The obsession with Kashmir from the very inception of Pakistan in 1947 has had a defining influence on the Pakistani polity. Within months of the creation of Pakistan the country chose to adopt perfidious ways to annex Kashmir by sending in the so called raiders in October of that year. India’s response thwarted the project but unfortunately India did not throw out the raiders from Kashmir which it was in a position to do by November/December of that year and chose to go to the United Nations. Thus began the Kashmir dispute and also the Pakistan obsession with it.
The relentless pursuit of this obsession gave the army in Pakistan institutional supremacy. This was facilitated by the early demise of Md. Ali Jinnah and the assassination of Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, the two stalwarts of the Pakistan movement who could have given a democratic direction to the country. Pakistan army became the arbiter and wresting Kashmir became the national obsession. The Kashmir mission is central to the maintenance of the supremacy of the army and its most cogent rationale. Pakistan gradually became an army with a state rather than a state with an army.
The supremacy of the army has stifled democracy and the evolution of a nation state, albeit, based on a religious ethos. The Pakistan army is dominated by the Punjabi muslims. The other communities in Pakistan have little or no presence in the Pakistani army. A Baluchi or a Sindhi General does not exist. There are a few Pashtoons army officers but they can hardly either aspire or dream of becoming of force within the officer corps of the Pakistan army. I would like to mention an interesting anecdote.
Soon after the 1971 war Lt. Gen. Habibullah Khan, a retired General of the Pakistan army was on a visit to the Bihar Regimental Center at the Danapur Cantt., Patna. He had begun his career in the army as a young officer in the Bihar regiment and was one of the honoured guest at the Golden Jubilee Celebration at the Bihar Regimental Center, Danapur. He with some bitterness mentioned to a fellow officer who was his batchmate at the Royal Indian Military College, Dehradun that though very well placed in the Pakistan army and with an impeccable record he could not become Chief of the Pakistan Army as he was a pashtoon .
The domination of the Punjabi muslims of the Pakistan army naturally translated into domination of Pakistan by the Punjabi muslims. This over the years, alienated the majority non-Punjabi muslim population of Pakistan. Anti-Punjabi muslim sentiments translated into Bengali nationalism in East Pakistan. The spark which led to the 1971 war with India and its disastrous consequences for Pakistan was the arrogance of Punjab to deny political power to the Bengali muslims of East Pakistan.
Under the Pak Army regime led by General Yahya Khan, the Punjabi muslims manufactured the theory of two majorities in a ‘democratic polity’ which Pakistan aspired to create after the 1970 elections. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman whose party won a majority in the Pakistan national assembly was denied the post of Prime Minister of the country. What happened thereafter is history but yet the vivisection of Pakistan had little or no impact on the Punjabi muslim mindset. It is laughable but true that both in Islamabad and Rawalpindi it was said that creation of Bangladesh was good riddance of the dark, short and indolent Bengali muslims. Pakistan had become more homogenous and the Pakistan economy would now prosper. The irony is that every possible economic indicator shows that the Bangladeshi economy is in a far better shape than that of truncated Pakistan.
In 2017 the GDP growth of Bangladesh was 7.30 percent whereas that of Pakistan it was 4.71 percent. The foreign exchange reserve of Pakistan in April 2018 was USD 17539 Million and steadily declining whereas that of Bangladesh was USD 30937 Million and steadily increasing. There is a real possibility of Pakistan’s economy going bust. What a delicious irony! The Bangladeshi polity after the initial hiccups is stabilizing into a healthy democratic polity with the Bangladeshi army finally becoming totally subservient to the civil authority and the duly elected government. The Pakistani polity today remains as unstable as ever with an unpredictable future. The deep state continues to wield the big stick. Kashmir is a prize which must be won whatever it takes.
It is said that history repeats itself and this is very likely to happen in Pakistan as it refuses to learn from it. The Pakistan army continues to rule the roost and must continue to have the first claim on the shrinking resources of Pakistan. The veneer of democracy may be cultivated and encouraged but the deep state must always have the last say. After all Kashmir remains the unfinished agenda of partition! If three successive Indo-Pak wars has not produced the desired results then Pakistan must resort to other means to wrest Kashmir from India. The theory of the thousand cuts was evolved by the wily General Zia-Ul-Haque. He proved himself to be too clever by half. The deep state in Pakistan launched a covert war to wrest Kashmir from India. Terrorists organizations were created and supported to launch a covert war in Jammu & Kashmir.
The Jehadi ideology was spawned and it spread to other parts of the world with devastating effect. The Pakistan army fancied and continues to fancy a related concept of ‘strategic depth’. A high sounding nothing much beyond the capacity of the Pakistan army and the Pakistani economy. Afghanistan can never become subservient to the arrogant Generals of Pakistan. Fiercely independent the Afghans particularly the pashtoons, will never tolerate it. The Durand line drawn arbitrarily drawn by the British dividing the Pashtoons will remain tenuous and will require an enlightened policy on both side of the line to resolve the issue. This is not likely to happen.
The dominance of the Punjabi muslims ensured through the mechanism of the Pakistan army and justified by the national obsession with Kashmir will continue to obstruct the evolution of a democratic polity in Pakistan which alone can ensure that all the sections of the people of Pakistan feel secure about their future within the Pakistani polity. Baluchistan which constitutes nearly 50% of the land mass and only 5% of the population of Pakistan has remained starved of resources because the country’s resources must be diverted to the higher cause of building up the country’s defense forces and the security apparatus to complete the unfinished agenda of partition!
The pashtoons comprising nearly 25% of the Pakistani population and Sindhis constituting 14% of the population must abjure their fair share in the resources of the country and their position in the power structure of the Pakistani polity till the deep state wins in the valley. The problem is that in waging this war history will repeat itself for Pakistan without India raising even a little finger. Pakistan is fighting a war which remains to be lost. It is not difficult at all to see the writing on the wall. It may take another 20-25 years to complete the script.