Print Edition - 2013-11-24  |  Free the Words

Peace beyond Kashmir

- Zulfiqar Shah
Peace beyond Kashmir

Nov 23, 2013-

Politics in Pakistan has some basic state-ideological, political morality and country-hood fault lines that, in terms of statecraft, are at the helm of almost all internal political catastrophes as well as regional instabilities.

The basic laws of motion in the dynamics of possible change in Pakistan through the futurological view ultimately depend on the country’s external engagements, and vice-versa. Peace and the people’s security as well as sovereignty within the fragile Pakistani statehood and in South Asia is the greatest concern of our times, especially when this most volatile geo-strategic region houses the nuclear capable Islamic republic, which is sitting on a time bomb of extremism. Pakistan needs to appropriately think, assess and adopt unavoidable political as well as statecraft actions and reforms if it seriously wants to avoid state-failure. The same also applies to its neighborhood, as allies vis-à-vis their engagement and interests with Pakistan.     

Fault lines of political systems

India and Pakistan carried forward colonial political systems after the partition of India in 1947 by continuing with the centralised institution of the Governor General as head of state. However, it was later replaced with the institution of the Presidency. In the context of the political system, the existence of Presidents and Prime Ministers is obvious in countries where the state-society gap—and to a certain extent, antagonism—is highly visible. Nevertheless, positive alterations have also been made; for example in India, by confining Presidencies to ceremonial state leadership. Establishments in previous Asian colonies mostly have the internal security environment of state-society antagonism. It is at this point that the people’s security is compromised by non-participatory establishments in the name of the nation-state security paradigm, which prioritises geography over people.

It is only with the presidential form of the governance that state and society attempt to create a point of merger. The continuation of the Governor General’s institution in India and Pakistan were evolutionary take offs from the colonial form of statehood, statecraft and polity, even after the departure of British. This is ultimately identical to the separation of state from society, translating itself into the separation between the representatives of the state and that of the people’s governance. The institutions of Governor Generals, Presidents and Prime Ministers have bifurcated states and societies into polar opposites. Thus, the establishments of South Asian countries have always kept themselves at bay from their own people and societies. This is the major reason, in terms of political philosophy as well as systems, why societies have expressed their symbolic withdrawal from the state through various social movements.  

Invasion of Kashmir, 1948        

Kashmir has remained a major cause of disagreement in India-Pakistan relations, which has ultimately had adverse effects on peace and human security in all of South Asia.

Kashmir became a bone of contention when the Pakistan Army, newly craved out of the Royal Indian Army, attacked Kashmir, which according to the settlement of the Indian Partition was a state of India. There are many existing narratives on that particular war of 1948, which have become a centre of debate for historians. However, no historical narratives of the war mention who ordered and authorised the offensive to invade Kashmir. Jinnah, the Governor General and founder of Pakistan, never gave any such orders to the Pakistan Army. It was the then Chief of Army Staff who in fact started the offensive. This breach of political morality and the fundamental norm of the statecraft had long lasting impacts on the politics of Pakistan as well as peace and security in South Asia.

The 1948 Pakistan-India war primarily decided the political future of Pakistan in which the military became the driving force of almost all affairs within and outside the country. Besides, this unauthorised and illegitimate invasion of Kashmir was the core reason behind the six decade-long cold and hot wars between India and Pakistan.  

Constitutional illegitimacy

Pakistan was an unexpected and unplanned outcome of the British withdrawal from the subcontinent in 1947. Pakistan had never existed in human history. It was created out of two historically sovereign countries of Sindh and Balochistan and the partition of the Punjab and Pashtun areas from Afghanistan. The country has no politically legitimate constitution since 1947. A couple of constitutions were imposed on the newborn country between 1950 to 1970 by military regimes. Moreover, no Constituent Assembly was elected in 1973 to form the constitution.

The break-up of Pakistan in 1971, in which Bangladesh dislodged the so-called two-nation theory of Hindu and Muslim nations and claimed nation-statehood along ethno-linguistic lines, invalidated the foundations on which Pakistan was created. It was therefore imperative, according to international norms and political morality, that the state of Pakistan would have convened a Constituent Assembly through which the four federating states would have reached a new social contract of living within Pakistan. Unfortunately, the military dominated Pakistan and its ethnic Punjabi supremacy did not consider this option. It is therefore that Pakistan today is facing highly popular and massive freedom movements in Sindh and Balochistan.

Unfolding knots

Pakistan is undergoing greater waves of chaos and anarchy due to unreasonable policies, actions and intentions of the security establishment. The dominance of the military in every sphere of the country; the virtual colonisation of Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa by the Punjabi elite; the unwillingness for a new social contract between the federated provinces after the country’s break-up in 1971; and the attachment of the state-ego with Kashmir after an unjustified and unauthorised 1948 Kashmir war are core foundations of Pakistan’s rouge state behavior.  

Pakistan has to dislodge the many unnecessary strings it has attached through its history. Besides, it has to correct internal political legalities and legitimacies, especially in the context of province-province as well as provinces-federation relations. This essentially requires the separation of religion from the state as well as restricting the role of the military to defense, as devised by the political leadership of the country. These internal and external changes are prerequisites for peace and prosperity within Pakistan and consequently, in the South Asia. Pakistan has to choose one option out of ‘decay or destruction.’ The time for the third-way is now over.         

Shah is an analyst, researcher, activist and author of ‘Beyond Federalism’                   


Published: 24-11-2013 08:31

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