A Dream Turned Nightmare

By Samson Simon Sharaf

When Zulfikar Ali Bhutto entrusted Major General Naseerullah Babar to create a student dominated resistance in Afghanistan, he ignored a very important lesson of power politics. Hans Joachim Morgenthau in his book, Politics Amongst Nations, had observed: “The statesman must think in terms of the national interest, conceived as power among other powers.” Was this ignorance or deliberate? Determined to create a new Pakistan, Bhutto was riding a wave of diplomatic successes. It seems he decided to taste the forbidden fruit.

Negotiations with India had been successful. The OIC Summit at Lahore ended Pakistan’s international isolation. The Arab oil embargo upset the Western cash flows. Foundations of the nuclear programme were laid and Pakistan was ready to pay any price (also eat grass) for its independence and development. Next, in his calculus of an overbearing India, it was important to eliminate the spectre of a two-front war by resolving the Durand issue. He decided to exploit the fault lines of Parcham and Khalq and force Sardar Daud to a negotiated settlement. The narrative though India specific, insipidly looked beyond; to a Muslim power bloc. It challenged the bipolar international equilibrium.
Afghan youngsters like Ahmad Shah Masood, Hekmatyar, Khalis and Rabbani played their role and Daud did come to the negotiating table. He even initialled the Pakistan-Afghan Joint communiqué for formalisation of Durand Line. Both Bhutto and Daud were waiting for an opportune moment; but then the gods, unhappy with Pakistan’s strategic forays, struck.

Bhutto paid dearly for challenging the dictum of Morgenthau in more than one way. He was removed in a military coup led by his handpicked and most humble general. In subsequent years, Zia despite overtures by Daud, showed no inclination to settle the boundary issue. Daud was killed in a coup

Rest Here

16 Comments

Filed under Pakistan

16 responses to “A Dream Turned Nightmare

  1. yasserlatifhamdani

    General Zia ul Haq is rightly blamed for giving all the ill-advised expansionist push of the Pakistani military the teeth … but one must not forget that the idea that Pakistan existed not just as a nation state for its people but a powerful core state for global geo-political drama… was probably invented by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto himself.

    Pakistan had always been an important cold war ally of the US… but under Bhutto, Pakistan began to act like an 18th century European power trying to create a sphere of influence …and get client states of its own. Had we instead concentrated on becoming a democratic and progressive state committed to people’s welfare … instead of looking elsewhere for inspiration … under Ayub, Bhutto and Zia…. Pakistan would have possibly avoided the humiliation and sadness it has had to face most of its existence.

    The solution lies in the policy of peace within and peace without… in economic cooperation and economic sphere of influence through trade and through advancement. We must leave behind the seduction of ge0-strategy and planning great games…and concentrate wholly and solely on the welfare of Pakistani masses.

  2. Majumdar

    It was just plain bad luck. Had some nutcases not flown planes into WTC, Pakistan may have had Afghanistan and possibly Kashmir by now. And after A’stan who knows-maybe all the stans that Zia allegedly ran his hands over on a map.

    Regards

  3. Hayyer

    Is the Brigadier merely conjecturing or is he grounded in fact? References are required if he wants the thesis given serious consideration.

  4. D_a_n

    @majumdar…

    this is no way meant to comment on the right and/or wrong of the entire enterprise but your simple observation is apt:

    ‘It was just plain bad luck.’

    although I dont see Kashmir going the way you mentioned.

  5. Majumdar

    Dan,

    That is why “possibly”

    Regards

  6. Gorki

    “And after A’stan who knows-maybe all the stans that Zia allegedly ran his hands over on a map.”

    Maybe and maybe not.

    This game of ‘RISK’ played real time with real players is not without risks and the outcome of such moves depend a lot upon how distracted the really big boys are at any given moment.

    For example there used to be another player in the land of two rivers, a modern day Nebuchadnezzar wanna be in those days, for whom the game ended up rather badly and not as anticipated.

    Jokes apart; in the modern day when more people and territory means little more than more mouths to feed and people to keep satisfied, this whole concept of dominating another nation needs to be seriously revised. ask Obama.

    YLH’s suggestions alone make any real sense.

    Regards.

  7. Bloody Civilian

    and concentrate wholly and solely on the welfare of Pakistani masses

    for that to happen, we need a leadership whose power, legitimacy and (state) finances come largely from within the Pakistani citizenry and masses. otherwise, it is unrealistic for a leader to act against the very power that sustains him, or against his financial sponsors or legitimisers.

    much of the pretence of great games is typically to part fool and part project the dominant/sole, domestic centre of power behind the leaders. another part is to lure in the int’l legitimacy and sponsorship. the aimed at goals are part of the pretence and not the real goal.

    the normal state-citizen contract does not exist. the masses have been irrelevant. the ‘external policy is a projection of internal policy’ factor has been there in the narrow and limited sense above.

  8. PMA

    “in the modern day when more people and territory means little more than more mouths to feed and people to keep satisfied, this whole concept of dominating another nation needs to be seriously revised. ask Obama.”

    …..better yet, ask Indians. Heard Indians are willing to give Kashmir to Pakistan if Pakistan is willing to take back Bangladesh as well!

  9. PMA

    Bloody Civilian (November 6, 2009 at 1:04 am):

    “……a leadership whose power, legitimacy and (state) finances come largely from within the Pakistani citizenry and masses……otherwise, it is unrealistic for a leader to act against the very power that sustains him…..or against his financial sponsors or legitimisers…..[it] is to lure in the int’l legitimacy and sponsorship……the normal state-citizen contract does not exist…….the masses have been irrelevant…..”

    Ah, so we are back to Kerry Saab and Lugar Saab.

  10. Gorki

    “…..better yet, ask Indians. Heard Indians are willing to give Kashmir to Pakistan if Pakistan is willing to take back Bangladesh as well!”

    PMA Sahib:
    Witty rejoinders aside, you know as well as I do that Kashmir belongs to the Kashmiris and Bangladesh to the Bangladeshis.
    These are no more properties of India or Pakistan to ‘give’ or to ‘take’ than are say Illinois and California the ‘properties’ of the United States government.

    BC said it much more elegantly than I though in that the major problem in South Asia is because the normal state-citizen contract practically does not exist because it is either not recognised by most or is not honored by those in power.

    Once our people understand this basic concept, a lot of our problems, will sort themselves out.

    Regards.

  11. Samson Simon Sharaf

    @Hayyer,
    All facts are checked and counter checked. Truth and facts only.

  12. Vajra

    @Gorki

    What you and Bloody Civilian have stated is the core of the problem. In more citizen-friendly states, it is years of democratic rule, and a resolution of civic differences in peaceful, law-abiding ways, under a democratic rule, that has brought about a cementing of the citizen-state contract.

    We need the same thing in South Asia. Repeated elections to weed out, slowly, ever so slowly, the undemocratic elements; the support and enforcement of the rule of law by the remaining democratic elements in authority, either by exercising existing powers or by legislating additional powers, or by strengthening social processes that favour peacefulo resolution over violent ones; an obvious benefit, clearly delivered and prompt advantages to citizens to live under such conditions, and not to seek alternatives.

    It is when these conditions DO NOT EXIST that we have a breakdown of the contract. It is then that people seek –

    * justice from extra-judicial entities, because the courts are crowded, and justice is delayed; justice is perverted by the influence of some; justice is given in unequal measure, and some are punished more harshly than others by reason of caste, creed or religion;

    * access to earnings from extra-state entities, from mafia dons, bootleggers and smugglers, or from the paymasters of private armies, because channels of employment are blocked; because employment is restricted on the grounds of caste, creed or religion;

    * food, clothing and shelter from entities which possess greater force and armed strength, initially in times of physical distress, later even in normal times, because the state fails to create conditions where a citizen has access to these fairly and equally;

    * the right to remain alive under the conditions mentioned earlier.

    When we see that these are not available with the state, or are not made available by the state, we start looking outside, and that is the beginning of the decay of the state.

    It will take decades of hard work to re-establish the power of the state in interior Bihar, in Jharkhand, in many patches of the North-East. That hard work is hard and it will take years, decades to achieve, because it consists of restoring the rule of law, and the rule of the people. Adventurous politicians aping Metternich due to a faulty reading of history retard the progress of the state significantly, and sometimes bring it to the point of serious danger before their ideas and concepts are challenged in the eyes of the people, the only ones who matter in the final analysis.

    This is a sober truth that adventurists, whether of civil or military background, will never understand.

  13. Bloody Civilian

    PMA sb

    Ah, so we are back to Kerry Saab and Lugar Saab

    yes. one of the symptoms. not the disease. nothing we say or try to do about the symptom would rid us of it, unless we address the disease.

    a foreign govt or legislature can put in conditions 10x worse, or no condtions at all, it makes no difference. it never did. it’s the mindset of our own leadership that informs their decisions. their own priorities. the way we have chosen to or ended up setting up our state is what determines what these priorities and mindset is.

    democracy is just a least bad way of arranging very human incentives and disincentives. dictatorship is another way of arranging the same, but giving the barrel of the gun a more prominent and clearly partisan place. and then there is a choice (evolutionary stages) of arrangements in between.

    the democratic arrangement needs time to evolve into some kind of equilibrium and stability since it endeavours to rely on nothing more than an equitable and free competion of entirely human incentives and disincentives to somehow end up balancing each other. without resorting to the use or threat of force. it’s a bit like the community planting and looking after a sapling. with fingers firmly crossed. but it’s always about normal, flawed humans. no saints. and, hopefully, no demons.

  14. Puzzled

    Discussions of “could have been’s” and “would have been’s” are almost always fruitless exercise. Too many variables in too many theories inevitably lead to too many creeds. The discussion itself is not too bad for a little intellectual jogging though!

    In my previous contributions to PTH, I have asked for some help from the veterans of this forum, in establishing some near-truth level of corruption in both past civilian and dictatorial regimes of Pakistan.

    Could someone kindly shed some light on it, please……………? I simply want to know, which form of government has stolen more from Pakistan?

    In reply to one of my pieces, someone’s comment that Pakistan has fought 3 wars and lost East Pakistan during military regimes sounded too naïve to warrant a response.

    Someone please help me understand, why can Pakistan not bear a military dictator such as Mahatir of Malaysia who despite his shortcomings put the country on development track?

  15. Junaid

    the idea that Pakistan existed not just as a nation state for its people but a powerful core state for global geo-political drama… was probably invented by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto himself.

    Yep. He is the guy who sowed the seeds of modern day Pan Islamism by hosting the OIC in Lahore.

    He was the guy who initiated the idea of Pakistan fingering every other country where possible to stir up troubles using Islamism and Islamic militancy.

    A failed example of one such experiment was none other then the Kashmir War in 1965 which failed miserably for Pakistan.

    Bhutto should have learned the lesson right there. But aaah…..

  16. Vajra

    @Puzzled

    Please – are you serious? I’m not a Pakistani, not familiar with the little details, but am pretty sure that it will take a full-scale commission of enquiry, armed with wide-ranging judicial powers, and several years of time to come to any accurate conclusions.

    Will it give you any worthwhile results?

    Is it not better just to pass a disabling law, and forbid the corrupt, who have at least one case proved against them, from contesting for public office?