When we as Pakistanis discuss the partition of the sub continent and creation of Pakistan, we usually refer to the freedom movement led by both Congress and Muslim League in the backdrop of events within the united India and the Jinnah-Nehru rivalry. We also ignore to shut our eyes to the reality that despite a sustained freedom struggle, Jinnah’s Pakistan has remained elusive due to the instability created by various power houses within and outside Pakistan’s politic body.
By 1951, most of the die hard and ideological supporters of Jinnah had become back benchers, others left for India and those who dared became traitors or got the lead clad in copper. The entire construct of Pakistan as an equal opportunity and democratic republic evaporated in the heat of political machinations exploited by elites and zealots who themselves were never the vanguard of Jinnah’s movement. By 1956, the army as the strongest institution was hobnobbing with USA and in 1958 in full grip of political power. This political seesaw has continued without addressing the factors of perennial political instability; except that all interventions notwithstanding military or political have served to secure great power interests while compromising Pakistan’s strategic equilibrium and political institutions.
Though most Pakistanis recognize and acknowledge the foreign intervention factor, none dilate that this same factor could have had an effect on the creation and future of Pakistan, evidently so because such research does not help our process of inventive nationalism and distortion of history. Had the bull be taken by the horns then, our generation of Pakistanis and the one before us would have evolved a modern and prosperous Pakistan.
History suggests that at the end of WW II, USA having emerged as the greatest military, economic and maritime power was not interested in dividing India. However due to relentless pressure of Jinnah and Nehru’s rejection of the Cabinet Mission Plan, it was not possible for Britain to deny freedom to India through partition. It was also in their interests to create a Muslim buffer between the godless communism and rapidly growing relations between the congress, USSR and China. Hence Pakistan was given freedom with a bleeding Kashmir wound and the containing Radcliffe Award drawn not by Mountbatten as the common perception is but by Frank Wavell who handed him a map cutting across the Indus River System. The controversies thus created would ensure that Pakistan does not grow beyond a certain point and coalesce with other Muslim neighbors to challenge imperial interests. Britain’s Afghan Policy with obsession of CARS could be pursued through a containment front that ultimately served the British and US interests in the 80s. This remains the constant road map; and hence the interchangeability of military interventions and political instability.
Ayub Khan’s intimate relations with USA not only allowed him to modernize the armed forces but also urged him to become the first military dictator of Pakistan. Yet when he began to say, ‘Friend not Masters’ it needed a price hike in sugar to remove him through another military man who presided over the partition of Pakistan.
When Bhutto coalesced too close to the Saudis and Iranians to make an Islamic Union, challenge the world through an oil embargo, settle Durand Line with Afghanistan and nuclearise Pakistan, he was sent to the gallows by another military man harvested in the killing fields of Jordan.
The man who served US interests so well in the Mock Afghan Jihad was blown up in air because he too had begun to harbor notions of a greater Ummah and Islamic Bomb.
Benazir was thrown out twice not because she was corrupt but for supporting Pakistan’s Nuclear Development much beyond the point her father had envisioned and bringing political stability to a war torn Afghanistan by cajoling Mullah Umar and Taliban. She was murdered because it was impossible to kill the Bhutto in her.
General Pervez Musharraf was forced to resign not because he wanted but because he was accused of playing a double game by USA. He was guilty of not doing enough.
If this be the precedence, empirically what is next?
The print and electronic media is rife with conspiracy theories about the winds of change. There are at least five lists being circulated by aspirants, technocrats and fly by night reformers. Most pundits due to obvious reasons rule out a conventional military intervention. Some theorists are pointing towards a military backed political change with the objective to eradicate corruption and usher good governance. There are still others who pray that the change takes place constitutionally in light of various Supreme Court Judgments and their defiance by the government. Yet there are diverse dreamers who wish to re revamp the entire system through a revolution and either return to Jinnah’s Dream or a Talibanised Emirate.
Having been a keen and critical student of Pakistan’s political sociology, allow me to comment that that if a change does take place, it shall only be cosmetic. In view of many skeletons in the cupboard, only the pawns will perish and Pakistan will continue to serve other’s interests but its own.
As ever, I also pray that if a constitutional change does take place, it pursues the aspirations of the people of Pakistan. This wish is not asking the moon.
Brigadier Samson Simon Sharaf is a retired officer of Pakistan Army and a Political Economist.