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Masters, not friends

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 Masters, Not Friends

Bhutto, who had worked with Ayub Khan, has recorded that his mentor bore an intense prejudice against the Bengali. It was not just a matter of individual whim. Ayub Khan symbolized the Pathan-Punjabi arrogance which would catalyze the destruction of Pakistan. When the army came to power, it transferred these prejudices into policies, both economic and cultural. As scathing to the Bengali heart was the oft-expressed belief that the Bengali language and culture was inferior/Hindu/non-martial/feminine and therefore contemptible (the woman is very much a third-class human being in the machismo of the `virile' Pathan or Punjabi of Pakistan

Army rule is the only another manifestation of all that is wrong with the idea and state of Pakistan. Being non-ideological by training and ability, it was inevitable that the military would one day sieze power in a nation without an ideology. Pakistan was a geographical area turned into a country, without a controlling cohesive idea which could generate a genuine nationalism among the masses or the leaders. The civilian politicians tried their best to disguise this fact, but they floundered and failed because their minds were not rooted at some point in political faith. You can not rule an artificial creation; you can only provide temporary order. And it was only logical, therefore, that the uniformed guardians of order, the armed forces, would one day sieze power. But the essential problem remained, of course: behind the order, there was no law, there was nothing to believe in, nothing to respect, nothing to unify the people. You can not create a country simply to express faith in Allah; the Muslim who believes in Allah will do so from anywhere - in Africa or America or China or India. It is not surprising therefore, that notwithstanding three attempts (all endorsed by legislatures), Pakistan still does not have a Constitution upon which the country is agreed. A Constitution is an expression of faith, not an excercise in semantics.

The Baluchis had been dragged into Pakistan; before partition, theirs was a feudal state, and they wanted to retain their status after 1947. Pakistan sent its army to ensure accession in 1948, and the first Pakistani army campaign against the Baluchis was conducted by Ayub Khan in 1949. Baluchi leaders were hanged; the movement subsided, only to revive with new currents flowing in the post-Bangladesh era. A civil war ensued, in which upto four Pakistani divisions were engaged. In August- September of 1974, the Pakistani army and airforce launched a massive aerial-ground operation which once more brought Baluchis into submission.

Tariq Ali sums up the consequences in his book: `The Pak army, discredited after the debacle in Bangladesh, was now given a new opportunity to occupy the country's political stage. It is worth stressing that the longest military campaigns conducted by Pakistani generals since 1947 have been directed against the Bengalis and Baluchis inside Pakistan. One lead to the disintegration of the state and the other paved way for the post-1977 military dictatorship

When in 1983 Sind asked the Baluchis to join the movement it had launched against Zia and the Pakistani army, the Baluchis, remembering the Sindhi leader Bhutto and what he did in 1974, refused.


Is weather freezing?

When he first assumed power, General Zia was generally dismissed as being of passing importance, chosen by accident, a man who would not survive the flood of ideas and emotion released by elections and the mass movement of 1977. But he survived because he was the first ruler Pakistan had who not only understood why and by whom Pakistan was created, but was totally unembarrassed by the truth. He realized that the country had been created in the name of faith, not in the name of the people - and therefore if the country had to survive, then it would only do so by the logic of faith, not the logic of popular will. Democracy was contrary to the birth of Pakistan, and therefore any permissionm to allow it would lead to confusion, and eventually to a requestioning of the idea that had in 1947, created the country

General Zia told this author: `It was accepted, even at the conceptual stage before Pakistan was born, that not all the Muslims would be able to be housed in this homeland of Pakistan, though it would be open to everybody. But a large minority would be left in India, and it was expected that they would grow as Indian nationals having Islamic faith. Bangladesh, of course, is a creation of different circumstances, but even there you find a sizeable minority of Hindus, so the question is not as clearly defined as in Pakistan. But this country was created in the name of Islam. And the moment that sight was lost, what remained? You take away the ideology of an ideological state, nothing is left. And this is why Pakistan faced hurdle after hurdle: the identity was not established. The basic philosophy was lost and people were groping the dark, whether it is the 1956 Constitution, the 1963 Constitution, martial law or no martial law, People's party, socialist regime and back to martial law. That is why we have been unfortunate. You (India) had your goal set and went off on that way. This is why we find India is well set while Pakistan is still groping.'


The Rise of the Jailbird

All that the Bengalis of Pakistan wanted was respect and equality. Instead they got a country. What the Tamils of South India state of Madras wanted was a country; they were content to settle for respect and democracy. The comparison best illustrates the unifying quality of a democracy against the destructive capacity of a dictatorship. India's Tamil problem was in fact, much more serious than Pakistan's Bengal dilemma. To begin with, it was perfectly legal in India to advocate secession. Till 1963, the Indian Constitution granted any political party the right to preach secession.

Hardly had freedom come than the demand was raised that the internal map, which till 1947 had been based on British political and administrative convinience, should be redrawn to create states on the liguistic principle. Having, through their difficult lives, seen where such an idea could lead, both Nehru and Patel were horrified and did their best to promote the theory of a strong center and divisions made on administrative principles. But the people came out on the streets, and when they spoke their voice was heard, not suppressed. They were not called traitors or spies; instead they were allowed to have the knid of nation they wanted. That was how India survived.

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