A Work In Progress – By F. Khan
The founder of Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, was blessed with an acute eye for property and in creating Pakistan, he put Pakistan at a crossroads of three regions; Central Asia, South Asia and West Asia. Jinnah put Pakistan in such a location that the future state would always be involved in the geo-politics of world and could never be ignored, but always cursed.
Geographically speaking, Pakistan is a diverse land with varying climates. It is arctic in the north and arid desert in the south and west, whereas the east of the country is fertile. The people of Pakistan are as different as its geographic differences. From the solitary independence minded people of the north to the commerce inclined people of the south. Pakistani people are as beautiful as the land they inhibit and just as wild and untamed as the landscape that surrounds them.
Jinnah was not only successful in locating a prime piece of real estate for Pakistan, but in his lifetime, he accumulated some highly prized properties himself both in India and Pakistan. His house in Bombay now renamed as Mumbai, but still fondly referred to as Bombay by the Indians, is the subject of an intense political debate between the governments of India and Pakistan. The Indians have it and the Pakistanis want it. Given the fact that the majority of the Pakistanis and Indians have inherited Jinnah’s passion for property and have devoted a significant part of their lives acquiring them, is it the historical nature of the house or its commercial value, which is the real reason for the impasse over the house?
Jinnah was able to wrest the western half of British India and cobble it into Pakistan with the eastern half of the British Raj in India, because he was more British than he was an Indian or a Muslim. Being a British aristocrat without being officially one, Jinnah was aware that politics are best discussed amongst gentlemen in oak paneled clubs of privilege and exclusivity and not from the streets shouting threatening slogans of “Quit India” to the British. From the tips of his shoes to the neatly tied knot of his silk ties, Jinnah with his weakness for ham and whisky was the last person in the British Raj to take up the cause of a separate Muslim homeland. Whatever, the reasons may have been for his taking the plea of the Muslims of India, it was fortunate that it was Jinnah, because the Muslims of India were in no position to challenge the political power of the British and win their independence.
Jinnah’s success in winning Pakistan was that he realized the despite all the ills attributed to the British, the British were a constitutionally minded people and if reasoned, they could be made to agree to a different opinion. Being more British than Indian, Jinnah was not prone to emotionalism. Pakistanis, like their similar minded cousins across the line hurriedly drawn by Sir Cyril Radcliffe, are an emotional lot and their leaders are more emotional and are emotionally motivated in undertaking major political decisions. There is a Chinese proverb, which says that the first man to admit defeat in an argument is the one who raises his fist first. Pakistani political leadership is well known for being the living embodiment of this Chinese proverb. On the other hand, had Jinnah been an emotional person, he might have thrown a Waterford crystal (after finishing its contents) towards the not-so-amused face of the British viceroy and the history of the South Asia might be have been a lot more interesting.
Jinnah, after winning Pakistan, from the British declared that he had no wish for his new country to become a theocracy. After all, the real reason for Pakistan was that the Muslims of India, having debated the wisdom of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, were still resisting learning English and as a result, were economically and politically disadvantaged. At the turn of the century, the Hindus had adopted the ways of the British; just like a hundred years later they would take to water like ducks in adopting American mannerisms, and were politically and economically better off than the Muslims. The Muslims’ of India were convinced of the utility of a partition, separating the Hindus and Muslims, in the wake of the partition of Bengal, because economically it made sense to the Muslims of India.
Under the influence of Congress Party, the British revoked the partition of Bengal a few years later and this was a big set back to the Muslims in the province. The Muslims’ of India were in favor of partition, because the division of Bengal had separated the Hindus from the Muslims and the Muslims were able to thrive economically as they did not have to compete with the Hindus. The re-unification of Bengal meant that the Muslims would have to compete with the Hindus again, both politically and economically. Since the Muslims were not as politically powerful as the Hindus or as economically viable, they felt threatened and once the re-unification of Bengal happened, the rich Muslim landlords of Bengal decided that if they were going to preserve their economic influence, they could only do so in an independent state.
The real reason for the creation of Pakistan was to allow the Muslims’ of India to be economically viable, but the Objectives Resolution, the preamble to the constitution of 1956, changed reasons of Pakistan towards a religious vision. Jinnah, in his speech to the Constituent Assembly in Karachi had outlined his vision for a non-theocratic state. Jinnah would die on September 11, 1948 and his vision would be buried with him, but a strange coincidence on September 11, 2001 would revive his dream once again. Jinnah wanted to see Pakistan develop in the image of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s Turkey. The only problem in this vision was that land owning new political elite of Pakistan was averse to this idea. They had demanded Pakistan in order to protect their economic influence and consequently, their political power and were not too keen in seeing their particular vision for Pakistan diluted. As the star-crossed lovers in William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Pakistan’s reality would not mirror Jinnah’s expectations and after his death, Pakistan become the prized possession of a handful of landed families and its lands would became their birthright to political power. It would be this tale of woe, which would explain why Pakistan would continue to use the old Government of India Act 1935 as its constitution.
The Government of India Act 1935 was supposed to be the new constitution for Pakistan until it created its own and would remain as the constitution of Pakistan for nine years. Pakistan was having problems creating a constitution, because like the present coterie of politicians, their forefathers were also loathe towards idea of sharing power and were bickering over how political power would be divided. In the discussions determining Pakistan’s constitutional character, its first prime minister was assassinated. Liaquat Ali Khan’s, a rich landowner from Bengal, only contribution to the political development of Pakistan, worth mentioning, was his visit to the United States. That single visit would forever influence the levels of political development in Pakistan.
Sikander Mirza, who was the minister of defense at the time, grew tired from the political infighting, which was the hallmark of Pakistani politics. He would, with the support of Ayub Khan, stage the first coup d’ Ã©tat in Pakistan’s history. Many historians would say that Pakistani army never had any respect for civilian leadership. However, what the historians, both Pakistanis and non-Pakistanis, do not consider is that it was the first commander-in-chief of the Pakistan Army, General Gracey, who was the individual who set the precedent for future army chiefs in Pakistan. When General Gracey refused to obey Jinnah’s directions ordering the deployment of Pakistani army into Kashmir in 1947, he showed a disrespect for civilian authority, which would become a self-repeating prophesy in the history of Pakistan.
Ayub Khan, who was the first Pakistani commander-in-chief of the Pakistani army, a few months later would send his mentor, Mirza, into exile in England and take over the reins of the country himself. Ayub must have been student of Iosif Stalin, because he believed that people were more understanding if the arguments were settled with a rifle than the ballot box. Ayub mistakenly rationalized and not reasoned, that the working end of a Lee-Enfield 303 rifle was more persuasive and useful in holding on to power than the consent of the people. It was a tragedy for Pakistan that Dwight D. Eisenhower, another general, did not tell Ayub Khan that, unlike the army where orders are obeyed once they are given, the civilians have an annoying habit of questioning orders and hence, generals should not hope to run nations like well trained divisions. Ayub was successful in cultivating the image of a solider-statesman, because his most able aide-de-camp was the Nawab of Kalabagh, who ran the country ruthlessly while Ayub Khan played the statesman on the world and the national stage. Kalabagh was to Ayub what Liaquat Ali Khan could not be for Jinnah – a person who could be delegated authority and a person who had the charisma and political will to make decisions without doubting his own position in the hierarchy of power.
Ayub Khan’s cabinet had a mercurial and a politically ambitious young politician by the name of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Bhutto was the youngest foreign minister in Ayub’s government and had a very high opinion of Bhutto. Bhutto’s life was a fascinating tale. He would blaze across the Pakistani political skies like a shooting star and would be extinguished just as quickly. Pakistanis would remember Bhutto with a fondness, because he was the mirror to every thing that they held dear and wished to become. He was graceful, charming, and intelligent, vain, arrogant and above all else, he was an evil genius. Bhutto would be Ayub’s undoing, because like all Pakistani leaders he was an egoist and suffered from a lack of humility. The first nail in Ayub’s coffin, which Bhutto would strike, was when he would convince the self-appointed field marshal of Pakistan on the wisdom of Operation Gibraltar.
Operation Gibraltar was an attempt by Pakistan to provoke an uprising in the Indian held Kashmir and for that end, Pakistan would send a few soldiers there to incite a rebellion. The whole operation turned out as a parody of sorts, when the Kashmiris told the Indians about the Pakistani soldiers, who were then promptly arrested and shot by the Indians. Pakistan refused to take the hint and as a result the Indians invaded Pakistan with the intentions to have a few beers at a local club in Lahore and the world celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Battle of Britain with another major air battle on September 7, 1965 between Pakistan and India. The war of 1965 proved that it takes more than a uniform to fight a war as both India and Pakistan, after a few set-piece battles, realized that the ease of reading “Infantry Tactics” by Erwin Rommel is not the same as implementing them in face of bullets. The war was called off, because neither side was losing, but both were winning the propaganda war against each other.
While this preparation was going on, Ayub Khan decided that neither was he a soldier or a gentleman or a statesman, when he cowered in the face of the local political greed and allowed West Pakistan to maintain its colonial rule in East Pakistan. West Pakistan was always eager to enter the colonial world and since there was not much left in the world to colonize, Pakistan decided to colonize itself with the western half of the country ruling the eastern half. This really irritated the people of the east, who had done everything in the struggle for independence in 1947, while the people of West Pakistan, also known as the Punjabis, were in the Unionist Party lapping at the heels of their British masters and refusing independence in the name of slavery. The people of the eastern part of Pakistan were more democratic than their western colonizers, because being better educated and more politically intelligent than the small feudal minded politicians of the west. They wanted a majority rule, but the people of the west did not want to share the power. This caused the eastern brothers of West Pakistanis to resist the rule of occupation by Islamabad and to quell the unrest; the West Pakistan would dispatch the army. The arrival of the army in East Pakistan forced the East Pakistanis to ask India for help and India obliged in order o fulfill Lord Louis Mountbatten’s, the last Viceroy of India and its first viceroy by another name, prediction that Pakistan would not last 25 years as a nation.
The War of 1971, also known as the Pakistani Civil War ended in a very uncivil manner, when the east divorced the west and became a new nation and what was left of Pakistan was left with Bhutto. Upon assuming power in the leftover Pakistan, Bhutto made history when he became the world’s first civil martial law administrator. Bhutto also made history, a second time, when he created the third constitution of Pakistan (Ayub was responsible for the second one) and then abrogated it almost immediately. Bhutto was a closet communist, but being a Muslim convert, whose mother was Hindu, he had to become a socialist since Islam did not allow any atheists to rule an Islamic Republic. The Islamic Republic of Pakistan, was the only Islamic Republic, which neither a republic nor Islamic. Being a socialist, Bhutto decided that it would be nice if he took over the economy of the country and gave it out, in turn, to his friends, who desperately need employment, but could not be hired since they were all really incompetent. This really infuriated a Parsi, whose family owned the largest shipping industry in Pakistan and who when he complained about the take over, was marched off to the Karachi jail, where his immediate neighbor was an American trained engineer, who had taken part in the discussions of the Indus Water Treaty of 1960 and would later become the speaker of the National Assembly under Nawaz Sharif. When this Parsi gentleman was freed, he would pick up the pen and start venting his loss by writing articles for a newspaper’s Sunday edition.
By now many moons had passed and the politicians in the land of the pure claimed that it was time for another election since the last one was really a long time ago. Bhutto, who had become a dictator from a socialist, did not want elections since he reasoned why share power, when you can keep it all to yourself. Under pressure from the opposition, he agreed to hold the elections, but instructed the bureaucracy, also filled by his friends, who could not get jobs elsewhere, to make sure that he won the elections with a majority of the seats in the parliament. Eager to make Bhutto happy, the bureaucrat friends of his stuffed the ballot boxes. The result was that Bhutto not only won the majority, he won the whole parliament! The opposition, who did not include a mathematician between them, realized that the numbers were not adding up and started to protest and this protest was creating the conditions for a really awful mess, when the politicians and Bhutto decided to a compromise. However, before this could happen, the Pakistan army in an operation called “Fair Play”, which not entirely fair staged an intervention, while the Americans were drinking beer on a Fourth of July holiday in 1977 and took over power.
Bhutto had appointed General Zia-ul-Haq, also known as “Terry Thomas” and the “regimental mullah”, because Bhutto was really pleased with the general’s shoe polishing skills. Sadly for Bhutto, the general gave him the boot and promised to hold new elections in 90 days. General Zia had joined the army, because he was really weak in mathematics and did not realize that 90 days was not the same as 11 years. Zia would haunt Pakistan for 11 years, one year short of 12 years, which was how long Adolf Hitler ruled Germany. Zia was offered peanuts by the Americans, when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in search for some dry fruits and an occasional genocide in the name of world communism. To fight the Soviets, Zia convinced the Saudi Arabians to finance a holy war and convinced the Americans that it was good idea and if they left him in power, he would really make a mess out of everything for everyone concerned. The Americans decided that it was a really bad idea, but since they were still hurting from the whipping given to them by a Mr. Victor Charlie, in a rice paddy, they agreed with Zia.
The result of this Faustian bargain was the birth of the Department of Homeland Security in the United States and a large number of illegal Pakistanis being deported from the United States. Zia instructed the Pakistani diplomats that when there were no sales or bargain discounts going on, they were to give visas to anyone wishing to come to Pakistan and fight the Russians. This really pleased the executives of the National Rifle Association in the United States and they got together, with the editors of the “Soldier’s of Fortune” magazine and agreed to marketing blitz. The magazine would place the recruiting advertisements and the national rifle association would offer them weapons at discount prices to anyone who applied. The Republican Party of Ronald Reagan agreed to this whole scheme and asked the intelligence challenged employees of the Confused Idiots Anonymous (CIA) to make this nightmare came true. Since Bozo the Monkey was in retirement, he was not able to tell Reagan that this was a bad idea and the whole plan seemed to be one banana short of a full bunch.
Unable to count on the advice of Bozo, Reagan turned to the next best source of mis-information and was told it was a really good idea and upon which, Reagan promptly thanked his vice-president, George Bush. With the ignorance of the Americans, the cunning of Zia’s devilish wish to be another messiah of epic proportions and the Saudi’s Wahhabi inspired money, the Soviets were defeated in Afghanistan. Zia was not able to see the fulfillment of his machinations, because he was scattered all over southern Punjab, in Pakistan, when his plane exploded along with 29 of the world’s richest generals, including an American ambassador and an American general, who were trying to sell him an American main battle tank. The death of Zia shocked Pakistan army, because everyone realized that everyone was going to get promoted and was going to get all sorts of sweet financial windfalls, from real estate to immunity from the law for breaking the law. Instead of staying in power, Pakistan army decided to go back to the barracks, because they had forgotten what the barracks looked like and wanted to make sure that regimental silver was safe and not given away during their absence.
The army invited the daughter of Bhutto to become the new civilian leader of Pakistan, because after having killed her father, it thought that this was the least it could for the poor woman. The daughter turned out be just as the army had expected and it had her removed from office and appointed a businessman as the prime minister of Pakistan. The new prime minister’s only claim to fame was not that he hailed from the Old Kingdom of Punjab, the former colonial power of East Pakistan, but that his father’s and his tailor lived in Gowalmundi, later to be famous for its “food street” and his father was responsible for the disappearance of a steam locomotive engine of the Pakistan railways, which later sold as scrap metal. The businessman from Punjab had visions of resurrecting the faded glory of the forgotten Mughal Empire, but before he could, he was thrown out. Since the Pakistani army believed in traditions and it was the First Punjab regiment, now the oldest regiment in Pakistani army, that had helped in crushing the Mutiny of 1857, the army decided that it liked its British styled cantonments too much to trade them for a Mughal rule and thus, had the businessman removed from power.
In his place, the army asked the daughter of Bhutto the Socialists wishing to be a communist to become the next leader of Pakistan. The second time as a leader, Benazir Bhutto made the mistake of marrying Mr. Ten Percent. Mr. Ten Percent loved polo horses and was rumored to kill his family relatives, but despite all his lack of social charms, he charmed most of the foreign investment flowing into Pakistan, by making about ten percent of it, to take a detour towards his offshore bank accounts. While Mr. Ten Percent was getting richer, Bibi was using a group of students, calling each other the Taliban, to open roads for trade in Afghanistan at a profit without having to pay the Afghan warlords a share of the profit. The government of Bibi came into power and once in power would support the Taliban. The Taliban were supposed to end the cyclical violence in Afghanistan and make the world safe for oil pipelines, but, instead, decided to revive the last 1400 years of the Islamic calendar.
Having seen that Bibi, as the daughter of the slain socialist dictator of Pakistan was known, was not acting according to the script, the army decided to change the cast and had her removed once again in favor of the businessman, Nawaz Shairf, whose last name itself was an oxy-moron. Nawaz, on the advice of Abaji, decided to bribe the judges of Pakistan to pass an Islamic law, which would ban interest on loans. Nawaz thought this was a really good idea and he would save an obscene amount of money this way. To convince the judges that he believed in “greedocracy”, he had his supporters attack the Supreme Court of Pakistan, since Mughal rulers, who played cricket, had the right to ignore the laws of the land, which had no laws in the first place. Nawaz the Nihari, as his subjects called him, was dethroned when he tried to fulfill his life’s dream of becoming an air traffic controller.
Unbeknownst to Nawaz, the plane he wanted to control was carrying the Ceasar, Tsar and Kaiser (all rolled into one) of Pakistan; Pakistan army’s chief of staff. Since the “Chief” as he was known did not like being told that he could not land in his own domain, he called his friends in charge of “Awfully Big Guns Painted Awfully”, and had them take over the airport. General Pervaiz Musharraf, reasoned that if Bhutto can take over the economy of Pakistan, he could take over a Pakistani airport. Declaring the end of the Mughal rule (revised) in Pakistan, he decided to become the Chief Executive of Pakistan, since the army was already running Pakistan as malfunctioning corporation. The first thing that he did as the new Pro-Consul of Pakistan was to declare that he was going to revive Pakistan in order to suffocate it and for this, he declared a plan of confusion, and claimed that there are a lot of answers in chaos.