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United we fall?


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National security indeed is a matter of utmost concern for our civil-military establishment policy makers; it has been so since the heady days of Ayub Khan’s martial law of 1958, down to the 1999 coup d’etat, and straight on to last year’s Abbottabad raid by US Navy SEALs to the ‘Memogate’ scandal. And there has been consistent failure on the part of the same forces which are consumed by such concerns to safeguard national security — except when it comes to civilian rule when it is seen as acting against national security prerogatives.

These in turn, since 1948, have been defined as threat from India, to threat from Bengali nationalism, to threat from Pakhtun nationalism of yore, to Sindhi and now Baloch nationalism. The two constants in this threat perception of the defence officialdom have been India and the civilian, elected governments. America, via the Afghan endgame and Balochistan, is the latest parable that has been introduced into the threat perception list.

And just what (or who) are the safeguards against these multiple existential threats posed to the integrity and sovereignty of Pakistan from these varying quarters from time to time?

A non-existent Nation of Islam, a proxy army of semi-literate, trained and untrained jihadi volunteers; and a professional, nuclear-armed army sworn to protecting the state’s ideological frontiers that extend into the strategic depths of Afghanistan. This has been and is the wherewithal of our national security regime, which overrides all others, notably rule of law through democratic institutions that would invest in human capital and through it into globally acceptable and sustainable norms of economic activity aimed at measurable progress. No wonder the failures are stunning. And there will always be a popular centrifugal force, with or without help from a foreign country to undo us.

Islam as a state ideology has failed to unite Pakistanis as a nation, because religion has not done so since the abolition of the classical Muslim Caliphate, which clearly had run its course centuries ago; or else Muslims from Morocco and Bosnia to Brunei and Indonesia would form a single nation state today. Turks and Arabs would not have fought amongst themselves wars of conquest, and of deceit, respectively, the latter in cohorts with Britain and France in the 20-century; last but not least, there is not even a concept of a single Arab Muslim nation, let alone one great Nation of Islam.

This is because people will be people, and no two communities’ much loved and practised Islamic ideals really match for them to embrace an umbrella divine law under which everyone can live happily ever after. It hasn’t happened and it won’t happen for a long time. Why? Because all so-called ‘divine law’ is based on the interpretation of the divine sources by fallible, albeit great men of learning, who too could not but disagree with one another in their own historical times and spaces.

Hence the long recognised, at least, four major fiqhs of the majority Sunni Muslim creed alone. Add to them the many Shia sects and fiqhs, and you complete the picture of Muslim practices and beliefs as they exist today outside the sealed and closed minds of Pakistan’s religious ideologues. And then there are this country’s equally bona fide non-Muslim citizens, and ethno-centric communities, some as big as to qualify as successful nation states, Bangladesh being a very potent example in recent history.

What, then, can hold Pakistan together? The armed forces with a nuclear arsenal, and an unquestionable sense of patriotism that relies on a common majority faith as a basis of a nation state? Or is it a well developed human capital where everyone gets what they deserve, and everyone regardless of their religious or ethnic identity, becomes an equal stakeholder in being united as one nation? Sadly, the latter possibility cannot become a reality unless we revisit the way we have been looking at ourselves and seeking a gel in the very substance that continues to divide us.

Whilst for the proud Baloch, there can be little contradiction between being Baloch and Muslim, there are nothing but contradictions between being Baloch and a Pakistani Muslim as per the state’s prescription. Faith in Islam has not held back either our very practising Muslim security forces and intelligence apparatus or the Baloch nationalists from torturing or killing those who they believe are working against their respectively and, at variance, defined national interest.

The state must shed the burden of its imposed ideology, which parochially defines its citizens’ Islamic identity whilst making it controversial at the same time. This in turn negates the people’s respective ethnic identities and their status as equal citizens of the state. Thus, we end up with supposedly more patriotic Punjabis and Mohajirs, and now Pathans joining their ranks, united only against the revolting Baloch. In 1971 the first mentioned three communities came together to hold the majority Bengali traitors; today they’re being steered to holding the minority Baloch as being equally inimical to what remains of Pakistan.


The writer is a member of the staff at Dawn Newspaper.

DAWN_VIDEO - /1029551/DAWN-RM-1x1

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (40) Closed

Manu Feb 24, 2012 03:55pm
This is a prescription for secularism and pluralism - then what was partition about ?
saroche Feb 24, 2012 06:22pm
The most shocking article I've read in recent times. A little far-fetched when it comes to Balochistan, but 'we' as a nation have always absolved and delivered the 'black-sheep' whoever tried to 'mess' with us. This thing isn't far off when we'll see our arms and legs breaking off into absurdity.
Shadix Feb 24, 2012 06:25pm
Thumbs up. Demand of time article but only for few percent who understand English.
Dr V. C. Bhutani Feb 24, 2012 06:38pm
Dear Mr Murtaza Razvi, Your paper is dripping with intellectual integrity and sound reason throughout. I wish there were more people like you in your country. Perhaps no one likes a sermon from an “infidel”, because I am not a Muslim. But I have seen enough of Islam and Muslims and Hindu-dharma and Hindus and the several other varieties of persuasions and their followers during my lifetime. I have formed a conviction that in this day and age it is not possible for a State to be formed on the basis of any one religion, be it Islamic, Hindu, Christian, Jewish, or any other. For that matter, States based on one religion are to my way of thinking anachronisms. It makes no sense to make a Jewish State or an Islamic Republic, or for that matter a Hindu State. Any State will contain some people of a religion other than the religion of the majority. Is the State going to deny these others equal rights as citizens of a State? Unfortunately, this has been attempted a little too often. Fortunately, it has failed always. With warm regards, most sincerely yours, V. C. Bhutani, Delhi, India, 24 Feb 2012, 1835 IST
Aamir Feb 24, 2012 06:44pm
diwandd Feb 24, 2012 07:04pm
you said it...
jilanee Feb 24, 2012 07:12pm
Partition was about secularism and pluralism period.
Naveed Lotia Feb 24, 2012 07:15pm
Manu, the original idea of Pakistan was a state where the Muslims of India would be in a majority so that their political, social and economic rights were preserved and enhanced. It was supposed to be a secular state (the mirror image of India but with a Muslim majority) and it was NOT supposed to be an 'Islamic' State.
Agha Ata Feb 24, 2012 07:39pm
You are not supposed go expose such brutal truths so openly. No one can handle it, besides, TRUTH is no good for the nation's health any longer!
Bhupendra Feb 24, 2012 07:48pm
Partition was only about power hunger on both sides, there was no logic whatsoever, it also served the british policies. why did Mountbatten prepone the date of partition by one year? why was it accepted by all? if it wasnt, may be there would no have been a partition, and certainly no blood letting if partition was inevitable.
jay komerath Feb 24, 2012 07:49pm
This is the only way-and JInnah would have achieved this by NOT ASKING FOR PARTITION
Rafi Feb 24, 2012 07:53pm
What was in appropriate about my comment sent in earlier? You don't like to hear logical differing point of views? It's a shame. God bless.
maverick Feb 24, 2012 08:05pm
Very well written. The Islamic caliphate does not exist and cannot. A bengali or a malyalee will have very little in common with their co-religionists in NWFP or Punjab or say a Punjabi with a Tuareg. Shared religion cannot bind people.Look at the arabian oeninsula, even shared language has not make them come together
jamal Feb 24, 2012 08:24pm
i wish somebody invent a time machine to ask our founding father what was the intention.
sharma Feb 24, 2012 09:26pm
havent you heard about medical amputation????? It is the process in which diseased limbs are sacrificed for the good of the whole. What you are now seeing in pakistan is the rotting of that limb as it continues to suffer from the diease that had lead to its creation. To those who think about reconciliation I say - forget it.
BRR Feb 24, 2012 09:31pm
Partition was a con job delivered to an unsuspecting public from an elite willing to hold on to power.
Ayesha Khan Feb 24, 2012 09:35pm
It is beyond me and i cannot see a single sane and sincere person who can come forward as a leader of Pakistan. The history provides evidence that there was no one sincere to our country and currently all the high official are extremely demoralizing and an extreme threat to the people and sovereignty of our nation. No single person for future election has a proper and practical mandate. When the hearts are filled with hatred, and vengeance then no nation can attain prosperity. Every person has a price tag on him, its only a matter who place the hugest bid for them and they are ready for sale. When the scenario is so bleak then what one can expect from any. The irrelevant debates that they engage into is a clear evidence that the politicians do not qualify in any which way to lead this nation towards security and progress. Creating great issues on international level, engaging in futile debates, blaming and charging each other with senseless allegations and bringing disrepute to Pakistan is all that they have to offer. With out realizing that how many problems are there which are mounting day by day yet' their priority is to make peace talks between other nations and forgetting the titanic issues at home that require intense, and immediate attention are of no significance to them. Who they are fooling, and what is their ulterior motive is--- i fail to understand------
Hemant Feb 24, 2012 09:38pm
What identity do you have after 60 long years of independence? You lost Bangladesh. You are on the verge of losing Baluchistan. You have handed over large parts to China. You have internecine fratricidal war being waged since ten years. Half of the years you hve been ruled by military dictetorship. You lost four wars which you waged against your neighbour during the last 60 years. Now what is your identity? What should an average citizen of your country be proud of?
Ibrahim Feb 24, 2012 10:26pm
The sanctity of creation of Pakistan was lost once it was declared as an Islamic state instead of Muslim majority state. Why fifty percent of Muslims stayed back as Indians and only fifteen percent Hindus opted to be Pakistanis.
Devendra Feb 24, 2012 10:31pm
BRAVO!!! , Agha. Pakistan needs more men like you. God Bless.
Muzaffar Feb 24, 2012 10:41pm
The most shocking article I’ve read in recent times. I agree with your ideas 100%. May Allah protect you and allow others to think so freely and express their ideas openly.
Ayesha Mohammad Feb 24, 2012 11:40pm
Pakistan ka matalab kya....... :0
R dar Feb 25, 2012 02:22am
Just like different families living separately makes a fabric of society. Different countries with different identeties living seprately in harmoney, peace and absolute justice is islamic concept of brotherhood. Absolute justice is secularisam.
A.Bajwa Feb 25, 2012 05:01am
Pakistan has to eventually move towards a territorial concept of nationalism, the heart of which has to be a federal structure like the one in USA.
Srini Feb 25, 2012 05:13am
Absolutely right Naveen
Baltia Feb 25, 2012 05:35am
I think no one has ever studied Iqbal, the one who given idea of Pakistan....atleast read "Recosntruction of Islamic Thought". it is availabe on Iqbal's Official website maintained by Pakistan Governement
israr Feb 25, 2012 09:22am
Lotia, you are trying to tell me that Muslims were some endangered species who needed protections of any kind.... if it is true than all those Muslims must have migrated to this part who needed protection and that may be the reason we as a nation have never been satisfied in terms of security and protection from outside influences...we are xenophobic nation
Utkarsh Feb 25, 2012 01:45pm
Whatever the partition was about does not seem to be working well, so may be some change is needed...
kanak Feb 25, 2012 04:59pm
It is not possible to undo partition as it is history. What should be done now is to ensure that all sections of the society are treated equally and religion does not score over other things. If one understands that religion is a personal belief and is very private, he/she will not try to promote it.The Government has no business of whatsoever to promote one religion as its version of that religion itself would be different from some others. e.g. Ahmedias, Shias, Sunnis, Hazaras all following same religion but can not go together.
Jogesh Narula Feb 25, 2012 06:38pm
Absolutely right.
Zulfiqar Ansari Feb 25, 2012 06:58pm
Pakistan is Actualy FAILED state where Sunis killing shias and vise versa...
engr.abdul gafur Feb 25, 2012 08:05pm
one Muslim can not kill another Muslim.needs rectification to be pure Muslims.
Naeem Feb 25, 2012 08:06pm
Its a big question what cal hold Pakistan together? what can hold any nation together is 'justice'. Justice at level of sessions courts to justice at level of rights of communities and provinces. The element of Islam is the source of principals of justice. Islam without justice is sand with no cement and sand castles do not last very long.
jk Feb 26, 2012 02:55am
Well...when "Money' becomes the religion, the nations fall down. When the 'Leaders' are the most recognized corrupt and have nothing 'Muslim' in them, then the corrupt people who chose them will have the corrupt leaders who will do nothing for the people and the country. The leaders are too busy in amasing more wealth by any means they can and let the poor go to dumps. In Pakistan of today, there are only corrupt government officials, corrupt industrialists, feudal lords etc.etc. so where is Islam and what is the new defination of Islam..? , same goes for the Middle East countries. Does any shame exist in them..? You guess.
Haroon rooha Feb 26, 2012 03:55am
Hindu in not a religion.Sindhu is a river,Sindh is a province.RE-LEgions are Jews christians and Muslims. So calleded Hinduism is a Thought process of the Scholars of Indus River valley.
SKChadha Feb 26, 2012 10:45am
“The state must shed the burden of its imposed ideology” The creation of nation itself is based on religious fervor, altogether forgetting the social cohesiveness and peaceful coexistence which brings us more near to that almighty. Its creation is based on only one factor i.e. Religion. The unity based on this single factor will fizzle out as soon as this factor is taken out from the nationalism. Presently no choice left, except to go on cultivating religious fervor, or else, disperse. The saner voices are few and far and even most of them are dipped in sweet sugar of religion. These voices are diminishing even at the level of policy or decision making. Is nation reaching to a point of no return? Brother how can the State shed the burden of ideology of its creation?
asim Feb 26, 2012 12:20pm
i couldnt agree more with you on this one.
Romi Feb 26, 2012 06:12pm
Only a shared identity can hold a country together. If religion provides the shared identity, then it need to be fairly amorphous to accommodate multiple belief systems. Otherwise the country will splinter. If Pakistan wants to survive, it should go back to the 1950s and destroy the radical extremists destroying the country. But who has the courage to do it? You are all tigers on the pages of Dawn, but lambs outside. And like lambs you'll be slaughtered.
Anuj Feb 26, 2012 11:49pm
I think Murtaza 's point is NOT that Pakistan is failing or to revisit partition or the genesis of the sub continental rivalry etc. He is merely pointing out the vacuum at the level of the nation's constitution - WHO calls the shots? Is the Civilian Govt the one or is the security establishment's partly self serving hijacking of the National Agenda into the Security Agenda the one which really does so. The Nation of Pakistan has a basic question facing it. Who calls the shots - the awaam / people who vote, or those who are part of the nation as citizens and from it's families, but A Part in the form of the Security Establishment which has self arrogated this role of external affairs to economy etc beyond security, to itself. He also questions the basic premise of religion as a binding force and concludes rather harshly against it. The reality is, today the awaam is more conservative and likely to believe a religious leader's call due to 60 yrs of brain washing thru propaganda inspired mis reading of history and geography. Pakistan has it's share of moderates and those who know beyond this security bluster. BUT they are a minority who live mostly in fear and under duress. Pakistan will bleed for some more time internally, as it's self inflicted issues now come home to roost in next decade of stifling economy, difficult political situation and an inability to put money where it's mouth is, namely, one of the world powers on they strength of being nuclear !
Nandakumar K Feb 27, 2012 06:43pm
Sixty years down the pages of history what is the point of discussing whether partition was appropriate or not, what is the point in dreaming how to undo the partition. What can be meaningfully done is to strengthen SAARC and increase regional cooperation. United let us all move forward and prosper at the same time retain our religious and national identities.