Striving for autonomy

Pakistan is a friend, not a slave

Pakistan, a state that was never envisioned to exist, let alone flourish and grow, now stands in the twenty-first century with nuclear capabilities in spite of conspiracies of West and its allies. History bears witness that despite great odds, Pakistan has managed to equip itself against all the territorial and economic problems and threats. Since the great game of 19th century in the region, till Pakistan became a state, the western states, particularly Britain exploited the resources and people of the region in their best interests. Before the British monarchial colonization and the exploitation of resources in Hindustan by the East India Company, the total GDP it had been contributing to the world was 27%. Whereas when the British left the region, it stood at 3%.

After the independence and British withdrawal in 1947, Pakistan had to join either the western bloc (USA) or the eastern bloc (USSR). It was compelled to make such a decision in order to preserve its territorial integrity and survival, and counter security threats from its immediate neighbour, caused by the unjust division of the subcontinent’s resources. However, the roots of hatred between the two newly born states, and the general masses were long rooted by the Britishers, who adopted the policy of divide and rule among them. Therefore, this article aims to focus on how the unjust division is the reason for the current situation in Pakistan and what could be done to tackle the economic crisis in the state.

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Britain knew who could be a beneficial future ally to them between India and Pakistan while deciding the future of the region. This antagonistic thinking led to the unjust division of British India. When Pakistan became a separate country, it lacked a proper governmental system especially finance, a well-equipped professional army and a bureaucratic system. Even the political leadership of the country remained below average with rare exceptions. As, Dr. Hamida Khuhro claims in her book, “Mohammed Ayub Khuhro: A Life of Courage in Politics”, that even Quaid e Azam himself confessed to her father Ayub Khuhro, that “The prime minister (Liaquat) is average while the remaining cabinet is below average” which declared the additional issue of political vacuum, the new state faced.

Moreover, the unfair division of Indian subcontinent was not an accident but rather a pre-planned malice to destabilize Pakistan. As, Mountbatten using an unequivocal blunt manner said, “Administratively it was the difference between putting up a permanent building, a Nissen hut or a tent. As far as Pakistan is concerned, we are putting a tent. We can do no more.” Empirically, this justifies their priority resulting in the unjust division of the east and the west of Pakistan. As a result of unfair division and India`s led insurgencies in east Pakistan, consequently resulting in tensions between the West and East of Pakistan exacerbated leading to losing the eastern territory. Whereas, it could have been prevented by declaring Bengal a separate state from the beginning of the partition. Resultantly, this elaborates on how the colonial masters exploited and disregarded the making of Pakistan, its resources, and human capital, viewing it merely as a tent that depicts its non-permanent status.

To sum up, Pakistan is and will remain important for the west, geostrategically against the emerging power, China. Similarly, Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities are one of the reasons the West cannot entirely abandon Pakistan as it did with other Muslim states such as Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan.

Since 1947, the malicious division of Muslim-majority states, particularly Bengal remained a major concern among the leaders of the newly established state of Pakistan. Therefore, it later on became the ground of conflict between West and East Pakistan. Similarly, even though Muslims of the subcontinent who asked for an independent separate land achieved their goal, but the seeds of divide and rule among them were deeply rooted. Resultantly, triggering provincial jealousies, particularly in the smaller provinces of Sindh, Balochistan, and the former North-West Frontier (today Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) led to socio-ethnic challenges preventing the state from becoming a nation.

Additionally, the challenge of countering ethnic groups’ fight over their territory and the undecided border between Afghanistan and Pakistan created chaos between the neighbours. Resultantly, blocking economic opportunities and creating security concerns for Pakistan. Likewise, the sister state India remained a constant threat as it was granted the best of resources, industries and economic structure. Whereas Pakistan was not an industrial zone, as an underdeveloped region was handed over to the Muslims of the subcontinent. Even the banking system, money, and currency were with India, limiting Pakistan’s commercial options.

Likewise, these grounds provided the west to play their game of interest in the region by exploiting Pakistan. As a result, the western military and financial support that should be a compensation for colonialism and exploitation became a favour to Pakistan. In exchange for those advantages, the West utilized Pakistan and compelled it to change its policy toward its neighbours. For instance, the incident of 9/11 and the US forcing it to do more, ordering a sovereign, yet financially dependent state to be on the US`s block and threatening of bombing  Pakistan to the stone age  can be counted as examples of Western hegemonic designs. The impactful period of the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s cannot be ignored either, when the US abandoned Pakistan, putting it under sanctions with trained mujahidin and heavy armaments in its neighbour, Afghanistan.

A similar statement, by Hillary Clinton, the former US Secretary of State, confessing about the funding of the Taliban during the cold war and compelling Pakistan to join their war further verifies their approach towards Pakistan. She acknowledged that “We also have a history of kind of moving in and out of Pakistan. I mean let`s remember here the people [Taliban] we are fighting today we funded twenty years ago… What we sow we will harvest. We then left Pakistan [after the disintegration of the Soviet Union]. We said, okay fine, you deal with the stingers that we have left all over your country, you deal with the minds that are along the border. And by the way, we do not want to have anything to do with you, in fact, we are sanctioning you”. Surprisingly, even after much effort of the west to play with its broken toy, Pakistan managed to become a nuclear state, it has a reliable ally, China, in its neighbourhood with whom it has both military and civil relationships and a large army which is capable, credible and communicative.

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To sum up, Pakistan is and will remain important for the west, geostrategically against the emerging power, China. Similarly, Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities are one of the reasons the West cannot entirely abandon Pakistan as it did with other Muslim states such as Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan. Only if Pakistan did not have nuclear weapons, it would have suffered the same fate as the rest of the Muslim world.

Pakistan must become self-sufficient and autonomous in its economy and politics to eliminate its dependency on the West. To do so, Pakistan’s political elite should work together to develop long-term economic plans/economic models that are certain to remain unchanged for the next ten to fifteen years. Furthermore, the collaboration among the political parties will also help in focusing on the prioritization of national agendas. Similarly, by doing so, Pakistan would be able to make autonomous decisions that will not only benefit the state’s interests but also its economic growth. Furthermore, as Pakistan cannot change its neighbours, fostering relations based on trade and commerce with them would be advantageous and productive. Lastly, establishing law and order would help minimize corruption, thus bringing forth more suitable leadership for Pakistan ultimately, taking Pakistan on road to socioeconomic and political prosperity.

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Samra Hamid
Samra Hamid
The writer is a Research Assistant Fellow at the Balochistan Think Tank Network (BTTN), Quetta


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