Vichaar on Pakistan

The issue is not Kashmir, but Pakistan’s troubling raison d’être

Here’s Chanakya’s simple, succinct description of the real problem in South Asia – not Kashmir, but Pakistan itself, in that it is yet reconciled to a living without needing to hate India.

Pakistan in its current form is defined and run as being at war with India. This is unique in the history of the world, as never before has a nation state been created solely to wage war and oppose another. India must realize this and work towards a more holistic long term solution – one that allows for a stable, secular and democratic Pakistan to emerge, while at the same time aggressively neutralizing threats to India’s emergence. While the world might some day wake up to realize the urgency of this, it is not going to happen anytime soon. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s existential crisis is holding a billion people hostage. [Vichaar]

5 thoughts on “Vichaar on Pakistan”

  1. Hmm… I have to disagree. I agree that in 1947 Pakistan’s raison d’etre was questionable. I think it is quite well established today that the demand for Pakistan was a bluff gone wrong. But 50 years have passed by, East Pakistan has gone its own way, the Two Nation Theory has been debunked, but still Pakistan exists. In these 50 years though the country has developed its own culture and its own identity which is in itself its raison d’etre. Although “hating India” used to define Pakistan, that certainly is not the case today. Things have changed, and I sometimes feel that it is now the Indian side that needs to realize that it is not hated.

  2. There are two problems with this approach:

    Firstly as the above commenter notes, Pakistan was not created to ‘wage war on India’ this is a ridicolous statement that betrays a deep misunderstanding of history. It was created to porovide a safe homeland for South Asian Muslims on the Jinnah-ML premise that they could never enjoy security and full peaceful development in a non-majority Muslim state. Now I have my problems with the two-nation theory, but it is no use pretending that there is not an element of truth in this fear as current developments in India have shown. And it is no use blaming the rise of chauvinist religious fundamentalism in our own country on Pakistan – this is at best a secondary factor.

    Secondly, I concur wholeheartedly with the sentiments about working towards a stable and democratic Pakistan; being a secularist I also want a secular state as well. But when have we ever seriously engaged in a concerted political strategy to bring this about? The early administrations all thought Pakistan would break up under the weight of its own contradictions and re-join India and the later ones settled into their love-to-hate relationships quite comfortably. None of the current political streams in India really have much of theory on how to acheive this; either being concerned with other priorities or simply wishing for some minimal concessions in return. The problem is that we need to realise that any such development cannot be foisted on from the outside; democracy needs have deep and self-sustaining domestic roots, external actors can at best play a facilitating role (one which we have not yet worked out). We also need to examine our own actions more closely; I find it gratuitous that Pakistan gets blamed for ‘holding one billion people hostage’ – really, who crossed the nuclear threshold first and escalated a MAD-type scenario? As for secularism, are we really in a strong position to lecture other nations about it, given the signficant problems we ourselves face. or about respectiong federal democracy, given that so manny of our regional irredentism has its roots in the machinations of the Centre to subvert peripheral and localised democracies within such regions, in clear violation of the spirit of our constitution and political system? We need first of all, to carry out these internal reforms before palming off blame to others outside the national space; with our size and internal strength, there is no reason that these problems can’t be solved, no matter what external forces do to de-stabilise the situation. If they can’t the main cause lies not in the strength or power of these outside actors, but in our own weakness.

  3. What tripe! The above 2 comemntators, intelligent people they seem like, are spouting obvioous nonsense. The Paki establishment needs enemity with India simply in order to feed itself. The Military-intelligence estbmt, a state within a state is the de-facto supreme power within Pak and its raison d’etre, budgetary provisions, purchase wishlists everything depends on the projetion of an external threat so strong it trumps all other concerns. Witness a disproportionate spend on Paki military ionfrastructure as opposed to civilian and social infrastructure. Witness the ranting by no less than the PM level about ‘ eating even grass to build nukes and fight a 1000 year war against India’. Witness ISI machinations and trouble-stirring attempts from Kashmir to the N-E, from Kerala to Bihar. Witness theinflexible posturing and periodic threats ‘solve the core issue or else…’
    Why should India give pak 2 cents of its time? When we know full well that pak is (willing, maybe but) unable to pursue peace with India and yet be at peace with itself? Even if kashmir is handed on a platter, Pak will find something else to crib about. Pak is undemocratic, insecure, untrustworthy and unchangeable. Let them be, we should ignore them and focus instead on building a strong economy and physical/social and legal infrastructure in the country.

  4. The problem with the above view, is that while I think it captures the thinking of key and influential sections of the Pakistani military junta; it doesn’t go to the heart of what the problems between the two nations are and mis-understands some of the points made in the original excerpted post. Of course, the Pakistani military has elements that see a vested interest in prolonging the conflict; but I don’t think its policy can be simplistically reduced to this, even some Islamist and rather autocratic leaders like Zia were very realistic in how far they could push this and didn’t engage in potentially suicidal acts of brinkmanship like the Kargil fiasco. But most importantly I don’t see how an unrepresentative ruling state elite can be conflated with an entire nation of people; the two are distinct and need to be treated differently. Even a stable, democratic and possibly secular Pakistan will have its issues with us – one only needs to look at relations with other neighbouring states like Bangladesh and Nepal to see that being a democracy or a non-Islamic country is no guarantee of good bilateral relations.

    The mindset that Pakistan is a country created solely with the ‘aim of destroying India’ is a very unhelpful one to say the least and this is the point I was trying to make in my initial comment. Apart from anything else, there are over 100 million Pakistanis and just like any other people, they are attached to their nation-state, despite thier problems with it. It is simply unrealistic to expect them to be told that their entire national existence is some sort of mistake; no people will accept this kind of attitude by another state.

  5. Yes, I think Mr. Barwa has got it right. There are certainly elements within the Army and the ISI for whom it is in their interests to always take an anti-India stance. But just because a few people think that way does not make it the raison d’etre for the whole country. The overwhelming majority of Pakistanis do not have the time to bother thinking about India everyday… they have their own problems with Pakistan to worry about. And when India does enter their universe, it is usually in the form of Indian films, Indian music, Indian poets and Indian soap operas (Zee’s “Kyoon ki saas bhi kabhi bahu thi” is a hugely popular show in Pakistan). The Pakistani entity with a raison d’etre purely based on taking an anti-India stance is the Pakistani cricket team 🙂

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