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A Tale of Events

When Pakistan came into being the first national tragedy occurred when Quaid-e-Azam expired in 1948. This resulted in the quick change of governments and we became a laughing stock for other countries.

The nation is going to celebrate yet another independence day in August amid enormous difficulties.  We are passing through critical phase of our history. Unending social and economic issues and deteriorating law and order situation have gripped the mind of the people. The question comes to the mind of every individual as to whether we have achieved the objectives for which this country was achieved? The answer is definitely ‘No’. Everyone is looking towards each other but there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Every government, whether military or civilian, has failed terribly to yank the nation out of the mess it is in. This is a national tragedy that we still have to go a long way to become a nation. Ironically, our society has been polarized to a greater extent. Pakistan’s geo- strategic location has rather added to our difficulties.  Highly volatile neighbour, Afghanistan, and America’s vested interests have also made our country unstable. Resultantly 64 years down the road, we are facing a number of serious national crises, including terrorism, linguistic and ethnic division.

Struggle for Pakistan

The movement of the Indian partition started when the Englishman Allan Hume helped some Indians to form the Indian National Congress in 1885. At first it did not challenge British control, but in early 1900s a radical group emerged, headed by Bal Gangadhar Tilak, whose aim was to challenge the British rule in India. On the other hand, in 1906 another crucial split took place; a few Muslim delegates left the Indian National Congress, and a faction formed the Muslim League. The reason was that the Muslims were becoming alienated by the increasing Hindu nationalism. They were feeling sense of insecurity because of the attitude of the Congress and its leaders. From 1906 onward, Indian National Congress and the Muslim League started working for safeguarding the interests of their communities.

The circumstances forced the British Parliament to pass the Government of India Act in 1935. The Hindus and Muslims were not satisfied with this Act. During the period of the Indian National Congress’ limited rule, the Muslims became the victim of Hindus’ wrath.  The Indian National Congress resorted to every tactic which was aimed at obliterating the Muslims from the Indian political scene. They were not allowed even to build new mosques. During this phase, the policies of the Congress left no breathing pace for the Indian Muslims. That is why the Muslims celebrated a Day of Deliverance when the Congress rule came to an end. This marked a major shift in the political scene and Muslims and the Muslim League decided not to settle for anything less than a separate Muslim state.

Rule of law is the first prerequisite of the good governance in any country. For this purpose a constitution is framed for running the government affairs. In the beginning of our independence, provincialism, parochialism and sectarianism hovered over the newly formed state.
In 1939 with the start of the Second World War, the circumstances were changed to a greater extent and the British Government in India was forced to reset its priorities. The Indian National Congress responded by quitting the government. They tried to use the war as a tool to force the British to talk to their terms by demanding immediate independence. The British promised to offer independence at the end of the war, and the Indian National Council cooperated perhaps seeing a worse future for India if Britain lost the war, as was looking quite likely in 1940.

After the war, British Viceroy, Lord Mountbatten, managed to negotiate a deal whereby northwestern and the far eastern sections of India became a Muslim state ‘Pakistan’ and the remaining territory a Hindu country. In Kashmir, the Hindu ruler hesitated in deciding whether to join Pakistan or India, but when his Muslim-majority populace responded with violent protests, he chose India. Within a year of gaining independence, India and Pakistan were at war in Kashmir. The first Kashmir war ended in a compromise, but the area remained fortified on both sides. The tension continued between both the countries. Resultantly, war sparked up again for a short time in 1965.

When Pakistan came into being the first national tragedy occurred when Quaid-e-Azam expired in 1948. This resulted in the quick change of governments and we became a laughing stock for other countries. After Quaid’s death Liaquat Ali Khan tried to sail the country’s ship to the shore but he too was assassinated on October 16, 1951 while addressing a public meeting of the Muslim City League at Company Bagh (Now Liaquat Bagh), Rawalpindi. The real motive behind his murder has never been revealed till today. The killer, Saad Akbar Babrak, who was an Afghan national and a professional assassin from Hazara, was immediately shot dead after the incident in order to conceal the conspiracy.

Another serious issue which came to surface was lack of good governance. Before the creation of Pakistan, British policies caused a split between the Hindus and the Muslims. The Hindus were quicker to side with the ways of the Britishers. On the other hand, Muslims did not take any interest in the national affairs. As a result, the Muslims kept themselves aloof from the government affairs. This national character of the nation continued even after the inception of Pakistan and bad governance was order of the day.

Rule of law is the first prerequisite of the good governance in any country. For this purpose a constitution is framed for running the government affairs. In the beginning of our independence, provincialism, parochialism and sectarianism hovered over the newly formed state. Since 1947 to 1950 no serious efforts were made to frame constitution. The inaugural session of the Legislative Assembly was held on August 14, 1947, in Karachi. For the interim period Government of India Act, 1935, was adopted with a few amendments according to the needs of the country. However, the first phase of the Constitution making was the approval of the Objectives Resolution which Liaquat Ali Khan, the first Prime Minister of Pakistan got passed by the Legislative Assembly on March 12, 1949.

Separation of East Pakistan

In 1971, strife between the two countries was not the only result of the division of India. Both countries’ economies suffered extremely from the social upheaval. The two areas of Pakistan, East Pakistan and West Pakistan, were 1,600 km separate from each other, with India in between. On top of the ethnic and cultural differences (they shared only their religion, Islam), the East Pakistanis were underrepresented in national affairs and less developed. The government was slow to send aid when East Pakistan was hit by a devastating cyclone in 1970. When East Pakistan (being more populous than West Pakistan) gained a majority in the National Assembly, President Yahya Khan delayed convening the NA meeting and sent troops to quell protests in East Pakistan.
In response, East Pakistan declared itself independent on March 26, 1971 and became Bangladesh. Civil war broke out, and lasted until the end of that year, when, in December, India entered the war and aided Bangladesh in freeing itself of Pakistani troops.

After the war, Indian PM Indira Gandhi and Pakistani President Zulfikar Bhutto met in 1972 at Shimla and agreed to work for a peaceful solution to the Kashmir problem. But the rivalry did not decrease, and two years later, in 1974, it entered a new phase when India went nuclear. Our successive rulers too left no stone unturned to put Pakistan on the way of becoming nuclear.

After India’s border war with China in 1962, Sino-Pakistani relations greatly improved. When India signed a treaty with the Soviet Union in 1971 and began buying military equipment worth billions of dollars from the Soviets, formerly friendly relations between Pakistan and the Soviet Union stood deteriorated. This, in turn, gave Pakistan an ally in the form of the US, another country hostile to the Soviet Union. The two nations worked together help Afghanistan, financially and militarily, in resisting the Soviet invasion that lasted from 1979 to 1989. Pakistan itself received some aid from the US which was cut off in 1979 earlier due to concerns over Pakistan’s nuclear programme.

The end of the Cold War in 1989 changed foreign relations again. The US ended aid to both countries in 1990 and then imposed sanctions after both conducted nuclear tests in 1998. After the ill-fated day of 9/11, Pakistan again became a US ally in 2002 for another operation in Afghanistan. In the meantime, the Kashmir issue continued simmering. Normally, such a border dispute could be settled by bilateral discussions and compromises from both sides. But religious pride, on both sides, makes compromise close to impossible. The armies of both countries are entrenched along the borders of the area, and violence flashes out periodically.

The area has become the focal point for militants from both sides. What’s unclear is how much the activities of these militants are aided and abetted by their countries. Both countries insist innocence regarding the crimes of their individual citizens, but accuse the other of harbouring terrorism. Both also accused each other (in 1983) of helping rebels within the others’ territory. Pakistan alleges that India aided rebels in Pakistan’s Sindh area, and India believes Pakistan aided Sikhs, a religious group that has often run up against India’s Hindu government.

After the creation of Pakistan its leaders were caught in the US trap aimed at encircling and preventing former Soviet Union’s expansion. Pakistan had three options: First to pursue a non-aligned policy, second to align itself with the Socialist bloc headed by Moscow, and third to join the West, led by the US. However, when Pakistan was reviewing the invitation from Moscow, an anti-Pakistan statement by Soviet’s Prime Minister Marshal Stalin during his Delhi visit affected Pakistan’s policy. This compelled the Pakistani leadership to tilt towards the West and Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan rejected Kremlin’s invitation to visit Moscow. The logic put forward for the pro-West policy was that in Europe and the US there was democracy whereas in former Soviet Union there was a fascist-Communist regime. Moreover, Liaquat Ali Khan is still criticized by the left wing parties for his pro-Western policies and the ban imposed on the Communist Party of Pakistan. However, the pro-Liaquat lobby argues that he had wanted to keep Pakistan neutral in the superpowers’ Cold War. This resulted into adverse repercussions, including Soviet help to India, worth mentioning in the 1971 war which led to the Dhaka fall with the open support of India and former Soviet Union.

Another serious issue which came to surface was lack of good governance. Before the creation of Pakistan, British policies caused a split between the Hindus and the Muslims. The Hindus were quicker to side with the ways of the Britishers.
Pakistan adopted a pro-West policy from the very beginning with the hope to be friend of the US and that it will help in ending Indian control of Kashmir and its monopoly in the region. On the other hand, there was also a lobby which dubbed Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan’s refusal to visit Moscow, as a wrong decision. These people still consider Liaquat’s decision to prefer US over USSR a mistake. Later Pakistan’s ties with the US improved after Republican President Eisenhower came to power in 1952. Secretary of State Dulles, pushed Pakistan’s case as a close ally, and supported Pakistan’s requests for economic and military aid. Pakistan was asked to join the Middle East Defense Organization (MEDO) which later was renamed as Central Treaty Organization (CENTO); and South Asian Treaty Organization (SEATO). Pakistan became a tool of US strategy and policy.

Later in 1979 Pakistan participated in the war against former Soviet Union and forced the latter to pull itself out from Afghanistan. This support from Pakistan gave the US the desired help in the Cold War and Moscow was compelled to pullout its troops from Kabul which was a historic defeat for Moscow. The Soviet Union broke into several states, weakening its strength and making the US the sole superpower which was its major dream. This policy caused grudge in the leadership of the former USSR against Pakistan. Now when Pakistan is facing severe crisis in the war against terrorism as a frontline state, Moscow started supporting terrorism in Pakistan and has been supporting and backing terrorism along with India and Afghanistan. It is blamed by some quarters in Pakistan that the US is also tacitly backing terrorist activities in the country along with some Arab countries.

Pakistan has been beset with two major challenges such as terrorism and weak economy. The terrorists have martyred over 35,000 Pakistanis for which Pakistan deserves high regard and respect. Our rulers’ wrong and poor foreign policies have resulted in the new wave of terrorism in Pakistan. Terrorism has badly affected the country politically, economically and security point of view. All the cities are facingthe threat of blasts every day. Peace has become a rare commodity.

The people of Pakistan have been paying heavy price for their role in war against terrorism. Islam is a religion of peace and harmony, while the terrorists have attempted to blemish it. Peaceful means were adopted for combating the extremism which however did not yield the desired results. Resultantly, the government opted for the military operation after taking all the political parties into confidence. Our economy has been hit hard by the global downturn and major chunk of our resources is being spent on maintaining law and order situation. Now after the operation against terrorists in Swat, welfare and prosperity of the people would be focused.

Quaid-e-Azam got a dream translated into a reality within a short span of a few years. Everyone of this country irrespective of age, gender, caste or creed should protect its sovereignty. No country attained independence within a short span of seven years without dropping any blood. However, after the creation of Pakistan, some fanatic Hindus excited Sikhs to massacre the Muslims coming to the new state. This resulted in the ruthless killing of one million people which is a record in the world history. Migration of Muslims at such a large scale is the second event in the Muslim history after the migration of Muslims from Makkah to Madina. Now on the occasion of this Independence Day, the people of Pakistan should make resolve for making this country a citadel of peace, as this is the only way to pay homage to those who embraced martyrdom while migrating to Pakistan. While rejoicing the fruits of freedom, we have not yet been able to clutch the lofty principle of Unity, Faith and Discipline, a magnificent icon of trust which was given to us by the Father of the Nation.

By: Waseem-ur-Rehman Khan

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