By Claude Arpi

Many Homelands in Pakistan
More 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. 

One form of relaxation for me is watching sports programmes on
television. On the same sports channel, Pakistan TV beams its daily
news and very often I watch it for a short time. The music programmes
and the serials, I must say, are not very different from Hindi
serials aired on the Sahara channel. If a test were conducted and any
foreigner asked which of the two countries a particular programme
belonged to, very few would guess right.

The same holds true for the ads. This is no doubt normal for two
nations which share 5,000 years (minus 50) of history.

But one thing is radically different and nobody can miss it: the

Whatever relaxation I may have enjoyed on the sports channel quickly
fades away when I hear (and see) the systematic and constant anti-
India propaganda. It seems that this nation (or at least its
government) has had for the past 50 years only one obsession: India.

Within this obsession, there is another: Kashmir. You cannot watch a
single news bulletin or debate without hearing about the 'excesses of
the Indian security forces' on the people of Kashmir 'struggling for
their self-determination', though it is usually the same footage of
security forces facing a mob during one of the Srinagar bandhs shown
again and again.

Now, a new topic has recently appeared on PTV: the regrettable riots
in Gujarat, which followed the Godhra incident. Since Gujarat saw an
outburst of violence, PTV News seems full of delectation. The tone
is, 'did we not tell you that they would do this?' It is so excessive
that it makes one feel Pakistan may not be fully innocent of the

It is not only television but also other media who are enjoying this
new occasion for India-bashing. For example, a Pakistani news Web
site,, wrote an article titled Thank God we have Pakistan
last month.

Not only did they declare that "genocide against minorities is
nothing new in India or in Indian-occupied areas", but went one step
further and announced a partition of India. For the purpose they
quote some US media: "This has led to vocal calls from Information
Times, an American Media in Washington DC for the breakup of India
into smaller countries where minorities are in the government and are
able to protect their rights. This idea of partition has again come
up after 55 years because the underlying argument of 'Two-Nation
Theory', which was basis of creation of Pakistan, a home and safe
haven for Muslims is once again valid and applicable on India.
However, this time around, rather than creation of disparity in
countries, India is eight times bigger than Pakistan, creation of
smaller countries of equal area and resources should be carved out of

"In Pakistan as well as overseas, every Pakistani is praying for
safety of fellow Muslims in India, and is thinking, 'Thank God we
have Pakistan', 'Thank God for the farsightedness of Iqbal and Jinnah
for creating our homeland'."

While it is not certain that all Pakistanis are praying for the
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 look into
the catastrophic economic situation in Pakistan. There is no doubt
that Pakistan is close to an economic collapse.

Behar was told in Quetta by one of the leaders of the jihadi outfit
Sipah-e-Sahaba: "Sept 11 was all the fault of Jews, God will destroy
Bush." He also blamed Musharraf for the Taliban's defeat and happily
provided Fortune details about the cash, supplies and soldiers Sipah
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 that
professes to be an ally of the US in its war on terrorism, but
probably harbors more terrorists than any place on earth."

This is only one of the many journalists who have begun to see that
the best ally of the US in the region is in fact the largest nest of
world terrorism and that Musharraf, despite all his declarations to
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 dramatic
speech on January 12 when he announced that jihadi groups would no
longer be able to operate from Pakistani soil. To give his American
mentors proof of his good faith, he arrested 2,000 militants (out of
a few millions). Most of them are now free.

It appears that when the Lahore high court directed the Punjab
government to furnish details of the records of cases against those
who were picked up, the government was unable to substantiate the
cases. For example, the leader of the banned Lashkar-e-Tayiba, Prof
Hafeez Mohammad Saeed, who had been detained under the Maintenance of
Public Order on charges of making inflammatory speeches, has been
released as the MPO empowers the government to detain a person for
only 90 days.

But more 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.

First, he has no control over very large regions of his territory,
one of the worse being the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. A few
of weeks ago, a news item reported the arrest of Osama bin Laden's
senior aide Abu Zubaydah in Faislabad. It appears that the US
intelligence agencies had arrested some Pakistanis in Kabul, who
tipped off the Americans about bin Laden's aide.

Another story surfaced a couple of days later: bin Laden himself had
been staying in the same house a day or so earlier and had just left
(probably informed by one of his contacts in the ISI) when the
combined raid by the Pakistani security forces and the Federal Bureau
of Investigation flew down to Faislabad. One can imagine the
situation in the border areas renowned for their porousness if bin
Laden could hide in the heart of the Punjab! (By the way, Musharraf
had been announcing for months that bin Laden was dead, but this time
he did not comment.)

The district known as the Federally Administrated Tribal Agencies has
had a long history of lawlessness. It dates even before the 19th
century when the British were the masters of the subcontinent ...
except for a piece of land: the land of the Pushtoons (or Pathans).
But the empire was always resourceful: a senior British diplomat, Sir
Mortimer Durand, was requested to divide this land into two. He did
so with a pen and the Pushtoons found themselves in two different
countries: Afghanistan and British India. But to this day, the
Pushtoon tribes on both sides of Durand's border do not accept the
existence of this stroke of his pen. It is even said that the bonds
of tribe and ethnicity amongst the Pushtoons are more important than
their Islamic faith.

The division did not help the British much and they had no option but
to grant autonomy to these areas. It did not deter the population
from dreaming of a reunification of the Pushtoon land. In the first
years after the independence of Pakistan, the Government of
Afghanistan took up the matter with Pakistan through Washington,
which first was in two minds about the validity of the Durand Line.
But the US administration knew that if Kabul's claims were accepted,
it would be the end of Pakistan as a state; it was not in their
strategic interests to do so.

Apart from the fact that Musharraf has very little control over the
area, the return of King Zahir Shah in Kabul leaves very little doubt
that the issue of Pushtoonistan will resurface. The struggle between
the Northern Alliance mainly composed of Uzbeks and Tajiks (like
Ahmed Shah Masoud) against the Pathan regimes in Kabul is also to be
seen in this perspective. It was certainly one of the reasons why
Islamabad had to 'control' Kabul's regime and why the ISI with the
help of the CIA installed the Taliban.

After 'Problemistan' and 'Pushtoonistan', the other headache for the
Pakistani general is 'Sindhistan'. Though a few days ago the Mohajir
leader Altaf Hussain said he was 'neutral' about the referendum
proposed by Musharraf, he has not always been neutral and the
separatist tendencies of Sindh are very much present today.

In September last year, Hussain delivered a fiery speech by telephone
from London. He said he "will launch a struggle for self-
determination" in Pakistan's Sindh province. He was ready to approach
"the United Nations, United States, India and other democratic

For Hussain, 54 years "under the colonial yoke of the Punjabi
establishment were enough". He declared that it was the mission of
his life to free Sindh.

Hussain, who leads the Mohajirs -- about 20 million Muslims who
migrated to Pakistan from India during and after Partition -- feels
that his community has received no rights in Pakistan. "We were
deceived in the name of Islam."
He accused the Punjabi establishment of regarding the Mohajirs, the
Sindhis and the Baluchis as security risks when they get government
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 northern
areas of occupied Kashmir. An announcement from the Chinese Xinhua
News Agency reported last week that the Khunjerab pass between
Sinkiang and Pakistan will finally be reopened in May for the first
time after September 11.

This pass is one of the most strategic regions in the world because
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 early 70s.)
Soon after the destruction of the twin towers, it was reported that
jihadi tribes had taken over the pass and no one was allowed to go
through. The safest bet for China (and perhaps for Musharraf) was to
close the pass.

Just before the Agra summit, the general had a series of
consultations with political and religious leaders of Pakistan,
including Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, but he did not invite any
representative of the Northern Areas (Gilgit and Baltistan) for these
discussions. The reason came to be known later: in June 2001, Gilgit
and its surroundings were in a serious state of unrest due to
protests from Sunni organisations over the decision of the local
administration to introduce separate religious textbooks in the
schools for the Shias (who are in a majority in Gilgit). Embarrassed
by the incident, Musharraf stopped all movement between Gilgit and
Pakistan and imposed very strict censorship.

In the ensuing riots thousands of activists from different political
Sunni groups blocked the roads to the city of Gilgit to prevent
Pakistani reinforcements from reaching the spot. They had finally to
be rushed by helicopters and the demonstrators were ruthlessly
removed. This is only one of many incidents that have occurred

An attitude similar to the one adopted by Islamabad in Sindh and
Baluchistan was noted by an Indian journalist who visited Gilgit in
March. He was told by Ali Mardan, the editor of the local weekly
Naqqara: "If the government continues to ignore the grievances of the
Northern Areas, it could even end up facing an armed struggle." He
added: "Pakistan does not trust the people of Gilgit-Baltistan. To
date, we have never had a local chief secretary or police chief. They
are either Punjabis or Pathans." One of the interviewed persons told
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 Kashmiri
and even the National Kashmir Committee, recently created by
Islamabad under the chairmanship of Abdul Qayyum Khan, has very few
Kashmiri members.

Certain quarters in Pakistan may continue to 'thank God for the
farsightedness of Iqbal and Jinnah for creating our homeland', but
the fact remains that there are today several 'homelands' in
Pakistan. One does not see how the general, even if he gets a five-
year new lease as the master of Pakistan, will be able to contain the
centrifugal forces with his cosmetic reforms and grandiloquent anti-
India speeches.




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