Pakistan’s inevitable demise

It is as hard to predict the future boundaries in South East Asia as it is easy to see that Pakistan will soon not be there as we know it.

Pakistan is not the United States whose invincibility is tied to its unmatched military power. Similarly, Pakistan’s failure, or success, cannot be described in the language of state failure, which various objective criteria can measure.

Pakistan’s failure is linked to the failure of the idea of Pakistan, which, regardless of being called a subjective and contentious matter, remains the only factor that speeds up or has the power to slow down its descent into the dust bin of history.

Pakistan is unlikely to fail as a state; the downward trend in many indicators of state failure can be halted. Even the problems of the lack of economic opportunity, the booming birth rate, and the weak educational system could be effectively addressed.

What has become impossible to address is the nation’s ever losing focus on the objective for which creation of Pakistan was demanded: the idea on which its foundations were laid down, and the justification which brought Pakistan into existence.

Pakistan is being undermined for one reason: it is not a trivial state. Its very size (it will soon become the world’s fifth-most-populous state); its ties to many Arab and other Muslim states, especially Iran; its nuclear capabilities; and its critical geographic location mean that many powers also believe in the importance of Pakistan not surviving.

The days are gone when successive Pakistani governments used the argument of Pakistan’s survival as a matter of regional stability when approaching others for support and resources. They used to argue that the failure of Pakistan would be a multidimensional geostrategic calamity, generating enormous uncertainties in a world that craves order and predictability. That is not seen a plausible argument anymore. Perceptions and demands of the sustainers of Pakistan have completely changed.

A Pakistan-less South Asia would not place Iran, India and China at risk as it is no more providing them any protection. Instead any time it can play a role in attacks on Iran the way it played this role in the occupation of Afghanistan. Similarly, Pakistan is no more one of China’s staunchest friends as it used to be over the years. Iran would not be too deeply concerned about the fate of Pakistan’s large Shi’a minority as the experience in Iraq shows and India would reap most of the fruits without any prospect of violence and disorder on its borders.

After brining Afghanistan to the present state, Pakistan is no more needed there. It is now the other way round. Finally, the rest of the world would not be concerned about the disposition of a failing Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and fissile material, which it already knows is in “safe hands.”

Asking “which Pakistan is likely to quickly fizzle out?” provides another way of looking at Pakistan’s imminent demise. A number of possible future scenarios exist that imply Pakistan’s demise has become inevitable. The events of 2001 strengthened the hand of opportunist secularists at the center and weakened ethnic separatists. Thus, a replay of 1970 and a second partitioning of Pakistan are unlikely. If anything that can happen to it is total disappearance as a state.

Achieving the objective for which it was created is impossible. Due to political squabbling since day one and religious political parties changing their strategies, the mass movement towards achieving the objective of Pakistan has completely lost its strength. Religious parties exploited mass support in the form of demonstrating street power for achieving lesser and far deviated objectives than the objective which led to the creation of Pakistan. In the past, the religious parties received substantial support of Pakistan’s intelligence agencies, who are now burying the evidence of this cooperation. The US is posing as if it had never pumped dollars into the religious parties when their services were needed for overthrowing Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Jihad against the enemies of America in Afghanistan. The way the present regime manipulated MMA and the way people are deluded by religious political parties, groups struggling in the name of Islam may never stage a comeback, they are very unlikely ever to transform Pakistan into the much-dreaded Islamic-state.

There are no signs of a demagogic or radical political movement emerging. Pakistan never had a truly leftist political movement; the hostility of the landowners, their alliance with the United States, the dominance of the army, and the Lasse-faire attitude of most Pakistanis enfeebled the left. Pakistan came closest to a radical political movement with the socialist government of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who believed that only a populist movement could counter the army’s power. There are no signs that such a leftist movement could be repeated in the future. If the present experiment with a mixed military/civilian dictatorship should collapse, an increase in the appetite for pure authoritarianism is more likely.

The full restoration of democratic government and the efficient rebuilding of the Pakistani state is a future that is clearly impossible. Although most Pakistanis in the establishment are formally committed to the restoration of democracy, most are also uncomfortable with the idea of mass democratic politics. In Pakistan, democracy is still the avocation of the rich and influential, seen more as a civic obligation than a career. On this issue, Pakistan is well ahead of many Arab states but far behind thoroughly politicized and democratized India or Sri Lanka, and even behind Bangladesh. A truly democratic Pakistan is unlikely to emerge as the US has pinned all its hopes in the military and military is being trained on how to remain loyal to Washington and committed to gradual secularisation. The US mistrust by the politicians the military’s self-interest prevent the army from giving the politicians a free hand, and the politicians are so insecure and corrupt that they instinctively turn to the armed forces for political support. Pakistan will continue as a state that hovers on the edge of sham democracy till it hit the post.

The present arrangement of a military-led government will prevail to guide Pakistan into its permanent demise. Various outside actors will repeatedly challenge the legitimacy of the state, but not the army rule. Pakistan is in the ambivalent position of having an army that can neither govern nor allow civilians to rule. Thus, because the army itself established on the foundation of Iman (Faith), Taqwa (fear of Allah) and Jihad fi sabeelillah (Jihad in the cause of Allah) is an inherently Islamic institution (Musharraf may profess admiration for Ataturk but few of his colleagues share this enthusiasm), radical change is inconceivable. But the potential for polarization is beyond one can imagine.

What is considered as the army’s conceptual ability to plan a strategy of incremental change that would fundamentally reform Pakistan’s ailing institutions is actually what leads Pakistan into its disappearance from the world map. Analysts believed that Pakistan’s army is strong enough to prevent state failure but not imaginative enough to impose the changes that might transform Pakistan either in the image for which it was created or the image which the US wants it to adopt. Unfortunately, rather than transforming, the change that opportunist leaders surrounding general Musharraf have chosen will gradually fizzle out Pakistan into oblivion.

As for nationhood, despite its dominant position in the state due to which the army has a veto over any attempt to change the consensus view of Pakistan’s identity, it hardly seems willing to create an identity compatible with the vision of Pakistan, as well as with the objectives that led to Pakistan’s creation.

Pakistan’s most unique feature is not its potential as a failed state but the intricate interaction between the physical/political/legal entity known as the state of Pakistan and the idea behind Pakistan and the Pakistani nation. Few if any other nation states are more complex than Pakistan in this respect, with the Pakistani state often operating at cross-purposes with the purpose of its creation and Pakistani nation.

The state has certainly been failing for many years, but Pakistan’s creation and the Pakistani nation also are contested ideas, and the tension between them is what makes Pakistan an especially important case. Pakistan has neither fulfilled its potential nor the expectations of its founders and the people who gave their lives to make creation of Pakistan possible, but it is too big and potentially “too dangerous” for the “international community” to allow it simply to survive.

Regardless of all factors, the US has officially launched a war on the very basic ideology which is the basis of Pakistan. The state of Pakistan was thought to be more than a physical/legal entity that provided welfare, order, and justice to its citizens. Pakistan was to be an extraordinary state -” a homeland for Indian Muslims and an ideological and political leader of the Islamic world. Providing a homeland to protect Muslims from the bigotry and intolerance of India’s Hindu population was important. The Pakistan movement also looked to the wider Islamic world, however, and Pakistan’s leaders have been concerned about the fate of other Muslim communities living under duress, stretching from Palestine to the Philippines.

This is exactly what is now known as “political Islam” of the “Islamists.” This is what the 9/11 Commission has admitted to be the “Islamic ideology” and called for a war on this ideology. Pakistan has to be dismantled because its raison de’etre has no place in the modern world in which crusade on Islam is now officially recognized. Islamic ideology is the threat and a war on it has been declared. Now think about the following words and comments by the creators on Pakistan. Imagine any nation under occupation or any Muslim leader now saying the following words. They would perfectly fit the well-defined category on which a war has officially been declared.

Note Pakistan’s Great Leader, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s reference to the Qur’an, Jihad, Islam and giving protection to neighbours in the following words at a rally on October 30, 1947:

If we take our inspiration and guidance from the Holy Qur’an, the final victory, I once again say, will be ours-¦ Do not be overwhelmed by the enormity of the task-¦ You only have to develop the spirit of the Mujahids. You are a nation whose history is replete with people of wonderful character and heroism. Live up to your traditions and add to another chapter of glory. All I require of you now is that everyone-¦ must vow to himself and be prepared to sacrifice his all-¦ in building up Pakistan as a bulwark of Islam and as one of the greatest nations whose ideal is peace within and peace without-¦ Islam enjoins on every Mussulman to give protection to his neighbors and to minorities regardless of caste and creed. [1]

These are the words which are sufficient to instantly declare anyone an “Islamist” preaching “Islamism” at which the US is at war. The US expects from the “moderate Muslims” to care about their poverty alleviation and forget about their brothers and sisters under oppression and occupation outside their countries. Musharraf has clearly mentioned this in his televised speech on January 12, 2002 and other "moderates” in the pages of New York Times tells Muslims in America to be American and give preference to their sons and daughters in American over their suffering brothers and sisters in Palestine.

In the earlier stages of this crusade at the time of creation of Pakistan, when the Muslim League adopted the Pakistan resolution on March 23, 1940, which called for the establishment of a sovereign, independent, and Islamic country, the following day, Lord Zetland, Secretary of State for the colonial India, wrote of his apprehensions regarding this proposition to Lord Linlithgow, the British viceroy in New Delhi, saying:

[T]he call of Islam is one which transcends the bounds of country. It may have lost some force as a result of the abolition of Caliphate by Mustafa Kamal Pasha, but it still has a very considerable appeal as witness for example Jinnah’s insistence on our giving undertaking that Indian troops should never be employed against any Muslim state, and the solicitude which he has constantly expressed for the Arabs of Palestine. [2]

These apprehensions were ignored for other reasons in 1947. However, creation of Pakistan on these grounds would have been impossible in 2004 and so is its survival at stake today when for the most powerful man in Pakistan words of its founders and the motive behind the Pakistan movement is no more than a joke.

Both the history and the future of Pakistan are rooted in a complex relationship between Pakistan the “Islamic” state -” a physically bounded territory with an Islamic legal and international personality that would be guided by Islamic scriptures and traditions -” and Pakistan the nation -” mission-bound to serve as a beacon for oppressed or backward Muslim communities elsewhere in the world. Pakistan has bitterly failed at both the state and the nation level. The rot that started at the top has trickled to the roots and the nation as a whole is as oblivious of its responsibilities as is its leaders.

The forces that undermine Pakistan are nevertheless alive and well focused. Think about the following and count the days towards the end of Pakistan:

1).For the second year, Israelis have topped tourist list in Kashmir where businesses are changing the language of their outlets’ signboards from English to Hebrew. [3] We must note that after Israeli agents involvement in New Zealand and Canadian passport scams, the visitors in Kashmir are neither ordinary Israelis nor are they visiting Kashmir only for vacation purposes.

2).Pentagon recently stressed that it must train Pakistan military officers to increase Washington’s influence over the country’s armed forces. Paul Wolfowitz told the House Armed Services Committee on August 10, 2004 that failure to train Pakistan officers could mean "pushing them into the one alternative, which is the Islamic extremists-¦It’s not as though if we leave them alone, nobody else will go out to recruit them." [4]

3). Argument of “international community” led by the US goes somewhat like this: Iran must bring its nuclear program to an end and Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal must be in safe hands, but Israel’s weapons of mass destruction must remain a “must-have.” [5]

4).The Pakistani government’s recent approach is to leave Kashmiris’ fate in the Indian hands and push Afghans back into Afghanistan so that the US could rule them as it may like. This is what is in total contradiction to the founding vision but this is what Pakistan is doing. Some 200,000 Afghan refugees have been living in the remote border areas of Pakistan, in poor and insecure conditions. In the past few months, as the Pakistani operations in the tribal area of South Waziristan have risen in strength, countless refugee home are destroyed and thousands of Afghans are pushed back into Afghanistan. [6] According to New York Times: “Refugees have been given as little as two hours’ notice to leave before their houses were bulldozed, according to officials with the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Some have returned to Afghanistan with no belongings, homeless once again.”

5).Almost all in the NGOs sector and many politicians to the level of former Prime Minter Zafrullah Khan Jamali, Pakistanis have come to believe that the source of Pakistan’s creation, the Two-nation theory is no longer valid. [7]

6).After facilitating occupation of Afghanistan, dictator Musharraf and his inner circle used the recent SAARC summit as a forum for direct and secret meetings with India’s top brass. This was in order to consolidate a US inspired secret agreement to smooth the path for Pakistan in accepting Kashmir as an integral part of India. Musharraf announced the deal after a closed meeting with Vajpayee on January 6, 2003 when he said: "History has been made…The string that was broken at Agra has been repaired in Islamabad". After a phone conversation the next morning with Vajpayee, Musharraf confirmed that: "The deal was sealed". A cautious, secretive and incremental process has been adopted in order for India and Pakistan to work jointly in eliminating the threats to the understanding. Officials from Pakistan and India were very nervous as regards a leak.

7).Despite Pakistan’s surrender on every front, India signed a $ 1 billion sale of Phalcon Airborne Early Warning Systems deal with Israel in October 2003.

8).Despite dictator Musharraf’s sacrificing Pakistani soldiers for the US, the US kept on accusing it for secret nuclear pact with Saudi Arabia, [8] selling nuclear technology and for being not sincere to the US. [9] A CATO study called Pakistan’s cooperating “grudging and spotty.” [10] All these are in preparation for facilitating the US to make a U-turn on Pakistan any time it may decide to crush it directly or through India.

9).As the nation that was supposed to be mission-bound to serve as a beacon for oppressed or backward Muslim communities elsewhere in the world is lost in HBO, Z-TV and Sony, the government is devoted to revising school curriculum for teaching them submissiveness to occupation.

The above discussion may not reflect the extent to which Pakistanis as a whole have undermined Pakistan. What is undeniable and known is that ideologically Pakistan has long been dead. If there are any traces of it still linger on invisibly, the US war on it will deal with it appropriately. The left over physical existence neither makes a difference, nor would survive without its soul for too long.

All these might be very encouraging signs for the Islam and Pakistan bashers. However, we must not forget that the end of Pakistan could well lead to the beginning of “Jihad from Hind” (India) or the armies from "the East" of Arabia to which Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) made references 1400 years ago.


[1]. Speech at a rally at the University Stadium, Lahore, October 30, 1947.

[2]. India Office Library, Document No. 609, and others, cited in Speeches and statements of His Excellency Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada, Organization of the Islamic Conference, 1988.

[3]. “For 2nd year, Israelis top tourist list in Kashmir,” Haaretz
19 August 2004.

[4]. “Pentagon: US must train Pakistan officers,” Aljazeera, Wednesday 11 August 2004.

[5]. “Israel’s must-have,” editorial, Washington Times, July 22, 2004.

[6]. Carlotta Gall, “Pakistan Army Ousts Afghan refugees in Militants’ areas,” New York Times, July 21, 2004.

[7]. “Two-nation theory not valid today,” Faizul Haq, The Nation, March 01, 2003.

[8]. Arnaud de Borchgrave, “Pakistan, Saudi Arabia in secret nuke pact,” Washington Times, October 22, 2003.

[9]. “Pakistan without illusions,” editorial, New York Times, July 09, 2004.

[10]. Subodh Atal, “Extremist, nuclear Pakistan; an emerging threat,” Policy Analysis No. 472, March 5, 2003