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Home > News > Columnists > Claude Arpi

Busharraf of Pakistan

November 15, 2007

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There is never a dull moment when one follows the soap serial of Pakistan politics. Though always predictable, the main character is full of seemingly new tricks. His antics keep the media busy by providing them their daily prescribed dose of 'breaking news.'


However, the recent development has not been so funny. Mohammad Hanif in his column compared the General to his drunken uncle. True, the aging dictator has recently not shown his past flamboyance. A more serious question however remains: is the fate of the media-savy dictator the sole issue facing Pakistan today or is there a deeper malaise?


After imposing the state of emergency, the General concluded his address to the media with these words 'Forever Pakistan, forever.'


Yes, Pakistan is forever the same! It is indeed a sad fact. Since recently there is however a difference: more and more people and nations acknowledge that the state born from the Partition of India and based on the erroneous Theory of Two-Nations is a total failure.


The well-known philosopher Bernard Henri-L�vy wrote last week in an op-ed in the French daily, Lib�ration: "The world in general and more particularly the United States are discovering what many observers were shouting themselves hoarse since years: if there is a rogue State today amongst the rogue States, if there is a State at the same time despotic, terrorist, eroded by fundamentalist Islam, and marked with the seal of a distressing fragility, it is Pakistan."


L�vy adds that the problem is not in the notorious tribal zones, "[The problem] is Pakistan itself, a terrorist State with a scary instability." Musharraf may continue his gimmicks in front of the cameras for some time but he will eventually finish like Zia-Ul-Haq or Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. However the problem will not be resolved, because the issue is not of a drunken uncle, but a drunken boat being refloated again and again by the West.


This issue is not new. Soon after independence, it became clear that the state could only survive through a normal relationship with India. The first leaders chose confrontation instead. Soon after independence, India could have settled the matter by force, but it did not happen.


This reminds me of a letter of the great sage and nationalist leader, Sri Aurobindo. It came to light only recently. During the first few months of 1950, as thousands of Hindus were massacred in East Pakistan, India seemed to have no alternative but to act in a decisive manner; many in Nehru's Cabinet supported an armed intervention. At that point in time, Liaquat Ali Khan, the then prime minister of Pakistan rushed to Delhi and offered to Nehru to sign a pact with India.


An ashram disciple wrote to Sri Aurobindo that "the Pact was a futile affair not likely to succeed or to make any change in the situation and foredoomed to speedy failure." But Sri Aurobindo saw the situation differently:


"[Earlier] everything was pushed to a point at which war still seemed inevitable. The tension between Pakistan and India had grown more and more intolerable in every aspect, the massacres in East Bengal still seemed to make war inevitable and the Indian Government had just before Nehru's attempt to patch up a compromise made ready to march its army over the East Bengal borders once a few preliminaries had been arranged and war in Kashmir would have inevitably followed. America and Britain would not have been able to support Pakistan and, if our information is correct, had already intimated their inability to prevent the India Government from taking the only possible course open to it in face of the massacre. In the circumstances the end of Pakistan would have been the certain consequence of war. The object we had in view would have been within sight of achievement. Now all this has changed."


On August 15, 1947, the Rishi of Pondicherry had written: "The Partition must go." He saw the Nehru-Liaquat pact as another missed opportunity: "That may mean in certain contingencies the indefinite perpetuation of the existence of Pakistan and the indefinite postponement of the prospect of any unification of India. I regard the fact as an exceedingly clever move of Liaquat Ali to fish his "nation" out of the desperate situation into which it had run itself and to secure its safe survival." The time had not come to undo the Partition.


Indeed, it is not a question of restoration of democracy, of restive tribal zones, of Al Qaeda's [Images] principal base, the real issue is the flawed foundation of the Pakistan state and unless this is accepted by the bosses in Islamabad, one Musharraf will follow another with a few Bhutto or Sharif interludes. Unless the Two Nation theory is shelved for good, the state will remain instable with grave consequences for the region.


Pakistan would have collapsed long ago (and probably been reborn to a new life, anchored in a stronger amity and closeness with India) if the Western powers and particularly the United States had not supported the successive Musharrafs (recently a journalist coined the accurate term for the Pakistani Army Chief, 'Busharraf').


In the fifties, while the Cold War raged, the US had started building up military alliances such as the South East Asia Treaty Organisation (SEATO) and the Central Treaty Organisation (CENTO). While a non-aligned India refused to participate in these groupings, her neighbour was only too willing to become the recipient of generous US donations for military equipment. Because of its strategic location and the then Busharrafs' willingness to be "the last rampart against a Soviet or Chinese invasion", aid in kind (tanks, planes, etc) and cash started pouring onto Karachi (and later on Islamabad).


As early as 1954, Nehru was worried that this aid could be directed against India, but Eisenhower immediately clarified: "I can say that if our aid to any country, including Pakistan, is misused and directed against another in aggression, I will undertake immediately, in accordance with my constitutional authority, appropriate action both within and without the UN."


 These words remained empty promises. A few years later, military dictator Ayub Khan began drifting towards China. To 'contain' him, Washington had to lean further on Pakistan.


Even a supposedly pro-India administration had to support Pakistan's unfriendly activities. The Editor of the Foreign Relations of the United States, the official declassified archives noted in its summary of Kennedy Administration's papers: "India, as the world's most populous democracy and a leading member of the non-aligned nations, occupied an important place in the administration's foreign policy goals and held the personal attention of the President."


To show his closeness to India, Kennedy appointed his personal friend, John Kenneth Galbraith, as ambassador to India. Still the administration was careful not to "alienate Pakistan, a valuable strategic ally (committed to CENTO and SEATO), a leading recipient of American military assistance, and host to important communications facilities."


When an administration was not sympathetic to India (for example during Nixon's administration), Delhi had to go through most unpleasant times. The situation continued to drift over the years.


In Deception, a just-released book on the nuclear proliferation, the authors, two investigative journalists write: "For three decades, successive US Administrations, Republican and Democrat, as well as the governments in Britain and other European countries have allowed Pakistan to acquire highly restricted nuclear technology".


The tale of the Pakistani bomb shows the US double standard: Islamabad did not compromise and got what it wanted, while India has always compromised and gets little. One can regret that Indian politicians are affected by Alzheimer's disease and are today ready to make any compromise (the Hyde Act for example) to please the US.


If Pakistan is today on the brink, the blame should be squarely put on the US and the other Western nations which have accepted the nonsense that Pakistan is.


Another strange common view in the West is that Benazir Bhutto [Images] will be the saviour of Pakistan. Washington tried hard to broker a deal between the General and the aging jeune premi�re in the unfolding Pakistani serial. Thankfully, it did not work.


It is not only the US Department of State, but I have seen several French 'experts', including L�vy, pleading for the lady. It is again a case of Alzheimer's forgetting her past (as well as that of her husband, known as Mr 10%). She had to unceremoniously be thrown out power twice because she looted the state.


The only genius of Musharraf, a modern Houndini of Pakistani politics is to have managed to delude his masters abroad for so long that he was the only guarantor to the safety of the 'bomb'. "Apr�s moi la deluge" (after me, the deluge) used to say General de Gaulle. In Musharraf's case, he has made everybody believe that "after me, the nuclear deluge". But it is wrong.


A stable and genuinely democratic set-up would certainly be a better guarantee for the so-called concerned Western powers. Whether there are really interested, is another matter. In any case, as long as the foundations of the Pakistani state remain the same, it will not succeed.

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