Thursday, 30 April 2009
14 Aug 1947, was a happy day in Pakistan. The British were leaving India, one of their most prized possessions. The dream of many Muslims was being fulfilled. Besides India a new nation who many thought would not be possible even 2 yrs ago was also created - PAKISTAN.
When Pakistan was born the Muslims of British India thought that a Dream had been fulfilled. They will be able to create a Land for the Pak (Pure). Islam was the binding factor of the country. It had people speaking different languages, belonging to different cultures- Punjabi, Bengali, Sindhi, Pashtun, Baloch, Seraiki’s & a new forced culture by the name of Mohajir.
It was the only country which was split in two parts separated by 1500 km of India; “India” a country out of hatred for which Pakistan was born. This was the time; right at its birth “Hatred” was imbibed into the nation.
To continue with the hatred the status of princely states added fuel to fire. Even when around 10 million people had died during the separation, Pakistan and India was fighting wars in Kashmir, Pakistan was supplying weapons in Hyderabad, A shame for both sides I must say. Due to the partition People of Pakistan, I repeat “people “of Pakistan lost the best cities of India-Calcutta & Lahore. Calcutta became a part of India, but for Lahore the best city in India, lost its soul. It was a city which was run by the intelligent Hindu community, made more than 40 % of the population, and controlled 90% of the city's economy. Virtually all the prime properties, banks, posh areas we all owned by the Hindu’s. Loosing that population, Pakistan lost any chance of moderation for its society. Yes Lahore progressed because it had a moderation effect of all the communities- Muslim's, Sikh's & the Hindu's. With the death of Jinnah & Liaqat Ali Khan, any chance of a secular Pakistan was also washed away.
For the first quarter of its existence, constituted of a war with India and one in Kashmir, and full of military rule. Pakistan firmly fixed itself with the western powers in the cold war. It received huge aids from the west. Progress was coming but was not uniformly distributed. Within 20 years of formation the PAK (Pure) ISLAM nation had many separatists movement. The Bengalis which formed the majority of the population had virtually no political power wanted more. Thus the first nail in the coffin was drawn. The government tried to counter the move the making following a 2 unit policy of West and East Pakistan. Then to draw away attention and focus on "the core issue" Kashmir, Indo-Pak war was fought in 1965. But the real core issue was ignored. Despite the economic and demographic weight of the east, Pakistan's government and military were largely dominated by the upper classes from the west. The Bengali Language Movement of 1952 was the first sign of friction between the two wings of Pakistan. Dissatisfaction with the central government over economic and cultural issues continued to rise through the next decade, during which the Awami League emerged as the political voice of the Bengali-speaking population. It agitated for autonomy in the 1960s, and in 1966, its president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was jailed; he was released in 1969 after an unprecedented popular uprising. In 1970, a massive cyclone devastated the coast of East Pakistan, and the central government responded poorly. The Bengali population's anger was compounded when Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who’s Awami League won a majority in Parliament in the 1970 elections, was blocked from taking office.
After staging compromise talks with Mujib, President Yahya Khan arrested him on the early hours of March 26, 1971, and launched Operation Searchlight, a sustained military assault on East Pakistan. Yahya's methods were extremely bloody, and the violence of the war resulted in many civilian deaths .Chief targets included intellectuals and Hindus, and about ten million refugees fled to neighbouring India. Estimates of those massacred throughout the war range from three hundred thousand to 3 million.
Seeing such conditions India interfered. Pakistan until the interference was saved by its ally USA. Both nations came to war. India supported the popular demand and created Bangladesh. If it would not have been Cold war, and the Indian leadership non willingness to go into a length conflict, one or two more nations would have also been created from Pakistan. Thus the Islamic dream shown by MA Jinnah was broken. The Muslim population in South Asia was divided into 3 parts meaning they were now actually a third strong of what they could have been if together.
After that Pakistan realized that if it went the war way more Bangladesh would be born very soon. Instead they could bleed the enemies by using terrorism. The policy was successful in its initial decades. Afghanistan was in tatters. India also was suffering. Many independence movements supported by Pakistan were present now. It was now a doubt on whether India would remain united or not. Pakistan brazed itself to support terror. Madrasas were made equivalent to schools, support from US to Mujhaideen against USSR. Many felt that within few years India would be broken. Afghanistan will be no threat and Pakistan would be the real power. Supported by US the economy of Pakistan was doing much better than its Rival India. It was a dream period. Came the end of Cold war and this is when the real problem started for Pakistan.
The Terrorists from Afghanistan returned back home. Restless they needed a place to take out their energy. They were sent to Kashmir in the name of Islam. Then the terrorists by the name of Taliban had also taken over Afghanistan, set up as so called Islamic government, sliding it back to medieval times. Then came an incident that would surely change the shape of Pakistan in future.
“9/11” and US coming to Afghanistan. Faced with a difficult choice of siding by the Demon it had created and cared or with US (Though US also had a part in creating the Demon, which is another story). Mr Pervez Musharaf made a choice which may be regretted down the years. A mid way policy would have been a better choice many feel. With this move a section of terrorists take the set up of Pakistan as their own enemy and now wish to create the whole state into a Taliban nation.
The Taliban are known to be popular mostly with the Pashto population but have started to weaken the set up which is a first step towards breaking up of the country. Lets starts by discussing each ethnic group and how can they affect in the future
The Pakistan constitutes of mainly 4 states
These states have mixtures of population belonging to different ethnic groups. The people of Pakistan are divided in different Ethnic groups. The demographics of Pakistan are as follows
There are various issues which are amongst these ethnic groups. The major issue is the dominance by the Punjabi’s. I will discuss the issue’s faced by each ethnic group, what would be a consequence for them in case of a breakup & and what course and areas would constitute of the Nation formed for each ethnic group
The Punjabi’s are the largest and most dominant ethnic group in Pakistan. They mostly live in the state of Punjab. It is highly in their interest that Pakistan remains a united country. Since they dominate the Politics and Army they have been alleged to use the resources of other areas for their own benefit and try to divide the others.
The Punjabi though dominant from the start, initially had to share the power with the Mohajir who were also highly educated. The Mohajir’s started to build & dominate in the then capital of Karachi. This led to the establishment shifting the administrative headquarters to Rawalpindi in Punjab and finally establishing the Capital in Islamabad. The Punjabi’s through the Pakistani establishment have been motivating the migration of people in the other states, with an objective of playing other minorities against each other.
They have been successful in doing so in Sind and Baluchistan but not successful in NWFP. NWFP which has a Pashto majority also form a major part of the army and have a martial past. Even the British were not able to subdue them. The Taliban movement is mainly driven from the Pashto population only.
In the long run the Punjabi’s seem to fight a losing battle only. The generation who wanted to enjoy have done so. If they are forced to separate the Punjabi’s would be forced to be a part of a Landlocked country without any resources, but just agriculture with all the rivers coming from India. This would make them a puppet of India, a nightmare which they never want, have been doing everything to stop that.
They are the tribe which form the majority in the NWFP and make about a fifth of the population of Baluchistan. Karachi also has a significant population which makes them about 8% of the population of Sind. Pashto’s live on the both side of Pak Afghan border. In Afghanistan they are the biggest ethnic group making around 40 % of the population. In 1947 many Pashto’s of the NWFP did not vote for the referendum since they were being divided around the Durand Line. They had and even today have a demand for a separate homeland for the pashtun known as Pakhtoonistan or Pashtunistan. They have had a violent past. Event the British did not interfere in their internal matters and created Tribal areas. In Pakistan too they have been quite independent and formed a major constituent of the Pakistan Army.
The Pashto’s as a first step want NWFP to be named as Pakhtoonistan. In the long run they want to unite the tribe’s separated by the Durand line. The Taliban are mainly constituted of the Pashto people itself. When US interfered in Afghanistan and Pakistan siding with them, they tried to interfere with these fiercely independent tribes. This is where the problem started and has been given a name to fight in the name of Islam
In the long run, it seems like this is the region which will bring instability to the whole Nation. This instability may allow other regions of Pakistan to separate. This will bring in two scenarios for Pashto’s.
If Afghanistan is a stable nation by then, then they either willingly or by force will become a part of Afghanistan, and Afghanistan becomes a Pashto dominated country
The second and most likely scenario is that this separated region breaks into fiefdoms and at some stage some powerful leader with or without the support of outside world rules this nation. In such a scenario, they will be a high chance that this leader would be able to unite the pashtun fiefdoms on Afghan side too, and then a dream of the Pashto people to have a Pakhtoon nation will be fulfilled
Whatever is the future, one thing is clear this region would undergo a violent time.
Sindhi’s form 46% of the population of the state of Sind. They form around 8% of the population of the state of Baluchistan also. At the time of the independence they formed 90% of the population.of state of Sind. They are a community who have a rural society. Hence in the cities the middle class was formed by the Hindu Sindhi’s who migrated after Partition. The Hindu’s virtually ran the major cities like Karachi and Hyderabad.
But unlike other cities of Pakistan Karachi and other cities of Sind did not lose their soul. The Urdu speaking, better educated people came and settled in these cities. These people were known as Mohajir. They formed a Majority in the cities of Karachi & Hyderabad. Soon Urdu was made the national language, but Sindhi’s felt it was only spoken by the refugees. Then Karachi was separated from Sind and made the federal capital. In 1955 the provinces were abolished and two units of East & West Pakistan were made. This further infuriated the Sindhi’s who felt the threat of losing their identity. Soon afterwards the capital was shifted out of Karachi. These all actions increased the gap between the Sindhi’s and the outsiders.
With all these actions gave rise to Sindhi nationalism. In 1970 the Sind state was again formed with Karachi as its capital. PPP was formed which had primarily Sindhi leadership. After Mr Bhutto became prime minister he introduced a quota system for jobs. He specially introduced a quota for Rural Sind so that Sindhi’s could benefit. Sindhi was made the only official language of Sind. This however has further divided the Sindhi’s & Mohajir’s and played to the advantage of Punjabi’s.
Meanwhile the Punjabi’s had slowly managed to sideline the Mohajir’s out of power and have also successfully managed to divide the other minorities. To add to the complexity in Sind after Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Many Pashtun and refugees have settled in Karachi. They run the transport business of the city. With the outsiders controlling the two important aspects- Business (Mohajir) & Transport (Pashto), the Sindhi’s feel alienated in their own homeland. There have been regular riots between the three communities. This has made the belief for a Sindhi homeland more profound.
In the long run, the Sindhi’s would want to separate from the Punjabi domination as quickly as possible. But the Sindhi nation would face many issues. First of all is the threat of being reduced to a minority in their own province. Then the irrigation system can be controlled from the northern side of Punjab. The lifeline of Sind the Indus River flows from North and is the major source of irrigation which is very critical to the arid area. Thirdly the economic centres of Karachi & Hyderabad are run by the Mohajir’s. These areas would like to separate away from Sind and it would lose the economic centres. If & when the Sind nation is formed, the “compromising” Sindhi people would most likely again compromise as their lands would be divided with others. Finally a Sind nation may be somewhat dependant on others, but it would help them save their identity and save them from extinction.
Seraiki’s mainly live in the former princely state of Bahawalpur, in the Southern Punjab province. They are an ethnic group which has many similarities with both Punjabi’s and Sindhi’s but are a distinct ethnic group. Years of Punjabi dominance in the state of Punjab has led them to ask for a separate state of Seraikistan. While Seraikistan constitutes the most fertile areas of Punjab, and contributes hugely to the agricultural production, most of the money generated goes to northern part of Punjab. This has led to impoverished conditions for the Seraiki’s.
The movement for a separate state gained force in the 1970, but the military regime of Zia Ul Haq was able to subdue it. Seraiki’s have been fighting to save their language and culture which is even today referred to a dialect of Punjabi itself.
The Punjabi regime has been trying to subdue the voice and regularly tries to settle outside people in the Seraikistan like a proposal in 90’s to settle Bihari’s. These actions have led to violent protests. It is not in the interest of Punjabi to let Seraiki’s have a separate state. It would mean the loss of best lands for the state of Punjab on whose money Punjabi’s have been living. It would also provide a boost to various other nationalistic movements in the country.
Though Seraiki’s have never asked for a separate nation but a separate province as it would give them rights over their fertile lands. However if the country is disintegrating, they would never like to be a part of a left over Pakistan which would have a even bigger Punjabi’s majority, who have always dominated them. It would rather separate out towards a separate Seraikistan whose boundaries are better defined then of any other community in the nation. In case they are not able to separate out along with others, it would definitely give a start for an independence movement.
The partition brought bloodshed all around British India. Many Hindu’s and Sikh’s fled Pakistani areas and many Muslims came to Pakistan. The people who came from India were either the Punjabi’s who settled in Punjab or the Urdu speaking people, who settled in Sind. While in Punjab the Punjabi’s were able to integrate, the Urdu speaking people could not do so. They were called Mohajir which in Urdu means Migrant.
These people mostly settled in the cities of Karachi and Hyderabad, forming a Majority in these cities. They contribute to 32% of the population of the Sind province. Mohajir’s who lost their properties in India came and took the properties of the Hindu’s in the cities who had left for India. They have contributed to the development of the cities, the businesses and initially had a good representation in the jobs. The people who founded Pakistan MA Jinnah & Liaqat Ali Khan would also be classified as Mohajir’s. They ensured that Urdu was also made the national language of Pakistan. This brought in resistance from other communities specially Bengali’s and Sindhi’s.
Around 70’s the nationalist movement of various communities of Pakistan gained momentum. Bangladesh separated from Pakistan. Sind and other states were again formed going back from the one unit policy. The states retracted back from Urdu and made the local language as the state language. This was a major blow and the signal of ending of Mohajir representation which was based out of merit. In the state of Sind where most of the Mohajir’s live, the nationalist government came into power. Quota’s for job was created. Unlike the other state with a uniform quota for state population in the Jobs at national level, Sind had 2 quota’s, one for urban and other for rural. This was specially designed to keep away the better educated Mohajir away from the jobs who were mainly lived in the urban region. The rural quota ensured that Mohajir could even compete for the seats of Sind quota on merit, but rather those seats were also being taken away.
Also even thought the Mohajir contribute more than 70% towards the state economy, they actually get a small fraction out of it. By these methods their dominance of power was gradually eroded by the Punjabi-Military dominance of power.
The Mohajir representation is done by the MQM. They control the municipal governments of the city of Hyderabad & Karachi. Whether officially recognized or not by the Pakistani establishment the Mohajir all already identified as a separate identity. In the long run in case of dissolution of Pakistan they should be able to separate from Pakistan in the form of city state constituting of Karachi & Hyderabad, and maybe along with some fertile areas around these cities. To establish their new dream of Mohajiristan, from their old shattered dream of Pakistan would not be a cake in the walk. It can be easily expected that the separation would bring violence with other communities especially with the Sindhi’s.
The Baloch form a majority of the state of Baluchistan. Despite of being the biggest state area wise and with most abundant natural resources in Pakistan, still it continues to be one the poorest areas. There also have been accusations of the outsiders settling in the Baluchistan to drive the Baloch people into a minority. The Baloch like the Pashtun are also divided across countries of Pakistan, Iran & Afghanistan.
The Baloch have been fighting for a separate homeland since the formation of Pakistan. Initially the Ruler of Kalat, one of the states in Baluchistan had declared independence to form a first Baloch nation. After he was defeated and forced to sign Instrument of accession, his brother led the revolution. There has been the continuation of the struggle in some form or the other. In fact so much has been the tyranny that recently Pakistani forces killed Mr Bugti a rebel, was in fact once the chief minister of the state!! The discrimination by the Punjabi setup led him to revolt against Islamabad.
Another issue of the Baloch is to drive them into a minority in their own state. The northern areas of Baluchistan are already traditionally Pashtun majority areas. They are not outsiders but native to those lands. Besides this, the establishment has been trying to settle many Sindhi’s and Punjabi’s near the borders with these states.
In the long run, the Baloch would be the one the first provinces to separate from the nation. Depending upon the condition of Afghanistan it would depend whether this Baloch nation would be able to integrate the Afghan areas of not. The Integration of the Iranian Baloch areas is very unlikely to be integrated for the near future. It would be also highly likely that the Pashtun areas of north Baluchistan would rather become a part of the Pakhtoonistan.
The Hindko live around the Hazara valley of Pakistan mainly in the State of NWFP, besides Punjab and Kashmir. They are ethnically very similar to the Pashtun and many of the Hindko’s are Bi lingual living along side Pashtun neighbourhoods. There have never been any major movements for separate identity and mostly recognize them to be along the Pashtun’s as Pathan’s.
The Brahui are a Dravidian race living in Baluchistan. Over the years they have been living alongside the Baloch and mostly recognize themselves to be along with them. They have been fighting alongside the Baloch for a separate homeland of Baluchistan and in the future would in most probability continue to do so.
Understanding the issues of all the communities, it can be seen that there are many differences. Some of them have simmered over time and some may do so in future. The present violence has started to build the crack in Pakistan. It seems like the nation is sitting on a time bomb. Every ethnical group has their source of problem with the Punjabi’s. To add complexity many of these problems are out of scope of Pakistan. In the best scenario even if the Punjabi domination over other ethnical group ends still the Pashtun and Baloch people would like to end the divide across the National borders with Afghanistan and Iran.
Many think that strong dictators will finish the problem, like they have been doing so in the past. But we must not forget that these dictators did not finish the problem but actually made it potentially more disastrous over period. Unfortunately the impact of these population and disintegration would not be limited just towards Pakistan alone. It has consequences for its neighbour as it has common ethnic group across the borders, it has nuclear bombs or strategic interest of other countries. The possible effect of the situation over other countries is discussed below:-
The biggest night mare of India would be anarchy in Pakistan and the nuclear arsenal falling into the hands of extremists and then it being used against it. If that issue is tackled by India, in the long run a divided Pakistan would be beneficial for India. It would be very easy to manage small weak states rather than one strong state. It is thought that this would motivate the similar movements in India but we must remember that it would be much easier for a bigger Pakistan to support such movements rather than week smaller independent states.
For Afghanistan “when” Pakistan breaks will be a crucial factor. If the country over the years is able to achieve stability and be truly Independent (That has happened with Pashtun supremacy) then break up of Pakistan could mean Integration of the Pashtun lands of Pakistan with Afghanistan, and the Pashtun becoming even more powerful in Afghanistan. This is what most of the Pashtun would dream of, a country where they form an overwhelming majority of over 70% with access to the fertile lands of the other communities in the north.
But the more likely scenario would be breaking up of the Pakistan and then fiefdom being formed in the western provinces. These Fiefdoms would want to unite the Pashtun and Baloch area of Afghanistan to form Baluchistan and Pakhtoonistan. This would lead to a conflict in the region which is quite a common occurrence and has been occurring for centuries. Whenever a strong leadership would come in these areas then that strong leadership or fiefdom, whatever be the case would decide the boundaries using bullets and bombs
For Iran only potential danger would be the trouble in its Baloch area and those merging with Baluchistan. There is a very unlikely chance in the present scenario but could be a potential threat. Iran would never want integration of Baloch areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan and would always oppose such a move.
The only threat to China would be losing on the heavy strategic investments it made in Pakistan. However it can also be seen as a opportunity if it is able to make some of the new nations as its satellite and guard the crucial oil lines for itself.
What actually happens in the future is very difficult to predict. Many people may have different views on this matter. The fact is when the Majority group of Pakistan understand’s that there can be other views and starts to respect them, and then the potential time bomb can be avoided. Whatever happens, the eyes of the world are on Pakistan but not due to its people but due to the Nukes in its stockpile.