About Pakistan: An Indian View
Because of Pakistan, India has a seize within. We remain a country in fear. We always see the world conspiring against us. We have created a permanent schism with China as it got closer to Pakistan after we refused to acknowledge their accession of Tibet. We were hurt when the great democrats of the United States treated Pakistan as a strategic priority and armed it, but regarded India as a Soviet lackey despite our firm commitment to non-alignment. We don't know what to think of the British, as it is they whose mischief is it all, and who always strategically supported Pakistan and created the expression we hate most, the hyphenated India-Pakistan.
But, then, India in 2009 is a different country than what we were in 1947. At least, so it should be. We should no longer live in our fear, in our cocoon. We should no longer be hurt. Our economic promise has been acknowledged. The special place in the world we longed for has been promised. The world is ready to treat us on our terms. But, before that, we must be at ease with ourselves. But, before we do that, we must address the issue of Pakistan.
Pakistan, indeed, was a creation which made no sense at that time or since. Whatever is the stated reason, it was a country created for the fear of democracy. The British administrators feared a strong India, buoyed by democracy, will become an ideal to follow for all of the colonies, and wanted to keep it poor and divided. This was their main motive in helping create Pakistan. The Indian rulers saw the exit of millions of Muslim voters as good riddance, which eliminated the need of contending with a powerful opposition at the parliament from day one. The Muslim leaders detested the dangerous idea of democracy anyway and could not stand the prospect of poor uneducated peasant Muslims challenging their landlords, who mostly made up the Muslim League, under the Nehruvian utopia of a democratic government. So, from day one, Pakistan was an impossible country, set up as a dyke on the way to progress, by the wretched colonialists, corrupt zaimnders and privileged babus.
But the promise of Pakistan was entirely different. For most of its citizens, it was freedom. It was about finding the lost glories of an Islamic country, at a time when, not unlike today, Islam seemed a religion slightly out of focus, one in decay as far as modern ideas are concerned. Pakistan was to become the land of hope and modernity in Islam, place of freedom from the British yoke and the Hindu dominance, of restoration of the Mughal grandeur and faith.
Pakistan's history always showed this divide - between what it was and what it was meant to be. The first schism in Pakistan when the bengalis, mostly farmers who loved to secede from India as this meant walking on their corrupt, absentee Hindu landlords and starting a new life of dignity, were horrified to find that the new Pakistani government wants them to speak in Urdu, a court language which they did not know or cared for. This schism continued, between the elite rulers of Western Pakistani origin and the farmers of East Pakistan, until it came to a breaking point when East Pakistan finally seceded after a bloody war and became Bangladesh. Not unexpectedly, this terminal crisis of Pakistan as it was came because of democracy, because the West Pakistani aristocrats refused to accept the verdict of a general election of 1970.
In Pakistan's history, democracy always remained a disruptive force. The cause is straightforward, it was a country built on the fear of democracy and remained as such. Pakistan remained a stolen dream, where a set of rich and powerful conspirators fooled a hardworking and honest populace into violence, war and ruin, and the history of Pakistan remained that way all these sixty odd years. George Washington warned Americans to avoid foreign entanglements; had he lived today, he would have added - see Pakistan - as this country ruined itself fighting other people's wars. And, this they had to, because by itself, the country represented nothing and the truth about Pakistan remained the most dangerous fact that its rulers needed to hide from its own people.
So, Pakistan will remain, as long as it exists as a state, a country perpetually in crisis, looking to send its people to other people's wars, so that they don't have time to seek the nation they were promised. India has so far played an ideal target - we tore ourselves in the middle out an imagined fear and became a mirror image of Pakistan ourselves. We positioned ourselves against the people of Pakistan, and our own Muslim citizens, and threw ourselves into a seize we laid on ourselves. We feared everything and let the fear-mongers, like the genocidal Narendra Modi, steal our country, our ideals, from ourselves too. The stealing of Pakistan is gradually leading to stealing of the whole South Asia.
Just as our British masters wished. But the success of the scheme has gone beyond their wildest imagination. South Asia, which could have become one of the world's richest, most powerful, regions, remain mired in poverty, violence and hopelessness. The problem with this scheme is that this was essentially hatched by a few out of touch colonialists, who saw the world in terms of zero-sum sphere of influence and wanted everyone else, other than themselves, miserable. Though the leadership thinking is still shaped by such ideas even today, the world has changed fundamentally and has become far more interconnected and interdependent than those days. It is a more challenging world - with weapons on more hands, poverty and deprivation in more homes, more reasons to kill and the fact that we are to run out of breathable air and all be submerged in water soon if we don't act together - but then it is still a world full of possibilities, one that allows us more opportunities and more excuses to be more sensible, more compassionate towards others and better, in the widest sense of the word, people. The colonial zero-sum vision was always grossly inadequate for these challenges and these opportunities, and in South Asia, more than in any other region in the world, such limitations have become plain to see.
But then, it is in no one's interest to continue things as it is, least of all India's. The failure to imagine should be the last reason for us to succumb to and shy away from the historic opportunity that we have to turn the clock and play our rightful role in the world. And, in this context, we must solve the issue of Pakistan with matching realism, escaping the trap set out by Pakistan's rulers and putting things in broader context. Peace with India will actually lead to an existential problem in Pakistan, as will any grassroots democratic reform away from the clutches of the army and the usual oligarchs. But, one would hope that whatever comes of it will be a more sustainable state than the current post-colonial aberration of a state. People of current Pakistan and people of South Asia indeed deserves better: we should indeed try to create a new Pakistan based on democracy and tolerance rather than pakistanizing the whole region based on violence and chauvinism.