By Yasser Latif Hamdani
It is not uncommon for those afflicted with the “India shining” ailment to speculate from time to time on the demise of Pakistan. Sadly this has been going on for more than 60 years and we in Pakistan are now used to it. Kapil Komireddi’s article “Pakistan’s Demise is Inevitable” therefore is at best an amusing read and more seriously an insight into an Indian mind obsessed with Pakistan to the point of wishful thinking.
Was it really divisive logic that created Pakistan? Revisionist scholarship in the west now holds otherwise. Pakistan’s founding father, Jinnah , in any event was a man who had dedicated his entire life to keeping India united (He was the only Indian leader to be called “The Best Ambassador of Hindu Muslim Unity”). So what led to the creation of Pakistan? While almost completely and homogenous white and protestant America in 1789 chose to vest residuary powers in the states, Indian National Congress which claimed to represent the multinational, multiethnic and mutli-religious peoples of India refused to consider this in India. Had Congress in 1931 agreed to the proposal that residuary powers be vested in provinces, like in the United States of America, there would have been no partition of India. There might still have no partition of India, had Congress accepted League’s demand for a confederation or a British cabinet proposal for a watered down three tiered federation in 1946. So the creation of Pakistan was not based on divisive logic but in the time-tested principle of unity in diversity and Congress’ failure to appreciate it.
Whether one agrees with the assertion that Bangladesh in 1971 constituted the largest genocide of Muslims ( Sharmila Bose of Harvard University certainly has given everyone enough reason to question this as a statistical exaggeration) but no one can deny that West Pakistan was unfair to East Pakistan. Yet Pakistan could have been kept united by constitution. In 1965, the Bengalis, including Shaikh Mujeebur Rahman’s party, still voted enmasse for Fatima Jinnah – Jinnah’s sister- in presidential election and had she been allowed to win, Pakistan might well have stayed united. The separation of East Pakistan was not a failure of the Pakistan idea. It was the failure of Pakistan’s military establishment to fully appreciate the genesis of Pakistan. Bengalis did not separate because they did not believe in Pakistan but because they saw in the military establishment’s behavior a betrayal of the idealism that created Pakistan.
Finally, India’s religious diversity does not affect Pakistan- which is itself a religious, ethnically and linguistically a very diverse country. The benefits India itself has derived from partition are well known to all, including Nehru who admitted it, whereby a Hindu majority informs India’s political and social life- without an overriding cultural majority keeping India united would have been impossible. But I am not sure if Kapil Komireddi was trying to make a case for Pakistan’s demise or inform the world of his country’s diversity. Pakistan will not die and will not whittle away as Mr. Komireddi wishes so badly.
This is not to say that we don’t have problems, but foremost is that we have abandoned Mr. Jinnah’s vision of inclusive, secular and pluralistic state in Pakistan. However recent victories of the Pakistan Army against the Taliban will no doubt sour the glee that some of our neighbors across the border have been expressing at the wet dreams of the demise of Pakistan. My response thus is: keep wishing but Pakistan is here to stay.