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Blood, pride and hope

Published Apr 14, 2013 05:05am


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MODERN analyses of the comparative strength of states utilise metrics such as population, GDP, military spending and other ‘objective’ criteria. The ‘human’ factor — the sentiments and emotions of the concerned people — are considered, through pre-set questions, mostly for the purpose of predicting electoral results.

Such analyses are useful tools for near-term policy formulation but not for predicting longer-term trends about the rise and fall of nations.

A broad review of history would reveal that it is the human factor which is decisive in determining the destinies of empires and great nations. Peoples who had a strong sense of self-confidence and pride emerged as strong nations and usually triumphed — militarily, economically and culturally — over their rivals. Among the factors which contributed to such self-confidence were: blood, pride and hope.

How does Pakistan fare in such a ‘human factor’ analysis of the strength of nations? Quite abysmally.

There is no greater glue for national unity than blood spilt by its people defending their freedom against foreign enemies. At Pakistan’s birth, millions sacrificed their lives and homes. But, the groups that inherited most of the power in Pakistan were not among those to have paid in blood for Pakistan.

Soon after the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war, an interesting conversation took place between Chinese premier Zhou Enlai and Pakistan’s foreign minister Z.A. Bhutto. Mr Bhutto described how Pakistani forces had broken through the ceasefire line in Kashmir and were poised to proceed to Srinagar but had to be redeployed south to defend Lahore against the Indian counter-thrust along the Wah canal. Chou Enlai asked: Why did you redeploy your forces? Mr Bhutto pointed to the danger of India occupying Lahore.

The Chinese premier observed: “But you would have made your nation.” His reasoning was that while Pakistan would have been welcomed by the Kashmiris, the people of Lahore would have fought and died to throw out the Indians. Pakistan’s unity would have been forged in blood.

Unfortunately, as we review our brief history, the blood we have spilt has been mostly our own: first in East Pakistan; today in the killing fields of Fata, Karachi and Balochistan. Each act of violence — terrorist attacks and assassinations, drone strikes, sectarian and ethnic massacres — drains the lifeblood of our nation and saps the commitment of the victims to the state of Pakistan. Shockingly, the perpetrators of such violence are well-known. Some openly claim responsibility for their gory crimes; others prefer to kill anonymously or silently from the skies. These daily aggressions on Pakistan’s people can be stopped. But those with the capability evidently lack the clarity and courage to do so.

Pride is also an essential ingredient of national unity and resilience. It was such pride that enabled the rise of great empires, states and civilisations — Roman, Chinese, Persian, Ottoman, Mughal, Russian, British and American.

In Pakistan, the pride and self-confidence which made its creation possible, has been steadily eroded by the supine acceptance of a series of humiliations inflicted on the nation. The first major humiliation was the surrender at Dhaka. More recent were those inflicted by a presumed ally: the Raymond Davis affair; the Abbottabad incursion and the Salala attack.

The injury to Pakistan’s pride now extends well beyond the military sphere. Today, Pakistan is equated with failed states like Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia. It is excluded from key forums, such as the Group of 20; discriminated against on peaceful nuclear cooperation and, barring our temporary membership of the UN Security Council, absent from deliberations on global political and economic issues. Our leaders are treated with condescension and contempt. At the borders of even friendly countries, Pakistanis are received with suspicion. We cannot even take pride in our once world-class hockey and cricket teams.

Hope is the third significant ‘human’ element of national strength. It is natural for people to support entities and endeavours which offer the prospect of improving their own condition or at least that of their progeny. Thus, a perception on the part of people that their state can help to advance their economic, social or political objectives, serves to solidify their solidarity and loyalty to the state. Pakistan was created in hope: that the Muslims of the subcontinent would be free, politically, economically and culturally, from the domination of the majority Hindu community. For almost two decades, this hope seemed to be well-placed in the fledgling state, as it grew economically, was governed efficiently and respected internationally.

Today, as public opinion polls indicate, hope has largely faded and the vast majority of Pakistanis are suffused with pessimism about their own and Pakistan’s future. Given the travails of our people — growing poverty; terrorist and sectarian violence; rampant crime; pervasive corruption from top to bottom; the energy crisis — such pessimism is not surprising. Nor are the underlying causes of Pakistan’s plight a secret. Simply put, Pakistan’s ruling elite has consistently sacrificed the common good and the national interest for the protection and preservation of its own interests. There are very few exceptions to the venality and corruption that marks Pakistani society today. Almost every national resource and revenue source has been exploited for the enrichment of the powerful and already rich. Greater poverty and suffering are the most visible dividends for Pakistan’s people of five years of ‘democracy’.

What needs to be done is also clear: improve governance; revive the economy; impose security through state power. But who will bell the cat?

Sadly, the forthcoming elections do not offer hope that the next government will be able or inclined to undertake such steps. Unless something drastic happens on election day, the next coalition is unlikely to possess the strength and cohesion to address Pakistan’s complex challenges.

Unless these challenges are urgently addressed, there will be more blood on our streets and the pride and hope that were the signal feature of Pakistan’s birth will fade from memory. Internal divisions will be accompanied by the danger of external subjugation. The stage would then be set for history to impose its cruel judgement on Pakistan.

The writer is a former Pakistan ambassador to the UN.


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

Comments (11) Closed

Feroz Apr 14, 2013 08:31am
Well written, Brother. Pakistan can remain hopeful as long as Democracy continues, "Save the Nation" Dictators can never help, only destroy.
Robin Akbar Apr 14, 2013 11:13am
The Bible says "You will see with your own eyes the reward of the wicked".
KKRoberts Apr 14, 2013 11:34am
":It was such pride that enabled the rise of great empires, states and civilisations ? Roman, Chinese, Persian, Ottoman, Mughal, Russian, British and American." Were they really great ? Or more evil than good ??
a.k.lal Apr 14, 2013 02:12pm
sir--1.cut down defense expenditure by 80%, as nobody is going to attack your country.2. eliminate religion from governance.3.empower women4. go for modern education
Amir Bangash Apr 14, 2013 04:42pm
People of KPK,FATA,Karachi and Quetta have lost all the hopes of better future in Pakistan. Those who could afford have already shifted to the safe areas of the country and abroad. Some people still live in these areas under extreme conditions because they don,t find the required resources to get out of this mess. May Allah help all those like us who are left with no option and forced to live here and wait for some blast or a killer to get killed and feel free from our torturous lives.
Habib Vora Apr 14, 2013 06:15pm
Well said. But I have very little hope with the current politicians, May Allah guide us.
jfp555 Apr 14, 2013 06:29pm
As a region under foreign domination for well over a millenium, empires are revered and have the populace in their thrall.
knowtolearn Apr 14, 2013 06:54pm
I am much of a political novice to say the least, but being an Indian and having lived in EU and interacting with lots of Pakistani friends, I came to conclusion that apart from many common evils we share, perhaps Pakistan was never ready to accept its own origin, culture and traditions. Its shocking that even well read Pakistanis think "have ruled them(India) for 1000 years" and are not proud of one of the oldest and greatest civilization that flourished in their backyard. Even somebody as high as ambassador could not do away with that bias, when he enumerates other great civilizations/nations of all times without naming the Indus Valley Civilization. It is ironic that an article with title "blood" about a nation actually skirts its actual past.
Anon Apr 14, 2013 07:45pm
Pakistan is like a piece of turd that refuses to go down even after repeated flushing. No one wants it there. But it is still here like that piece of turd circling the drain.
Sheetal Apr 14, 2013 09:31pm
The most important factor is 'cohesion' which comes from tolerance to accept diveristy, and not self proclaimed superioirty of one section . While the Indian leaders tried to include the dalits, underprivileged and minorities through quotas and reservations in educational institutions and jobs, the Pakistan leadership never tried to hide their dislike for their own countrymen which included first Non-Muslims, than Ahmadyas than Benaglis and later Shias. It is easy to blame outside powers but for sure the mainstream Pakistanis have no tolerance to accomodate minorities.
Dudenator Apr 15, 2013 06:31am
Thats a lot of big talk coming from someone who's diplomatic immunity is under threat of being revoked for beating his girlfriend. First manage your own house before lecturing about country. And last I checked, living with an unknown woman who is not your wife is punishable by stoning to death as per the upholders of Islam i.e. The Taliban.