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A State Without A Society

23 May, 2007

By Muhammad Ahsan Yatu


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Evolution taught many species how to live as social groups. What made humans a super species was that they transformed their social groupings into society and also evolved state. It was done through politics, a social instrument, which is peculiar to humans only. Politics also maintains a progressive social equilibrium through management of both state and society. It is not simply for nothing that the politicians are the most honoured humans. They become most dishonoured also, when they disgrace politics.

It is not simply the feelings of sympathy and ‘sanctity of judiciary’ that have made the ordinary Pakistanis to stand by the side of the chief justice. He has become an icon because people saw in his resistance revival of political hope. That the MQM behaved differently and did not side with the chief justice is because it has a political hope of its own in the leadership of Altaf Hussain. The MQM confronted the others and supported Pervez Musharraf as a disaster management strategy. It perhaps presumed that the way the caravan of revival of political hope was moving, it would damage the local political structure that it had built through its efforts of decades. The strange behaviour of localised politicians does them too often more harm than good, and the same is true about the rulers whom they support. If the MQM had sided with the chief justice, it would have become a major party right away.  President Musharraf too would have escaped the credibility loss caused to his government due to the MQM rally.  

 The PML (Q) is still supporting the President, but support of stalwarts is of little worth in critical times. The PPP and the PML (N) have as many stalwarts on their side. They too proved useless as they failed to maintain the political momentum and that provided an easy time to an inefficient government. In fact stalwarts from opposition or government have common interests. Not all of them can be accommodated in any government. Hence some are sitting in the opposition and are waiting for their turn. This has been a routine since sixty years. Slowly and steadily people have become aware of this game. They know that the political parties including army are working for the interests of various social groups and institutions and have no commitment with the masses. That is why when Musharraf replaced Nawaz Sharif there was no resistance. Musharraf did not receive a warm welcome either. The people knew about the real intentions of the generals also. Yet, change in governing faces has its own dynamics. It silences the people at least for couple of years. Musharraf regime not only did the same as the others before him had done, it also managed the social dynamics in a way that it looked as if the people will remain silent for ever. Before the reference against the chief justice, Pakistan was passing through its most terrible times. In spite of the unimaginable increase in corruption, joblessness and poverty, the people were not ready to rise on the calls of their ‘leaders’. Religious leaders too had failed, because almost all Pakistanis knew and about their links with the agencies, army, America and Arabs.

So the people in spite of yearning for change were sitting silent in their homes. The chief justice’s response to the reference and determination to fight back, gave them a political hope. Irrespective of who is supporting or opposing him, his response is certainly a nation energizing exercise; though, finally it would not satisfy the peoples’ objectives.  What is needed is a political path. Resistance for a specific purpose, sanctity of judiciary, could be a beginning, but it is likely to disappear after the present crisis ends.  The elitist supporters of both sides have common stakes. All of them want to keep control over their share of resources intact. So unless resistance is taken as an essential and eternal instrument for social change, status quo will stay.  The fact is that we do need politics to transform the present social groupings into a society and to turn the existing state into a viable progressive state, but it is not that easy. There are hundreds of hurdles to emergence of politics.

We became a nation due to the partition of India, and inherited from the British a state (governing system), but without a society. In the context of united India we were a part of a well-established society, which had from Qallat to Assam and from Karakoram to Kerala a clear identification. Despite thousands of social groups and contradictions, all of us were Indians; Indian Hindus and Indian Muslims, and Indian jat and Indian gujars, and Indian Pathans and Indian Tamils etc.  After partition we should have become Pakistani Muslims, Pakistan Hindus, Pakistani gujars, Pakistani Jats, Pakistani Pathans, Pakistani Bengalis etc., and that we did, but a hostile environment distracted us.  Partition led to massive killings of minorities in both Pakistan and India, and that subsequently led to huge migrations. Almost all Hindus and Sikhs left West Pakistan and a good percentage of Indian Muslims mostly from East Punjab and the UP migrated to Pakistan. Migration did not affect the Indian society — partly due to vastness of India and millennia old geopolitical configuration, and also due to the political and economic bond provided by the Indian National Congress, various leftist political parties, labour and student unions, and a well grown capitalist class — but it finished the pre-partition society in the Western part of Pakistan, and we failed to evolve a new one.

The exodus of non-Muslim entrepreneurs, businessmen and traders did most of the damage. The Muslim league did the rest. It acted right from the beginning as a feudal, pro-rich and ethnic entity and lost its credibility not only among Bengalis, Sindhis, Baloch and Pukhtoons but also among common Mohajirs and Punjabis. Within months we became a terribly divided people with no political bond and without a society. All that the new nation was left with was either a crowd or the old and new social groupings, and a crying society in East Pakistan. 

There are only two ways to evolve the society. First, leave the affairs to evolution, to natural course. It would take centuries. Second, turn to the western/modern means, to participatory economy; it means engaging the people through participatory politics not only in the growth of economy but also in fair distribution of the wealth thus produced. Had we done so, it could have transformed the social groupings of West Pakistan into a society and the state of Pakistan into a wise entity. Industrialisation by a democratic government was the solution.

Our ruling elites represented a minority of Pakistanis. They comprised of various social groupings such as land-based stalwarts, who were averse to land reforms, and the Mohajir-Punjabi dominated civil-military bureaucracy, which was more interested in its own survival and consolidation of its hold over state power.  The only means they thought would help them were the American support, and continuity of pre-partition rhetoric — sticking to the concept of a metaphysical identity, the two nation theory. They knew quite less about how to run a state and how to transform the social groupings into a society. It was not their fault. They were not politicians. And the politicians that we had were labelled as the Indian and Russian agents or anti-Pakistan.

Our friends the Americans came to our rescue. Massive external aid helped us to a have a bit of industrialisation, but it did not do any good due to many reasons. It was done by the generals and not by the politicians. It was also confined only to one city. Moreover it was done through the worst form of capitalism. The result was that in spite of economic growth, poverty increased and the wealth got concentrated in the hands of a couple of dozens of families, who using other means robbed the common man of whatever he had even before the industrialisation. The end results of General Ayub’s industrialisation drive were that there were not many domestic purchasers left, and the economy had to face constant recession. So we could not evolve a society even through industrialisation. Rather, we became more divided. Even our existence as one nation crashed. What emerged was a stronger than before ethnicity, which was reinforced further by General Ziaul Haq and continues to have its hold over our social scenario. It is not the MQM only that is using the ethnicity as a political tool. The cool reaction of the Punjabis, the Mohajirs and the Sindhis to the killings of the Baloch and their leader Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti is enough evidence of the hold of ethnicity over our minds and souls.

The present army-led regime strengthened the social groupings further. Before 9/11 it could not do much to improve the situation. It was short of funds. After 9/11 there was lot of wealth around and country saw a bit of prosperity due to aid, grants, remittances and borrowings from open markets, and also due to the growth in services sectors. The external loans too were either readjusted or waived off. But again the prosperity entered the homes of those who were already rich; or who were close to the high-ups, be they gentlemen from the army or the supporters from ethnic and other social groups.  During the seven and a half years of present regime ordinary Pakistanis stood completely ignored. 

Never before were the things as bad for the common folks as they are today. Never before were the people as hopeless as they are today. Yet, the human beings are the political creatures. Their urge for change cannot be suppressed. They cannot be silenced for long.  Political path must be paved. A fragmented populace must be re-arranged and shaped into a society. The state must end tribalism and feudalism and turn to massive industrialisation and social sector development. Who will do it and from where will the capital come. The capital will come first from reducing the spending on defence and administration by at least fifty percent; afterwards the foreign investment too will follow. Not all forms of government can do it. Sixty years of exploitation has left nothing with the people, hence a social democratic government is the only choice. The question of all questions is from where the social democrats will come. If the MLs, the PPPs, the MQM and the MMA, the IJI, the Lashkars, the Jaish, the Sipah and the Taliban can emerge from nowhere, why cannot a social democratic party come from somewhere? It will be worthwhile to mention here that in spite of the effects of the migration and the efforts of the Generals, the bureaucrats, the feudals, the filthy rich, the Arabs and the Americans to eliminate it, the progressive political legacy that the British had left behind remained alive, not at any organisational level, but at the level of individuals certainly. It proves its existence time and again, despite hundreds of hurdles: The peoples’ support to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and to the chief justice are old and fresh examples.

Had our friends the Americans not supported General Ayub and his creation, the convention Muslim League, and instead guided us to have a functional democracy, their help in industrialisation would have done positive things to this country. What the Americans did was their prerogative, Pakistan is not their country. It is we the common Pakistanis and the special Pakistanis — the people in uniform and the 1.5% rich — who have to be good to ourselves, otherwise what to talk of state, society and social groupings, we may lose our worth as individuals also.

Reader Comments:

structural issues

Pakistan state was carved out of India on one point agenda of making a separate Muslim state. Jinnah the father of nation for Pakistan, was personally for state which will let all different faiths live in harmony and peace without discrimination. I am not sure, whether constitution of Pakistan gives equal rights to all Pakistanis. From a distance, we Indians find, there are fundamental structural issues relating to society and state. State will have to take initiative to correct distortions in soceity so that Pakistan can grow rapidly. Few points which comes immediately are - Democracy, Tolerance for different thoughts, faiths, ideas !! Excellent article reflecting the Pakistan's society


Sanjay, Hungary - 23 May, 2007

Speaking the truth

sir, I have been reading paktribune on net for quite some time but you are the first person who is not scared to speak the truth. Specially even when praising an arch rival country. Your admission of movement of traders out of pakistan reminds us of Mr Idi Amin and the way he destroyed his country by throwing asian traders out of his country.The biggest difference between india and pakistan had been land reforms today no single farmer can hold more then aspecific land. Lands of all jamindars were forcefully taken over by the govt and distributed to landless. second good point had been reservation policy see the results of the policy Mayawati which belongs to so cald lower cast is democratically elected chief minister. The day you have chamar muslim raised to level of leave chief minister even a distric court judge i say sir your problems will start to solve because that woill bring equlity,respect for otherhuman beings and crushing of ego well done keep up the good work

arvind sharma, Hungary - 23 May, 2007

A State Without A Society

Pakistan is a State and within it are the people who are called a society. A society consists of many a people barring their religion, belief or way of life. Pakistan will not lose anything but a progressive country is going towards an industrialisation similar to what it was during Gen. Ayub Khan's time. There are a few who would like to derail the work of the government and media is not that much good because it lacks the ability to file true reports and do take sides when they feel for it. No doubt MQM made mistakes in the past and also 12th May 2007 is not forgiveable, especially killings on both sides. I do not give much importance to CJ's case or that issue which is purely a Court matter and not to be handled by politicians and making fuss of it is not going to give much benefit to OPP. CJ and other officials are always sacked and replaced why to make such a big issue and blown it out of proportions of CJ issue. He is not special same like other government servants. Why give him too much importance, thats where the good brains of Pakistan lack the ability to distinguish what is good for the country and what is not. Let the Courts decide if he has done something wrong and from there they can start their protests. A political path is laid down by the present government and working perfectly well with good results. Look at the economy, Foreign Exchange Reserves over $13.70B an outstanding performance of the government. People are there and they are contributing its only the OPP and some selfish and dishonest politicians who are losing and trying to come back and take the countrys wealth again and leave it pennyless.

mohammad, United Arab Emirates - 24 May, 2007

Political Monarchy

Ousted CJ is convicted, he never felt bothered a single time to clarify his situation, instead he is running away from judicial process and possibly trying to intimidate the council with his violent protests and by blaming appointed jurists.
A legacy which will haunt Pakistan's judicial system for years to come and seeding an uncivilized culture.
There is no disagreement what happened in Karachi was worst but why we forget what happened in relatively smaller cities e.g. Lahore, Islamabad or other places where the people who criticized the protests were bullied by the violent mob.
Crime cannot be justified and staging voilent carnaval to prove your innosence, is even bigger crime.
Disrupting citizens life, damaging public and private property is considered crime in rest of the world but in Pakistan it is orchestred by political parties and used as tool to gain power through back door.
There are examples that individuals had held the top position for about twenty years and than fled abroad when the dear country was declared bunkrupt.
Yet today, situation is different and the monarch ousters again want there share from the vibrant economy and state reserves.
I remember few years back Lahore was ruled by tyrants and Qabza groups.
Karachi was a 'no go' area.
Oh dear God we don't want to go back to dark ages and thank you for blessing us with an enlightened leader.

MKS, Pakistan - 24 May, 2007

Pakistani

Not many Pakistani's will be happy to read this article as it refers Pakistani's as Indians. But a well thought article.

Imran, United Kingdom - 24 May, 2007

Survived Pakistan due to Unique Integrated Internet Society

Pakistan Islamic Internet Society is evolving .By any standard Islamic Society although has strongest opposition but it remained unique. We reported by internet that enemy has
Designed a confrontation that Pakistan army is likely to create a raid and conflict like golden Temple. Pakistan Army did not attack JIT (just in time).We analysed Judiciary
Conflict reasoning comparing it with defective judiciary overseas.Govt showed restraint.
We analysed Islamic Society amid Pakistan requisite. Helped poured into Pakistan from
West and MOU have been signed instantly with brotherly states for industrial economical development in recent months. Despite ethnic religion requisite Which Govern Pakistan Daily life both govt and Moulvis became alert by the magic of internet and avoided Conflict. Once Ramadan starts Mosques become vibrant for Roza iftars amid activities Of fitra zakats creating a society which was self sustaining .This grew into Islamic society 1500 m in 1400 yrs.The Muslim OPEC has created enemy who regard Islamic Society Islamic souks bazaars malls as theirs by modifying it into drive in Malls of Hundred of shops.JIT invaders just now mentioned about thousands of shops of Istanbul Or Cairo or Tunis or Tehran in this context.BB Nanas Sharif Aye khan ZA Bhutto President Zia ul Haq Liaqat Ali Khan and even current regime have had been influenced What it can be termed as “framed”. Pakistan is lucky to have survived. Pakistan is evolving like everyone else.
Others have Greener grass Society is simply not true.


B _Lal, Hungary - 25 May, 2007

A well researched article.

A very well researched and thought article.Many good points.Unfortunately the direction in which Pakistani society is going will eventually lead it to a "war lord "type society fearfully may I say like in Lebanon,or Afghanistan or Palestine.Army has to ,for the sake of Pakistan and its own prestige get out of politics and leave the politics with politicians.People eventually will clean things out.Ulema should play role of "rehnuma tabqa" or guiding class rather than running for elections.This change in itself will not only bring them close to each other but will also bring stability in society.More I see Pakistan the more its hurts me.The crime and corruption is enormous.In the beginning Pakistanis had excuse to offer when compared with India that Oh,we didn't get steal mill as India got at partition but what now?India is gradually going up and Pakistan going down and tragedy is many don't even realise.Recent study by Public accounts committe that all the institutions with either retired or active duty army officers as head,are sinking.It should be enough to generate mass resignations from such people but why I am thinking like that knowing that they who may have not struggled to get material prosperity might be spiritually and mentally bankrupt.,and with it comes the bankruptcy of esteem or consciousness.
Yatu Sahib,Please keep on writing ,you lit up hope in the hearts of some like me,who love their old country and pray for its stability and progress.Like you I keep on thinking what needs to be done towards improvement.

M.Khan MD, United Kingdom - 25 May, 2007

Society, Politics, People's Rights

All of the above are basically for people who are civilized and not thirsty of each other's blood and wealth.
Pakistan has suffered at the hands of selfish opportunist individuals who would do anything to hold power and wealth, those who have no values of life.
Where the majority of people considers itself to be muslims however fails to reflect the same in their daily lives and character.
A society where no one has any regard for the other cant be considered a healthy society. Modesty, humility and thankfulness for what one has dont appear to be the part of our lives as a Pakistani. We take pride in talking about faith however we dont impose the same values over ourselves while we take liberty in pointing fingers toward others. In order to culminate a balanced society there has to be some civilized individuals who dont think and act like beasts.

Matloob Zaman, Pakistan - 26 May, 2007

you reap what you sow

Having seen the blatant distortion of facts at the hands of the Pakistani military, political class & the official media, it is heartening to see that there still are some enlightened moderates in Pakistan who don't hesitate in speaking the truth.

Your articles often contain references to the pre-partition era. Since you have lived through those times, you often get nostalgic about it. But let bygones be bygones.

Today, Pakistan is standing at the crossroads. The Frankenstein created by the Pak establishment in the 80s with the help of American friends to fight the Soviets has returned to haunt the creator itself. Earlier, India was projected as a predator, but today's reality is that Pakistan risks an internal implosion.

The biggest tragedy is that be it the General, the politicos or the bureaucracy, none are interested in the long-term objective of nation building. All of them live in the moment & for the moment- struggling to survive. The nation as a whole suffers from this short-sightedness & gets weakened with each passing day. As far as the Pak-US friendship is concerned, it can be safely said that with friends like the US, who needs enemies?

Karan Thapar, Hungary - 27 May, 2007

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