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REVIEW AND VIEWS THE IDEA OF PAKISTAN

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REVIEW AND VIEWS THE IDEA OF PAKISTAN Qadar Bakhsh Baloch 1 Title: Author: The Idea of Pakistan Stephen Philip Cohen Publishers: Vanguard books, Lahore, 2005, Design: Hard cover, pp ix+380, ISBN:
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REVIEW AND VIEWS THE IDEA OF PAKISTAN Qadar Bakhsh Baloch 1 Title: Author: The Idea of Pakistan Stephen Philip Cohen Publishers: Vanguard books, Lahore, 2005, Design: Hard cover, pp ix+380, ISBN: Price: Rs: 695 Introduction The book The Idea of Pakistan is an intelligently created and purposely articulated art of Stephen Cohen- an American leading expert of South Asia. Stephen Philip Cohen is a senior fellow in the Foreign Policy Studies program at the Brookings Institution. He is the author of classic books on India s and Pakistan s Armies and the widely praised India: Emerging Power (Brookings, 2001). An American Jew who has been a member of the Policy Planning Staff of the U.S. Department of State during the administration of President Ronald Reagan and before joining Brookings for years taught political science at the University of Illinois. On finishing the reading of the book, with a feeling 1. Mr Qadar Bakhsh Baloch is PhD Research Scholar in the University of Peshawar, department of International Relations and Additional Registrar, Qurtuba University of Science and Information Technology, D.I.Khan, Pakistan. E.Mail: 130 of depression and with out blaming to his Jewish background, I wondered that why the learned professor has underplayed the bright spots while adding a darker hue to the gray areas. Perhaps my depression emanates from my love to my motherland and optimistic vision about its future. The book is a well planned follow-up of another prize-winning book: India: Emerging Power which dealt primarily with foreign policy. However, The Idea of Pakistan is a much more personally oriented look at the internal history, political dynamics, and external strategic affairs of Pakistan. The Idea of Pakistan presents a personal perspective of the author and unlike its title, says relatively too less about the history and roots of the idea of Pakistan. The major part of the study (seven out of total nine chapters) is of routine, but a well articulated and carefully manipulated view of Pakistan s past from its origin till the present military rule that has experienced uneven economic growth, political chaos, sectarian violence, and several crises with its much larger neighbor India including nuclear ones. Cohen's facts are questionable, his logic manipulative, and his omissions are deliberate and meaningful. However, last two chapters; seemingly present a view from the heart of the American empire, aiming to prescribe effective American policies, how Washington can best advance its interests in South Asia. His analytical dash towards Pakistan s futurology (chapter 8) outlines a range of scenarios for its future and that of its relationship with the United States. American options- the policy guidelines for America( chapter 9) is a master piece and well conceived climax of the book which attempts to contextualize America s current security interests and concerns in Pakistan and serves as policy-orientated study of Pakistan. This part not only discusses the present state of Pakistan and its likely future, but also amply examines American policy options. He tries to appraise that Pakistan is not only part of the solution but is also part of the problem and in American 131 options in Pakistan Cohen writes out a prescription of American medicine for Pakistan based on his wishful diagnosis. The basic theme of the book is that the Idea of Pakistan has fallen short of its ideas and the biggest question today is how the idea of Pakistan will work. Instead of following the chronological order to describe the details of developments in Pakistan after the start with a brief history of Pakistan, Cohen then systematically examines aspects of the Pakistani state and society through different lenses (as indicated by chapter names) the Army's Pakistan , Political Pakistan , Islamic Pakistan , Regionalism and Separatism demographic, educational and economic prospects, Pakistan's future and American options. Despite the title, most of the book is focused on the implementation of the idea rather than on the idea per se Cohen's book does not resolve the self created controversy about whether Pakistan was a good or bad idea. Regardless of a few oversights, the book is a very careful attempt to contextualize America s current security interests and concerns in Pakistan. REVIEW The book begins with historical overview of the ideas that led to the birth of an Islamic home for Indian Muslims in 1947, and then progresses in discussing how these ideas were implemented. Cohen seems confused and out of steps as he starts interpreting the idea of Pakistan (chapter-10 and purpose of the foundation of the Independent State of Pakistan, his one argument contradicts his second one. The author laid the foundation of his thesis by calling Jinnah a secular lawyer-politician (p.28) (without citing any historic/ bibliographic reference to his claim), for whom, Pakistan would be a democratic, liberal, and just state (p.38). He succeeded in turning two nation theory into political reality but failed to 132 build a consensus on the kind of state Pakistan was to become (p.29). He was the individual, most responsible for the merger of the idea of Pakistan with the State of Pakistan. Later, he calls Mohammad Ali Jinnah, an advocate of distinctive Muslim Indian identity, Pakistan s George Washington, the first world class political figure produced by Pakistan- by the idea, not the state (p.28). However, Cohen forgets to explain that a leader likes Jinnah, who is the product of the Idea, how can he be secular once the product is realized. Cohen contradicts his own thesis about the idea of Pakistan while acknowledging Iqbal s role. Iqbal believed, Pakistan would not only solve India s Hindu-Muslim puzzle, it would awaken and recreate Islam. Iqbal s idea of Pakistan was based on an acute understanding that political power was essential to the higher ends of establishing God s law. Iqbal supported Jinnah by turning the idea of separate Muslim homeland into a mass movement, drawing intellectuals, professional and community leaders into the fold (p.30). On the next page, Cohen tries to conclude his views point without giving any rationales, Iqbal wrongly believed that the Islamic nature of a new Pakistan would give it inherent strength. In short, Cohen contends that there was confusion from the very beginning about the idea of Pakistan but refrains from passing his judgment on whether the idea was good or bad. His statement Jinnah's divisive rhetoric and acceptance of extralegal procedures suddenly gave to a vision of a democratic Pakistan (p.42) is self conceived having no mention of even one extralegal procedure adopted by Jinnah. In order to support his claim about secular Jinnah and his secular vision of Pakistan, Cohen writes, while he (Jinnah) left no document outlining his plans for the new state, Jinnah had given several important addresses that constitute benchmarks in the history of both the state and the idea of Pakistan. The most remarkable aspect of these later 133 speeches was their secular character. I am really surprised that how a man like Cohen could fail to trace the true benchmark from Jinnah s addresses. One may help him, by mentioning just a few out of so many passages indicative of his secular or Islamic vision. It is extremely difficult to appreciate why our Hindu friends fail to understand the real nature of Islam and Hinduism. They are not religions in the strict sense of the word but are, in fact, different and distinct social orders The Hindus and Muslims belong to two different religious philosophies, social customs, and literatures. They belong to two different civilizations which are based mainly on conflicting ideas and conceptions. Their aspects of life and our life are different. (Quaid-e-Azam - Presidential Address in 1940) In his speech at the Frontier Muslim League Conference on November 21, 1945, he said: We have to fight a double edged battle, one against the Hindu Congress and other against the British Imperialists, both of them being capitalists. The Muslims demand Pakistan where they could rule according to their own code of life and according to their own cultural growth, traditions and Islamic laws. In a message to NWFP Muslim Students Federation in April 1943, he said: You have asked me to give a message. What message can I give you? We have got the great message in the Quran for our guidance and enlightenment. In an Eid message to the nation in 1945, he said: 134 Everyone except those who are ignorant knows that the Quran is the general code of the Muslims. A religious, social, civil, commercial, military, judicial, criminal and penal code; it regulates everything from the ceremonies of religion to those of daily life; from the salvation of the soul to the health of the body; from the rights of all, to those of each individual; from morality to crime; from punishment here to that in the life to come, and our Prophet (S) has enjoined on us that every Muslim should possess a copy of the Holy Quran and be his own priest. Therefore, Islam is not confined to the spiritual tenets and doctrines and rituals and ceremonies. It is a complete code regulating the whole Muslim society in every department of life, collectively and individually. In his presidential address delivered to the annual session of the All India Muslim League, in Delhi on April 24, 1943, he said: Here I should like to give a warning to the landlords and capitalists who have flourished at our expense by a system which is so vicious, which is so wicked and which makes them so selfish that it is difficult to reason with them. The exploitation of the masses has gone into their blood. They have forgotten the lessons of Islam. Greed and selfishness have made these people subordinate to the interests of others in order to fatten themselves. It is true we are not in power today. You go anywhere to the countryside. I have visited villages. There are millions and millions of our people who hardly get one meal a day. Is this civilization? Is this the aim of Pakistan? Do you visualize that millions have been exploited and cannot get one meal a day? If this is the idea of Pakistan, I would not have it. If they are wise, they will have to adjust themselves to the new modern conditions of life. If they don t, God help them, we shall not help them. 135 Cohen goes on to discuss how the state of Pakistan came to be ruled by an oligarchy composed of the army, the civil bureaucracy and the landowning class (called feudal lords in Pakistan). Kashmir and the mission of liberating'' it from Hindu oppression has been a recurrent theme in the narrative of the idea of Pakistan by first-generation Pakistanis. The army has incorporated this theme into Pakistan's military doctrine as a guerrilla movement sponsored to bleed India. As a cause, this movement serves to channel extremists and the victims of domestic oppression, but its strategic consequences have not been thought through. According to the author, the military is only one (the most important) component of the moderate oligarchy or establishment of about 500 individuals which runs Pakistan and whose membership depends on adherence to a broad set of values and norms, including a particular understanding of the idea of Pakistan (Page 69). Cohen opines that the establishment is an informal political system that comprises of the senior ranks of the military, the civil service, the judiciary, and other elites possessing a common set of beliefs that: India has to be countered at every move and issue militarily, thereby giving the military a primary role in Pakistan. The national interest is understood only by the army, not by civilian politicians. Nuclear weapons have obliged Pakistan with security and status Kashmir is the unfinished part of the partition plan, 136 Large-scale social reforms such as land redistribution are unacceptable Verbal Muslim nationalism is desirable but Islamism is not The armed forces are considered a model and democracy is seen as good only as long as it does not interfere with the governance of the elite. Washington should not be trusted but should be taken maximum advantage of. The media need to be on a tight leash Existence of radical Islamic extremists could be a useful tool for state policy something or someone will always come to Pakistan's rescue because of its location (Page 270) Then he explores the role of the Pakistan Army and core belief of the officers corps and their strategic vision for Pakistan, the prospects for their Islamization, and their relationship with the population. According to a popular but rather humorless Pakistani joke, all countries have their own armies, but (in case of Pakistan), an army has its own country. Indeed, even when civilian governments have nominally been in charge in Pakistan, there has never been much doubt about who actually takes the shots. In addition to holding political power, the Pakistani army controls vast commercial and industrial interests and owns massive rural and urban properties. As Cohen remarks, regardless of what may be desirable, the army will continue to set the limits on what is possible in Pakistan (p.97). For all these reasons, the army despite its self-perceived guardianship 137 role is part of the problem of Pakistan s instability. Pakistan s army, Cohen holds, is strong enough to prevent state failure, but not imaginative enough to impose the changes that might transform the state (p 274). Indeed in one possible future scenario, he maintains that the current socially liberal military backed regime may be replaced by a military- Islamist alliance (p 289). He describes Pakistan Army, evolved through four generations as follow: The British Generation comprised of group of officers who were trained in Sand Hurst (UK) or Indian Military Academy (IMA) at Dehra Dun. This generation of officers left an important legacy by shaping the orientation of the Army as they founded, commanded and trained the major institutions of the Pakistan Army. The experiences of partition, India s occupation of Kashmir, her refusal to deliver Pakistan s allotted share of military stores, its forceful absorption of the princely state of Hyderabad, and many other examples of duplicity- became part of the Pakistan s army s legacy. However, they continued seeing their British predecessor as their role models and possibility of turning the Pakistan Army into an Islamic Army was never seriously considered. (pp ) The American Generation: This generation emerged with the Pakistan s joining with America in SEATO and CENTO (Baghdad Pact- 1955) till its breakup with the connivance of America in American weapon system, their training programs, their military doctrine and resultant socio-interaction with them, influenced and shaped new orientation in thinking as well as working style of Pakistan army (pp ). The Pakistani Generation, : Those who joined Pakistan Army in the post-bangladesh years were most purely Pakistani of all, 138 representing wider society in class origin, and less exposure to American influence. Their professional careers and world outlook were shaped by the 1971 debacle and believed that United States had let Pakistan down. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto who was over thrown in 1977 initiated secret nuclear program, which was intended to bring balance of power of the army by giving Pakistan a new way of offsetting India s military superiority. Zia s long tenure as chief of the army staff and president of the Pakistan inevitably shaped the offices corps in three respects: his emphasis on Islam, stress on the revival and legitimization of irregular and covert warfare, and acceleration of the nuclear program, bringing it under army direction (pp ). Cohen blames that Zia s over emphasis on Islam encouraged Islamic zealotry and cites September 1995 coup led by Major General Zahir ul Islam Abbasi in support of his argument (p.108). I may remind Dr. Cohen here that General Abbasi is the product of so called American Generation, which witnessed American double standards and their dual face in their training institutions. The Next Generation: Cohen duplicates the same old Pakistani generation in this category, which entered in army in the 1970s, belonging mostly to the middle class and joined the army simply to improve their standard of living. Distinction between the public and the private domains is fast disappearing, as senior officers misuse official transport, manpower, and regimental resources and facilities. For junior officers, there is greater latitude to do the same, and the incidents of disregard for civilian laws are increasing. Cohen argues that rather than seeing the army only in a short-term perspective and as a bulwark against radical Islam, the US should, insist as a condition of aid that the Pakistan government allow the mainstream political parties (such as Pakistan People s Party and the Pakistan Muslim League) to function freely. The goal, he continues, 139 should be a spectrum of moderate parties, Islamic and secular that are willing to operate within a parliamentary and peaceful context, and are tolerant of sectarian and other minorities (p 317). Educated Pakistanis would concur wholeheartedly with the vision of a tolerant and plural democratic order. Such bald exhortations for external manipulation of the affairs of a sovereign country are nevertheless likely to further increase the anti-american sentiment in Pakistan which so exercises the author. He remains realistic that a staged military withdrawal will be a slow process (p 160). It will depend on much improved relations with India so that Pakistan is no longer a garrison state (p 278). Even in the circumstances of the removal of the strategic threat posed by India, the army may already be too entrenched to contemplate a withdrawal (p 279). Cohen provides an extensive critique of militarism in Pakistan and how it has adversely affected its national security. Pakistani generals steadfastly hold that What is good for the army is good for Pakistan. He further says, The army lacks the capability to fix Pakistan's problems, but it is unwilling to give other state institutions and the political system the opportunity to learn and grow; its tolerance for the mistakes of others is very low, yet its own performance, when in power, has usually dug the hole deeper. Cohen points out how Western leaders and academics have often ended up supporting military dictators. For example, he mentions how the noted Harvard professor Samuel Huntington called Ayub Khan a Solon, after the great Athenian lawgiver. General Zia was widely praised in the West for being a bulwark of freedom against the Soviet Union. Much of the same is true of the standing that Musharraf enjoys in the West. Cohen argues that Musharraf's international backers see him as a wise and modern leader, a secular man who is not afraid to support the West or to offer peace to India and a man who can hold back the onrush of Islamic extremists . Yet, he concedes, no serious Pakistani analyst 140 sees Musharraf in these terms . They see him as claiming to act in an undefined and abstract national interest and taking people into confidence only after having made the key decisions. Cohen aptly comments that Musharraf believes that no civilian can understand the national interest. One wishes he had analyzed this point further. Does it imply that no civilian can be trusted with its protection? If so, that might suggest something more sinister, that in Musharraf's view, the term national interest is a synonymous to the military's interest. Cohen credits US military action in Afghanistan for enabling the religious alliance of the Mutahidda Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) to make a breakthrough in the 2002 national and provincial elections (p 187). Cohen importantly links the state s failures to provide basic healthcare and education with th
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