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Mullah Power

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 Mullah Power in Pakistan

Lord Mountbatten got into a hurry (despite having sufficient time to decide) to give independence, which is still not rationally explained. His expalanation was that if he delayed further, the price paid could have been much higher. But that is only an assumption. In any case, it is difficult to see why it could have been any worse: not only was the country divided but partition cost hundreds of thousands of lives in a matter of weeks, and launched a series of wars which has not ended. It has been suggested that the British hurried the transfer of power because they were aware of something which no one else, apart from Jinnah, knew - that the `father of Pakistan' had terminal tuberculosis, and if he died before the plans for Pakistan could be announced, the whole concept for a separate country might collapse.

Pakistan was not created by Muslim masses. It owed its birth to a handful of `leaders' who were not content with separate beliefs - they wanted separate electorates, languages, dress, identities and finally separate homes. Even commentators sympathetic to Pakistan have noted the absence of mass support for Muslim League. There has been too much obsession with the idea of a personality making the vital difference between India and Pakistan. In this same vein, Jawaharlal Nehru's survival has been called the reason for the success of democracy in India, Nehru played a unique rule in stabilizing the nation, but to say that he alone stablished democracy is patently untrue.

India may progress faster because of the brilliance of one Prime minister, or stagnate because of the indifferent quality of another. But the nation will collapse only if its fundamental ideology, its democratic secular base is eroded - nothing else. The most brilliant dictator will not be able to keep India together. And the shoddiest democrat will find it difficult to break the country. Army rule in Pakistan was inevitable. The army had one crucial thing its favor. While every other institution was busy committing suicide in the very first decade of Pakistan's existence, the army had been consolidating its strength, power and prestige. It is interesting that in India precisely the opposite was happening. While the judiciary, the legislatures and the other vital organs of a democratic society, such as the media, were leraning the difficult lesson of how to manage the coexistence of freedom with responsibility, the Indian armed forces were neglected - as was all too evident during the China war of 1962. This neglect of the Indian army may have been unintentional, but it was not accidental: it was simply due to the fact that the energies and the interests of the men who took the charge of India were concentrated either on economic development or on the grwoth of democratic institutions.

The task was not easy, and it required the genius of a Nehru to protect the values enshrined in the Indian constitution while trying to solve the enormous problems that stood in the way. India and Pakistan inherited many similar problems: refugees, regionalism, the threat inherent in a national language acceptable to large sections of people, religious conflict (far more dangerous now in India, than in Pakistan) and worst of all, poverty and hunger. But the two nations went about trying to find answers in completely different ways. While Pakistan indulged in a harlequin era, India went through hardship with a belief that has been only grudgingly recorded, when it has been mentioned at all. While India defied the world's worst predictions, Pakistan had to experience the rule of genrals (which never was on Jinnah's agenda) to find out about itself. And after its first decade of army rule, now described as the Golden era, Pakistan discovered that it was not a nation at all.

Masters, Not Friends

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