Categorized | Independence Day

PAKISTAN’S INDEPENDENCE AND CURRENT PROBLEMS

Posted on 09 August 2011 by admin

 

The theories on international or domestic conspiracies are popular with the societies in decay that refuse to admit that something has gone wrong with the society. Such a mindset is inimical to developing autonomous capacity to address socio-economic problems.

 

Pakistan will celebrate 64th Independence Day on August 14, 2011. This provides an opportunity to large number of Pakistanis living in Pakistan or abroad to undertake a dispassionate analysis of how and why British India was divided and Pakistan was established as a sovereign and independent state.  There is a divergence of opinion on this issue. The same can be said about the inability of Pakistani state and society to address the socio-economic problems of its people.  The analysts put forward different explanations that often reflect a partisan view of the situation.

An important section of public opinion links Pakistan’s establishment and current problems to the clash of political and economic interests between the Hindus and the Muslims. They highlight more what they call the exploitation of the Muslims by the Hindus of British India. The emphasis is on contradictions between the Muslims and the Hindus which, in their view, is still relevant to addressing the current India-Pakistan relations.

The exploitation theme can be referred to as a factor in the history of Pakistan which has greater appeal for those who experienced the pre-independence society.  However, this argument loses much of its appeal to the second and the third post-independence generation that is experiencing exploitation by their countrymen, invariably the Muslims.   Unless their problems and concerns are addressed, their attitude towards that state and society is going to be influenced more by their own experience rather than the historical narratives of exploitation of the Muslims by the Hindus in the pre-independence period. Pakistani state must address their concerns and problems so that they identify closely with the state.

There are those who track the current problems to the establishment of Pakistan and the decisions made in the early years of independence.  They argue that the establishment of Pakistan was a political choice which was adopted without giving a serious thought to what was to be done subsequently.  Many decisions were made on the spur of the moment rather than taking into account the long term implications. For example, some analysts track the rise of religious extremism in Pakistan to the passing of the Objective Resolution (March 1949) that incorporated Islamic identity in the political and constitutional arrangements for the future. This is viewed by many as yielding to the pressure of Islamic clergy which the later used subsequently to justify their demand for a purely religion based political order.

The Objectives Resolution was not the beginning of emphasis on Islam but a natural corollary of the employment of Islamic identity, culture and history for political mobilization and identity formation by the All India Muslim League in the pre-independence period.  The framers of the Objectives Resolution were convinced that the modern notion of state and democracy can be combined with the teachings and principles of Islam that were viewed as the ethical foundation of the Pakistani society rather than a set of punitive and regulative injunctions.

All Pakistani constitutions direct the state to “ENABLE” the Muslims to lead their lives in accordance with the teachings and principles of Islam.  Another constitutional stipulation emphasizes that there will be no law contrary to the principles and teachings of Islam because the latter were accepted as the ethical source of guidance for the state and society.

The basic change in the role of the state from an “Enabler” to “Enforcer” of Islam came during the military rule by General Zia-ul-Haq who began to enforce Islam through state orders and machinery for achieving his domestic and foreign policy agenda. Until 1977, there is only one instance of such enforcement; the state and society generally pursued a moderate disposition towards religious issues.

The current religious and cultural intolerance and militancy is the product of the policies adopted since 1977, especially from 1979 onwards when Zia-ul-Haq embarked on enforcement of Islam to the satisfaction of orthodox and conservative Muslim clergy. It is very difficult to draw the conclusion that if the founders of Pakistan had sought a new basis of identity for Pakistan after independence Pakistan would have been free of the on-going extremism and militancy.

Another explanation talks of external conspiracies against Pakistan for undermining the pre-dominantly Muslim state and society. This discourse views all domestic and foreign policy developments as a function of religion. As the non-Muslim world is arrayed against Islam, there is a global conspiracy against Pakistan.  This means that there is nothing wrong with Pakistan and Pakistanis.

A variant of the conspiracy explanation is the well-known statement that Pakistan has all the needed natural, agricultural and human resources but the leadership is unable or unwilling to use them for the welfare of people or there is some international conspiracy for dissuading them from benefiting from these resources.

The theories on international or domestic conspiracies are popular with the societies in decay that refuse to admit that something has gone wrong with the society. Such a mindset is inimical to developing autonomous capacity to address socio-economic problems.

In the present day world, no matter how a country has come into existence and no matter what mistakes its rulers have made in the past, it cannot overcome its problems without acquiring modern knowledge and technology.   This needs to be coupled with unemotional reflection on the problems or failures. Pakistan falters on both counts and a large number of people are not willing to pay attention to improving domestic economic and political situation. They have developed the false notion of some “savior” coming forward to solve their problems.

By Dr. Hasan Askari

Lahore

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