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    The great divide

    http://www.atimes.com/

    The great divide
    By Syed Saleem Shahzad

    KARACHI - In the over half century since British India was divided and Pakistan came into being, on August 14, 1947, the Pakistani establishment, mainly institutions such as the army, has set its own standards for loyalty, pragmatism and even for faith.

    The foremost condition for a faithful Muslim and a loyal Pakistani has evolved into how much he or she hates India. This ethos has been projected to a level of hysteria, to such an extent that it is widely held that if Pakistan abandons its military confrontationalist stance with its "enemy", the very foundations of the Pakistan state will collapse.

    Unlike the All-India Muslim League, which emerged as the champion of the drive for a separate Muslim state in the 1930s, the leaders of the Indian National Congress, from which the league split fearing Hindu domination, were mostly urban, literate visionaries, such as Jawaharlal Nehru.

    The Indian National Congress laid the foundation for a new nation, free from the British, with a 5,000-year-old civilization. Nation-building along these lines gave Indians a strong sense of national pride. Despite having a complex society and a large population with a mix of many cultures, religions, castes and languages, it was Nehru's genius that provided a liberal, progressive and indigenous vision on which the nation could be built.

    On the other hand, the All-India Muslim League representatives of the Muslim majority were basically led by nawabs (rulers of the the princely states), patronized by a king (Nizam of Hyderabad Deccan state) and financed by Bombay-based Muslim seths (capitalists). The leaders indulged in much sloganeering, and it was the charisma of the feudal lords and the capitalist class that drew Muslims on the subcontinent together on the basis of a common religion and a nostalgia for their 1,000-year-old rule in India.

    It was on this somewhat vague ideological basis that Pakistan came into being - there was no clear foundation based on a statesman's vision. Even Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, only dealt with the preservation of the rights of Muslims in a separate homeland; he seemingly had no underlying view on the principles that were to underlay the process of nation-building.

    In this vacuum, the leaders adopted a limited vision of laying the foundation for a society that would be distinctive from "Hindu" and "Indian" society - a negative approach that resulted in generations growing up with a warped historical and cultural worldview.

    The inherent conflicts within the two nation theory that had led to the birth of Pakistan delivered the country an unwelcome gift - the majority province of the country, East Pakistan (East Bengal during British India) demanding a revival of its cultural roots, and out of the ensuing unrest Bangladesh was created in 1971. Conventional history has it that India imposed a proxy war on Pakistan which resulted in the East Pakistan debacle, but in fact it was the Pakistani establishment itself that drove Bengalis, the founders of the All-India Muslim League, into demanding separation. The two nation theory - that Hindus and Muslims constitute separate nations - was seemingly shattered in 1971.

    Today, Pakistan is once again at the crossroads, pondering its direction forward. Should it remain a permanently proxy state of Western powers run by a rogue establishment, or should it become a nation with a free mind and original thoughts, with deep-rooted values and modern thinking?

    President General Pervez Musharraf's January 12 speech to the nation, in which he laid out a progressive plan for the political and social evolvement of the country, and which has been hailed in many quarters as a landmark declaration, has provided ample opportunity to address key issues previously discouraged by the establishment, such as reassessing the past and paving the way for a better future.

    Asia Times Online has canvassed some prominent Pakistanis who fully understand India-Pakistan history and who have deep roots on both side of the divide.

    Dr Ghulam Kibriya is the author of the acclaimed Shattered Dream and several others books, all of which deal with Indo-Pak political history. Kibriya comes from a generation that witnessed partition first-hand. He was in college at the time, and from the outset was opposed the division of British India, considering it to be against the interests of all of the inhabitants of India, irrespective of their caste, religion or ethnocity.

    Kibriya was federal secretary in the administration of dictator General Zia ul-Haq in the late 1970s, but he resigned after developing differences, and turned to institutions such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, for which he worked as a consultant in Korea and India, among other countries, for many years. Nowadays, he contributes to a number of newspapers.

    Kibriya still believes that partition was a mistake. "Pakistan was founded for the welfare of Muslims, but this development caused suffering for them and still they are the biggest sufferers. Pakistan was acquired to safeguard Muslim interests. But in fact Muslim power split into three parts [Pakistan, India and Bangladesh]."

    And the splits have continued within Pakistan, says Kibriya. The country that was acquired in the name of Islam is now divided into Punjabi, Sindhi, Balochi, Pashtun and Muhajir (immigrants from India) cultures. This he attributes to the mistake committed by dividing India.

    Kibriya is convinced that Pakistan and India still have strong grounds for friendship. "People on both sides speak the same languages. They have the same religions and they are the same people. While the European Union, perhaps, may take another half century for political unification, if the leadership of both countries acts prudently it would take less than 20 years to establish an effective union of the two countries."

    Kibriya believes that to settle the Kashmir dispute, the Line of Control should be recognized as the permanent boundary. "Pakistan has been a loser in this game during the last 50 years. We fought wars for Kashmir and lost our majority population province, Siachin and Kargil. There is no point to further expand this dispute."

    Hameed Haroon is the Chief Executive Officer of the Dawn Group of Newspapers, the largest and premier English-language newspaper group in the country. Hameed comes from one of the most powerful business and political families in the country. His grandfather, Sir Abdullah Haroon, was president of the Sindh Muslim League before partition and his uncles, Yusuf Haroon (former governor of West Pakistan) and Mehmood Haroon (former governor and federal interior minister) were key leaders of the All-India Muslim League and associates of Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan.

    However, contrary to his family background, Hameed Haroon has always been a student of Karl Marx and believes in human values rather than in narrow nationalism or religious-based ideologies. Haroon is considered one of the best channels of communication between Pakistan and India as many Indian media outlets air his views.

    Hameed Haroon calls the elimination of the joint electorate as a great step which will open up avenues for further bold steps. The Pakistan government recently announced that for elections scheduled for later in the year the previous system that reserved seats in parliament for certain minorities would be abolished and they would be allowed to vote with the general populace. "At least now we considered Hindus, Christians and Parsis as equal members of society."

    Haroon would like to see the demolition of artificial cultural roots and the revival of the Indus Valley civilization, which is over 5,000 years old. "But, at the same time, we should abide by our religious identity also, which is Islam."

    The newspaper magnate, however, does not readily say that the two-nation theory is unjust. "The theory has a social, economic and political perspective that nobody can deny. In the 18th Century, there were hard-line Islamic and Hindus movements that were fighting against colonialism in their own way, but internally they were hard-line religious movements that brought about affects on society. Even the education movement for Muslims of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan [1817-1898] helped lay the foundations of two nations.

    "Apart from this social background, there are some political and economic reasons for it," says Haroon of of the two nation theory. "Muslim-dominated Sindh, West Punjab and East Bengal were agro-based societies that were dependent on the Hindu-dominated industrial-based societies of Bombay, East Punjab and West Bengal. To break these monopolies of Hindus, Muslims were gathered at one platform for a separate country," he added.

    Haroon emphasizes that a better relationship between the countries will depend on how they treat their minorities. And he sees better prospects for a common market between the two if irritants such as Kashmir are removed, and the dispute settled according to the wishes of Kashmiris.

    Arif Ali Khan Abbasi is one of the best professional managers in the country. He has served as managing director of the state-run Pakistan International Airlines on three occasions. He is also the longest-serving cricket official in the country and has chaired the Pakistan Hockey Federation and many other sports bodies. He comes from the family of one of the rulers of the princely state of Utter Pardesh (UP) in India before partition, and his great father-in-law, Nawab of Chittari, was governor of UP twice and a member of the Viceroy's Council during British rule. After petition, his family opted for Pakistan.

    Abbasi is an ardent supporter of the two-nation theory and says that partition of British India was just. He believes that basically the Hindu caste system (especially the Brahmins) could not tolerate Muslims being good entrepreneurs and landlords.

    When Asia Times Online asked Abbasi why sports is played between the two countries as if two armies were fighting, he said that it was a manifestation of the psychological warfare to which people in both countries were subject. He believes that if teams were allowed to interact with each other on a regular basis and play matches more often, both at home and away, the war hysteria syndrome experienced during matches would disappear.


    My point is that there are Muslims in Pakistan who also feel that the media and the establishement have distorted history, and have encouraged a culture of "Anti-India" as the basis of all socio-political activity in Pakistan. This is what I notice in this forum too. I wish some of the people here give this some thought. Hopefully that will encourage some dialog , instead of name calling and verbal abuse.

    [This message has been edited by Tanhaa (edited January 23, 2002).]

    #2
    It is now clear that India may have spouted
    propaganda against the US, heretofor unknown
    to this Yankee Guppster. This article helps
    to detail some relevant points, subtle and
    not so. It helps me to see better, the view
    points of Pak and Indian writers here.

    [This message has been edited by TOMASSO (edited January 23, 2002).]

    Comment


      #3
      Tanhaa,

      All articles posted must include a working URL link and you should also include your own comments, especially in posts that start a new thread. Any posts without these requirements will be removed.

      Thank you.

      Mursalin.


      Comment


        #4
        Thanks Moderator for pointing that out. I thought that the point was obvious. its a thought provoking article.

        Any way I have amended to post

        Comment


          #5

          My point is that there are Muslims in Pakistan who also feel that the media and the establishement have distorted history, and have encouraged a culture of "Anti-India" as the basis of all socio-political activity in Pakistan. This is what I notice in this forum too. I wish some of the people here give this some thought. Hopefully that will encourage some dialog , instead of name calling and verbal abuse.

          Tanha,

          Why evrything is blames on media and establishment?? The politicians and religious fanatics also use same technique to divert people attention from real issue sorrounding the politicians or mullah.

          One thing your article did not mentioned is before 1965 war, there was a free travel between two countries. Indian cinema's use to show Pakistani films and vise versa. There was not that much hatred.

          The source of hatred now days are our "mullahs". I was listening to one of the interviews of Mualan Noorani on ARY, and on discussion of India, he said "We are muslim, we eat cow and cow is a Goddess to Hindus, so how can they can be friendly to muslims".

          Well........if your maulana can say this thing on TV, then what sort of things they preach in their sermon, you can imagine.

          So I want to say is, anti-india feeling not just comes from media, media is only become tool in last 10/12 years. In last 30+ years, our politicians and religious leaders used Indian card, Russia card, and Israeli card to divert the attention of public from internal issues. They will continue to do so, until people start voice against them.

          [This message has been edited by Insaaniat (edited January 24, 2002).]

          Comment


            #6
            I whole heartely agree with you Insaniat Bhai. When I said the estsblishment, I mean politician in power and out of power(but wanting to get into power). They with the religious extremeists are the prime cause of the problem. I dont know about the 60s but sine the 70's I havent seena single Pakistani movie. For that matter I dont even see the furmula Indian movies. But in terms of art, culture, music, dance shayari and Drama, we have so much in common, ke bohut dil jalta hai yeh hungama aur fasaad dekh ke.

            Here in America I have both Indian and {Pakistni friend , hindus and muslims and we have no strain waht so ever. Yaar, kya kiya ja-ay? Any Suggestions ???

            Comment


              #7
              Insaaaniyat,
              >>One thing your article did not mentioned is before 1965 war, there was a free travel between two countries. Indian cinema's use to show Pakistani films and vise versa. There was not that much hatred.<<
              You are absolutely right. The cultural exchange was total. One reason of course is that the top rung leaders who fought the British together were alive on both sides.

              >>The source of hatred now days are our "mullahs". I was listening to one of the interviews of Mualan Noorani on ARY, and on discussion of India, he said "We are muslim, we eat cow and cow is a Goddess to Hindus, so how can they can be friendly to muslims". <<
              Then how did they live together for 1,000 years and are even now living together in India, Bangladesh, Indonesia etc.,
              In my opinion the problem goes much deeper.
              If Mullahs on both sides are correct, India and Pakistan should have been as hostile in 1948 as they are in 1998.
              So why now?
              My take is this. Wheather Pakistanis like it or not Pakistan transformed into a state that NEEDS an enemy.
              To be honest, it is true to some extent of India as well. Good diversion to keep people from asking embarrassing questions. "So jaa, nahin To Gabbar Ayega!!"
              The 'Foreign Hand' is quite a popular explanation during Indira Gandhi's time.
              However seeing India's size it is easier to convince Pakistanis that India is the arch villain than it is to convince Indians that Pakistan is at the heart of all evils.
              So what should change.
              1. Kashmir - Pakistan should encourage Kashmiris to develop ties with Indian STATES, not New Delhi., preferably South Indian states. It will go a long way believe me. The main reason Kashmiris never get sympathy from the rest of India is that they are regarded as traitors.
              2.Mullahs on both sides should be locked up. To be honest not many Mad Mullahs are on this side. The biggest one is Bal THackeray and he is confined to one state.

              Comment

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