In the end, Pakistan would still need a new basis for its nationalism that is based on reality rather than engineered narratives of history, writes Husain Haqqani in his new book.

Pakistan’s ideology has not really enhanced its functionality even if it helped its first generation get through the transition of seeing themselves as Pakistanis. A favourable international environment, specifically Pakistan’s cold war alliance with the West, enabled the country to sustain hostility towards India and to justify its Islamic orientation as a barrier to communism. The current dependence on China might pay for anti-Indianism for a few more years but is unlikely to help Pakistan overcome its fundamental contradictions.

The rise in recent years of Hindutva in India will probably feed the ‘ideology of Pakistan’ for a few more years by setting up an oppositional idea to confront. In the end, Pakistan would still need a new basis for its nationalism that is based on reality rather than engineered narratives of history and aspiration. Currently, ideological reasons dictate that Pakistan remain implacably hostile to India, maintain an expensive military and support jihadi terrorist organizations. But the cost of these policies has debilitating effects like failing to invest in education that develops critical thinking, being less globally connected and losing the economic benefits of being a friendly destination for tourists or investors.

Like other states that defined themselves only through ideology, Pakistan cannot expect to go on forever on the strength of hatred or fear of ‘the other’ without the debilitating effects of such animosity. Nor can it expect its international alignments to constantly bail it out of domestic political and economic setbacks.

Pakistan is already plagued with political paranoia and many of its citizens ‘believe that a vast and subtle conspiracy exists to destroy their way of life’—Islam, whatever the form or sect of Islam they might belong to. Paranoids do not function well as global citizens and, considering the complexity of sectarian and theological arguments, Pakistan is likely to only descend further into intra-Islamic feuds.

The description of ‘the paranoid’s view of history’ offered by scholars of the phenomenon often applies to many Pakistani politicians, as well as religious and thought leaders. Their view, backed by the powerful state security machinery, is that corruption or weak leadership are Pakistan’s major issues, not the pursuit of an ideological abstraction.

Given Pakistan’s demographic profile, an overwhelming majority of Pakistanis does not hate or fear Hindus, India, Jews, Americans or Pakistan’s other supposed enemies because of personal experiences. There is little contact between young Pakistanis with ‘the enemies’ for them to have sentiments about them. Psychologists agree that prejudice is learned behaviour and in Pakistan’s case, it has methodically been nurtured as the bedrock of Pakistani national identity. Dealing with militarism and support for militancy, as well as their social, political and economic effects, requires amplification of Pakistani voices that question its national narrative and offer an alternative one.

Pakistan’s multi-ethnic reality, the prospect of conflict and fear of disintegration should encourage Pakistanis to seriously examine other states facing similar concerns and emulate successful models.

This is an excerpt from Husain Haqqani’s new book ‘Reimagining Pakistan: Transforming a dysfunctional nuclear state” (Harper-Collins).  Haqqani is former ambassador of Pakistan to the United States, and Director, South & Central Asia at Hudson Institute

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  1. I remember in the early 70s, Bangladesh had just become independent and West Pakistan became Pakistan. Looking at the constituent ethnicities of the country, one believed that it could become a cohesive unit. And Bhutto had the charisma to knit together what was left of Pakistan. But, history intervened and Zia upstaged him murdering him and converting Pakistan into a jehadi state. Pakistan’s woes began the day Zia took the decision to join the US war in Afghanistan. He got ‘peanuts’ from the US but alongwith the peanuts he also got 3 million Afghan refugees that wouldn’t go back, snatch jobs meant for local, spread drug culture and gun running in Pakistan. And after all this there was nothing positive to show for Zia’s decision. Good that he did not live long to justify his decision. Musharraf repeated the story by again joining the US war in Afghanistan this time under duress and had nothing to show for his decision. His decision to repeat Ayub’s mistake of biting off a chunk of Kashmir proved disastrous as Indian army fought dourly and kicked out the encroaching Pakistani army from Kargil.
    In all this one thing becomes clear. The civilians are never allowed to rule the country. The Pakistani army which has 95% men from Punjab think and act as if they have been given the Almighty’s order to run Pakistan.
    Unless Pakistani army is sent back to the barracks with no political role to play, the Punjabi army (which gets its support from the Punjab province which has 65% of Pakistan’s population) will never allow peace with India.

    • This is ridiculous to think Bhutto a charismatic person and a wise leader that having no base. Bhutto was brought by Ayub, he only promoted hatred on basis of ethnicity. After Ayub he was sticking with Yahya Khan, he did not like to accept the right to rule by Mujeeb Awami league as Awami league was representing majority. This was a folly to accept the concept of son of soil while Pakistan was achieved on basis of Islam where there were equal rights to all irrespective of person’s birth place for which it was enough to be a human being, a Muslim. Pakistan was not achieved to save cultures and traditions of each community who remain divided. But to follow Islamic concept, become part of human society with firm believe in God, judgment day, do good and avoid evil.

      The failure of his policy well evident that Bhutto was not able to fulfill his claim of Roti, Kapra and Makan.but created ethnic divide, language issues and culture issues.

    • Our self-conceited intellectuals ignoring the history that religion is not the decisive ingredient in the endemic differences between the two major communities, Hindus and Muslims. ” The demand for a separate State has been misconstrued in various circles as religious intolerance, a return to mediaevalism and so on. But the differences between the Hindus and Muslims in India were not merely a question of religious difference as the phrase is generally understood in the western world. The differences were more pervasive and created maladjustment between the two peoples in almost every station of their daily lives. The two communities had and still have very little in common. Islam and Hinduism are built on two entirely different kinds of societies In their attitudes both are different towards the universal and the particular, Allah as well as man, the Hindus and the Muslims remained at two diametrically opposite schools of thought. These divergences of belief were so fundamental that “ though the Muslims had been living side by side with the Hindus for over a thousand years, their culture and traditions have remained separate. Al-Beruni enumerates this difference : “ All their {Hindus} fanaticism is directed against those who do not belong to them. They call them impure, and forbid having any connection by sitting, eating and drinking with them, because thereby they think they would be polluted”. Moreover Quaid’s first speech in the first constituent assembly, the Quaid demystified the situation and declared Pakistan a progressive, democratic secular sate. However, the Churches of the two communities, Temple and Musjid are squarely responsible for cruelties and barbarities in the both countries. It is also regretful to find both the countries at present have PMs who are in the list of the 10 most corrupt PMs of the world. { Ref} http://WWW.Goggle.com. Nawaz Sharif is at No, 1, and Modi is at No.2 in the list.

  2. There are 25 % Pakhtuns in Pakistan Army and it is not constitute d 90 percent of Punjabis.Read Strphen P.Cohen’s “Pakistan Army”…

  3. The article is informative but having much flaws. Writer did not take notice of division of subcontinent that was accepted by colonial power which also supported by International Community.

    The much responsibility goes to Britain as well as to Congress and other Hindu leaders including Muslim League that did not have farsightedness. Neither Indian Hindu leaders nor Muslim leaders had work on two nation theory and division of subcontinent.

    No Hindu and Muslim leaders had true perception of religion in their minds. Even the leaders did not have knowledge of historical background of sub continent where the vast population reached in subcontinent from Arabian peninsula including Levant region, Europe, Mesopotamia, Azerbaijan and Iran etc. known as Aryans, Hindu Rajahs Ram to whom Hindu call as God, Krishin belong to this race people that living in North and South Western part of Asia as well as in Europe.

    There is much evidence of continuous inflow of people from this region to India since prehistoric period. The people who were reaching subcontinent were adopting the old convenient culture, but after dawn of Islam that having high standard of morality and justice did not absorb in that culture, but they retained their culture and standards. so they are known as Muslim invaders.

    The Muslims in subcontinent were living in India since one thousand fourteen hundred years. Hindus and Muslims living with each other with wall to wall.

    But both groups still do not think what was the need to divide country on basis of two nation theory and what both communities achieved? Were the both community leaders and parties who desired division of subcontinent either were faithful to crown or faithful to their communities? This question never being discussed, but worship to such leadership still continued with thinking them their great leaders.

    For a great nation it is a must to stand on truth and right. Islam do not allow to worship such leaders who do not have standards and honesty. There is much need to asses the losses and asses the achievement by division on basis of two nation theory.

    The other dilemma that it was accepted the right on land on basis of son of soil with overlooking huge migration from the arid zone of subcontinent into the green belts of India that comprising Punjab, Bengal, UP, Bihar and Souther regions of India where there exist huge population, states not able bring change in their living due to huge densely population. while the people of same blood and culture where from they reached in this region.

    This was true Islam to create sense of realization and brotherhood. Need to see how Islam spread in Bengal, Malabar, Sindh etc. which was through brotherly love and affection by considering them as their human brothers and their rights were accepted equally by Muslims.

    But after some time this spirit was forgotten due to a ridiculous sectarian culture and Sufiism.

    There is much need to work for the poverty stricken people in sub continent. But the leadership following foreign dictation, only faithful to foreign powers, who stand with corrupt governments and rulers and fight Freedom fighters and such organizations who do not want foreign intervention.
    .

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