Homelands in Pakistan
serious problems are in stock for Musharraf. He may pray for
India's breakup, but there are today strong possibilities that
it may happen to Pakistan. |
form of relaxation for me is watching sports programmes on
television. On the same sports channel, Pakistan TV beams
news and very often I watch it for a short time. The music
and the serials, I must say, are not very different from
serials aired on the Sahara channel. If a test were
conducted and any
foreigner asked which of the two countries a particular
belonged to, very few would guess right.
The same holds true for the ads. This is no doubt normal for
nations which share 5,000 years (minus 50) of history.
But one thing is radically different and nobody can miss it:
Whatever relaxation I may have enjoyed on the sports channel
fades away when I hear (and see) the systematic and constant
India propaganda. It seems that this nation (or at least its
government) has had for the past 50 years only one
Within this obsession, there is another: Kashmir. You cannot
single news bulletin or debate without hearing about the
the Indian security forces' on the people of Kashmir
their self-determination', though it is usually the same
security forces facing a mob during one of the Srinagar
again and again.
Now, a new topic has recently appeared on PTV: the
in Gujarat, which followed the Godhra incident. Since
Gujarat saw an
outburst of violence, PTV News seems full of delectation.
is, 'did we not tell you that they would do this?' It is so
that it makes one feel Pakistan may not be fully innocent of
It is not only television but also other media who are
new occasion for India-bashing. For example, a Pakistani
site, Paknews.com, wrote an article titled Thank God we have
Not only did they declare that "genocide against
nothing new in India or in Indian-occupied areas", but
went one step
further and announced a partition of India. For the purpose
quote some US media: "This has led to vocal calls from
Times, an American Media in Washington DC for the breakup of
into smaller countries where minorities are in the
government and are
able to protect their rights. This idea of partition has
up after 55 years because the underlying argument of
Theory', which was basis of creation of Pakistan, a home and
haven for Muslims is once again valid and applicable on
However, this time around, rather than creation of disparity
countries, India is eight times bigger than Pakistan,
smaller countries of equal area and resources should be
carved out of
"In Pakistan as well as overseas, every Pakistani is
safety of fellow Muslims in India, and is thinking, 'Thank
have Pakistan', 'Thank God for the farsightedness of Iqbal
for creating our homeland'."
While it is not certain that all Pakistanis are praying for
breakup of India, this article raises a very interesting
point: is it
not Pakistan which is on the brink of breaking up?
Recently, Fortune magazine published a long article entitled
'Kidnapped Nation' by Richard Behar, which is an in-depth
the catastrophic economic situation in Pakistan. There is no
that Pakistan is close to an economic collapse.
Behar was told in Quetta by one of the leaders of the jihadi
Sipah-e-Sahaba: "Sept 11 was all the fault of Jews, God
Bush." He also blamed Musharraf for the Taliban's
defeat and happily
provided Fortune details about the cash, supplies and
had slipped across the porous border to aid the Taliban.
Behar analysed: "Pearl's death and the mid-March
bombing of a
Protestant church in Islamabad are only the most visible
signs of a
dysfunctional nation -- call it Problemistan -- a country
professes to be an ally of the US in its war on terrorism,
probably harbors more terrorists than any place on
This is only one of the many journalists who have begun to
the best ally of the US in the region is in fact the largest
world terrorism and that Musharraf, despite all his
the contrary, cannot do anything even if he wanted to (and
it is not
certain at all that he wants to).
Another example of the country's bankruptcy is Musharraf's
speech on January 12 when he announced that jihadi groups
longer be able to operate from Pakistani soil. To give his
mentors proof of his good faith, he arrested 2,000 militants
a few millions). Most of them are now free.
It appears that when the Lahore high court directed the
government to furnish details of the records of cases
who were picked up, the government was unable to
cases. For example, the leader of the banned
Hafeez Mohammad Saeed, who had been detained under the
Public Order on charges of making inflammatory speeches, has
released as the MPO empowers the government to detain a
only 90 days.
But more serious problems are in stock for Musharraf; he may
India's breakup, but there are today strong possibilities
that it may
happen to Pakistan.
First, he has no control over very large regions of his
one of the worse being the tribal areas bordering
Afghanistan. A few
of weeks ago, a news item reported the arrest of Osama bin
senior aide Abu Zubaydah in Faislabad. It appears that the
intelligence agencies had arrested some Pakistanis in Kabul,
tipped off the Americans about bin Laden's aide.
Another story surfaced a couple of days later: bin Laden
been staying in the same house a day or so earlier and had
(probably informed by one of his contacts in the ISI) when
combined raid by the Pakistani security forces and the
of Investigation flew down to Faislabad. One can imagine the
situation in the border areas renowned for their porousness
Laden could hide in the heart of the Punjab! (By the way,
had been announcing for months that bin Laden was dead, but
he did not comment.)
The district known as the Federally Administrated Tribal
had a long history of lawlessness. It dates even before the
century when the British were the masters of the
except for a piece of land: the land of the Pushtoons (or
But the empire was always resourceful: a senior British
Mortimer Durand, was requested to divide this land into two.
so with a pen and the Pushtoons found themselves in two
countries: Afghanistan and British India. But to this day,
Pushtoon tribes on both sides of Durand's border do not
existence of this stroke of his pen. It is even said that
of tribe and ethnicity amongst the Pushtoons are more
their Islamic faith.
The division did not help the British much and they had no
to grant autonomy to these areas. It did not deter the
from dreaming of a reunification of the Pushtoon land. In
years after the independence of Pakistan, the Government of
Afghanistan took up the matter with Pakistan through
which first was in two minds about the validity of the
But the US administration knew that if Kabul's claims were
it would be the end of Pakistan as a state; it was not in
strategic interests to do so.
Apart from the fact that Musharraf has very little control
area, the return of King Zahir Shah in Kabul leaves very
that the issue of Pushtoonistan will resurface. The struggle
the Northern Alliance mainly composed of Uzbeks and Tajiks
Ahmed Shah Masoud) against the Pathan regimes in Kabul is
also to be
seen in this perspective. It was certainly one of the
Islamabad had to 'control' Kabul's regime and why the ISI
help of the CIA installed the Taliban.
After 'Problemistan' and 'Pushtoonistan', the other headache
Pakistani general is 'Sindhistan'. Though a few days ago the
leader Altaf Hussain said he was 'neutral' about the
proposed by Musharraf, he has not always been neutral and
separatist tendencies of Sindh are very much present today.
In September last year, Hussain delivered a fiery speech by
from London. He said he "will launch a struggle for
determination" in Pakistan's Sindh province. He was
ready to approach
"the United Nations, United States, India and other
For Hussain, 54 years "under the colonial yoke of the
establishment were enough". He declared that it was the
his life to free Sindh.
Hussain, who leads the Mohajirs -- about 20 million Muslims
migrated to Pakistan from India during and after Partition
that his community has received no rights in Pakistan.
deceived in the name of Islam."
He accused the Punjabi establishment of regarding the
Sindhis and the Baluchis as security risks when they get
positions and concluded: "No one will grant you your
rights, you will
have to take it from the usurpers."
On top of this, Pakistan has a very serious problem in the
areas of occupied Kashmir. An announcement from the Chinese
News Agency reported last week that the Khunjerab pass
Sinkiang and Pakistan will finally be reopened in May for
time after September 11.
This pass is one of the most strategic regions in the world
of the old US-Pakistan-China axis. (One should not forget
that it was
Ayub Khan who battered the first Mao-Nixon meeting in the
Soon after the destruction of the twin towers, it was
jihadi tribes had taken over the pass and no one was allowed
through. The safest bet for China (and perhaps for Musharraf)
close the pass.
Just before the Agra summit, the general had a series of
consultations with political and religious leaders of
including Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, but he did not invite
representative of the Northern Areas (Gilgit and Baltistan)
discussions. The reason came to be known later: in June
and its surroundings were in a serious state of unrest due
protests from Sunni organisations over the decision of the
administration to introduce separate religious textbooks in
schools for the Shias (who are in a majority in Gilgit).
by the incident, Musharraf stopped all movement between
Pakistan and imposed very strict censorship.
In the ensuing riots thousands of activists from different
Sunni groups blocked the roads to the city of Gilgit to
Pakistani reinforcements from reaching the spot. They had
be rushed by helicopters and the demonstrators were
removed. This is only one of many incidents that have
An attitude similar to the one adopted by Islamabad in Sindh
Baluchistan was noted by an Indian journalist who visited
March. He was told by Ali Mardan, the editor of the local
Naqqara: "If the government continues to ignore the
grievances of the
Northern Areas, it could even end up facing an armed
added: "Pakistan does not trust the people of
date, we have never had a local chief secretary or police
are either Punjabis or Pathans." One of the interviewed
the journalist: "At least in your part of Kashmir,
though he is a
puppet, a Kashmiri Muslim is at the helm."
For 50 years these areas have never been administrated by a
and even the National Kashmir Committee, recently created by
Islamabad under the chairmanship of Abdul Qayyum Khan, has
Certain quarters in Pakistan may continue to 'thank God for
farsightedness of Iqbal and Jinnah for creating our
the fact remains that there are today several 'homelands' in
Pakistan. One does not see how the general, even if he gets
year new lease as the master of Pakistan, will be able to
centrifugal forces with his cosmetic reforms and