Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Pakistan, Bangladesh and Kashmir

Pakistan, Bangladesh and Kashmir
Dr Shabir Choudhry 06 April 2011
Both Pakistan and Bangladesh are South Asian Muslim countries with enormous social, economic and environmental problems. However, both are travelling in opposite directions; while one has vibrant economy and determination to succeed, the other has bleak future with no plan or even will to survive as a nation state.
Bangladesh was, at one time, East Pakistan – legal and constitutional part of Pakistan; but due to consistent injustice, discrimination and political and economic exploitation East Pakistan was forced to become Bangladesh. When Bangladesh emerged as an independent country it was in rubbles because of a long civil war and direct India and Pakistan war which resulted in humiliating defeat and imprisonment of more than 92 thousand Pakistani soldiers - biggest surrender in the human history.
I vividly remember, despite this humiliating defeat and biggest surrender in the history of mankind, there was no remorse or sense of loss. I heard many people saying ‘Thank God we got rid of these Bengalis - they were burden on our economy and resources.’
Bangladesh struggled during early years of its life mainly because the country was destroyed as a result of the military confrontation; and the civil service and the army they inherited were trained and nurtured by Pakistan which resulted in nepotism and military interventions.
Tahmina Anam in her article, ‘Happy 40th birthday Bangladesh’ published in Guardian on 24 March 2011, she wrote: ‘During those nine months in 1971, the world watched while the Pakistani army conducted a campaign of mass murder, rape and ethnic cleansing against an unarmed civilian population. In the name of religious unity, they killed up to 3 million people, displaced another 10 million into neighbouring India, and are alleged to have raped hundreds of thousands of women.’
While explaining the situation there she further wrote: ‘Born out of that brutal war of secession with Pakistan, battered by floods, cyclones, coups and political assassinations, it was once a country that had little chance of surviving. But against all odds, Bangladesh has flourished.’
After facing problems because of the military coups, instability and political assassinations, people of Bangladesh emerged as a nation with a future and determination to succeed. In 1988 Bangladesh heavily relied on international aid for its annual development budget, which was 85% of the total. This figure is now down to 2%; and despite world economic crises Bangladesh economy has grown at the rate of 5 -6% over the past 3 years.
In its recent assessment, Goldman Sachs has named ‘Bangladesh one of “next 11″ emerging economies’. Tahmina Anam writes: ‘Bangladesh has a vibrant women’s movement, regular elections, a free press, and a track record of investing in health and education. You only have to visit the capital to get a sense of the pace of change and transformation.’
This change did not come by an accident, they had to plan and work hard for it. Many experts believe that the Awami League campaigned on a platform of secularism and progressive politics, which helped to reverse many years of sectarianism and domination of far-right groups. In this regard Bangladeshi Supreme Court’s decision to restore country’s status as a secular republic also helped to provide harmony and stability.
Later on the High Court put a ban on issuing fatwa’s of right wing religious scholars, which generally created problems for the society. Organisations that promoted violence and extremism were put under pressure; and Harkut – Ul Jihad was banned, as it was perceived to be responsible for many terrorist incidents in the recent years.
Now in contrast, let us look at Pakistan. A Pakistani writer Sabrina Baloch, in her article, ‘Pakistan Celebrates Pakistan Day’ published on her blog -, wrote:
‘Born at midnight as a sovereign, independent, democratic country, today it is neither sovereign, nor independent, nor democratic. Today it is not just a “rentier state,” not just a client state. It is a slave state, ill-led, ill-governed by a corrupt, power-hungry junta running a puppet government set up by Washington.’

Sabrina Baloch further writes: ‘Sixty-three years after independence, are we really free? Are the people masters in their own house? From the kind of country we have today, Pakistan has lost its manhood and is a ghost of its former self. If Pakistan were to look into a mirror now, it wouldn’t recognise itself. The contrast between Pakistan in 1947 – idealistic, democratic, progressive, optimistic, and Pakistan today – leaderless, rudderless, violent, besieged, corrupt, uncertain about its future – could not be sharper or more disheartening. If you want to know how a people can survive despite their corrupt government, or corrupt leaders, well, visit Pakistan.’
When East Pakistan became Bangladesh, situation in Pakistan was bad, but not as bad as one witnesses today; and the above quotation only gives a glimpse of the prevailing situation in Pakistan. Situation is so bad that no one feels safe in the country. People don’t feel safe to go to their mosques or visit religious shrines because of threats of bombs and suicide attacks.
Pakistani economy is in a mess and the country seems to have no future, or at least it looks like that. Because of hunger, poverty and bleak future, many people are forced to sell their children, sell their body organs or commit suicide; and Pakistani leaders have no plans or even will to improve the condition of the people or that of the country.
Pakistan has to borrow money even to pay instalments of its loans, yet leaders and rulers are busy looting and amassing resources of the country and sending that in their accounts in foreign countries. Out of stupidity or wishful thinking these leaders and rulers still hope that foreign investors could be so naïve that they will invest in Pakistan when they know that Pakistanis are taking out their money and investing in other countries. Apart from that when the country is in chaos and there is acute shortage of energy; and there is uncontrolled corruption and civil war only fool from abroad could invest in Pakistan.
People of Jammu and Kashmir State are forcibly divided and oppressed with various degrees of human rights abuses on both sides of the Line of Control; and leaders or those who are promoted as leaders are clueless and not sure what they want to achieve and what are they struggling for.
Because of the above situation, injustice and military campaigns in various parts of Pakistan some parts of the Pakistan, especially Balochistan no longer want to be part of Pakistan. But despite all the above, some Kashmiri leaders or more appropriately puppets of Pakistan actively campaign and try to persuade people of Jammu and Kashmir to become part of this Pakistan.
Deep inside their hearts these so called leaders know future of Jammu and Kashmir is not with Pakistan, as Pakistan has nothing to give to people of the State apart from what they have given to their own people, as explained above. But these puppets, imposed on people of Jammu and Kashmir as leaders are so selfish and ego centred that they could only see their personal gains, and interest of the people is not their priority.
People of Jammu and Kashmir need to speak their mind and tell these ‘leaders’ and those who control them that they want to be independent and have no desire to join Pakistan, or any other country for that matter. Our destiny is an independent, liberal, secular and prosperous Jammu and Kashmir State, a country for all its citizens and not for Muslims or one sect of Muslims.
Writer is Head Diplomatic Committee of Kashmir National Party, political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir
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1 comment:

Agnitra said...

Sir, this is the most unbiased and impartial depiction of the Kashmir issue I have read so far. Being an Indian I too queried about the territorial gains that my country has had since 1947. However, the plight of Kashmiris is indeed an eye opener for our so called civil society. Kashmir should be given freedom and like true powerful states, both India and Pakistan should help in the peaceful functioning of a people's government in the new state, the goal of which should be development, sovereignty and tranquility.