The 1935 Mindset

By Brigadier Samson Simon Sharaf

Political stability has evaded Pakistan since 1947. Bureaucratic intrigues, repeated military interventions and exclusion of popular governments have fortified the role of elites. They have directly and indirectly toppled governments to ensure that Pakistan’s political clock clocks what they want. These elites have exploited the many gaps in political structure of Pakistan for entrenchment, wherein even apparently popular governments once in opposition adopted a similar approach. According to Rafay Alam: “There has been no revolutionary exertion of rights in this part of the world; it is not difficult to conclude that the Pakistani state did not acquire a fresh personality at its birth and that instead, it inherited the worst possible mindset for running a country.” Similarly, Dr Mubashir Hassan has often made slanted references to this invisible force capable of paralysing political governments.

If there was one phrase to describe it, I would say: “The mindset of 1935 haunts Pakistan like a ghost with many lives.” This mindset is singularly responsible for Pakistan’s political, geographical, and constitutional crises. Many a times, the politic body has been placed on a dissecting table for surgical procedures by butchers. It is perhaps the only notion in Pakistan’s political history to have acquired permanence.
In the 1930s Great Britain opted to gradually develop self-governing institutions in India, with the aim to progressively evolving responsible self-governance as an integral part of the British Empire. A significant group in British polity was convinced that sufficient imperial safeguards were needed to control and guide the institutional evolution of the dominion of United India. They believed that the native were just not up to it.

The Legislative Act of 1935 enacted by a country with an unwritten constitution was extremely detailed with punctuated ‘safeguards’ designed to allow the colonial mindset to intervene whenever it deemed fit in its own interests.

Both India and Pakistan adopted the 1935 Act as a provisional constitution. It would make an interesting case study why India and Pakistan arising out of the same colonialism followed different routes to political and constitutional development and why one defied imperial logic whilst the other complied.

India managed to break away from this colonial legacy, produced an enduring constitution and put policy above all state institutions.
Pakistan repeatedly failed its constitutional tests to vindicate the thesis of native inefficiency. There never was any supreme policy whilst interventions, coups and constitutional crises continued; legitimised by the generic term of national interests ironically akin to imperial interests of 1935. At every step, constitutionalism became a convenient casualty to the notion of necessity. Consequently, personal and institutional auras eclipsed the rule of law. Rather than public humility and service, authority and prestige became the currencies of power. The vision of Quaid-i-Azam was forsaken.

As military diplomacy between Pakistan and USA grew, so did the disdain of national institutions in the minds of ruling military elites. A linkage by no coincidence, the notion has often legitimised itself on behalf of the interests of USA and yet dared to pursue policies to the contrary.
In post 1947 era, amid the tattered and non-existent system where much had to be evolved from the scratch, the military emerged as the most organised institution. Kashmir war of 1948 brought the military to the centre stage of defence and foreign policy. Original authors of the Kashmir Liberation became traitors. Heavy reliance on the army for projects of national development led to further intrusions. The constitutional crises of the 50s strengthened bureaucracy and its power to bend fragile political leadership. It also evolved a culture of intrigue. Mirza’s elevation to the president and that of General Ayub to the minister of defence completed the triad that continues to patrol Pakistan’s political institutions and acts as a check and safeguard on national interests. Ever since, this group of opportunists, corporate interests, military men and religious zealots have teamed to overawe elected regimes in the name of national interests. Politicians have been convenient fodder.
This thinking has also affected the political parties of Pakistan. If 1973 has to be taken as a constitutional landmark, then the rigging of the 1977 elections by Bhutto was the worst self-defeating exercise. In utter contempt to the aspirations of the people, Bhutto felt he needed more time for his policies and therefore, win he must. Much before these elections, he had dismissed legitimate governments in the provinces, harassed opponents and ordered punitive measures. Though there are many other reasons for his removal, one glaring reason was his sense of indispensability and political ambition to over regulate. By the time, he was eliminated; most of his stalwarts and revolutionaries had abandoned him.

Nawaz Sharif, himself a creation of this notion, ended in exile for pursuing policies contrary to what he had been groomed for. Yet twice in the past, he had as opposition leader, helped the same forces destabilise the government of Benazir Bhutto. Right now though the temptation is great, he is caught between his attributes of confrontation and innate sense of political survival.

This destabilising dynamic has also consumed dictators. Bhutto used the anti-India bogey to telling effect to remove Ayub Khan in 1969. Again in 1971, his famous words, “Pakistan has been saved” were meant to isolate Mujibur Rehman, but ended up in breaking Pakistan. Perhaps Musharraf’s out of box solutions for Kashmir marked by back channel diplomacy never augured well. He was gradually pushed into an incalculable matrix of indispensability versus vulnerability, forcing him into a spate of blunders that cost him his uniform and presidency.
The notion has also spread squeamously into the constitution in the form of checks and balances between the president and the prime minister. Effectively, it is the president who keeps all the checks. It is believed that Musharraf had sought assurances that Asif Ali Zardari would not become the president. He was made to believe that he would not and yet he did. Thus his parting words: Pakistan Ka Khuda Hi Hafiz.
Could this be the mindset that President Zardari keeps referring to? He would know better being an accidental product of political gratification and NRO.

The writer is a retired officer of the Pakistan Army and a political economist.

18 Comments

Filed under Army, Citizens, civil service, Colonialism, Democracy, History, Pakistan

18 responses to “The 1935 Mindset

  1. PMA

    So Brigadier Sahab what is new that you are telling us? Being an ex-serviceman are you not part of the system responsible for the rot we are in? Pray do tell us.

  2. AZW

    It would make an interesting case study why India and Pakistan arising out of the same colonialism followed different routes to political and constitutional development and why one defied imperial logic whilst the other complied

    Good question Mr. Saraf. But you did not follow up on the question in your article. You just went ahead and reread the chaotic Pakistani history.

    But this question is still quite important to discuss. Pakistan was just a part of the partitioned India. How did Pakistan manage to garner so much instability so much consistently throughout its history, yet India quickly coalesced around a cohesive, yet occasionally shaky, Indian identity.

    Is it religion, is it our failure to know what we stand for, or that founding leaders did not have a single soul after Jinnah who would think above the divisive feudal-religious based governance and look for Pakistan to be a country governed by fair laws, above political considerations, in line with what the founding father spoke on August 11, 1947.

    The vision of Quaid-i-Azam was forsaken

    There were no Muslim members, except one, in the first constituent assembly who would even meekly protest the Objectives Resolution. The resolution singlehandedly buried the idea of an inclusive Pakistan envisaged by Quaid. For none of the Jinnah’s colleagues to even utter a single word is almost incomprehensible; yet it speaks volume of the identity crisis that Pakistan has faced right since its inception.

  3. Majumdar

    Adnan,

    Pakistan’s failure to become even a limited democracy like India had a lot to do with its unusual geography and demography, Kashmir dispute and legacy of enmity with India which enabled a small group of manipulators to use Pak’s insecurity to create a dictatorship. Had Pakistan been created as two nations and Kashmir been honourably disposed off, there was no reason why the two Pakistans wudnt have had at least India type democracy (if not better).

    Regards

  4. B. Civilian

    …. and that delhi was an established centre of govt; karachi was not. delhi had the bureaucracy, pak got a share of bureaucrats. there was a military willing to play power politics as the feared power vacuum started to become a reality… after LAK’s assassination.

    (luckily) there is no nicely packaged ‘identity’ or, (worse) ideology, that could be ‘bought off the shelf’, as it were. it’s only about democracy and rule of law, both together improving levels of justice in society where it begins to engender/justify loyalty (as an aspect of ownership), and therefore, a kind of unity (i.e. a sense of shared ownership).

  5. Hayyer

    Is Kashmir a subliminal excuse not to move on; or at the very least an excuse for the Army to hang on?
    Which is why some keep insisting it is the ‘shahrug’? Suppose Kashmir had gone to Pakistan without mishap at the start would the present state of the country of the country been any different?
    If it is only an excuse nothing would have helped Pakistan. Other excuses could have been found.
    Perhaps Punjabi and Pathan machismo is responsible. Fortunately for India there were no Pathans and few Punjabis of any significance at the helm.
    BC’s comment is appropriate: ‘(luckily) there is no nicely packaged ‘identity’ or, (worse) ideology, that could be ‘bought off the shelf’, as it were. it’s only about democracy and rule of law, both together improving levels of justice in society where it begins to engender/justify loyalty (as an aspect of ownership), and therefore, a kind of unity (i.e. a sense of shared ownership).’
    The only reason for Pakistan’s plight that I can guess is a shortage in the early years of constitutional minded lawyers doubling as political leaders. In India the political class was committed to creating a seemingly just system. In Pakistan the creation process had to contend with feudal interests. In the fifties Indian commentators were amused that the the whereas land reforms in Indian Punjab allowed a landowner no more than 50 standard acres the ceiling was 500 acres Pakistan.
    Nehru was able to prevail over the religious right in India with the help of a strong left. In Pakistan it was feudal interests that prevailed allied, at times with the religious right, at others with the Army.

    The author says”As military diplomacy between Pakistan and USA grew, so did the disdain of national institutions in the minds of ruling military elites.” This is not the fault of the 1935 act.
    Further I haven’t found any evidence for the view that ‘If there was one phrase to describe it, I would say: “The mindset of 1935 haunts Pakistan like a ghost with many lives.” This mindset is singularly responsible for Pakistan’s political, geographical, and constitutional crises. Many a times, the politic body has been placed on a dissecting table for surgical procedures by butchers. It is perhaps the only notion in Pakistan’s political history to have acquired permanence.’
    Blame for the failure to evolve a workable Constitution cannot be laid at the door of the 1935 act.
    Again, I have difficulty with the view that ‘Pakistan repeatedly failed its constitutional tests to vindicate the thesis of native inefficiency. There never was any supreme policy whilst interventions, coups and constitutional crises continued; legitimised by the generic term of national interests ironically akin to imperial interests of 1935. At every step, constitutionalism became a convenient casualty to the notion of necessity. Consequently, personal and institutional auras eclipsed the rule of law.’

    The necessities of the 1935 act were those of running an empire. They found their way into the Indian constitution too. But the so called national interest even in India is far too often an imperial viewpoint. Here too the blame is to be laid at the door of those who would run Pakistan as one unit, ignoring regional identities-It has little to do with constitution making.
    Pakistan’s problem, if I may be allowed to hazard a guess, is that in the Punjab it has one overly dominant state, which, in alliance with the Frontier can, and does ride roughshod over the other states.

  6. AZW

    I refuse to cast blame on geography, demography, or Kashmir legacy. Yes, Pakistan lives in a volatile part of the world; greater volatility comes from Pakistan itself indeed. Yet, there has been a woeful lack of direction that Pakistan has shown itself to realize, since its inception. Kashmir issue was bungled both by India as well as Pakistan; indeed Pakistan’s stance on the crisis had a lot of merit. Yet never have we seen a single Pakistani leader in at least its first fifty years of existence who had the maturity and the vision to treat the issue with patience and diplomacy appropriate for dealing with a bigger neighbour.

    I believe Hayyer got it completely right in his scathing comments; that the problem is not the 1935 mindset. This is just an empty phrase that laments more and suggests little. The problem is more akin to being stuck in the 1935 mindset. The problem is the status quo, where nations are afraid to take charge of their own destinies. When nations lean on to manufactured ideologies to justify their existence, when their obsession with their neighbour trumps every other consideration for the basic pillars of societies; the Rule of Law, and an inclusive and strong democracy, the only entities to suffer are societies themselves.

    Indian constitution of 1950 was a result of its statesmen getting together and working on creating a document that was intended to move them forward. The early Indian founders were not perfect learners, yet were fast learners especially when it came to harsh lessons. Partition was a result of communalism that spread like wildfire due to well founded grievances against a religious majority rule. Nehru’s vision of secularism sought to preclude India falling into the same anarchy again. Their land reforms directly took aim at the arm chair feudalism that had been the bane of Indian society for the past four centuries. Things move at their own slow pace in India, yet when it came to shaping the vision of India, Nehru and his colleagues did not wait for status quo to set in. Nehru was not a perfect human being; indeed his singlehanded bungling of Kashmir issue is abominable. Yet he must be commended for setting India on a democratic and secular path, from where his descendents took it to the next free market capitalistic nation status, based primarily on strength of Indian democratic institutions.

    Hayyer correctly points out that making excuse will get Pakistan no where. Pakistan has almost perfected the art of victim mentality, where all of our failures can be blamed either on our geography, or our neighbours, or anything else that can be conveniently picked around us. A society that does not stand for complete protection of its members, and allowing them complete participation in its progress, dies a painful death by a thousand cuts. Pakistan’s failure to protect Muslims and non Muslims alike from each other, suppressing the broad ethnic diversity of its residents in the name of religion, language and broad one unit centralist federation are primarily responsible of its bifurcation and its failures time and again. When Pakistan looked back in March 1949, India was looking ahead; towards a secular inclusive state, willing to learn, and grow as a nation of Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and others, despite being a predominantly Hindu majority nation.

    I look back at our history and realize there was not a single politician that was above petty politics, or about furthering his or her own rule. I wrote back once that the intellectual failure of Pakistan throughout its history is absolutely stunning; apart from Eqbal Ahmed, Asghar Khan or a smattering of speakers, not a single person in Pakistani intelligentsia has spoken of the futility of an ideology that Pakistan has remained obsessed with, while the society degenerates around us. This has been the lethal trade off that Pakistan has regretfully accepted, yet never paused to challenge.

  7. AZW

    BC:

    (luckily) there is no nicely packaged ‘identity’ or, (worse) ideology, that could be ‘bought off the shelf’, as it were. it’s only about democracy and rule of law, both together improving levels of justice in society where it begins to engender/justify loyalty (as an aspect of ownership), and therefore, a kind of unity (i.e. a sense of shared ownership)

    Now can anyone in the corridors of power who run the affairs of our state hear that? Or are destined to physically suffer by trial and error method to finally realize that a stable and prosperous society needs nothing more than a vision that looks to protect its citizens, give them opportunities to grow and excel with the state on guard to protect their life, honour and property from each other. And that an evolving society needs strong democratic underpinnings where the residents evolve with active participation, debates and elective representatives who represent the evolution of the state and its inhabitants. That each of these two pillars are bound to fail without the presence of the other. But Rule of a Fair Law probably is the single most important determinant of a progressive and prosperous society.

    But then without a singular vision, Pakistan flounders from one crisis to another. As someone said “Give us a clear vision that we know where to stand, and what to stand for – because unless we stand for something we shall fall for anything”.

  8. Milind Kher

    What AZW has said is true. India has gained immensely by being a secular democracy. Pakistan can also still do this. The opportunity HAS presented itself.

    If India and Pakistan work together closely, great things can be achieved.

  9. B. Civilian

    absolute power clearly defined under rule of law, strictly followed, is better than arbitrary power. a strong system can democratise with time, if there is enough will. but arbitrary power destroys any semblance of a system. it brings in pure chaos of the jungle – might is right.

    according to cowasjee, jinnah would have made a willing (benign) ‘dictator’… strictly under the law. he was a constitutionalist. a man of law and rules. the minimum any individual – including a general, bureaucrat or any holder of public office – can be expected to do is to follow the law. as for democracy, why should a people have democray any more open than they have achieved for themselves?

    here is jinnah’s own view, by the way. he knew that the problem was not with GoI Act 1935. readers would remember this from Geo TV using it in its campaign against musharraf.

    Address to the Officers of the Staff College, Quetta 14th June, 1948

    “I thank you, gentlemen, for the honour you have done me and Miss Fatima Jinnah by inviting us to meet you all. You, along with other Forces of Pakistan; are the custodians of the life, property and honour of the people of Pakistan. The Defence Forces are the most vital of all Pakistan Service and correspondingly a very heavy responsibility and burden lies on your shoulders.

    I have no doubt in my mind, from what I have seen and from what I have gathered, that the spirit of the Army is splendid, the morale is very high, and what is very encouraging is that every officer and soldier, no matter what the race or community to which he belongs, is working as a true Pakistani.

    If you all continue in that spirit and work as comrades, as true Pakistanis selflessly, Pakistan has nothing to fear.

    One thing more, I am persuaded to say this because during my talks with one or two very high-ranking officers I discovered that they did not know the implications of the Oath taken by the troops of Pakistan. Of course, an oath is only a matter of form; what are more important are the true spirit and the heart.

    But it is an important form, and I would like to take the opportunity of refreshing your memory by reading the prescribed oath to you.

    “I solemnly affirm, in the presence of Almighty God, that I owe allegiance to the Constitution and Dominion of Pakistan (mark the words Constitution and the Government of the Dominion of Pakistan) and that I will as in duty bound honestly and faithfully serve in the Dominion of Pakistan Forces and go within the terms of my enrolment wherever I may be ordered by air, land or sea and that I will observe and obey all commands of any officer set over me…..”

    As I have said just now, the spirit is what really matters. I should like you to study the Constitution, which is in force in Pakistan, at present and understand its true constitutional and legal implications when you say that you will be faithful to the Constitution of the Dominion.

    I want you to remember and if you have time enough you should study the Government of India Act, as adapted for use in Pakistan, which is our present Constitution, that the executive authority flows from the Head of the Government of Pakistan, who is the governor-general and, therefore, any command or orders that may come to you cannot come without the sanction of the Executive Head. This is the legal position.

    Finally, gentlemen, let me thank you for the honour that you have done me by inviting me. I will be glad to meet the officers informally, as suggested by the General Officers Commanding in his speech, and such a meeting can be, arranged at a time convenient to us both. I have every desire to keep in close contact with the officers and men of the Defence Forces and I hope that when I have little more time from the various problems that are facing us in Pakistan, which is for the moment in a state of national emergency, and when things settle down–and I hope it will be very soon–then I shall find more time to establish greater and greater contact with the Defence Forces.

    Pakistan Zindabad”

  10. hoss

    As Hayyar on my article said we are now dealing with Indo-Pak version of the Godwin’s Law on this thread. So let it rip…

    Actually 1935 is an excellent milestone to refer and refer to again when we look at the problems mostly in Pakistan but to some extent between the two countries. The act was a strange mix of dictatorial powers to the GG/Viceroy and some autonomy to the spread out Indian provinces, specially the ones that were geographically away from the historical Indian center.

    When Brig sahib refers to 1935 he is talking about the dictatorial powers to the GG side of the 1935 act. When I look at the 1935 act, I find it the starting point of the Pakistan struggle. Only a brilliant legal mind could have sensed the possibilities it opened up in India. Historians know that before 1935 Act Jinnah never entertained the idea of a divided India. He was a firm believer of Indian unity and he had rebuffed many who came up to him with the idea of a separate entity of Muslim majority provinces.

    Fast forward to 1947; both India and Pakistan adopted 1935 as interim constitution. India in 1950 just named 1935 Act as Indian constitution with changes in structure to transfer the GG powers to the PM. Indian constitution is still essentially 1935 Act. India had to rush to finish this task because any delay would have meant more demands by some provinces and the other factor was the lingering Kashmir issue that had all the signs that it might demand a dominion status rather than a province status under Indian constitution. India and Kashmir finally settled for article 370 to meet the Kashmiri demand.

    The issue with Pakistan was not a failure to come up with a constitution. Pakistan could have easily adopted 1935 Act like India did. But after the separation, the political situation or dynamics in both countries was entirely different. While India inherited a center, Pakistan had no center. Secondly, Pakistan was a product of Muslim majority provinces coming together and all provinces had different demands and were in different stages of the political maturity (still a chimera).

    The worst part was the division of the two provinces that otherwise should have been part of Pakistan. That turned a fragile association that Pakistan inherited in to a completely chaotic state of affair. These enormous problems were existential threat to Pakistan. So a developing center opted for building the state over settling the constitution issues that arose out of the different goals that all the provinces had. As I said the provinces were in different stages of political maturity and they too did not agree with each other on many issues.

    Now the Brig Sahib version of 1935 India Act came in to play. The GG kept powers to build the center over the provinces reservations. And the trend continues.

    There shouldn’t be any delusion in anyone’s mind that constitution development would have been an easy process in Pakistan. It sure was not going to be as easy it was in India where an established center had the ability to take the lead. In Pakistan center taking the lead meant transgression on the provinces rights. Just remember that the basis of Pakistan was 1940 resolution which was miles ahead of India Act of 1935 in terms of provincial autonomy and had raised expectations in the provinces that joined Pakistan.

    Obviously, there is more to it but what I have written above is only the starting point.

    A long time ago I had written a sort of long booklet/article on this issue which was very popular in Sindh. The Zia govt. banned it and now I don’t even have a copy of it.
    I would try and reconstruct it for publication at PTH.

  11. Samson Simon Sharaf

    I appreciate the objectivity of the discussion. It has previously remained a moot point between me, some Indian friends and HOSSP on another board. Probably I first mentioned it in 2003.

    It is a mindset in which local elites have taken over the role of the imperial masters and morphed with its own dynamics. 1962 Constitution was an amended form of this act. So have been the attempts at 58 (2) B,.CDNS and NSC. They all reflect an inherent lack of confidence in democratic regimes. The fact that Pakistan has never moved from a Security State to a Welfare State is also a reflection of this notion. Though the army may seem to be at the center of all this, it may not be so. It is a floating group comprising retired servicemen, religious right, Kashmir hawks and political parties/politicians that seek support of the establishment. They all may not be there all the time. Some analysts opine that perhaps, MQM has eclipsed JI in this regard.

    @PMA
    [Being an ex-serviceman are you not part of the system responsible for the rot we are in? Pray do tell us.]

    No I was never. I opted myself to a path of self destruction in Black and White.

  12. B. Civilian

    if an autocratic constitution or laws were sufficient for the purposes of the ‘establishment’, why would ayub not carry on with the 1956 constitution? or yahya with the 1962? why did he need the LFO? neither personalities could be rulers if that had kept within the respective constitutions… even the 1935 ‘constitution’. similarly, zia too (and later mush) had to put the country in a state of arbitrary law before he could have his suitably autocratic version of the 1973 constitution (the 1st amendment was not enough for zia, personally, to have become the ruler).

    what has happened in pakistan is not a continuation of the psyche, or spirit of abiding by the law, of 1935 or of the imperialists. it has been a sordid history of arbitrary discontinuation of any law whatsoever, without hesitation, by whoever happend to be the military chief at the time. feudal, corporate or other elite groups, no matter how powerful, cannot do the kind of damage if they’re merely playing – no matter how maliciously – within the constitutional system… how ever unattractive the constitution is from a liberal/democratic point of view. only the mightiest in the land, as far as raw/naked fire power is concerned, can run roughshod over the highest law of the land. that destroys everything, rather than merely damaging it… seriously.

  13. AZW

    @ Hossp:

    As usual you are going in circles, looking to isolate the trees, while missing the forest in toto.

    The 1935 Act is strange for us now. For a 1935 era British ruled India, where England itself was struggling with giving India increased autonomy all the way to giving it Dominion Status, GOI was vehicle of choice. It was also the first act to incorporate Jinnah’s 14 points emphasising provincial autonomy. British wanted to placate Muslims as well as Indian nationalists, while keeping powers to themselves and not fully trusting the natives. The act wanted to pave way for eventual Dominion of India, while at the same time keeping powers with British, if it came to be needed.

    This act was what Pakistan and India inherited. They needed to work with the act with few modifications, then they had to move forward, like independent nations are supposed to do. It was not the GOI Act of 1935 that needs to be discussed; It may have been a hypothetical War Act of 1942 that British may have promulgated in times of war, with more draconian powers rested with the Governor General. It is what the countries inherited and how they moved foward with them is what matters.

    Pakistan indeed faced existential threat at its inception. Yes geographically there were two separate arms which complicated governance. Yet up to 1956 (the existential threat long behind them) for a nation to not have a constitution, the repeated failure of its political leadership, and the house intrigues raging in its power corridors point to something more different. For the first constituent assembly to pass the Objectives Resolution that went against its founding father’s ideals point to a nation paralyzed with indecision. Pakistan suffered from lack of leadership and lack of vision, mixed in with a deadly dose of religion based politics that had started filling in the cracks in the political process. Pakistan is not alone in this failure of vision and leadership; there is a reason there is a group of countries around the world called Third World countries that share the similar misfortunes.

    @Samson Saraf:

    Natives becoming Brown Sahibs syndrome is perfectly explained by human psychology. Power corrupts, whether we are British, Pakistanis or Timbuktu residents. How the political process in Pakistan sputtered, a keen eyed Army dutifully filled in the power corridors is an interesting study indeed. I would love to hear more analysis on that, yet I suspect in complex workings of a nation/society, if the rulers don’t exhibit vision towards constitutional law and institutions, seeking to put these pillars before their own political considerations, things rapidly fall apart.

    I am reminded of the concluding quote from the Justice Munir Kiyani Report about the anti Qadiani riots of 1954. They opined that the extensive disturbances could have been contained by one District Magistrate and a Police official alone. Yet political expediency was employed, resulting in a deteriorating situation, death of many, Martial Law imposed on Lahore, and political process weakened in the long run for Pakistan. A series of these gaffes plagued the nation, resulting in the breakdown of the political process itself, which kept on repeating itself. It was not the 1935 mentality that was the problem; it was a specific mentality that did not consider administration of the rule of law independent to political considerations.

    I would reproduce the words of Justice Munir and Kiyani below to end my comment:

    And it is our deep conviction that if the Ahrar had been treated as a pure question of law and order, without any political considerations, one District Magistrate and one Superintendent of Police could have dealt with them. Consequently, we are prompted by something that they call a human conscience to enquire whether, in our present state of political development, the administrative problem of law and order cannot be divorced from a democratic bed fellow called a Ministerial Government, which is so remorselessly haunted by political nightmares. But if democracy means the subordination of law and order to political ends—then Allah knoweth best and we end the report

  14. Hoss

    AZW,
    “The 1935 Act is strange for us now”

    I think the problem is that you repeat Pakistan history as it appears in Daily Jang’s columns…Oh, we never had a leader so we couldn’t get the constitution.

    This is really childish.
    Do you really think Jinnah would have solved the constitution issue, had he lived another 10, 15 or even 20 years?

    As long as you don’t understand it clearly that the Bengal, Punjab, Sindh and NWFP did not join Pakistan for the love of Islam, you will not get it.

    They joined because they were promised something in 1940. The center in 1948 had no means to deliver on that promise as I have pointed out in my post. After that it became a battle between the Center and the East Pakistan. The Center wanted to hold on to the powers and East Pakistan wanted devaluation. Since they could not agree on a power sharing formula or the limits of the Provincial autonomy, the constitution making efforts remained frozen.

    Pakistan got its first constitution after all major political leaders in East Pakistan were sent to jail in 1953. Iskandar Mirza ruled East Pakistan as governor General.

    Finally, they created one unit for parity between East and West Pakistan to deny the East its rightful position. The problem was that establishment did not even adhere to its own constitution and abrogated it in 1958.

    “for a nation to not have a constitution, the repeated failure of its political leadership, and the house intrigues raging in its power corridors point to something more different.”

    No, it does not point to anything different than unwillingness of the ruling clique in the West to share power or actually hand over power to the majority. Which was their legal right based on the majority.

    Creating constitution was not difficult at all in 1948. But even Jinnah could not dare call India Act of 1935 as the constitution of Pakistan; whereas India had no problem in doing that right after independence.

    “Pakistan suffered from lack of leadership and lack of vision, mixed in with a deadly dose of religion based politics”

    I am just appalled when people fail to see the political bargaining that goes in a democratic process like constitution making and believe that had Pakistan had a few nice leaders Pakistan would have got its constitution. Even the 1973 constitution saw major battles between the groups. Majority of the MNAs from Baluchistan refused to sign the 1973 constitution because they were not willing to accept the provincial autonomy provisions outlined in the 1973 constitution.

    Constitution making is not all about some good folks not doing it; it is all about many interest and groups agreeing on something. You need to also understand how the democracy works. It is never about a few good men.

  15. Majumdar

    HP saeen,

    After that it became a battle between the Center and the East Pakistan.

    Ironicaly had a Parliament been formed in Pakistan in 1947 Bengalis wud actually have had a majority in the Centre- Bongs numbered 40 mio to West’s 33 in 1951- as well as in East. In which case the Bengali majority wud have enforced the spirit of 1940.

    Obviously an unrepresentative force gained control of Pak’s Centre didn’t it?

    Regards

  16. Hayyer

    AZW, Hoss, BC and Majumdar:
    We can get to a narrow focus now. The problem has been, and probably will continue to be the one that was left unaddressed in the 1935 Act-The kind of centre that would govern India (and now Pakistan). It appears solved in India but it is a deceptive appearance. We get by with political management. The problem persists.
    Pakistan on the other hand, from an outsiders perspective, seemed luckier, because the centre seemed able to just dissolve the states. Even though they came back, the states seem amenable to a centralizing discourse.
    Now, and I am straying into speculative territory here, it may be that the quest for an Islamic identity permitted dissolution of state identities, in the cause of Pakistan. No Hinduizing script would have worked to similar effect in India. Which is not to say that a Muslim Pakistan is more cohesive than an Hindu India. This leads to my next speculation.
    Pakistan’s constitutional/political problem may be nothing more than an unwillingness to permit true federalism. The army, the religious right, the leftists, the secular liberals may be terrified by the prospect of strong states. Did the ANP have the right answers all along? You won’t find a single institution in Delhi ever criticizing the centre. To them all the evils in India’s polity are mined and transported from the state capitals. Of course these Delhi institutions live off Delhi so their views may only be loyalty to the hand that feeds them.
    Not that they are entirely wrong. However, the states are India, and the centre is only an ideal. In practice it as bad as the states, if not worse.

  17. AZW

    Hossp:

    While Bengal, Punjab, Sind, NWFP, Balochistan did not join Pakistan solely for the love of Islam, you can hardly assume that religion was not a factor in the politics and formation of Pakistan. But it was clear to many, including Jinnah himself that religion would never hold Pakistan together; religion simply does not have the cohesive power to keep together tribal and ethnic variances.

    You incorrectly assume (or rather assume a lot ) that center had no means to deliver on a federal Muslim state the powers to the provinces in the Muslim majority state. That the state failed to do so was the failure of the leadership that was woefully short of vision. The fact that Liaquat Ali Khan ran to introduce Objectives Resolution on the first sign of Moudoudi’s demand to declare Pakistan as an Islamic state, speaks volume of the insecurity that was rampant in the Pakistani leadership after Jinnah.

    To say that Jinnah would not have been able to solve the constitution issue is at best irresolvable. From Wolpert’s book, we know that writing the Pakistani constitution was the foremost thought on Jinnah’s mind in 1948. I believe that for a constitutionalist that Jinnah was, you are probably selling him quite short here. Yet you do take flights of fancy in your speculations and I have no desire to bring them down from their happy altitudes.

    I don’t believe it was an impossible task to get the ship right in the first decade after Pakistan’s creation. And I am not sure why a few strong leaders with a vision cannot set things right. But action without vision is drudgery; and Pakistan is a prime example. Unfortunately, it seems the opposite effect is deeply discredited in your analysis.

    It is my humble opinion that Pakistan’s woes can be directly traced to its confusion about its own identity. This identity crisis combined with a weak leadership that looked to suppress provincial rights while trying to prop itself up on the crutches of political Islam. Munir-Kiyani’s end comments are enlightening because they tell us of an episode of this sorry saga playing out in the form of anti-Qadiani riots of 1953. That a small pest organization like Ahrar was allowed to fester into a Martial Law situation was a direct result of rulers’ indecisiveness, and failing one of the most fundamental rules of effective democracy; Law and order is never subjected or administered under political expediency.

    A series of these gaffes resulted in Pakistan falling into an abyss of chaos and finally led to its division and now the present mess. It had nothing to do with centralized powers of 1935 Act. This act was a piece of history that stayed with Pakistan in a varying form, only because Pakistan was paralyzed to never replace it with anything worthwhile.

    There is no reason that Pakistan cannot recover from its woeful state, if it lets the democracy run its course. The incremental learning of the last 60 years is a little palpable in the national psyche, where people realize at some level that their fascination with Islam combined with the so-called Ideology of Pakistan wreaked havoc with the fabric of the nation. Nations do not destroy overnight, nor do they rebuild overnight. But nothing happens on its own; if Pakistan lets the democracy continue, keeps its press free, and further work to get the rule of law to set in, Pakistan may turn out alright along the vision that Jinnah thought of 62 years ago. If another bout of Army law kicks in, freedom of speech is curtailed and emergency laws are slapped, then God help us. We will be in this quagmire for nothing less than another 62 years to come.

  18. Samson Simon Sharaf

    Dear Friends
    Pursuant to a very healthy discussion, I have a feeling that 1935 is being taken as a document hoisted by the imperialists and now the cause of all evils.

    In my view, it is more relevant in the metaphorical sense in that control was needed over the political institutions and federating units in the name of guided democracy and governance that does not impinge on national interests (decided by the mindset, Kashmir, India and primacy of religion; not institutions).

    I feel that Pakistan badly needs a new narrative on all the above issues. If that is not done, it will be from bad to worse.