever have it.
The bicameral federal democracy is the only answer but in prevailing circumstances the bicameral system has been made ineffectual. The federation house (The upper House or Senate) is powerless. The Senate, where federates have an equal representation has been robbed of power and will never be given. Voluntary power sharing is unheard in Muslims history. In such an imbalance and lopsided state, the Senate must be the most powerful institution to allay anxiety and fears. In national decisions and mega projects the house of federation should have the final say, it should be by consensus. The Lower house is elected on adult franchise and will be Punjab Dominated. The recent CPEC and Panama gate issues can only be settled amicably by federal house. All these are wishes not practically envisaged.
In the lower house 62% of the so called legislators are hailing from Punjab. Putting all the three other federates together are numerically not in a position to defend themselves from Punjab’s hegemony. It is awesomely asymmetrically and imbalance situation. It is of paramount importance that the federal house is empowered to be decision maker to safeguard the smaller federates. At present the dictatorship of Sherwani and Jinnah cap is ruling with absolute centralization of authority. The structure of the federal cabinet is the shining example. If the political strategic peaks are occupied by Punjab dominated Military and the other heights of importance are sieged by the Punjab Civil Elites.
We are against dictatorship, not the dress. The numerical superiority is backed by Military bureaucratic clique having all resources at their disposal. The present situation is more dangerous than what was there in the old Jinnah’s Pakistan where Bengalis had “only” numerical superiority but had no share in State Structure or government. Otherwise also, there is an unwritten policy that except Punjabi politicians, other federates are security risk, even Bhutto family suffered for the lack of this qualification. Mr. Aftab Khan Sherpao who has been C.M. of KPK several times and federal Interior Minister told me the same in an interview that no visionary leader from small federates is tolerated by Punjab according to SBB. Punjab can accept anything but never power sharing.
Even the unfounded phobia of a mere threat to hegemons creates havoc in Lahore. The 70 election held by Gen. Yahiya, which is claimed on Pakistani standard, to be quite fair & the subsequent landslide by Awami League has further decreased the threat perception level of Punjabi elites and have increased phobia, obsessionals at time with knee jerk response against the traitors is common. After Yahiya election they were ready to sacrifice Quid’s Pakistan at the altar of authority. When it comes to share power nothing is relevant or holy to the rulers. A.M Asghar Khan, famous words are still echoing in our ears, when lathies were raised in Lahore and bullet were fired at Dacca, our beloved Pakistan was buried in slums of Dacca and Muslims were divided second time for the sake of power, the fortress of Islam collapsed. Mr. Daulatana said to Yahiya; let us bury this headache forever. (AWK).
The three federates are in a worse situation, a big minority, considered by the State as security risk. The sanctity of the ballot is particularly eroded by the role of money and covert
manipulation of the Military Establishment. If, one has to honestly define the present prevailing civil system, “It is a system by the money, of the moneyed and for the moneyed”.
Our support as nationalists cum democrats is for the system, not because that it is a democratic in nature but we feel it is the only way to train the public to realize the importance of their vote who will use their ballot wisely and people with vision and ideas will be elected.
The political parties will attain maturity to be elected on manifesto rather than cult. Money, cult and dynasty are few important factors that has made the house irrelevant. Most of the decision are made outside the house. The leader of the house feels it below his/ her dignity to attend the proceedings. Another criminal practice that we have inherited from Military dictators is, to bribe the elected legislators with huge amount as developmental funds to secure his/her constituency for the other election. This vicious circle is repeating itself again and again.
On the top of it, Military has occupied all the strategic heights in political terrain. Out of 69 years they have ruled directly for 35 years, the rest of the time they have been pulling the strings from behind. The citadel of power remains GHQ. A bit of aberration from the norms can cost dearly? Mr. Bhutto and Benazir were the most typical example.
Democracy is neither an irrigated field nor any industry making all consumable things of day to day use, nor a tree full of all sorts of fruits or honeycomb full of honey. One just presume that it will let us speak, think or write for our rights. I just hate the long boots but what the boots of the famous Harrods is playing is far from comprehension? It is a big question mark?
It is still hoped by a group of giddies that if democracy is failing, give more democracy to resuscitate the system, good for” dining hall discussion”. We have such a crooked system that its own survival lies with the moneyed hegemons, disfranchising more than 90% of the population. Even in Punjab, there is no chance that liberals, democrats, and federalist can be electable. If such threat became visible or palpable the greatest hegemon will jump to nip it in bud.
My political journey started in 1962 and 54 years on I feel that my dream has gone yellow, to be honest. Though it was not less than a nightmare but I kept on dreaming of Pakistan as a bouquets of flower with five nations with different culture adding beauty, with different fragrance, no national or individual exploitation and all social justice for all. Unity in diversity with no big hegemon brother and no small weak and meek one. All were dreams of insane.
Though my political philosophy was directly antagonistic to ground realities but being the follower of Abdul Ghaffar Khan, I could not think of an alternative. Fatima Jinnah election, crack down on Bengalis followed by the dismissal of KPK and Baluchistan nationalists governments and the massacre of Liaquat Bagh had profound effect on my mind and process of thinking.
I was coming to the conclusion that the very creation of this country is against our Dream. How can it be made possible to change the attitude of Islamic colonizers? The non-believer of love, and reconciliation could not be converted to abandon the policy of hate and opt for peaceful
co- existence instead for want of occupation. There was a fight going on between my philosophy of love and the visible hard rock realities of hate. I was feeling that I am cheating myself and the miseries of my nation and all oppressed and disfranchised classes. Nationalism in the frame of Humanity is unacceptable in the country.
Our movement was structurally tailored for non-violent political struggle and service to humanity. I felt disgusted at times and felt my philosophy was probably a workable option during the colonial rule but has lost relevance in Pakistan. The alternative was not enshrined. It was changed from freedom struggle into a political nonviolent struggle for rights, to achieve through bicameral federal system. Was it workable option in the new circumstances particularly after fall of Dacca?
My anger and frustration was shifting from Muslim League towards Indian leadership and British. I felt and still believe that we were backstabbed by Congress. The backstabbing and throwing us to the wolves, made our organization K.K. irrelevant in the new Circumstances. It changed the perception of freedom into rights (A Commodity at best)
I felt if we pursue our most revered philosophy, we will not find nationhood. Nonviolence is in the grip of most violent ideology and state. The question of national rights, identity with historical sanctity is in direct conflict with the most obnoxious state. I kept on arguing with my top and second line leadership and found a strong majority of the same view. It looked all were more aware but some invisible might was holding them.
Before partition the colonizer were civilized and believing in political decency. The new black Islamists colonizer are uncultured and oblivious to civility. If we, did not play our cards rightly at that time, that was our mistake. We can blame Brits and Indian Congress but we can’t hold them responsible.
There was a small section of the intellectuals and intelligentsia were on a vicious campaign to get independence but their hands were in others hand. Without domestic spade work they wanted freedom to be obtained by others.
Jinnah, kept on asking Lord Mount Baton to dissolve the then N.W.F.P. government. They had exchange of letters, a long discourse on constitutional and non-constitutional narratives. The Viceroy asked for the reason for his insistence. Jinnah was blunt, “I just hate them.” The viceroy asked him to wait for a while, it is a matter of few days.” You (Jinnah) will be the Governor General and do whatever you want?” He did exactly what he wanted.
I kept on arguing one can discuss a national issue with a dignified nation, not with the crowd of midnight children. Politics of non-violence is a paraphernalia of highly intellectual mental caliber people, the present lot does not fall in this bracket. With each passing day they starved the people to attain strategic equalization to tighten their stranglehold internally and strengthen offensive posture externally. If they could go 1000 miles and kill 2 Million Bengalis, we have just the Indus between us. Moral values are unknown to them.
I would keep on arguing that our dream cannot be materialized unless we are United and Free. I did agree with the notion that ultimately this incompatible transplant (Pakistan) will be rejected by universal body politics but I could not accept it without our role in the process. I was of the firm belief that any process without our leading role will plunge us into another slavery. As a young man I must confess we went for a declaration of freedom signed by our blood but every time it was no more than a disappointment. Every time I was reminded by the saying of a great scholar who said,” I freed thousands of slavery and would have done more, if they knew they are slaves.” Apart from devastating effect on trade and connectivity, the creation of Pakistan had extremely negative impressions on human conception.”
If our movement was homogenous in its nature pre-partition, it was more heterogeneous glomerulus after the great divide. Many steeplechases sprouted up after two or three major political mistakes at the time of divide. No matter how painful it is, the dream has retroceded, it is long and fragmentary journey. Each fragment will be a shelter for a night but not the end and we have to stay in many shelters to chalk out different strategies for different segments to cover a long path to freedom. Life is like a motorway, if one miss the exit one has to go a long way to come back to the exact exit. But we should not discourage the aspirations. We must not stop coaching for realizations of aspiration. We must not be suicidal or fatalist too. We should never ever be pessimist or absconder from our dream. Let not our dream be the dream of an absconder as said by, A. Khattak.
The last chapter has yet to begin. As soon as the new generation realize occupation and slavery, the feeling of living in their own house on rent and having no tomorrow that will be the beginning of the last chapter. Unless the prayers of free man cherished and let the dawn flows quietly for a basic change with revolutionary zeal, the youth will start writing the new chapter. The day, when there will be no black man standing in the road leading to our homes, asking us, “Who are we? Where are we going”? The day the realization of slavery, nationhood and freedom is born and cherished the path will be more visible. When this realization takes a shape, the last chapter will be complete and so will be my book.
The author is a freelance writer. He can be reached at: email@example.com