New Age Islam Edit Bureau
14 September 2015
• Madrasa Equation: Religious Seminaries Offer What Pakistan Millions Sees As Perks
By Hajrah Mumtaz
• Hidden Journalism
By Dr Fawad Kaiser
• Rising Balochistan: The Result of National Resolve
By Khurram Minhas
By Yasser Latif Hamdani
• Gender Inequality
By Huma Yusuf
• Indo-Pak Talks: Making Dialogue Worthwhile
By Ashraf Jehangir Qazi
• Where Is The State Of Pakistan?
By Shamshad Ahmad
Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
Madrasa Equation: Religious Seminaries Offer What Pakistan Millions Sees As Perks
By Hajrah Mumtaz
September 14th, 2015
THE pushback against the country’s terrible security situation has to address madressah reform. Defence Minister Khawaja Asif told the National Assembly in May that approximately 20,000 religious seminaries exist in the country, of which “only” about 3pc or 4pc assist miscreants or directly facilitate terrorism.
The headlines of the past few days alone have spoken of Madrasas being geo-tagged — a fancy way of saying their locations has been identified and they’ve been put on a map. On Thursday, the military asked the government to come down hard on terror financing, a project which must involve checking out the sources from which Madrasas are receiving funds and which may then be dictating a certain agenda. The argument continues of madressah curriculum reform, the issue of mainstreaming and modernising them, and so on.
Yet the central aspect of the matter is simply not being discussed. Perhaps the challenge is so daunting that even now, after tens of thousands of lives have been laid waste, the state and its functionaries balk.
Religious seminaries offer what Pakistan millions sees as perks.
Whatever else it may or may not be the entrenchment of the religious seminary network in the country is a crisis of education, a simple equation of demand and supply. So why aren’t any moves being made to fix the country’s badly broken public-sector education system, especially at the primary and secondary levels?
Why would a family send a child to a madrasa? At root, because they have been unable to get access to or admission in a school that is affordable and also offers a reasonable quality of education.
Further, Madrasas offer what this country’s millions of abjectly poor have no alternative but to consider as perks: a roof over the head of the child, a couple of meals a day, basic literacy, and — given the status afforded to religion and religious education — some degree of social standing.
The mediaevalism that dogs girls’ education in Pakistan does not extend to boys. Whereas in some quarters boys aren’t sent to school because they are more valuable as the earners of wages, even if they amount to a pittance, in the majority of cases, if given the choice most families would want their sons to be educated to some degree, especially if that meant the chance of greater earning capacity in the future.
Government schools are generally affordable by most. However, the issues are manifold. First, government schools offer, on the one hand, an abysmal quality of education. Report after report has documented teachers’ lack of capacity and their inclination towards corporal punishment, glaring gaps in the curriculum, outdated pedagogical methods and, especially in the rural areas, the lack of even basic infrastructure such as a building with toilets.
Back in 2011, the report Education Emergency undertook surveys (encompassing both private- and public-sector school students) which found that only 35pc of schoolchildren aged between six and 16 could read a story, while half could not read a sentence.
On the other hand, where government schools are functional, especially in the bigger cities and in densely populated areas, the pressure of numbers on them is massive. For every one child that manages to get admission, there are many, many others that don’t.
Consider this anecdote: a family that had moved to Islamabad to work as domestic staff for some well-off people wanted their son enrolled in the nearby government primary school. This was in one of the elite sectors, where few, if any, of the families owning or renting houses would consider a public-sector school for their own progeny. Such was the wait list, though, that the employers eventually had to contact a federal secretary for Sifarish.
In the rural areas, the problem is the opposite; very often, there simply isn’t a public school closes enough to become a viable choice. The sheer number of miles between the pupil and the school, and the quality, safety and frequency of the transport available prove prohibitive for too many.
In the villages dotting the Murree area, where children go to school (girls and boys both) it used to be that early mornings were characterised by crowds of fresh-faced youngsters waiting at the bus stops to get to school (one school serves a cluster of villages).
Now, those crowds have thinned out, even though the population in the area has grown; the number of government schools has not increased commensurately. People who live in the villages there say that amongst the more financially strained families, there is a growing inclination to send boys to the Madrasas that have started cropping up.
The state keeps pushing education as the answer to an endless cycle of poverty — as it should. But unless the quality and numbers of government schools are drastically improved, people’s need for Madrasas will keep them in business, and fodder for the mischief-makers’ cannons will keep being produced.
Hajrah Mumtaz is a member of staff.
By Dr Fawad Kaiser
September 14, 2015
Two journalists were shot dead in separate attacks in Karachi within 24 hours last week. Worryingly, 14 deaths of journalists in 2014 were reported by the International Federation of Journalists. The motive once again is not clear but the Taliban, security forces and political parties have all been linked to the murders of some journalists. Last year, Hamid Mir, the anchor of a top political talk show, was shot and injured in Karachi, just weeks after columnist and analyst Raza Rumi survived an attack in the eastern city of Lahore, an attack in which his driver died.
The media is a powerful communication device that can either be used for educating and informing people or can be exploited for diverse intelligence activities and operations. At the same time, intelligence agencies make use of and exploit the media for its various operations. Whether this is true or not, it remains clear that the media has a significant role in the game of disinformation and defines the basic relation between intelligence and the media today. It is a widely held fact that some intelligence agencies make use of the media to run disinformation operations for different purposes such as drawing attention to certain topics and using false information to cause a desired reaction among the target audience or rather provoke a reaction that would serve the initiator of the disinformation’s interests.
Intelligence agencies work on the principle of ‘networking’, coordinating, developing relations and connections, and the spy agencies seem to be doing this really well. It has always been said that the lesser an intelligence agency is in the limelight and is discreet, the more efficient it is. Intelligence agencies are excellent in Technical Intelligence (TECHINT) Human Intelligence (HUMINT) Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) Communications Intelligence (COMINT) and Electronic Intelligence (ELINT). But still, even today one cannot underestimate the role of HUMINT, the source of human derived intelligence: the agent.
The question is: do journalists work hand in glove with intelligence agencies and why? The answer has now been provided by the leading newspapers of national media itself. Many journalists secretly carry out assignments for our intelligence agencies. Some of these journalists’ relationships with the agencies are tacit and some are explicit. There is cooperation, accommodation and overlap. Journalists provide a full range of clandestine services, from simple intelligence gathering to serving as go-betweens with the case officer and the subject. Reporters share their notebooks with the agencies. Editors share their staff and some of the distinguished television anchors who consider themselves tsars of the media find that their association with the agencies has helped their work. In some instances, agencies’ documents show that journalists have been engaged in performing tasks for the agencies with the consent of the managements of leading media and news organisations.
The history of the agencies’ involvement with the press continues to be shrouded by the favoured policy of obfuscation and deception for the simple reason that the use of journalists has been among the most productive means of intelligence gathering. Operation Mockingbird was a secret campaign by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to influence the media. Begun in the 1950s, it was initially organised by Cord Meyer and Allen W Dulles, and was later led by Frank Wisner after Dulles became the head of the CIA. The organisation recruited leading US journalists into a network to help present the CIA’s views, and funded some student and cultural organisations, and magazines as fronts. As it progressed, it also worked to influence foreign media and political campaigns, in addition to activities by other operating units of the CIA.
The agencies have cut back sharply on the use of journalists primarily as a result of the list of 282 journalists who received payments and gifts from the secret fund of the information ministry, which was made public following a Supreme Court (SC) order on April 11, 2013 by the former Chief Justice (CJ) Jawwad S Khwaja. It remains true that some journalism operatives are still posted at home and abroad, and further investigation into the matter would inevitably reveal a series of embarrassing relationships with some of the most powerful organisations and individuals in journalism.
There are well-known columnists and television anchors whose relationships with the agencies go far beyond those normally maintained between reporters and their sources. Foreign countries also invest in Pakistani journalists to keep them on their side in this fourth generation warfare. This is a game of control with fatal conclusions. It is dangerous and is called media manipulation.
In the old days, few were afraid when it came to media manipulation and little was known about the level of threat between the propagandist and the hustling publicist. They were still serious threats but mindfulness worked as a clear and simple defence. Today, the news media has evolved itself as the most powerful and influential political force. With a plethora of television talk shows and the web-driven media cycle, nothing can escape exaggeration, distortion, fabrication and simplification. More convincing than the truth, media manipulation currently shapes everything one reads or views on television screens.
To deal with these manipulations, we must change the incentive. These journalists fight a moral war against their own fraternity and profession and it is not just a matter of who is manipulating the journalist; it is much graver than that. It has direct implications on the ethics of their profession. Critics acknowledge, however, that such contracts will persist as long as the agencies continue to use journalistic cover and maintain covert affiliations with individuals in the profession. But even an absolute prohibition against agency use of journalists would not free reporters from suspicion.
Dr Fawad Kaiser is a professor of Psychiatry and consultant Forensic Psychiatrist in the UK.
Rising Balochistan: The Result of National Resolve
By Khurram Minhas
September 14, 2015
This month has brought fresh air from Balochistan in terms of security and economic events. The least developed province of the country has witnessed some good but long awaited news. Firstly, Pakistan has announced its readiness to sign a 40-year-old contract with a Chinese company to develop a huge, special economic zone in the port city of Gwadar. The announcement was made by Pakistani officials on September 9, 2015. The economic zone is a part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), an ambitious $ 46 billion investment plan that is supposed to link western China to the Arabian Sea through the implementation of infrastructure, energy and transport projects. According to the chief of the Gwadar Port Authority (GPA), Dostain Khan Jamaldini, the contract, which assigns a 923 hectare (2,300 acres) swathe of tax-exempt land to the China Overseas Port Holding Company (COPHC), is likely to be signed during the current month or October this year.
According to the GPA chief, the work on Gwadar International Airport will start in the next couple of months and the completion of the national highway connecting Gwadar with the north within the next month. Likewise, Pakistan also announced that it is establishing a special security force of between 10,000 and 25,000 men to protect the port city, which lies in the restive south-western province of Balochistan.
Secondly, Pakistani forces have killed a top insurgent leader in the resource-rich province of Balochistan where China is due to funnel much of the recently announced $ 46 billion investment package. According to the home minister of Balochistan, Sarfraz Bugti, Allah Nazar, the chief of the Baloch Liberation Front (BLF), is believed to have been killed in a raid by the security forces. Allah Nazar was considered the centre of gravity of the Balochistan insurgency. Thirdly, Brahamdagh Bugti has also shown his readiness to engage in dialogue with the Pakistani government. Likewise, more than 1,000 Baloch separatists have surrendered since the middle of August this year.
These promising victories are the repercussions of solid grass roots developments. Since 2013, the government has been laying special emphasis on the development of Balochistan. A number of projects are being undertaken with the help of the Pakistan army. The government is spending more than Rs 160 to 180 billion on mega projects. These mega projects include dams, highways, canals and ports. There are currently 10 federal government schemes or projects in the province that qualify as mega projects. These projects are directly related to the Gwadar port, costing around Rs 53 billion. The Gwadar related projects include, obviously, the Gwadar deep sea water port (Rs 15 billion), the coastal highway (Rs 15 billion), the Gwadar-Khuzdar Highway (Rs 16.6 billion) and possibly the Mirani Dam (Rs 5.9 billion).
In addition, the main road development, the Gwadar-Khuzdar Highway, and its extension to Ratodero will form an essential linkage to Punjab and upcountry. The coastal highway is being constructed in three phases: the first 248 kilometres will be from Lyari to Ormara, including the link to Ormara Town, the second 197 kilometers will be from Ormara to Pasni and the third 208 kilometers will be from Pasni to Gwadar to Jiwani near the Iran border. The total length of the coastal highway is 653 kilometers. The Gwadar-Khuzdar Highway of 651 kilometres consists of over four sections: Gwadar to Turbat (165 kilometres), Turbat to Hoshab (235 kilometres), Hoshab to Khuzdar (251 kilometers). There is an additional extension of 64 kilometres from Khuzdar to Ratodero. This road ultimately will be a link between Punjab and the Gwadar seaport.
These projects indicate that Pakistan is looking towards the CPEC project as a game changer, kick-starting an era of infrastructure growth and investment. Likewise, the military has vowed to crush the insurgency and has assured China of security for the planned CPEC from the Balochistan port of Gwadar up to the Chinese border in northern Pakistan. The land deal and improved security and political situation in Balochistan are interlinked with the prosperous future of the county.
Khurram Minhas is a freelance columnist
By Yasser Latif Hamdani
September 14, 2015
Europe went through a religious upheaval in the 16th and 17th centuries. It started with the Protestant rebellion against the Catholic Church’s excesses. Martin Luther and John Calvin led the vanguard of what was to be called the Protestant reformation. It was not, however, a reformation in the sense that we take the word today. Both Luther and Calvin, as well as their followers, were hard-line religious fundamentalists by any standards. What was reformative about their doctrine was that they rejected the ecclesiastical abuses by the church, which had become commonplace, especially in Germany. Luther himself was said to suffer from profound religious anxieties and was obsessed with the idea of a righteous God. Historians and psycho-biographers have speculated that he suffered from a severe case of obsessive-compulsive disorder, which in fact fuelled his religious zeal for the reform of the church. His writings produced the idea of Christian liberty, of the individual’s own approach to God and a rejection of papacy.
This was an idea that ignited a fire in Northern and Western Europe. The idea that the believers could worship in their own languages unhindered by clerical overlords in the church was liberationist and a refreshing change for a faith that had become overburdened with clerical bureaucracy. But if the humanists of the time believed Luther and his movement would usher in an era of intellectual freedom; they were sorely disappointed for Luther only turned more dogmatic, inviting rebukes from even reform-minded intellectuals like Erasmus who denounced Luther’s increasingly opprobrious writings. Luther denounced everything remotely connected to Catholicism, including the rituals, the crosses, statues and paintings. He believed in straitjacket simplicity in faith, not unlike Wahhabis of the Muslim world today.
The key to Luther’s success and that of Protestantism as a whole also was helped by the fact that various European monarchies, now beginning to resemble nation states in infancy, were not entirely happy with the Roman Catholic Church’s overreach in their domestic matters. So, for example, in the UK, King Henry VIII, who had been a notable opponent of reform and Lutheranism in his early years, broke with Rome over the pope’s refusal to grant an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. He wanted to marry the vivacious Anne Boleyn. Throughout the remainder of his reign, King Henry VIII had to maintain a delicate balance between the reformers and the conservatives within his new Church of England. Yet the Church of England, under Bishop Cranmer, was a dogged opponent of papacy and papal traditions. Statues and paintings of the churches were destroyed and monasteries looted. All of this had some political motivation as well. By taking over monasteries and their vast lands, England was able to finance several disastrous wars against France, Scotland and later Spain. At the heart of England’s conversion to Protestantism lay political opportunism, greed and avarice of the king and his courtiers. The religious liberty of Catholics was curtailed; they were denounced as heretics. Under Elizabeth I, through the Act of Supremacy and then Act of Uniformity, England practically outlawed Catholicism from the island. The entire populace of England was required to worship as the Queen ordered and to attend church regularly.
Meanwhile, Catholics, for their part, were equally brutal in their persecution of Protestants wherever they were strong. In France and in Spain, the two states that benefitted directly from association with Rome, Protestantism was seen as a heretical plague. However, what the Protestant reformation did do was make Catholics look inwards and attempt a reform their own Church and doctrine. This was the lesser-known Catholic reformation. Ironically, one of the major early leaders of this reformation was Ximenes de Cineros, the chief architect and grand inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition. This reform movement, partly in reaction to its Protestant equivalent, grew strong in Spain and then spread to other parts of Europe. The Catholic reformation did so by three main agencies i.e. the Council of Trend, the Index and the revived Inquisition and the Society of Jesus. Of these, the third was the most important. Council of Trent was a council convened by the pope himself. Its main purpose was to define the doctrine of the Catholic Church to answer the innovation of the Protestants. Inquisitions had risen up all over Europe and a need was felt to define what heresy was and this was the purpose of the council. There were, however, some attempts to bring Protestants back into the fold but these were firmly rejected as compromise with the Protestants was ruled out. What it did do, however, was initiate a process of reform in the church to undo many of the abuses that had led to the Protestant rebellion in the first place. The two reformations thus proceeded side by side often in reaction to each other. Catholics and Protestants persecuted each other all over Europe. Over time, however, the two simultaneous reformations heralded in the intellectual freedom that allowed for enlightenment to flourish. With that came the idea of religious toleration but it was a painfully slow process; in that process many were burnt at the stake and many lost their heads to the executioner.
The reason for recounting this long drawn out process from European history is that in my opinion we see many of the same signs in the Muslim world, in particular Pakistan. When the reformation was underway, it was never pretty for those at the receiving end of it. It felt something like what we feel today. The modern age has both hastened it and made it more brutal, both for Muslims and the world at large but such is our burden to bear. There is much reason for hope and optimism, for example the recent move by the government to bring in laws against takfir (accusations of apostasy). Coming 41 years too late for one sect, the proposed law nevertheless holds out hope for some forced reconciliation between various schools of thought and a modicum of sanity. The need of the hour is to press home to Muslims whether in Pakistan or rest of the world that the means to settle doctrinal differences can never be violence but dialogue.
Yasser Latif Hamdaniis a lawyer based in Lahore and the author of the book Mr Jinnah: Myth and Reality.
By Huma Yusuf
September 14th, 2015
IT is becoming increasingly difficult to discuss the challenges that Pakistani women face. After all, Pakistani women have won Nobel Prizes and Oscars; they have scaled Mount Everest and play cricket in international tournaments; one is a war-ready fighter pilot, another is an elite police commando. Women have served as this country’s prime minister, federal ministers, and speakers and members of national and provincial assemblies. Turn on the television, and between female news anchors and feisty heroines in serialised dramas, you’d think gender inequality was yesterday’s news.
But a few celebrated women and celebrities cannot make up for the reality of women’s experience in Pakistan. Female labour force participation is gradually increasing, but hovers at about 25pc, up from 19pc a decade ago, according to World Bank statistics. Woeful female labour force participation statistics point to other poor indicators in terms of women’s educational attainment, nutrition levels, poverty, health and family planning.
Despite its obsession with economic revival, our current government has not prioritised boosting female employment, a known antidote to ailing GDP growth figures. A policy focus on female employment is urgently needed given the rapid rate of urbanisation in Pakistan. More than 50pc of the population will be living in cities within the next decade, and urbanisation will change the role played by women, forcing more to participate in the workplace and contribute to dual-income households to compensate for the increased cost of living in cities.
We have not prioritised boosting female employment.
Women, Business and the Law 2016, a new World Bank report, points to some of the challenges Pakistani women seeking employment face. Pakistan’s Constitution contains clauses on non-discrimination and gender equality, and there is legislation regarding sexual harassment in the workplace. But there are no laws mandating equal remuneration for work of equal value or requiring non-discrimination based on gender during hiring. There are no quotas for women on corporate boards. Married women need to include their husbands’ name, nationality and address when registering a business.
Women are also notably absent from constitutional courts, which has an impact on women’s access to justice overall. There is growing evidence to suggest that women judges can make a difference in cases where gender is an issue, often ruling in women’s interests.
The issue of justice is relevant because most working women in Pakistan are employed in the informal sector, which provides them with an income, but not necessarily empowerment. Informal employment denies women access to adequate compensation, appropriate working conditions, job security, and legal recourse.
There is no shortage of incentives for the government to introduce policy reforms to encourage and regulate female employment. Not only does increased female labour force participation drive economic growth but it also leads to broader improvements in society. Research has shown that women with access to and control over resources are more likely than men to invest in the welfare of their families. Women spend more on their children’s education and health, and increased female employment positively correlates with school enrolment statistics, child survival, and nutrition levels.
The advantages of giving women greater access to resources have been indirectly acknowledged through poverty alleviation schemes such as the Benazir Income Support Programme and microfinance initiatives that target women. However successful, these initiatives are unfolding in the absence of a broader political context in which female employment and empowerment are policy priorities.
It is critical that in its efforts to improve Pakistan’s economy, the government puts increased female employment at the centre of the agenda, not least because threats to improved female workforce participation are emerging. Regressive ideas about women’s social roles are in danger of becoming more mainstream. On a facetious level, this takes the form of Junaid Jamshed appearing on a televised morning talk show and telling a female host that it’s for the best if women are not taught how to drive; on a more sinister level, the threats manifest in the form of the Council of Islamic Ideology endorsing underage marriage, as it did last year.
The government should start by setting ambitious female employment targets, and introducing reforms to ensure women have the right to equal pay and non-discriminatory hiring. As he tours the world seeking to generate FDI, the prime minister should focus on sectors such as light industry and services, which tend to boost female employment. Given that the one point, on which Pakistan scores well, thanks to quotas, is female representation in parliament and at the local government level, there is no excuse for inaction.
Huma Yusuf is a freelance journalist.
Indo-Pak Talks: Making Dialogue Worthwhile
By Ashraf Jehangir Qazi
September 14th, 2015
There have been rare moments when the dialogue process has appeared to move in the right direction. A number of confidence- and security-building measures (CSBMs) have been signed from time to time. At times the relationship seemed to be entering a more promising phase. But those hopes were never sustained.
The Kashmir dispute has been at the centre of the sterility of the bilateral dialogue. Even the issue of terrorism has been directly or indirectly Kashmir-related. There are other important issues on the agenda. But sooner or later they have been adversely impacted by the apparently unbreakable deadlock on Kashmir and its derivatives.
India and Pakistan have mutually exclusive and self-sufficient narratives on why talks between them end in mutual recrimination instead of mutual understanding on how to move the process forward. Public opinion, including supposedly ‘sophisticated and informed’ opinion in both countries, has internalised its national narrative to an extent that it has become very difficult to talk constructively with each other. In these circumstances, designing a dialogue strategy that both sides can commit to becomes exceedingly difficult.
Leaders in India and Pakistan lack a mutually acceptable vision of relations with each other.
There are reasons for this. Leaders in India and Pakistan lack a mutually acceptable vision of relations with each other. They do not have the commitment, education, imagination and sincerity to overcome the legacies of the past and shape a shared future. They do not have what it takes to build a bilateral relationship that answers to the needs of their respective peoples and is adequate enough to meet the challenges of this century.
There are, of course, many people of experience, goodwill and vision in both countries who have intelligently argued the need for a change in the parameters of the relationship which could transform dialogue from a zero-sum into a win-win process. The responsibilities that attach to being nuclear weapons powers and the 21st-century imperatives of regional cooperation add cogency and urgency to their arguments. However, there is a near consensus among experts that given the prevailing political realities such arguments cannot impact on elite and official attitudes that represent entrenched power structures.
Accordingly, it is argued, especially after the latest breakdown in talks even before they could begin, that neither country should invest in a dialogue process at the moment and, instead, merely seek to contain bilateral tensions by refraining from provocative actions that could lead to dangerous confrontations. They should seek constructive exchanges where possible and ad hoc agreements on issues that are not invested with too much political emotion. What about trade and economic cooperation? Should they await a Kashmir settlement? Or should they be used to build constituencies of influence and mutual understanding?
The India-Pakistan stand-off is not a static situation. It is dangerously dynamic. It can very quickly degenerate towards confrontation and conflict unless ‘core concerns’ are addressed in a manner that reduces tensions. Take Kashmir. It cannot be left to fester. Alternating states of dialogue and no dialogue do not address inherent risks in the current situation. The same applies to the issue of terrorism in the context of Kashmir. What is terrorism and what is legitimate resistance including armed struggle against illegal occupation? These questions can be debated fruitlessly, tackled through futile ‘counterterrorism’, or progressively resolved through broader and more inclusive approaches that take into account the interests of all stakeholders.
Currently, the chances of this happening are slim indeed. But this cannot be taken as a given because of the consequences of political imbecility in the 21st century. Hence, the effort to transform the dialogue from a zero sum into a win-win process must become an overarching and shared priority despite the present unpromising circumstances.
What is to be done? Our respective narratives about each other should eschew the blame game as much as possible even though both countries provide each other reason enough for genuine complaint. Instead, they should focus on the costs and dangers of unremitting mutual hostility and the benefits of a more informed and rational relationship. This should enable efforts to reduce potentially destabilising differences and provide space for movement towards principled and mutually acceptable compromise.
What are core concerns? They are essentially what each interlocutor insists they are. Accordingly, each side should define its own position in a manner that does not exclude the possibility of movement on the core concerns of its interlocutor. This would apply to Kashmir and terrorism as well as other issues on which progress can further contribute to meaningful discussions and movement on the core concerns of both sides.
Based on the above the political leadership of India and Pakistan should consider statements that they will attach the highest priority to improving the quality and substance of the bilateral relationship in order to meet the challenges their respective peoples will face in the 21st century. They should state that while staying within their constitutional parameters they will engage constructively, sincerely and thoroughly with each other on any issue raised by either of them in the search for viable and mutually acceptable solutions.
They should reactivate CSBMs that have lapsed and actively explore the possibilities, in consultation with all relevant stakeholders, on the possibility of further CSBMs and ‘out of the box’ approaches to transforming the bilateral relationship from being a hindrance to being a facilitator for the development of their national potential. They should acknowledge that this will not be possible without progressively changing deeply ingrained and negative mindsets and projecting a more promising image of each other. This policy framework can only be an offshoot of vastly improved domestic governance.
This will be countered by the argument that power structures and vested interests in both countries will not allow such a bilateral framework to develop. History supports such scepticism. However, the future while inevitably influenced by history is never bound by it. The India-Pakistan dialogue will be transformed from its currently sterile quality into something more lasting and productive only if a much larger national transformation gets under way in both countries.
Ashraf Jehangir Qazi is a former ambassador to the US, India and China and head of UN missions in Iraq and Sudan.
Where Is The State Of Pakistan?
By Shamshad Ahmad
September 14, 2015
This year the nation observed Defence Day all over the country with unprecedented zeal and solemnity. It was indeed an occasion to acknowledge the supreme sacrifices given by our martyrs and share with their families their sense of pride and fortitude. But this was also an occasion to look back and do some real soul-searching to determine what we as a nation have done individually and collectively to live up to the supreme cause our martyrs laid their lives for.
I attended the ceremony at the Yadgar-e-Shuhada in Lahore where thousands of people sat spellbound for hours listening to tales of heroism and witnessing the rejuvenation of a new spirit that we as a nation need so badly. The tales of supreme sacrifices in the cause of Pakistan took me back to the fateful train journey that my family undertook in 1947 leaving behind, like millions of others, their hearths and homes, their landed properties and their ancestral history of thousands of years to submerge into a new larger national identity. No sacrifice then was greater than freedom.
No wonder, for my family as indeed for millions of others, it was a momentous decision to opt for the newly-independent state we so proudly called Pakistan. Memories of many gory moments and painful experiences from those days are still seared into my mind. I cannot forget the moments when our train after crossing into Pakistan steamed into Harbanspura Station with everyone on the train crying with joy and raising spontaneous slogans ‘Allah-o-Akbar’ and ‘Pakistan Zindabad’. Tears of joy filled every eye at the end of that fateful journey.
On Shuhada Day this year, while feeling a similar soul-jerking ambience all around, I asked myself what had gone wrong with us as a nation. Where is that larger national identity that the Quaid had left for us in the form of Pakistan? Those millions of Muslims who left their ancestral identity in India did not migrate to the ethnic and linguistic entities now called Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa or Balochistan. They had migrated to a newly-independent Muslim state to be able to live their lives and raise their children in dignity, free from fear, want, hunger, disease, illiteracy, corruption, violence, oppression and injustice. Where is that state of Pakistan?
We are still looking for it. Indeed, the emergence of Pakistan on the map of the world as an independent state on August 14, 1947 was the finest hour of our history. It was with a sense of supreme satisfaction at the fulfilment of his mission that Quaid-e-Azam told the nation in his last message on August 14, 1948: “The foundations of your state have been laid and it is now for you to build and build as quickly and as well as you can”. Had the Father of the Nation lived longer, he would have only been embarrassed to see how miserably we as a nation have failed to live up to his vision of Pakistan.
Within the first year of our independence, which woefully happened to be the last of his life, Quaid-e-Azam had presciently foreseen the coming events. He was disillusioned with the scarcity of calibre and character in the country’s political hierarchy that was to manage the newly independent Pakistan. Political ineptitude was writ large on the country’s horizon. Quaid’s worries were not unwarranted. Since then, politics in Pakistan has remained hostage to the elite classes which have been inimical to the promotion of genuine nationhood in the country.
Unlike India’s Congress Party, the Muslim League, Pakistan’s founding party was almost wholly dominated by a few feudal families, whom the British had patronised before Partition and which were powerful enough to retain control over national affairs through the bureaucracy and the armed forces. Even after the Muslim League’s disintegration, the same elitist oligarchy with different faces at different times under different political flags has remained in power with the help of a civil bureaucracy that in fact has been wielding the real authority.
We also saw a number of politicians, including some in the present political hierarchy, being ‘cycled’ through recurring political crises. Invariably, the politicians proved to be corrupt, interested only in maintaining their political power and securing their own interests or those of their elite fraternity. As ‘elected’ leaders, they never inspired hope for a democratic state that could provide socio-economic justice, rule of law and fair administration to all Pakistani citizens. The curse of terrorism that we are fighting today is itself the product of successive leadership failures.
With frequent political breakdowns, the people started welcoming military take-overs in one form or the other. The scene today is no different with a non-performing government itself looking towards the military to do things that it has failed to deliver as its basic governmental mandate. The problem is that the overbearing elitist power structure in Pakistan is too deeply entrenched to let any systemic change or reform takes place. It doesn’t suit them. They make amendments in the constitution for self-serving reasons only. In any unequal, parochially defined set up, no method of governance can work.
Instead of removing our systemic weaknesses and reinforcing the unifying elements of our nationhood, our rulers have made provincial setups their virtual kingdoms. Institutional integrity and national unity are the direct victims of this lopsided situation. No government has ever attempted to correct the systemic anachronisms in our federal structure or to redress provincial grievances. As a newly independent nation, we just could not cope with the challenges of freedom inherent in our geopolitical and structural fault lines.
Language became our first bête noire. The real Pakistan disappeared with the events of 1971. And yet we learnt no lesson from our mistakes. We are still possessed by the same ghosts in the name of religion, culture, language and ethnicity. We have divided ourselves on sectarian and ethnic grounds. The country has still not been able to evolve a political system that could respond to the challenges of an ethnically and linguistically diverse population.
There is a strong underlying resentment in the smaller provinces against what is seen as continued ‘Punjabi dominance’ and inequitable distribution of power and resources. The overbearing visibility and involvement of the chief minister of Punjab in matters of national importance to the exclusion of his other counterparts is just one testimony to our unequal governmental setup. Looking at other developed and developing countries, we find our federation has almost no parallel anywhere in the world.
Unsure of our future, we continue to grope in the dark with one crisis after another and have yet to figure out a sense of common purpose and unity for ourselves as a nation. To avert the vicious cycle of known tragedies and to foster a sense of unity which is also critical to national security, we need a serious and purposeful national debate involving a holistic review of our entire governmental system. We need genuine political, economic, judicial, educational, administrative and land reforms in the country.
Changing faces will not do, nor will elections under the present system make any difference. The system itself must change. Reason, not self-serving emotion, should be our yardstick. We must move beyond cosmetic measures. As a country and as a nation, at this critical juncture in our history we cannot leave ourselves at the mercy of our systemic aberrations. We can’t even innocently continue to believe that everything will be all right, magically or providentially.
Shamshad Ahmad is a former foreign secretary.