First posted on CRI.
As many of us studied in school, the Bible says that the wages of sin is death. What the Bible does not say is the origin of sin? Without getting too philosophical and simply stated, the wages of “hate” is sin! What we see today in Pakistan is a nation wilfully accelerating towards its death due to the intense hatred that it has harboured for its neighbour for over 60 years! Truly a text-book case of “consumed by hatred”.
Pakistan is a country born out of hate and fear-mongering. Hatred of everything that India represented for millennia. Fearful of getting swamped by a Hindu majority and cynical jockeying for power between Nehru and Jinnah, partition created this artificial state. And boy, what a price Pakistan is paying for being borne out of hatred.
This blogpost is only for us to realize the price that the Pakistani society has had to pay and is continuing to pay for this hatred of India. This includes the following:
- Denial of its own history and historical heritage: The area which is now Pakistan, has for millennia been the heart of “India”, full of rich heritage in the form of buildings, culture, language, etc. For political reasons, Pakistan is forced to teach its children that its history began with the attack of Mohd. Bin Qasim on Raja Dahir’s Sind. They can’t take cultural ownership over Bappa Rawal (after whom Rawalpindi has been named), Lavapur (the original name of Lahore – named after the Son of Lord Ram, Lav), the ancient university of Taxila, and even the genius of the Indus Valley civilization (I believe that there is a signboard in Urdu at the ruins of Mohenjo-Daro stating that this is what Allah does to people who don’t follow his true path). You see, everything was supposed to be “Jahiliya” before the advent of Islam, hence nothing good could have ever existed before that. The Taliban, which has actually been spawned by Pakistan, relished the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddha, which had painstakingly been built by their own ancestors!
- Distortion of post-independence history: Pakistan has had to per force invent a “new” history for itself, so that the Army can justify its existence as the sole saviour from that “enemy state” of India. The truth about the wars started by Pakistan in 1947-48, 1965, 1971 and 1999 (Kargil) is largely hidden from its populace. The diabolical role played by the Army in East Pakistan, which led to the break-away and formation of Bangladesh is denied.
- Turning soldiers into Jihadis and non-state actors: Army soldiers are trained to fight the enemies of the state, and die if they have to, defending their country. In doing so, they are proud to be clearly identified as soldiers of their country. Right from 1947, when the “irregulars” were sent into Kashmir to wrest it away, Pakistan has made its soldiers hide their identity, all the way up to the Kargil war. Pakistan refused to accept the bodies of its soldiers from the Northern Light Infantry during the Kargil War, just so that it could maintain the façade that these were “freedom fighters” and not soldiers. There is nothing more morale-sapping for a soldier than for his existence to be denied like this. However, there was a case of the son of a high-ranking Pakistani General, who had been killed in Kargil, whose body was accepted at Wagah (and India allowed them to maintain secrecy about it). The radicalization of the Pakistani soldier, who was once upon a time amongst the best professional soldiers in the world, is there for all to see today. Cohabiting with and defending the jihadis for so long, the dividing line has now all but vanished.
- Economic collapse through diversion of scarce resources: The Pakistani today won’t believe that no more than 10 years ago, their rupee was stronger than the Indian one, and their per capita income was twice that of India. The monopolization of all resources of that state by the Army, and the creation of its own post-retirement patronage network has sapped the economy, where the only “robust” sector of the economy happens to be terrorism! The exaggeration of the “existential threat” from India has given the fig leaf to the Army to do so. The psyche of the Pakistani citizen towards India is so scarred, that normally “normal” people start making weird statements, like Shahid Afridi (Ham mussalmanon ka dil bahut bada hai), Shoaib Malik (Pakistani victory is dedicated to Muslims all over the world) and even Imran Khan (after winning the world cup, he chastised supporters at the airport saying he is not a returning warrior after having won Kashmir for Pakistan)! Economic growth needs what Keynes had called “animal spirits”, but the average Pakistani citizen has been turned into a hate-spewing jihadi animal (hardly what an economy needs). I remember an old story I had heard some 20 years ago that when a sudden burst of fire-crackers was heard at a wedding in Punjab, the guests ran helter-skelter, because someone screamed “India has attacked”! This is the end result of sustained fear-mongering on a society.
- Radicalization of the Society through Madarasas: As the state gradually withdrew from Western Pakistan, and survived largely only in the urban centres of the Eastern parts, even the “milder” version of radicalisation (through distorted school curricula) was replaced by the hard-core version being taught in the Madarasas. All that the children got from a very young age was a doctored and distorted version of fundamentalist Islam and heroes from Arabia. The economic collapse had in any case created a vast majority of people, who were illiterate and jobless (like Ajmal Kasab) and were cynically used as cannon-fodder for the jihadi mill (something that Pakistan has been doing for 60 years of its existence). In a nation where the average age is 20 (yes imagine just 20), the average age of the “trained and ready” jihadi suicide bomber is just 17! To address Pakistani apologists, don’t for a moment believe that the policy of training suicide bombers is done by Jihadis only, it is a plan of the ISI, to create and send them over to India! All the 10 terrorists who attacked Mumbai (26/11) were akin to trained suicide bombers! The tragedy is that the policy of radicalization has been so successful, that Pakistan produces “tens-of-thousands” of these jihadi graduates every year! Since the post 9/11 world has made it slightly difficult to “export” these jihadis, these jobless graduates have now turned on the hand that has been feeding it for so long, the ISI and the Pakistani Army establishment (just desserts do I hear?).
- Nuclearization: Dr. A Q Khan made a statement recently, and I have to reluctantly agree with him (in as much as I hate to). He said that if Pakistan did not have nuclear weapons, they would have been attacked and destroyed, by either or both the US (post 9/11) and India (post 26/11). While I agree with him, the argument is disingenuous, as he glibly glossed over the reasons as to why these countries would have attacked Pakistan! It is not because they covet its territory, but because under the nuclear overhang, Pakistan continues to brazenly indulge in acts of war (26/11 was nothing but that)! But, everything comes at a price. Zulfiqar Bhutto had said that they will get nuclear weapons at any cost, even if they have to eat grass for a thousand years. Well, I am not being glib, but the time has come to redeem that pledge! If China and the US stop bankrolling Pakistan, all Pakistanis will actually have nothing to eat but grass! The citizens are paying a terrible price for this needless and shameless bravado!
- Shamed citizenry: A Pakistani journalist, who I have immense respect for, had tweeted a few days after Osama’s killing in Abbottabad, “I am ashamed of being a Pakistani”! The pathos and sadness was clear in this cry for help from this once proud Pakistani citizen. Ask any Pakistani citizen who travels anywhere in the world today, and he will tell you about the shame he faces and the suspicion with which he is looked upon. “Is this also a terrorist” is the question writ large on faces, the moment one comes to know that one is sitting next to a Pakistani! It is sad, but a fact. In Hindi there is a saying, “Gehun ke saath ghun bhi pista hai” (wheat bugs also get ground to death along with wheat). There are lots of innocent Pakistanis, within and outside Pakistan, who are ashamed at what their country has become. When they see the confused response of the Pakistani establishment on Osama being caught in Abbottabad, they don’t know where to hide their face, as they don’t need “proof” to believe that Osama was being hidden there by the ISI.
- Client-state status: Pakistan has become a client state that is in transition from one owner (the US) to the other (China). I was amazed when a person of Pakistani origin cockily wrote to me that India has no option but to also start eventually paying this rentier state that Pakistan has become. The most amazing thing is that even in these dire conditions, the cockiness of the Pakistani establishment has not gone, the bravado with which they sell the narrative that Pakistan is still a “frontline state” in the war on terror is baffling, and the effort is still to feverishly increase their nuclear arsenal (what if India attacks)! This is a neurotic state which is called an “International migraine”, pariah state and a nuclear blackmailer, for a reason.
- Violated democracy: Pakistan apologists keep on trying to convince the world that it is a democracy, which couldn’t be further from the truth. The long abused fig leaf that the “religious parties” don’t get more than 5% of the vote doesn’t wash anymore. When a majority of Pakistanis look upon Osama as a hero, a memorial service is held for him in the Lahore Bar Council and within the National Parliament, and Salman Taseer’s killer is worshipped as a hero, all bets on this state are off! Today, the Army is genuinely the only institution preventing absolute and total anarchy, and with the radicalization within its own ranks (bearded Army Officers are becoming the norm now), even this looks like a fast-crumbling wall. To present Pakistan as a democracy almost seems like a cruel joke.
- Compromised sovereignty: Any citizen will feel angry when the sovereignty of its country is violated, like it was by the US in order to kill Osama. But Pakistan needs to ask itself as to whether it has any sovereignty left to protect, and therefore protest? Is the virtual disappearance of the Durand Line not a violation of its sovereignty? If as Pakistan posits, that they were not aware that Osama was living 800 metres away from the PMA, then is it not a violation of their sovereignty by Al Qaeda? A nation that illegally prints fake Indian currency in its official mints, to undermine the booming economy of its neighbour and finance a jihad against it, can’t talk about sovereignty! For Pakistanis feeling violated by the relatively reticent US, wait till your establishment sells your state to China (which is in the process of happening), and the US withdraws from the Af-Pak theatre. Mark my words you will cry out for the US then (look no further than Tibet for what is likely to happen). If you think that after giving missiles, jet planes, nuclear weapons, Gwadar port, rail/road links via POK, China will quietly withdraw, then you are all fit for the mental asylum. Pakistan is all set to gleefully move from the “American frying pan” into the “Chinese fire”! Words like sovereignty have got little meaning for such a state.
The Pakistani state and citizens have paid and continue to pay a terrible price for their hatred of India. They have constantly needled and slashed at the extended hand of friendship that the “weak” state of India has extended towards Pakistan on multiple occasions.
Pakistan has reached a stage where the world needs to come together to save it from itself. It is beyond the capability of the Pakistani state, its radicalized populace (or even the non-radicalized civil society), and least of all its military-dominated establishment to be able to do so. The onus lies upon the US, UK, Russia, China, India and Iran, to be able to collaborate and do so. Will they? The clock is ticking!
My harsh, but practical solution from an Indian perspective still remains as per my earlier blog (What do you do with a problem like Pakistan?).
One last point, I have been agonisingly trying to answer this question to myself, from an Indian perspective, does Pakistan deserve sympathy for its present predicament, or should we just sit back and let it stew in its own jihadi juices? While it is deservingly getting its just desserts, and needs to be roundly condemned, there is a nuanced approach that one can take on the sympathy factor for various components of the state of Pakistan.
My view is as follows:
- Army / ISI – No Sympathy
- Vast patronage network of Ex-Army civilians – No Sympathy
- Civilian Govt. – No Sympathy (although a few individual exceptions might be there)
- Jihadi groups – No Sympathy
- Radicalized Osama-worshipping populace – No Sympathy
- Innocent populace (cannon-fodder for Jihadi Mill) – Sympathy
- Educated, escapist, and acquiescent Middle Class defending and denying the ills of its state – No Sympathy
- Educated Middle Class fighting for a just, secular and democratic Pakistan – Sympathy
- Feudal Lords allied with exploitative Pakistani Administration – No Sympathy
All the above components are different, and normally at loggerheads with each other, and need a nuanced but firm approach. The only two allies of the educated and free world from within Pakistan who need to be supported are the Middle Class civilians fighting to save the soul of Pakistan and the exploited innocent masses.