PFS 1: Why Pakistan?

Chapter 1


Why write about Pakistan?

Pakistan is a huge, populous and diverse nation that has the curious distinction of having been suddenly born in 1947, and it has been an aggressive and implacable neighbor of India.

Most Indians do not understand Pakistan or Pakistanis. Many tend to look at the similarities and remark, “Pakistanis are just like us”. That may appear true but it is important to understand that Pakistanis do not feel like Indians and do not like to say “Indians are just like us”. In fact Pakistanis have spent all those decades since independence trying to show how Pakistan is not like India. And in the intervening years Pakistan, Pakistani institutions and Pakistanis have developed certain unique and recognizable defining features. While these features have been noted time and again by innumerable people in a large number of books, newspaper reports and magazines, no effort been made to collect this information and put it all together between the covers of a single book.

More that anything else, this book can be considered a Review of the literature on Pakistan. In the field of medical research, a Review of the literature is often used to collect and collate information about a disease from various sources. Such a review collects up all the available information about a given disease from all the medical papers available on the subject and consolidates the information in one document. That document then serves as a comprehensive reference point for information about the subject.

This book is a collection and review of what has been written about Pakistan in various sources over many years. It is a summary of the experiences and descriptions of many people who have reported or written about Pakistan. The book carries many direct quotes from various authors and these quotes are in italics, while the sources from which the quotes have been taken are listed in the reference section at the end of the book.

There are a few things that Indian readers should keep in mind while reading this book.

First, referring to Pakistan does not mean that we are obliquely referring to Indian Muslims. Indians often become embarrassed or angry in discussions about Pakistan and Pakistanis. Indians who talk about Pakistan or Islam are often considered to be opponents of secularism and tolerance, and are sometimes called saffron sympathizers. For this reason Pakistan and Islamic extremism emanating from Pakistan have almost been taboo subjects in India, not to be discussed by secular non-Muslim Indians, lest they should hurt the sentiments of Muslims in India. An automatic and needless mental connection is made between the subject of Pakistan and the Muslims of India. This is both unfortunate and unfair to Indian Muslims. Today, Indian Muslims are quite different from Pakistanis, and it is an insult to Indian Muslims to refer to them as being associated with Pakistan.

Vir Sanghvi, the managing editor of the Hindustan Times has written about this (1):

At a sub-conscious level, some Indians make the simplistic assumption that because (nearly) all pakistanis are Muslims, so all Muslims must be Pakistanis in their hearts. This is an obvious logical fallacy and it is also deeply insulting to all Indian Muslims - including Zaheer Khan and Irfan Pathan who are setting out for Pakistan, determined to keep the Indian flag flying on the cricket field, to say nothing of the thousands of Muslims who have died fighting Pakistan.

It requires a deliberate act of mental re-orientation for non-Muslims in India to learn to talk about Pakistanis without equating them with Indian Muslims. This vestigial thought process remains in many Indian minds like a dark cloud, a hangover from partition, and that is unfortunate. Pakistan is Pakistan, a separate nation, and Pakistanis are Pakistanis, not Indians. Pakistanis are no longer Indians. Indians are Indians, not Pakistanis. Muslims in India are not Pakistanis, they are Indians. Confusion and misunderstanding in Indian attitudes more than five decades after independence are certainly a factor in the Indian inability to develop a coherent Pakistan policy.

Another point to note is that no discussion or description of Pakistan can even begin to be meaningful without considering the role that Islam plays on the mind of the Pakistani. Here again, we must remember that when we speak of Pakistan and Islam we are not referring to Indian Muslims and the vastly different way in which Islam has evolved in India since independence. One of the purposes of this book is to show precisely what has been done with Islam in Pakistan. The situation and attitudes of Muslims in India are no longer comparable to those in Pakistan. There are many assumptions and misconceptions that need to be reviewed, and these will become clear in subsequent chapters.

As the Indian economy forges ahead there is an increasing constituency of Indians who feel that Pakistan is a small problem that can be ignored, and call for an avoidance of what seems to be an Indian obsession with Pakistan. But Pakistan cannot be ignored by India for many reasons.

The events of independence and partition had a deep effect on the Indian psyche. The appearance of the new nation Pakistan as a neighbor, with people who were brothers and compatriots until very recently created a complex conflict, a love-hate relationship that affected Indian society. With Pakistani leaders attempting to speak for the Muslims in India, many non-Muslim Indians got polarized mainly into two groups, neither of whom were able to look upon Indian Muslims as they should have been looked at, as Indians like everyone else. One group of Indians began to view their Muslim compatriots with hostility as recessed Pakistanis who were always seen cheering for Pakistan in cricket matches. Another group of Indians took the opposite viewpoint that Indian Muslims, unless treated in an especially favorable and kind manner, would somehow feel upset enough to want to side with Pakistan. Pakistan has thus had a great impact on Hindu-Muslim relations in India, and has put a great strain on the ancient Indian tradition of tolerance and pluralism.

Apart from the deep mental scar that partition left on the Indian psyche, the importance of Pakistan lies in its extreme hostility to India. In the first 55 years after independence, the Indian armed forces have had to fight wars on eight occasions (2). In five of those wars armed forces from Pakistan have been the adversary that Indian civilians and Indian soldiers have had to face. Four of these conflicts are discussed in chapter 11, and the fifth engagement with Pakistan still continues at the time of writing, with the infiltration of armed terrorists from Pakistan into India as part of a low grade war to bleed India (chapter 12). From 1965, the Indian armed forces and paramilitary have had to expand to keep pace with the massive build up and continuing assaults from Pakistan.

Indians cannot afford to forget the lessons that can be learned from events like the India-China conflict of 1962, or the naive policy of appeasement of Adolf Hitler followed by British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. Unilateral pacifism displayed by one nation state when another nation shows every sign of being ready for war is a policy that begs for defeat and disaster. No matter how well intentioned and peaceable a nation state may be, the presence of a belligerent neighbor is a signal that military strength must be adequate to meet any aggressive intent, and if necessary take the battle into the aggressor’s territory. But this build up must not come in the way of urgently needed development and modernization. A policy of ignoring Pakistan’s military intent and might would be a formula for a disaster of unimaginable proportions, while a policy that puts too much emphasis on hurriedly delivering a total military defeat on Pakistan could divert too large a proportion of meager resources towards a war machine. That is one of the mistakes that Pakistani leaders committed, and India would do well to learn from that.

By studying what Pakistan has done, or has not done since independence, Indians have a lot to learn. It is still possible for Indians to make the mistakes Pakistanis have made. Pakistan has made a whole tapestry of errors that Indians can choose to repeat or avoid. Overconfidence, underestimation of problems and hurdles, blindness to the impact of religious discrimination, discrimination against minorities and mal-distribution of wealth, ignoring corruption, a population explosion and social inequity, and attempting to play great power games in the absence of a matching military-industrial-economic capability are some of the mistakes that Pakistan has made, mistakes that India could still make.

Finally, every attempt has been made in this work to avoid direct comparisons between India and Pakistan, except where it is unavoidable. There is a very important reason for that, and it requires elaboration. Although both India and Pakistan started off as having been part of one nation in the pre-Independence era, the two entities cannot really be compared. India is four times larger than Pakistan in land area and currently has a population that is over seven times the size of Pakistan’s population. This means that all numbers and figures relating to India are automatically bigger than those of Pakistan.

To illustrate why a direct comparison between India and Pakistan can be misleading we need to use an analogy:

Imagine India to be a box with 100 eggs in it, but 30 of those eggs are broken. Imagine Pakistan to be a smaller box with 10 eggs in it, and 5 of those eggs are broken. A direct comparison will show that the India box has 30 broken eggs, and the Pakistan box has only 5 broken eggs, and it would seem that the India box is in a far worse shape, with many more broken eggs. But what is hidden from this comparison, is that the India box has 70 intact eggs while the Pakistan box has only 5 intact eggs.

Direct comparisons of numbers regarding Pakistan and India are misleading because of the difference in size, but Pakistani leaders have persistently tried to hide problems within Pakistan such as poverty and illiteracy by saying that India has more problems than Pakistan. All references to Pakistani problems are referred to by Pakistani spokespersons as South Asian problems, South Asian poverty, South Asian hunger, and South Asian illiteracy. All that this does is to hide the magnitude of the problems in Pakistan, and hide the chronic mismanagement of Pakistan.

India and Pakistan do share many of the same problems, but a comparison of the real figures between India and Pakistan shows that Pakistan is not doing well, and is falling behind, even though the number of people who are poor in Pakistan, and the number of people requiring education in Pakistan are far smaller than the number in India.

Pakistan’s task should have been easier, but Pakistan is failing even to achieve a smaller task. For every child that Pakistan educates, India has to educate seven children in order to “match Pakistan”. But India is not merely matching Pakistan, it has moved ahead in literacy and is racing ahead in other parameters. A direct comparison of numbers will not reveal this and such direct comparisons are useful only to hide Pakistan’s increasing problems.

And while these figures get worse, a quick comparison of the Pakistani armed forces and the Indian armed forces is illustrative of what the two countries have been doing since Independence. With India having a population that is seven times as big as that of Pakistan, the Indian army should have been at least three or four times the size of the Pakistan army. But that is not the case; the Indian army is less than one and a half times as big as the Pakistani army. That is because, since independence India has spent relatively more on development and less on defense while Pakistan has spent almost everything on arms and very little on development.

Pakistan of course was amply aided by other nations, but these details will be discussed later. In this book we will examine the state that Pakistan has got itself into and deal with how it got into its current crisis. In 2007 Pakistan is not in an enviable state. Anyone who has wished for anything bad to happen to Pakistan is likely to find great joy in the condition that Pakistan has reached.

1 comment:

bhaiji said...

India plays cricket with Pakistan because it is the only field where it's leadership thinks it can win.
They speak Latin to a deaf person who does not listen to any reason. Te result is huge loss of efforts, resources and time to a nation which can hardly bear it for ages to come. What legacy is being left to future generations of India?