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The new beginning

07 December, 2006

By Riaz Missen


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The recent pro-women legislation by the government despite the disquiet of the religious alliance, MMA, has been termed as the new beginning by General Pervez Musharraf. While promising more steps in this regard, he has urged on womenfolk to vote for their liberty through rejecting extremist elements in the upcoming general polls. The polity is on its way to change its relations with its people as well as the comity of nations.

 

The coincidence of Pakistan's creation and the onset of the Cold War proved a defining factor for the newly emerged state. Anglo-American obsession with the expansionist designs of the Soviet Union, socialist orientation of the All India Congress and anti-India feelings of Pakistani decision-makers made Pakistan a garrison state.

The partition of India caused the influx of about a million people — wanting food, shelter and comfort — into Pakistan. Hindus and Sikhs left this country in equal number. Given the low literacy rate and little experience available for running modern state institutions, the civil-military bureaucracy was recruited from the immigrants. So the trauma of partition found expression in Pakistan's foreign policy. It was India-centric and based on the fear of invasion. Once the foundation stone was laid and the building erected, none would dare to change the course of the country even after its break-up in 1971.

The Indian threat led Pakistan right into the Western camp, and the US was more than willing to feed and equip its allies to fight the menace of socialism. This camp also took India as a dangerous polity due to the socialist tendencies of the ruling Congress. The Pakistani state did divert funds received from the West to the religious organisations willing to wage jihad against the 'infidels'. More and more groups emerged to benefit from the tide of time.

These militant groups were willing to stage street agitation to keep governments on the 'right' track. They also kept a check on the progressive organisations. During the days of jihad, they would forge unity in their ranks; when there was nothing to do, they would fall apart and turn to infighting.

In principle, the militant groups would have been demilitarised and debriefed after the withdrawal of the Soviet forces from Afghanistan, but the anarchy in Afghanistan did not make their existence irrelevant: The Taliban, most of them fed and trained in Pakistani madrassas, were encouraged to fight against the rest of the Afghan ethnic groups. As Pakistan strove for strategic depth in Afghanistan, Iran, India and Russia pushed their Afghan allies to counter the Taliban. Even China got threatened. It hurried to form the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) with the specific agenda of countering ethnic/religious militancy in Central Asia.

9/11 convinced the US to take action against the Taliban regime being allegedly patronised by al Qaeda, the perpetrator of the attacks on the twin towers. The joint action of the US-led international coalition force and the Northern Alliance made Mullah Omar flee on a motorbike. The Musharraf regime came under sharp criticism from the politico-religious parties for taking a U-turn on Afghan policy and taking sides with the West. Failing to convince the General, they would make the best of the mayhem by getting allotted in 2002 polls the 'book' as an electoral symbol for their alliance, the MMA, and would manipulate anti-US feelings in the Pushtoon belt of the country.

The success of the MMA in the last general elections does explain a tension in the polity. The sufferings of Pushtoons on the other side of the divide since the onset of the war on terror have caused the retreat of the moderate forces in the areas bordering Afghanistan. The same factor can also influence poll results  in future as well if Afghanistan remains under the spell of anarchy. How long will neighbours keep on determining Pakistan's destiny?

It is encouraging that Pakistan is on course to improve relations with India. China has recently shown willingness to play a positive role in the ongoing peace process in the South Asian region. Moreover, the state has initiated a process to heal the wounds of the people wronged by the partition process. None other than General Musharraf himself is patronising the promotion of sufi thought that preached love for all and hatred towards none!

Pakistan has asked Iran to settle its difference with European nations regarding its nuclear programme through peaceful means. No more turbulent borders, please! Musharraf is also trying to convince the West that al Qaeda is no more operative in this part of the world and Mullah Omar is leading Pushtoon nationalists, not the Taliban.

he people of Pakistan, who live on the earth from the Himalayas to the Arabian Sea, find their fate hanging in the balance until the state returns to a normal course. Both mullah and military will have to return to their professional tasks. At the same time, state institutions — legislature, bureaucracy and judiciary — will have to be efficient in their working. Before the military returns to barracks, religious organisations will have to abandon their political role. Musharraf has duly appealed to the masses to reject them in the upcoming general elections. To deprive them of their constituency, he is now bringing round the US and Western powers that bread not bombs, and dialogue not war, can bring peace to Afghanistan.

The military-led political system has undertaken reforms during the last seven years. A structural reform process has been initiated to make the working of state institutions fair and transparent. The media has been set free to bridge the communication gap between state and society. The apex court of the country has reverted to activism to correct the anomalies of the liberal economic order taking effect under the guiding influence of democracy.

Great responsibility rests on the shoulders of political parties of the country. The people need them to act on their behalf. They want their leadership to bring their dear state closer to them through changing its objectives and orientation. Pakistan has to transform itself into a democratic entity with pluralist orientation. In a global age, Pakistan must change its role vis-à-vis the world as well as its own people to take due advantage of its strategic location.

What has been lost during the last five decades can't be regained but there is a lot that can be saved through riding the tide of time. Some would suggest that it is time to go back to square one. But remember, history is not on its cyclic course. It is rather in a progressive mood. Pakistan has to move ahead.

Ends

Reader Comments:

India and Pakistan is one


India and Pakistan are one race, brothers and sisters from the very start. India and Pakistan should settle all conflict now, every minutes is important. India and Pakistan are in the most dangerous situation now, Israel the enemy of Islam is very easy to finance and trained terrorist to nuke New Delhi and Mumbai, that is nuke war between India and Pakistan. Nuke war between India and Pakistan will destroy ultimately each other. Israel will be happy because Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey will be destroyed too. India and Pakistan should think their citizen and ther love ones. India and Pakistan should make peace now and unite become close ally forever cause your all one race from the very start.

Mahatma Perez, Pakistan - 08 December, 2006

India, Israel friends

I dont think that Israel is a enemy of India. India and Israel share same feelings and they are friends. Israel is surrounded by failed arab nations (muslim) so does India. Muslims always think about their religion first. they dont want to do anything for their country. look in pakistan. muslim killing muslims. Muslims just want to impose their religion on non muslims. Today in non muslim worlds muslims seen as a potential terrorist. Pakistan and India can not be friends.

Anyonymous, Pakistan - 09 December, 2006

Indo-Pak Friendship

History
The writer has presented indo-pak history from a very neutral perspective and he has a great understanding of the politics and the policies of the partition era. Partition has been one of the most painful experience for both India and Pakistan. Hunreds and thousand of people died and millions lost homes. Taking all these factors into consideration the troubled and suspicious relations between India and Pakistan is understandable, but I think 50 years is long enough time forget the past and look at the future. The day when common people of both countries stop thinking of each other as enemies most of the political problems will be solved and India and Pakistan can be very good friends.

Kashmir

Kashmir once again remains a sore point between the two neighbours. One thing that we need to understand is that, it is not a rule that people of the same religion should stay together. Majority of the people from Kashmir believe in Islam,
but that does not mean that Kashmir should be given to Pakistan. India would never do that even if the people of kashmir want that to happen. Nor will any other country do that. Tomorrow, if the people of Baluchistan starts demanding for an independance or want to join Afganistan, I am sure even Pakistan will not allow that to happen. There are problems in every country not just in India and Pakistan. No country is perfect. It is very easy to demand something but people forget to ask
themselves whether it is really possible.

Religion

Religion has always been used as a weapon in Pakistan. Whenever political parties want to settle personal scores against each other or against India, they have used the terms such as 'ANTI ISLAMIC', 'ENEMY OF ISLAM'. Unfortunately the common man has fallen prey to this trap. Even in India religion, caste, creed have been used as a weapon against each other by political parties. But now the common person has become clever and understands that religion is just another way of reaching god. There can be several ways to reach god but ultimately god remains the same. Unfortunately there is one thing that most people dont understant i.e. every person has the right to follow his own religion. Nobody should be forced to get converted into other religion.

Media and Education

I strongly believe that there are only two things that can create lasting friendship between India and Pakistan. First is Media and the other is education. Media has great power and it can change Empires. Media can convert a King into a begger
and vice versa. Education is also very important. Education should not be about religion alone, but also about Science and Technology.

Woman's rights

It is a brilliant step by the government. Women Protection Bill indicates that Pakistan is on the right track and will soon become a major economic force. Whenever equal opportunity and power is given to woman we can understand that the country is taking major strides towards becoming a developed country. Finally Pakistani woman is coming out of the veil and stepping into the world with confidence. Well done Pakistan.

Prashant Sonawane, Hungary - 09 December, 2006

Reletaion india pakistan

Very good thinking If all indians and pakistanis think like same no more problem

Ginotra Yadwendra Singh, Hungary - 12 December, 2006

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