RISKS TO NATIONAL COHESION
Aug 17 - 23, 2009
Pakistan is an ideological state. Ideology of Pakistan is an Islamic ideology given by the last Prophet of Allah, Hazrat Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) to the Muslims and practicalized by him (PBUH) in the State of Medina 1400 years ago. No doubt, ideology of Pakistan integrated the Muslims of the sub-continent belonging to the different races and speaking different languages, and taught them to grow as one nation with its own distinctive features.
Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the father of the nation had a clear conception of the Muslims as a nation and he presented it in crystal-clear words in his presidential address on the occasion of Pakistan resolution in 1940 at Lahore, when he said:
"We are a nation with our own distinctive culture and civilization, language and literature, art and architecture, value and proportion, legal laws and moral codes, customs and calendars, history and tradition, aptitudes and ambitions. In short, we have our own distinctive outlook of life and on life. By all canons of international law, We are a nation."
Undoubtedly, this is the comprehensive definition of Muslim nation as a compact body, which distinguishes it from other nations of the world, exclusively in the sub-continent. The Muslims of the sub-continent unanimously struggled for a separate homeland where they could flourish their distinctive national features, as given by Quaid-i-Azam. The national cohesion is in fact a force, which emanates from these distinctive features and binds the Pakistani people speaking different languages and belonging to different ethnic groups, into a compact body.
National cohesion is rooted in the ideology of Pakistan. The 'Ideology of Pakistan' is based on the Two-Nation Theory ñ the proposition put forward in pre-partition India that the Hindus and the Muslims were two separate nations, and so should be able to live in separate homelands. At the time, this united the Muslims into a strong pressure group and forced the hand of the British into partitioning the subcontinent in 1947.
By invoking the 'Ideology of Pakistan' to portray Muslims as a monolithic group, the State has ensured that being a Muslim becomes simultaneously an individual and a collective identity, one that transcends all class, race, ethnic and even national boundaries.
I) SECTARIANISM & ETHNICITY
The ethnic problem in Pakistan is indeed an important issue that poses a serious threat to its solidarity and national cohesion. The growing ethnic divide in Pakistan is detrimental to its national unity. The 1971 tragedy was also the result of ethnicity that led to the dismemberment of the country.
Karachi has been in the grip of bloody violence for many years in the past. Sectarian, ethnic, and communal vendetta turned the cosmopolitan city of Pakistan into an inferno. The target killings, bomb blasts, sabotage, and frequent acts of terrorism bathed the streets and roads with blood of innocent people. Today, incidents of sectarian terrorism have become a routine in Pakistan.
II) UNFAIR RESOURCE DISTRIBUTION
Financial issues between the provinces and the Federation are detrimental to national cohesion. Under the constitution, the National Finance Commission (NFC) is obliged to announce every five years the formula for resource distribution between the federation and the provinces and also among the provinces. If for some reason the NFC fails to come up with an award in time, the Constitution provides a way out through the Council of Common Interest (CCI), which has to be convened to sort out differences among the contending parties and finalize an award. However, for the past many years, the NFC has not been able to finalize a new formula because of lack of consensus among the provinces over the new distribution formula.
III) REGIONAL DISPARITY
Pakistan suffers from conspicuous regional disparities in incomes that has created North-South divide. In Punjab and NWFP poverty is below 30 per cent and in Balochistan and rural Sindh, it is in the range of 40-50 per cent. This disparity is the outcome of inequitable allocation for development funds among the federating units over a long period.
According to one estimate, 89 per cent of rural Balochistan and 49 per cent of Sindh's rural population is in high deprivation areas. The entire urban population in Balochistan resides in high deprivation districts and the province's share in low as well as medium deprivation districts is zero. The provincial capital, Quetta does not even qualify for a medium deprivation status.
Various factors have contributed to the emergence of this North-South divide, which include the unfair federal contributions to the provincial development programmes. The over-centralism, unitary type of governance and arbitrary nature of decision-making are also the causes behind this North-South divide.
IV) POLITICAL INSTABILITY
Since 1947, Pakistan has been experiencing the pangs of political instability. Several administrations were dismissed on the charge of corruption. Political parties are not so groomed and matured to lead the nation. The politics of leg pulling and horse-trading have been the salient features of our political system.
The military intervention and interference has become the part of our political system. No assembly completed its tenure until 2002. Political instability leads to a leadership crisis that in turn harms the national cohesion.
Today, political stability is the key to improve law and order and put the troubled Balochistan, the country's largest province, on the path of fast-track development. Policy of alienating the Baloch has been intensifying the feelings of deprivation and frustration in the province. What has actually engendered the sense of alienation in the province is the discriminatory attitude meted out with it for the last five decades. The conflict is rooted in Islamabad's unwillingness to cede political and economic autonomy to the province.
In fact, religious extremism is presently the biggest threat to our ideology and national integration. It is not the Taliban but Talibanization, which is the real threat to the ideology of Pakistan. Talibanization is about spawning radical mindset through theocratic and obscurantist interpretation of Islam. It is about radicalizing the people and creating more and more suicide bombing squads in the name of jihad (holy war) against liberals or moderates (Muslims or non-Muslims). It is about forcefully imposing a theocratic agenda on the people and forcing them to follow the same.
Former Bush administration in Washington excessively relied on use of relentless force against militants in tribal areas. Bush administration policies spawned more and more suicide bombing squads and radicalized more groups in the tribal areas. Islamic militancy, in terms of cause and effect theory, is the result of doctrine of force. There will be no halt to violence till violence is used as chemotherapy to cure violence. During last few years, the Taliban's suicide bombings in the country's settled areas including Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Karachi and other cities brought a human and economic disaster to the country.