Getting It Right With Pakistan

The BBC Documentary on Pakistan - The Secret Pakistan - is a classic statement of Western disillusion with Pakistan. But, is it also time to acknowledge that the Western world view, about how to manage the world after the Cold War, has failed?

In fact, one can look beyond Cold War and explore how Pakistan was created. The recent research suggests that Pakistan's creation emanated from direct British encouragement for a separate Muslim state. Though this was a long standing British policy in India, dating back at least to the early twentieth century, the earlier policy was directed towards weakening, or even denying, the Indian national identity. However, once the Independence of India was accepted as inevitable, this policy subtly shifted to the creation of a separate state on Indian North-West, a state which would have to rely on Western support to remain viable, and in return, will serve as an important outpost for Western interests in Persia, then the main petroleum producing country in the world. Furthermore, Pakistan, which was designed to be weak and dependent because of its fragile polity, and was further weakened by the migration of its intellectuals and middle class, mostly Hindu, in the years before Partition, was to be West's frontier state against Soviet imperialism, an aim which Pakistan would serve brilliantly during the dying days of Cold War.

I shall contend Pakistan was never a viable state as this was based on a colonial conception of the world, of that of unending conflicts between subject races, which was no longer true after the nationalist aspirations took hold. Indeed, there are fanatic Hindus in India who still subscribe to such a distorted vision and continue playing to the tunes of the imperial age, but in the age of global business and Internet, those conceptions are as dated and out of context as any can be. However, such Hindu nationalist fantasy on the Indian side, and some cynical politicking in Pakistan, have so far kept the colonial hangover alive. But in this format, Pakistan remains only viable as a client state of the West, or of some other sponsor if the West abdicates, and the Pakistani rulers have always played to the tune of Western masters to keep their seats.

Now to see Pakistan accused of double-dealing is somewhat ironic. The nascent nationalist pride in Pakistan, primarily pushed by the ascendancy of Hindu nationalists in India and their politics of brinkmanship, is at odds with founding purpose of Pakistan, that of a compliant Western client state. On the other hand, in a strange reversal of fortunes, as the Soviet threat subsided and China started showing its aspirations and possibilities of becoming a global power, the Western countries stopped seeing India as a threat, and started viewing it as the new frontier, a nation which will supply, some day in future, foot soldiers against the Chinese billions. Besides, as the surpluses stalled the Western economies, the conception of India as the market of a billion people started to take hold. In this new world, Pakistan became more of a liability than an asset, and the Pakistani ruling class, always disconnected from its people, had no choice but to double-deal, keep everyone happy and yet extract American aid-money as usual.

However, for all the disappointments, ruling classes in the West have not learnt lessons about Pakistan. They don't yet know however fragile its politics, it is a land of extremely resilient people - a land of hardworking peasants which can wait a thousand years to deliver justice. This is a land of warriors, people who fought various marauders through the ages, starting with, as the recorded history starts, Alexander the Great. It is a nation with nuclear arsenal, and very good reasons to use it. It is a poor nation, desperately exploited by its pandered ruling class. This is not a country which can forever be fooled, or should ever be forgotten. And, these lessons are not just for the West to learn: India, too, needs to see Pakistan with a fresh pair of eyes. It is Indians who estranged Pakistan by nuclear belligerence and Hindu rhetoric. However, a strong and stable India can not be built without a happy and prosperous Pakistan. They are the same nation, sharing the same waters and a plain, similar languages and values, and same sufferings over the centuries. All of us need to think about a new Pakistan, including the Pakistanis and their neighbours: I watched the video with this sense of foreboding.



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