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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Yeh Daagh Daagh Ujala: A Sequel to under the minaret

Sub'h e Aazadi

Yeh daagh daagh ujaalaa, yeh shab-gaziida sahar

Woh intizaar thaa jis kaa, ye woh sahar to nahiN

Yeh woh sahar to nahiN jis ki aarzu ley kar

Chale thay yaar kay mil ja`egi kahiN na kahiN

______________________Faiz Ahmed Faiz

Freedom's Dawn

This leprous daybreak, dawn night's fangs have mangled

This is not that long-looked-for break of day,

Not that clear dawn in quest of which those comrades

Set out, believing that in heaven's wide void

Translation: V. G. Kiernan


Midwifed by Louis Battenberg (you would know him as Lord Mountbatten) on Lailat ul Qad'r, the holiest night of the holy month of Ramadaan (midnight of Aug 14-15, 1947) the non-identical twins' tenuous umbilical cord was finally cut by the untiring efforts of the elite Pakistani usurpers aided by nudges from Indira Gandhi in 1971.

The present Pakistan is entering her sixth decade today: from a tethering fledgling to an ostensible front line state is a mixed anomaly in the best of times.

These aren't.

It is the sixth most populated country with 164 million people, 340,000 square miles, spread over the deserts of Baluchistan and Sind, the mangroves of Rann of Kutch in the south to the plains of truncated Punjab in the center and the peaks of three ranges in the north - the Himalayas, the Karakorams and the Hindu Kush in the north, Pakistan has all that nature can bestow. And more.

The five main nationalities are the Punjabis, the Baloch, the Pathans, the Sindhis and the Muhajirs. Used to be six, as I alluded to earlier.

It is a thriving country. I use thriving with caution.

The natural exuberance and enterprise of its people is thwarted at every step by the bureaucracy aided and abetted by the occupying army. It has sharpened and fine tuned the colonizing Raj's policies of divide and rule to enhance and perpetuate its stranglehold.

This has had unintended results in unleashing forces that the Army has a tough time controlling. Out of Pandora's box, Zina (rape) ul Haq let out Altaf Hussain's Muttahida Quomi Movement (akin to Shiv Sena) to counter Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's hold over Sind. Today this secular, semi-fascist party is President Musharraf's coalition partner in Sind and in the Centre.

Zina's successors created MMA Mad Mullah's Association who want to push the baby back into the womb by wanting to recreate the era of 760 AD in 2006 AD. To understand how successful they are witness the occupying army's impotency in Baluchistan, Waziristan and Northern Areas where MMA and is allies are a law unto themselves.


The thorny (and bogey) issue of Kashmir and its attendant anti India card was always opportunistically used by the Army to divert the public's attention and scrutiny away from its mismanagement of the country. A political problem that laments for a political solution has been frequently used by Pakistani elites and to a lesser extent by India's rulers in this game - much to the delight of arms suppliers.

The Army succumbed to intense U.S. pressure to restore normalcy with her neighbours and was brow beaten into not increasing its share of the national budget. Another realization that dawned on the generals is that there is only so much it can optimally siphon off the budget. Today the Army is running out of tricks. But never underestimate its Machiavellian resourcefulness.

In addition to dividing and ruling the Army is always on the lookout to enrich itself at the expense of disenfranchised Pakistanis. After grabbing the maximum it can of the national budget pie - (depending on whom you believe - that share ranges from 38 to 65% of the budget that cannot be audited or questioned in the National Assembly) - it found a new outlet to enrich itself.

Land grab.

If you are familiar with the word cantonment, you know that they are a creation of the Raj to control the entry of the natives so the Mem Sahib can live in relative safety away from the natives' glare. (Yes I am oversimplifying some: email me if you don't get the point.)

They have enlarged and created more cantonment areas in Pakistan long after the Raj is over. Part of this land is in urban areas that fetches a tidy sum for Army's officers. They are awarded this land or they purchase it at paltry prices and sell off at prevailing market rates.

I am hard pressed to think of single redeeming feature for this occupying army save this: it has managed to keep intact the surviving country. But even this cloud has lines! They know that without the country their power base would dry up.

Why are you so harsh on the Pakistan Army I am frequently asked. A simple answer would be that in collusion with big landlords, bureaucracy and industrial magnates they have hampered the development of democratic institutions that are the bane of nation building.

Look at India.

The two countries received independence from the Raj at the same time. India under Nehru adopted the democratic path. They veered, stumbled, and learned along the way to becoming the largest functioning democracy.

The main culprit for denying and subverting the democratic ambitions of the Pakistanis is this occupying army. After 59 years, the Pakistanis are still essentially disenfranchised. For the gullible who believe that democracy is alive and well in Pakistan I have Santa Claus' cell number. And Pamela Anderson's too.


Whatever headway Pakistan has made is in spite of the Army occupation.

The Pakistani businessmen and industrialists can compete with the best given a level playing field. That they have managed to survive and on a smaller scale and thrive is a tribute to their ingenuity and entrepreneurial skills.

What can Pakistanis be proud on this independence day?

Two things! They survived. And they have Abdul Sattar Edhi?


Blogger Checkmate said...

I truly love this piece. The history of our 59 years cannot be summarized and discussed with more clarity and objectivity.

August 16, 2006 3:57 AM  

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