Nations are products of long historical and evolutionary processes; most present nation states evolved thus.
There is absolutely no challenge to what the army does or has done in the past and this too is a natural corollary of the genesis of this state
Nations are products of long historical and evolutionary processes; most present nation states evolved thus. But when states are formed on an artificial basis of contrived nationhood or on the basis of religion, as was the case with Pakistan, Israel and Yugoslavia, they of necessity turn into fascist states, dominated by a militarist ideology. Serb-dominated Yugoslavia denied rights to other nationalities and eventually imploded. Pakistan by claiming to be the legatee of the glory of Islam burdened itself with heavy historical baggage, but then it could not have done otherwise as it was that claim that it wanted to justify its artificial existence with. Consequently, Pakistani rulers in keeping with its elite’s interests curtailed national rights of different nationalities, and forced them to rally under the banner of religion and to accept its ideology by upholding their brand of Pakistani nationalism.
The Baloch, Bengalis, Sindhis and to a certain extent, the Pashtuns resented and resisted this imposition in varying degrees. The Bengalis having had the advantage of distance and a sympathetic neighbour went their separate way in 1971, while the Baloch after an initial period of freedom have borne the brunt of military operations because of their refusal to accept the artificially imposed ideology of a Muslim nation and have so far thwarted the attempts to crush their determination for a separate entity status. The Sindhis, at first taken in by state-sponsored ideology, gradually realised that their interests did not coincide and have resisted it though erratically at best since.
The elite, subscribing to a statist and militarist ideology, became the self-appointed defenders of Islam and to live up to those ideals, they invested all its resources in building up its military at the cost of all other aspects. The infusion of money combined with distortion of history where even the brigands of Islamic history were accorded the status of glorified heroes created an illusion of invincibility and grandeur in the military, which was not in any way in keeping with reality. To live up to that billing, they supported and sponsored Islamists to do what they could not openly do as in fighting in Afghanistan, Kashmir, and ended up as a prime exporter of terror. This sponsoring of a second line of defence of zealots has created a monster, which is eating away at the state’s entrails by fanning sectarian violence.
Pakistan is under the sway of militarist and statist ideology, and consequently the army is beyond the ambit of the laws. There is absolutely no challenge to what the army does or has done in the past and this too is a natural corollary of the genesis of this state. Even the Chief Justice helplessly admits that the Balochistan police cannot enter the cantonment areas without a permit from the army. The Supreme Court admits that the 381 abducted Baloch were killed and dumped; the number of Baloch intellectuals, journalists and activists assassinated by death squads are not included, but no one has been charged or prosecuted; pathetically, a compensation of Rs one million is offered, which their heirs will certainly reject. This is how the judiciary deals with systematic brutality against the Baloch.
Any state conducting a dirty war against the people to deny them their inherent rights loses its legitimacy forthwith. By waging a dirty war in Balochistan since 1948, Pakistan is also guilty of crimes against humanity. Expecting a different conduct from the army that claims to be the defender of the ideological and physical boundaries of the state and serves the interests of the elite is wishful thinking.
While it is fashionable to blame General Ziaul Haq for all ills today, the real reason for the rot is forgotten; he was a natural corollary of the basis of the state’s formation. He did not appear out of the blue and it would indeed have been surprising if he had not appeared. Had it not been Zia it would have been someone else like him, sooner or later. Suppose someone makes a broom production factory, but out of reverence and respect for him, people hope that it will produce laptops, that will not happen and it will produce only what it is equipped for. The basis on which Pakistan was created and the way the state and society were organised after partition laid the ground for the appearance of Zia and his ilk. The present mess has its genesis in the ideology that was adopted. Indeed, it would have been surprising had someone like Che Guevara or Fidel Castro appeared.
All institutions here consider themselves as the bastions of preserving the state. However, these bastions, i.e. the judiciary, armed forces, politicians and the media guided by narrow, personal and parochial interests, invariably end up shooting themselves in the foot, and it cannot be otherwise because they with their arrogant self-righteousness in the prevailing culture of impunity for those with power and pelf simply stop learning lessons and continue to self-destruct. This self-destruction is neither accidental nor engineered – it is inherent in the nature of the creation of this state and in the character of its ruling elite.
However, all institutions vie for pre-eminence and supremacy but real power lies with the army, which is armed and organised. That strength and organisation however comes from using the state’s resources for maintaining that supremacy. The army has had the upper hand since day one because survival of this state depended on implementation of its agenda on recalcitrant nations like the Bengalis and Baloch by force of arms. All depends on what the army thinks and what it decides should be the policy; it has unchallengeable supremacy and enjoys complete immunity for anything it has done in the past, is doing now, and at least hopes to maintain the status quo for the future too.
The Pakistani state has its paranoid, jingoistic, militarist and statist ideology as a millstone around its neck, which it can neither abandon nor hold on to, and is slowly sinking with it. Ironically, it believes that on these outdated crutches it can hobble along and survive. It fails to understand that these very crutches are expressly the reason for its unravelling and downfall. Use of force as the essential element in governing a country ultimately boomerangs and threatens its existence, but once employed systematically, it becomes impossible for the rulers to drawdown on it and eventually becomes the reason for its demise as it was for Yugoslavia.
The writer has an association with the Baloch rights movement going back to the early 1970s. He tweets at mmatalpur and can be contacted at [email protected]