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Pakistan: A Historical Analysis - Part 2

Updated on November 5, 2015

Geographical Map of Pakistan

Durand Line between Afghanistan and Pakistan

Curse of Geography

In his book: 'The Revenge of Geography', Robert D. Kaplan gives so much weight-age to the geography of a nation state and concluding it as the chief determinant of fate of a nation state. In the book, Robert contends that if we happen to have a gift to look into the future and see as where and why conflict, political instability and war take place. For that to know, we just have to look closely at the map of region where those countries are located and we would be able to come to conclusion why is there a political conflict in that particular region.

Pakistan unfortunately has been victim of its geography as to its east lies overly hostile neighbor India and to west - it is Afghanistan. Latter has been shattered after more than three decades of a war. Furthermore, Pakistan has not been friendly with Afghanistan for quite some time, in fact relations between two neighbors are passing through rough terrain, especially after American led invasion. Afghanistan, moreover, has not accepted 'Durand line' - the official border line between two countries.

This region has been considered as one of the most destabilized region in the world. Hence, prospects of prosperity in past were bleak for Pakistan and for region in general. There are chances though of stability, but it remains to be seen, as more than three decades of war, has made majority of people pessimist. But, Pakistan - China economic corridor has made few faces smile and one waits for badly needed prosperity and stability in the broader region. Where, not only Pakistan but its immediate neighbors benefit from a regional trade. Pakistan hence would be connected to the remotest corners of the world through trade. One such possibility would be connection of Pakistan to central Asia and then to Russia and Europe.

Nothing more has been epochal than event of 9/11, which changed the world so radically and the attacks on American soil were believed to have been planned and executed from Afghanistan. Pakistan being its neighbor, and one of the few countries which recognized ruthless Taliban regime terming it legitimate. It was quite logical and obvious; hence that Pakistan was going to suffer from a war which was inevitable and bear the brunt of USA’s retribution against Taliban regime.

Pakistan was compelled to change its foreign policy accordingly, as it was the need of time i.e., its relation with militants who were formerly patronized to fight Jihad against Soviet's invasion of Afghanistan and in Kashmir against India. Though some still believe Pakistan having clandestine ties with some militant groups that it regards as strategic assets. Notwithstanding, its alleged ties with militants; Pakistan evidently has ceased its policy of the past of so called 'strategic depth'. As a consequence of the new policy- once the strategic assets now the turncoats - militants went berserk in attacking the state of Pakistan and its citizens and bring it to condition of utter chaos. If was it was not for the success of operation "Zarb-e-Azb", militants would have done perhaps an irretrievable damage to Pakistan. The fact is they already have done an immense loss to state of Pakistan; and it would take some doing to salvage the situation as a result of what has been a regional crisis of some magnitude.

Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army's Way of War

Army As the Guardian of the State

As regards the war with regional insurgency; it was claimed that Pakistan was playing a double game with international community in fighting with insurgents. Whatever was truth, people of Pakistan did not know as to what was the state’s coherent counterinsurgency policy. However, Army as an institution and as a guardian of the state unarguably has won hearts and minds of people and it looks now a possibility that is going to get rid of insurgency within foreseeable future.

Before killings of school children that took place last year on 16th of December, there was little doubt in nation being consonant on ‘war on terror’. However, after the killings of innocent children - people of Pakistan are now unanimous on freeing the country form the reigns of terror and violence. General Raheel, who has emerged as the most famous Army chief in the history has taken this war to next level; was evoking himself on an occasion: that not a one terrorist would be left free on Pakistan's soil. In fact, operation Zarb-e-Azab was extended to Karachi - the mega-city of Pakistan - that witnessed almost thirty years of killings by various factions of gangs and muggers. Who were supported by one political party or the other.

Army being custodian of the state, formulates and directs Pakistan's foreign policy and It has been so for more than sixty years. We can argue about that and conclude it being not normative in the modern, democratic liberal world order. However, Army would continue to hold power in Pakistan given a weak political dispensation. We can argue against some of the practices of Army establishment and may very well condemn the very anti-democratic mindset that is prevalent within Army ranks. They happen to distribute certificate of patriotism to people they deem fit - the ones who promote Army's perceived cause.

Oscar Wilde said: “patriotism is the virtue of the vicious” so that says it all. Nehru of India once said that nations have Armies but in Pakistan Army has the nation; that is how circumstances have been until this day, where by an institution has dominated and has been above any accountability, operating with the mindset of impunity. Whoever questions their actions is dubbed as unpatriotic, at best threatened and at worst murdered. Army has devised and executed foreign policy in which civilians have not much to say - it has not bothered to take people of Pakistan in confidence. It is believed now more than ever that if Pakistan is going to survive and prosper among the comity of the nations; it has to establish the rule of law, where everyone rich, poor, powerful and weak is equal before the law. Justice has to be done at all cost.

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Inside Story - Pakistan

Chances of Success of Democracy

Some argue that democratic experience has failed in Pakistan, but one questions if democracy ever was given a chance in Pakistan. One of the writer said that Pakistan at the time of independence was but a 'garrison state'. It was vitally important, given the conditions back then, that democracy should have been given a chance. But we have it now; it is in weakest form though. It is not one way traffic, therefore, it is not a sole responsibility of rulers to observe and practice its precepts, principles and values.

J.S Mill propounded in his theory that for democracy to succeed in any country: citizens should be active and not passive in country’s politics. Therefore, based on this notion; people definitely have been in large measure indifferent to the politics of the country, which has proven disastrous for democratic process. And, one wonders; have we lost an all important time, and is it late now to experiment, and is not its Army continue to wield power?

But, it is not just the Army which is culpable but a major blame should be accorded to political parties and their leaders. Who have promoted culture of nepotism, cronyism; in fact one questions whether we would ever have a true democracy? For present breed of leadership is busy in blessing their kith and kin by allotting them top political posts, which is something called as plutocracy in political jargon. By the same token, political landscape has been left to the criminal, landlords, industrialists and land grabbing mafia. With little doubt; they do not have any interest in the democratic process and in people’s progress. It is necessary that young educated, honest, dedicated Pakistanis should opt out for politics so as to trivialize the dangers of corrupt, incompetent and to some degree unpatriotic politicians.

We had witnessed judicial activism - but society at large did not reap the benefits of a free and independent judiciary. For much of activism was focused on at the top level, and no credible effort was done to trickle it down. It is a long haul, however, and much has to be done before it establishes the rule of law - which is an outcry of the millions of Pakistanis. But in truth, advocates of democracy should seek out a plan for parliamentary activism - so crucial for success of democracy. As a desired outcome of activism - parliament would be center of gravity not GHQ. At this point in time it is other way round parliamentary activism as a consequence would pave the way for people’s empowerment and they would start reposing their trust on democracy. This unfortunately is lacking as people of Pakistan regard Army as savior as it invariably redeems itself after a bad reputation. The last time it suffered such a blow to its reputation during Musharraf's rule, but General Raheel has salvaged situation in Army's favor.

Furthermore, trichotomy of powers has to be rightfully instituted - where executive, legislature and judiciary happen to be the pillars of the state; and all have equal share in power structure of the country and have checks and balance over each other. So that transgression by any institution is rightly checked and responsible people being held accountable. Furthermore, trichotomy of powers would engulf trust deficit between the state and its people.

All is not lost; Pakistanis have seen difficult times and have invariably rebounded resiliently from the gloomiest of the conditions imaginable. People of Pakistan have come of age now, they have now relatively free media, independent judiciary - and according to statistics more than 20 million people have access to the internet. It is clear now that their voice cannot be suppressed and muted; it is just they have to keep on persevering and struggling through hard times and make sure to hold powerful state institutions accountable before rule of law and themselves. Thus in short democracy is the only solution to Pakistan's problems as it would create a pluralistic society so necessary for a country such as Pakistan.


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    • mtariqsattar profile image

      Tariq Sattar 6 years ago from Karachi

      Harvey...US and Pakistan have complicated relationship and it has been so for so long- and as a student of politics and IR- i don't see any possibility of it getting any better.US doesnt trust Pakistan but so does Pakistan; there is grave mistrust on the part of Pakistan's establishment- army in particular- of the motive of US in south Asia and central Asia and of its nexus with Pakistan's perceived enemy INDIA.

      But we are not as we are projected in international media- u know harvey this media thing is very funny-what you hear in american media is their line of story.

      but we feel to have been gravely hurt as a result of the AFGHAN war- billions of the dollars that you mentioned are nothing to what our economy has lost.According to one statistics we have lost 80 billions of the dollars now that is huge for an under developed country.

      we don't like to fight with Hindus how ever Kashmir dispute has changed calculus of centuries of relationship- it has some commonalities with arab/ israeli conflict.

      Pakistan is nuclear country which is its biggest strength and at the same time its biggest weakness.Pakistan's people dont like american policies but Pakistan's elite has gone out over the years serving american agenda in the region so there is disconnect between the ordinary people and the elite which has been the very misery of the Muslim world at large.

    • Harvey Stelman profile image

      Harvey Stelman 6 years ago from Illinois

      mtar, Hi! I figured I should be respectful, and return comments.

      In the US we do not understand Pakistan at all. I'm trying to speak for my country, that's a laugh. I'll try anyway, and be totally honest. We basically see Pakistan as a country that is almost a non-country.

      Muslim's are are fighting Christians, when they aren't fighting Hindus. Can we count on your country as an ally, no. Our people do not trust Pakistan at all. We give you many millions of dollars yearly, and what do we get for it?

      I have know only two Pakistanis well. One is my neurologist, that I trust with my life. The other is a wonderful gentleman that owned a restaurant very close to my home. Both were born, and lived their first few years in your country. I asked both of them the same question, and received the same answer.

      Would you ever go back to Pakistan to live? Answer: Absolutely not, they're crazy there! So what am I to think? H