The Modern History of the Subcontient: With Regards to Pakistan
Through the power of Islam and the charisma of Benazir, Pakistan will be rejuvenated to serve alongside her neighbour India and both these countries will play their proper role.
1. Opening Remarks
On account of the divisiveness between the present Pakistan and New Delhi and the outrages perpetrated from within Pakistan it has become fashionable to regard the Islamabad regime as a pariah state, like Iran its neighbour in the West. Iran is said to be an extreme Islamic regime in its ruling clique, whilst Pakistan ruled by a secular government has harboured terrorists in its midst, so we are told e.g. Osama Bin Laden “taken out” by U.S. Special Forces. Moreover we are lead to believe Pakistan in its leadership is corrupt – even the graceful and cruelly assassinated Benazir Bhutto is not spared this tar brush. India is the world’s largest democracy (600 million voters) yet many lack basic education and are illiterate.
2. What is the present state of play?
More quiescent than for some time. The terrorists within Pakistan are the bugbear and difficult to eradicate. Even the renowned Pakistan cricket team cannot play Test matches at home – such is the perceived threat from armed thugs motivated politically. Only Pakistan can deal with this inner threat and her government is tackling this violent grouping through the police, judiciary and military. Their courage and resolution is remarkable and although the terrorists will exact their toll on the lives of the forces of law and order commanded from Pakistan’s cities the result is not in doubt. India was herself attacked by these terrorists at Mumbai recently who came into Indian waters on motorised inflatable dinghies from Pakistan. The deputy chief of the anti-terrorist police in Mumbai was killed in action during this outrage. India keeps a close watch on Pakistan as Islamabad knows. The rulers of those two countries will not allow matters to get out of hand in Kashmir or anywhere between them. They have wise rulers and the Pakistani military, police and judiciary will not permit terrorist atrocities to go unpunished.
3. The psychology
There is no shame in admitting you are from the Indian Republic or from Bangladesh when you are in the west but I fear the Pakistanis will not openly admit their Islamic Pakistani origins to the Western Peoples. They will shelter behind Bangladesh, formerly Eastern Pakistan an Islamic country that has a more innocent gloss than troubled Pakistan. No one is proud of terrorists, let’s admit it or a country said to have harboured them.
4. The History
This is a difficult story. Vast numbers trekked either way: Hindus into present day India and Muslims out to the West and Pakistan in 1948, at the time of Independence. As the Muslims and the Hindus passed en route internecine slaughter broke out. Were people intimidated in to becoming adherents of the other religion to evade slaughter as may happen? This kind of wholesale, unlawful, merciless killing is not neat and tidy – India still has a small number of Muslims but not in positions of authority. The Sikhs mainly reside in India and India’s Prime Minister is currently a Sikh, a highly able and respected man. In Pakistan there is no home for Hindus regrettably, contrary to Jinnah’s wishes and he the father of Pakistan as we know it.
5. What has created this impasse and how may it be changed?
Undoubtedly the exodus of 1948 has played its part and a united India is not on the cards although the three religions lived peacefully under the British. India has stolen a march on Pakistan by its democracy and economic success. Pakistan I suspect is not a long way behind and is learning from its eastern neighbour. The Islamic faith is practised widely and deeply in Pakistan and throughout the world; the Hindu and Buddhist (Sri Lanka) religions less so. What matters more – religion or mammon? In the modern thinking religion comes a poor second and is thought to be extremist and overzealous. A country may be economically buoyant and admired yet lack soul e.g. Germany today. Economic growth is finite and energy must eventually be channelled into other areas such as the wider religious life. This is the choice facing Pakistan – should she go flat out for industrial growth as with her close neighbour India or should she foster and protect her religious heritage and seek more modest financial return – I say the latter for the sake of the Islamic faith in the old India and the world: Pakistan is a flagship state of great significance internationally.
6. Benazir Bhutto
She represented grace and Islam. I believe she had the charm of the East yet she was president of the Oxford Union. Clearly she had language skills and she was inspirational: hence her opponents’ determination to being her down and crush her. She had already achieved power in Pakistan once over and they were determined to prevent any repetition. She was the woman of the moment for modern Pakistan when she was killed and she also stood for devout feminine Islam and economic change. It does not take much to see she was the great hope for Pakistan so far in this century. They say she was corrupt – I say do not deface the earth with such calumny. A leader of her quality was the essence of goodness and purity in the purest sense – I am a purist I concede. Her brave sacrifice of her life speaks volumes I argue on her behalf.
India will look after itself and Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. She may not invade Pakistan sovereign territory and she knows it. She did so to East Pakistan in the early 1970’s (Indira Gandhi – Indian P.M. at the time) and knows that “virtual annexation” cannot be repeated. The future of Central Asia lies within Pakistan and her government and people. They will not be bludgeoned in to apathy and rejection of their religious weekly Friday prayers. They are rightly proud of Islam in their veins. They believe in the Qur’an but Benazir also woos them to democracy and equality – she is not forgotten although her killers tried to obliterate her memory. They have failed – “the grain of wheat has fallen to the ground and died and therefore the rich harvest will spring up”. Indeed the grain of wheat had to fall to the ground and die as our Christian Bible tells us. We salute you Benazir and your countrymen and women.