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The Fragile State of Pakistan

The Fragile State of Pakistan Mehtab Ali Shah Restoration of Democracy (MRD) in 1983 and their repercussions for Sindh. For a fair deal for Sindh, Harrison to some extent appears to be in agreement with the late Syed


The Fragile State of Pakistan

Mehtab Ali Shah

R esto ration of Democracy (MRD) in 1983 and their repercussions for Sindh. For a fair deal for Sindh, Harrison to some e xtent appears to be in agreement with the late Syed’s views that in order to get the proper

he book under review is a volume of seven papers contributed by eminent analysts dealing with different aspects of the State of Pakistan – its society, economy, politics, security, foreign policy and the future. It has been carefully edited by Wilson John, a Pakistan specialist, and senior fellow at the Delhi-based think tank, the Observer Research Foundation. The foreword is written by Vikram Sood, former director of the Indian intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). The p apers ostensibly have been submitted to the editor, before the exit of Pervez M usharraf from office in August 2008. But their context is intact.

Selig Harrison, the American scholar on the politics of ethnicities in Pakistan, in his paper, “Ethnic Conflict and the Future of Pakistan”, gives an ethnic arithmetic of Pakistan. Quoting the 1998 census, he suggests that Siraikis of southern Punjab comprise 10.53% of the population, Sindhis 14.1%, Balochs 3.57%, Pashtuns 15.42%, the Urdu-speaking migrants comprise 7.60% and the remaining 49.78% are Punjabis (pp 19-20). Harrison correctly points out that the resources are distributed on the basis of population, which is strongly resented by the Sindhis and Balochs. On their part, they insist that the size of the territory and natural resources contributed by the provinces to the federation should be taken into consideration in the distribution of the resources to the provinces and fixing the ratio of their representation in the decision-making processes of the federation, which is dominated by the Punjabis and the migrants.

Harrison deals with each of the ethnic groups separately as well. He begins with the Balochs who inhabit 42% of the territory of Pakistan, including the strategically important eastern side of the Persian Gulf. The Balochs are fiercely independent and oppose the settlement of non-Balochs, especially Punjabis and other migrants in their province who exploit their resources on behalf of the federation.

Economic & Political Weekly

August 1, 2009

Pakistan: The Struggle Within edited by Wilson John, Foreword by Vikram Sood (New Delhi: Pearson-Longman on behalf of the Observer Research Foundation), 2009; pp xxvi + 214, Rs 525.

This is the main reason for the recurring insurgencies in Balochistan from 1948 onwards – in 1955, 1973 and 2004. The Baloch Liberation Army is an underground force fighting against what Balochs call “the colonial state”. Harrison, has apparently written this paper before the murder of the veteran Baloch leader, N awab Akbar Khan Bugti in 2006 and the legendary freedom fighter Mir Balach Khan Marri in 2007, by the army and the resultant severe bitterness of the Balochs towards the Pakistani state.

Sindhi Nationalism

Harrison also deals with the Sindhis who have a long history behind them. He correctly points out that the 18th century poet-saint of Sindh, Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, has had an enormous impact on the Sindhi psyche. His poetry is compiled in a book called Shah Jo Risalo (Poetry of Shah). One of the characters of Shah Latif, a denizen of the desert, Marvi, the shepherdess, who refused to make merry with a king, is an icon for Sindhi nationalists.

Sindh’s Calculations

Harrison argues that had the veteran S indhi leader, G M Syed known that the Muslims of pre-Partition Hindu-majority areas would migrate to Sindh or that it would be swamped by the Punjabi and P ashtun internal migrants, he would have not opted for Pakistan in 1943. It is noteworthy that if Sindh had not provided the territorial base to Pakistan; it would have not come into existence at all.

Harrison also studies the treatment meted out to Sindh by the federation after the creation of Pakistan. In this regard, among other developments, he investigates the hanging of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto by the Punjabi general, Zia ul Haq in 1979, the crushing of the Movement of

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share of water from the upper riparian Punjab, Sindh must join India. On his part Harrison also appears to be well-dispensed to the idea of a S indh-Balochi stan federation if Pakistan disintegrates.

Harrison perceives an uncertain future for Pakistan due to the religious extremism and denial of the rights to the smaller provinces, Sindh and Balochistan, by the federation. However, he optimistically suggests that if the demands of the Sindhis and Balochs for maximum autonomy are accommodated in a true democratic and federally structured Pakistan, it may cope with the geopolitical convulsions arising out of the rise of the Taliban and Al Qaida in the Pashtun belt of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Civil-Military Relations

Retired General Talat Masood analyses the civil-military relations in Pakistan and their implications for the country’s bodypolitics. Breaking the esprit de corps, he blames the army for interfering in the politics of the country. To him Pakistan’s recent judicial crisis, in which the chief justice of the Supreme Court was dismissed by Musharraf, was also of the army’s making. The Punjabi-dominated military staunchly supports the unitary form of the government for a multi-ethnic state which strongly evokes centrifugal tendencies in Sindh and Balochistan. Insufficient expenditure on health and education on the one hand, and heavy spending on defence

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on the other, have robbed the country of its human resources. The military’s i ndustrial empire has adversely affected its p rofessionalism. Masood advised the then military ruler, Musharraf to quit gracefully so that the civilian institutions could be consolidated.

Frederic Grare, the American specialist on south Asia, in his paper, “Does Democracy Have a Chance in Pakistan”, examines the major challenges to the democratic processes in the country. These are: instability, Islamism and the lack of development. They emanate from the prolonged army rule in the country. In tune with Masood, Grare also argues that since the military is principally from Punjab and it prefers over-centralisation of power this creates a strong sense of alienation in Sindh and Balochistan, which precipitates regional imbalances and the corresponding instability in the country. He further suggests that Zia and the intelligence agencies’ promotion of the Deobandi brand of Islam, which propagates the l ocal version of the Saudi-originated W ahabi Islam, led to the rise of sectarianism in a country which is full of Lashkars and Sipahs (the armies), linked with the Taliban and Al Qaida on the one hand and with the intelligence agencies on the other. Organisations like the Lashkar-i-Tayeba and Lashkar-i-Jhangvi are backed by the Pakistani army and act as its proxies in Indian-administered Kashmir. At home, these Lashkars kill Shias and precipitate sectarian instability. Grare further argues that 1% of the population which forms the civil-military oligarchy of Pakistan has hijacked democracy. He concludes that sustained economic growth, good education, removal of hate lessons from school syllabi, and demilitarisation of the country will remove instability and promote democracy in Pakistan. He appeals to the international community to play its role in promoting these goals in Pakistan.

Islamic Parties

The Indian scholar Kalim Bahadur in his paper, “Islamic Parties in Pakistan: The Social and Political Impact”, traces the roots of Pakistan’s religious parties to 18th and 19th century India, when the Ulema (scholars) gave calls to fight against the non-Muslim rulers in north India. Pakistan’s Jamaat-i-Ulema-i-Islam (JUI), Jamaat-e-Islami and Ahle-Hadith are offshoots of the Delhi-based Jamaat-i-Deoband. Initially, these religious parties opposed the creation of Pakistan on the ground that it would divide the Muslims. However, when Pakistan came into being, they became the champions for Islamisation of its society. The mullah-military a lliance culminated in the 1980s and since then it is supporting the so-called jihad in Afghanistan and in Indian K ashmir. Kalim Bahadur also opines that these jihadis along with the Sipah-i- Sahaba and Lashkar-i-Jhangvi are of the Wahabi deno mination. They are aided and abetted by the Pakistan military’s I nter-Services Intelligence. He concludes that terrorism in any form including s ectarianism is amongst the greatest threats to the state and society of P akistan. Its perpetrators and promoters are bound to derail the democratic processes in Pakistan and put the existence of the country in jeopardy.

In this book, there are equally valuable chapters on Pakistan’s economy by Akmal Hussain, and on China-Pakistan relations by Mohan Malik. F eroz Hassan Khan presents the official view of Pakistan’s Strategic Doctrine, which is India-centric, touching cursorily upon internal threats, which according to him, are mainly of India’s making. As a matter of fact, Pakistan is more v ulnerable to internal threats than the external one.

Taken together, this book gives the message that direct or indirect army rule and the interference of the intelligence agencies in domestic politics of Pakistan are the main obstructions to its development. These forces promote bigotry as well. Their preference for over-centralisation evokes a strong reaction from Sindh and Balochistan. The army and the intelligence agencies’ control over the foreign and s ecurity policies of the country has i ncreased its internal and external vulnerabilities. They have isolated Pakistan regionally and made it over-dependent on America. This state of affairs can be brought to an end by putting the army and the intelligence agencies in their proper place. Thus, the editor has aptly given the volume the title, Pakistan: The Struggle Within. The book should be read by a nybody interested in the stability of P akistan and peace in south Asia.


Government of India

Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation Central Statistical Organisation

Invitation for Research Proposals on Official Statistics

The Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) provides financial assistance for undertaking research studies/projects which aim at strengthening and developing official statistics, particularly in the field of Social Sector. Detailed information regarding survey/study subjects, eligibility for availing of financial assistance, quantum of financial assistance, procedure for making application etc is available in the Ministry’s web site → Central Statistical Organisation

→ Social Statistics Division → Guidelines for Research Projects.

Proposals can be submitted at any time during the year to Additional Director General, Social Statistics Division, Central Statistical Organisation, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, West Block-8, Wing No. 6,

R.K. Puram, New Delhi.

Director General Central Statistical Organisation

August 1, 2009 vol xliv no 31

Economic & Political Weekly

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