Saturday, January 14, 2006

Unintelligent Design?

Daily Times columnist Ahmad Faruqui dares to question the conventional wisdom blaming Mr. Jinnah's early death and the absence of politically strong successors for Pakistan's ills.

Instead, Mr. Faruqui argues:

Jinnah might conclude that Pakistan had failed not because the leaders who followed him were weak, but because there were weaknesses in the original design. How else can one explain the behaviour of a state that was able to bring home 93,000 prisoners of war within two years of a military debacle but another 32 years later, has been unable to bring home 200,000 civilians displaced by the same war?

Only a state that has succumbed to regimented thinking would fail to see the contradiction in calling for the people of Kashmir to be given the right of self-determination for 58 years, while continuing to deny its own people the right to elect their own government.

Jinnah would conclude that Pakistan had failed him. But will the barrister, who was once the ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity, call for the annulment of Partition? That is the $64 million question.

It's much too late -- and quite dangerous -- to reverse the partition, but this debate is crucial so that a failed Pakistan is seen as a warning by divisive others in our Indian political maelstorm.


reformist_muslim said...

Very interesting and a lot there I agree with. However as much as the irony of an undemocratic Pakistan wanting self-determination for Kashmiri's is downplayed there, it is I think equally overplayed in India.

I think it is safe to say that the majority of Kashmiris favour joining Pakistan. The fact that they would have quite a lot of autonomy in Pakistan irrespective of millitary rule is one reason. The lack of democracy and freedom in Indian-Kashmir is another one.

Also does this imply that when Pakistan had democratic rule say when Bhutto was in power and India was in a state of emergency that the moral claim changed?

This is not to say that politicians especially Pakistani ones should treat this with moral fervour. A lot of recent progress has been made due to pragmatic diplomacy. However I think when assessing the history it is important to bear this in mind.

Primary Red said...


In a peaceful world, Kashmiris would enjoy just as many freedoms as the rest of their fellow Indians. These freedoms far exceed anything they will experience as Pakistanis.

To the extent there is a freedom deficit in Kashmir, the resolution is in greater integration with India -- not fusion with a failing Pakistan. Most Indians are committed to making this integration a reality.

Without meaning to offend anyone, we must observe that religion-based nationalism has repeatedly failed in our neighborhood. What evidence is there that Kashmiris will be more successful with this than Pakistanis and Bangladeshis?

An Islamist Kashmir is one where young women will be beheaded -- as some already have been -- for not wearing the veil. An Islamist Kashmir is one where global terrorists will find shelter -- as many already do in Pakistan's large cities and tribal agencies. An Islamist Kashmir will not be democratic, will not be an integral part of the global supply chain, will not be able to leverage the vast scale of India to seek economic advance.

We know this because we've travelled this road before -- in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

As an Indian -- a militantly secular Indian at that -- this blogger is not prepared to accept any more of such tragedies. We do not accept a people's claim to "azadi" in order to destroy freedom.

As for the reference to Emergency in India while Mr. Bhutto was running Pakistan, let's recall that Indians grabbed their democracy back and have never let go. In contrast, Pakistan's people have repeatedly allowed their democracy to fade and have failed to fight for their freedoms. The comparison of how India handled its dark hours and how Pakistan has its dark decades is hardly favorable to Pakistan. India's moral claim is earned over six decades of institution building -- which allowed its people to take such fierce pride in their democracy that no one dare overturn our constitution and way of life; Pakistan's experience is a staggering surrender to its army.

For a nation whose children are brought up on bigoted propaganda of their superiority to ten Indians (!), the repeated meek collapse before the army is rather pathetic and mirthful -- and the precise reason why its moral claim has no meaning.

Best regards.

Kumar said...

Reformist Muslim:

I am a Kashmiri Pandit and I (along with many of other ethnicites and religions, including Muslims) disagree with your assertions.

You're mistaken about the relative freedom in PoK vs. J&K; it's actually the reverse. There is greater freedom in J&K compared to PoK (or even Pakistan, for that matter).

You need not take my word for it. Just look up the ratings of the two areas by Freedom House, a very highly respected group; not one known as a mouthpiece for the GOI. The link is at

Their summary for 2005:
INDIA Political Rights: 2 Civil Liberties: 3 Status: Free

J&K (INDIA) Political Rights: 5 Civil Liberties: 5 Status: Partly Free

PoK (PAKISTAN) Political Rights: 7 Civil Liberties: 5 Status: Not Free

PAKISTAN Political Rights: 6 Civil Liberties: 5 Status: Not Free

Note that these ratings are unchanged from 2004.

Of course, J&K is far from perfect but it's far closer to a 'normal' political life than PoK or Pakistan.

More to the point, the human rights violations in J&K would not occur if terrorists weren't exported from Pakistan. Partisans of secession routinely cite the (regrettable) violations of human rights by the security forces in J&K but are quite silent about the gross violations committed by the 'boys', the hideous euphemism for terrorists employed by apologists for terrorism. Freedom House castigates both sides but here I will excerpt a few lines about the terrorists given the huge publicity given to the violations committed by the security forces:

"....Militants also engage in kidnapping, rape, extortion, and other forms of terror. Violence targeted against Kashmiri Hindus is part of a pattern since 1990 that has forced several hundred thousand Hindus to flee the region; many continue to reside in refugee camps near Jammu."

As for your assertion that "...the majority of Kashmiris favour joining Pakistan", it is simply incorrect that a majority are in favor of such an oucome. Moreover, in talking about 'Kashmiris', I am afraid you are flattening out the ethno-religious and socio-political map of J&K. Kargil Muslims, Ladakhi Muslims, Ladakhi Buddhists, Kashmiri Pandits, and most Jammu-district residents do not support secession. Even within the Valley, the ardor for secession varies by religion (Sunni vs. Shia) and location (rural vs urban; North Kashmir vs. the rest etc.). I am not suggesting that these categories are watertight; secessionists and non-secessionists populate each of the categories above. In any case, secessionist ardor does not necessarily translate into a desire to become a Pakistani appendage.

Supposing, however (for argument's sake) one accepts that there is a majority for secession from India (albeit not a desire to join Pakistan), what follows? Given the ethno-religious complexity of J&K, 'majority-rules' is a recipe for communal mischief on a huge scale, unless it's an overwhelming majority overall (and in each community). That is simply not the case. For this reason, among others, a 'majority-rules' criterion--even if it were true--is not dispositive in the case of J&K.


doubtinggaurav said...


I agree with you.

Should partition be reversed, I do not know.

While I think it would be a good thing for peole living in Pakistan to come out from this failed experiment. I do not think the current realities in pakistan are conducive for it


Apollo said...


Also does this imply that when Pakistan had democratic rule say when Bhutto was in power and India was in a state of emergency that the moral claim changed?

this is rewriting history. kindly refrain from such things if u want to maintain ur credibility. u will not find anyone in this world who will say that pakistan is more free, secular and democratic than india. pakistan is ruled by a feudal elite who have shown complete disregard for human rights and democracy. the examples of bangladesh, baluchistan and PoK is too well known to elaborate here. the pakistani people have proved total cowards when dealing with their own Army's greed and lust for power. whereas the indian people in that dark hour proved beyond a shadow of doubt that India is India, not Indira. we are a free because we deserve it. the pakis are in such a mess because they deserve that.

pennathur said...

The article by Dr.Ahmed is the first ever from Pakistan in 50 years to take a radical look at the very idea of Pakistan. Even the much famed 'liberals' of Pakistan such as Pervez Hoodbhoy haven't dared think of these questions. Any reconciliation with India in Pakistan at India's terms - in their opinion - strengthens Indian national identity. Indian leftists and anti-nationalism'ists will not like this article because they are opposed to the very idea of a mature nationalistic Indian state.

Jaffna said...

Primary Red, Kumar et al,

Brilliant discussion.

I would like to take on Reformist Muslim. He writes "Also does this imply that when Pakistan had democratic rule say when Bhutto was in power and India was in a state of emergency that the moral claim changed?".

Let's place things in perspective. Bhutto was hardly the democrat. He refused to accede to the principal of majority rule when East Bengali representatives had won the elections in 1970. Zulfiqar proceeded to crush the Balochi rebellion on 1974. He was a nasty demagogue, not a democrat. There was no moral claim.

Balochi and Paktoon unrest has resumed. Kumar's convincing case speaks for itself in light of the recent upsurge of unrest in Balochistan and the North West Frontier Province.

reformist_muslim said...

Ok, let me try and clarify my position .

Firstly, I make a crucial assumption based on my own perceptions that the majority of Kashmiri Muslims would rather be a part of Pakistan.

This doesn't justify Pakistan having a claim over the entire region, but it does suggest that the current suggested solution with the line of control as an open border is the right way to go.

PR please don't confuse a Pakistani Kashmir with an Islamist one. Suggesting that women will be beheaded for not wearing the veil is the equivalent of me arguing that an Indian Kashmir would lead to a Gujrat type massacre.

Next point. I never suggested that Pakistan's political system is superior to India's. In fact I've argued in another comment that one of the problems with Pakistani's is the obsession with the idea that India is a sham democracy and that somehow millitary rule isn't really that bad.

One area where this is point has some validity though is in Kashmir. Freedom House statistics are all well and good but you have to ask yourself why India does not have a referendum - if Kashmiri's were happy with the governance they would choose to stay in India.

Plus governance isn't necessarily the only thing. One way to think about this is to look at whether or not Pakistani's would choose to reverse partition. If you went by Freedom House statistics they wouldn't think twice , but this doesn't hold true.

This does not necessarily mean that I think that partition should have occurred in the first place but the reality is that reversal can now only happen by force.

On the Indira/Bhutto point, yes Bhutto was terrible for the country (better than Zia though) but he was a populist and he was a democrat. My point was simply that do people keep changing their mind as to which country they want to be in based on the political circumstances.

Thats about it for now. I appreciate that differences will remain and would be interested to hear more of your thoughts.

Jaffna said...

How could Bhutto have been a democrat when he had successfully prevailed upon the Pakistani military to disregard the the 1970 election verdict where the Awami League of East Bengal had won the majority of seats in the legislature? I hold him solely responsible for the dismemberment of Pakistan due to his own greed for power. Let us not forget that the movement for Pakistan started in East Bengal, not West Punjab which remained unconvinced until late in the day in 1947. Bhutto had alienated Pakistan's initial constituency - i.e. the Bengali Muslims. (Just as Zia had alienated its second most important constituency - the Mohajirs).

Let us leave aside Bhutto's record in Balochistan for now.

Turning to Kashmir, why should there be a plebiscite in that state any more than in Balochistan or say in Nagaland? The fact remains that the population in Kashmir have voted for parties that have endorsed union with India in several elections since 1950. The frequency of elections in "Azad" Kashmir has been far fewer.

You assume that Pakistan is an eternal verity. A lot would depend on whether it can make the transition from intermittent military rule (I count the current administration to be one) to institutionalized sustainable democracy (like Bangladesh or Indonesia or Turkey). I can not see Pakistan making that transition as yet. Witness the events in Balochistan and the NWFP.

Kumar said...

PR, and others, I apologize for the overlong reply. I hope that it enlightens at least some of your readers.

Reformist Muslim:

RM: ....let me....clarify my position. I make a crucial assumption based on my own perceptions that the majority of Kashmiri Muslims would rather be a part of Pakistan….

You hasten to clarify that your argument revolves around ‘Kashmiri Muslims’, not ‘Kashmiris’ (as you wrote earlier). An unsurprising clarification, since the communal nature of your premise was quite evident to me. Indeed, without such communal coloration, your argument (such as it is) hardly stands a chance of succeeding. Nevertheless, it is a welcome clarification since it makes explicit what was previously only implicit.

Once again, however, you are squashing the ethno-religious topography of Kashmir, this time of the Kashmiri Muslim community. A brief recap, then, is again in order: Kargil Muslims (who are Shia) are not involved in the secessionist campaign; for example, in the recent Assembly elections their participation rates were approximately 65-70%. The jihadis simply do not operate in the Kargil region. Much the same is true of Ladakhi Muslims and Ladakh. Similarly, the vast majority of Muslims in the Jammu district are not votaries for secession, although here the jihadis are carrying out an active campaign of ethnic cleansing against Hindus in the remoter regions of Doda-district.

In the Valley itself location (rural vs urban; North vs. South), and the variety of Islam (Shia or Sunni) are among the factors that affect devotion to secession. Note that Sajjad Lone of the People’s Conference (whose father was murdered by jihadi terrorists) ran proxy candidates in the northern areas of the Valley in the recent Assembly elections. Since no good deed goes unpunished, the so-called ‘Hurriet’ conference expelled him from its ranks. However, his party commands significant support in the Northern areas of the Valley; hence the GOI’s decision to invite him into the talks on J&K.

RM: ….you have to ask yourself why India does not have a referendum - if Kashmiri's were happy with the governance they would choose to stay in India…

Asked and answered earlier. Again, you slipped and wrote about Kashmiris and not Kashmiri Muslims. The GOI cannot afford such forgetfulness. Given the ethno-religious complexity of the Valley, I suspect there isn’t an overwhelming majority for secession even there.

In any case, there simply is not overwhelming support for secession in J&K state as a whole. And J&K state as a whole is the center of our (and GOI’s) concern. A simple ‘majority-rules’ referendum would wreak communal havoc in J&K, and likely India as well. While that may well be of no concern to you, it won’t come as a surprise that the GOI can’t airily wave aside such concerns.

Finally, I am weary of writing yet again that secession from India will not translate into support for the rule of the modern-day Athens that is Islamabad. As an example, why would Kashmiri Shias elect to join a state that does not adequately protect the Pakistani Shia community from the depredations of Sunni fundies?

RM: ….Freedom House statistics are all well and good…. Plus governance isn't necessarily the only thing…

Your “…perceptions…” do not amount to evidence. I am afraid that brushing aside genuine evidence falsifying your view on the relative lack of freedom in J&K (vs. PoK) simply will not do. Recall that this claim is the basis on which you earlier justified the secessionist stance. Given the obvious falsity of your earlier argument, it is incumbent on you to state a legitimate argument on behalf of the secessionists.

Moreover, the Freedom House ratings are not merely based on ‘governance’; they cover all of the rights—political and civil—to which people are entitled. J&K, despite the onslaught of jihadi terrorism from Pakistan, equals or surpasses PoK on these measures.

RM:…. don't confuse a Pakistani Kashmir with an Islamist one. Suggesting that…. is the equivalent of…arguing that an Indian Kashmir would lead to a Gujrat type massacre.

No confusion there; PoK clearly has an Islamist culture. Only such a culture would allow the survival of jihadi camps in PoK. These jihadis are popular heroes in PoK. They have perpetrated massacres far worse than Gujarat, and horrific things were done in Gujarat.

Who do you suppose will rule an ‘independent’ Pakistani Kashmir? The jihadis, the men who have the guns, surely; I fear that there are no Jeffersonian democrats lurking in their ranks. The most likely form democracy will take in such environs is of the ‘one man, one vote, one time’ variety.

Note the contrast with J&K--an active and vibrant political culture, however deformed by jihadi terror and secessionist sulking, is present in J&K. Men with guns are present but only because of the jihadi menace; most importantly, they are answerable to civilian leadership (unlike PoK).

BTW, at least in Gujarat, the democracy is not of the ‘one time’ variety. There is a great likelihood that democracy’s verdict will go against the criminals-in-govt. there, sooner rather than later.


Anonymous said...

"reformist" muslim's blog is full of circular "logic" just like his postings here...

Rishi Gajria said...


It's a good thing that Reformist Muslim is participating and sharing his views on this blog.
I hope that continues reading and commenting.

Rishi Gajria said...

Reformist Muslim,

The two people who could have had a referendum namely Mr.Nehru and Mrs.Gandhi are both dead.
If Kashmir had secceded in the 60s, it would not have seemed so bad.
Right now in India, it is political suicide to concede anything on Kashmir.
It doesnt matter that half the indian army is tied up in Kashmir or that the cost to the Indian Exchquer is great. India simply will not concede anything. Peace talks or no peace talks.
I do not wish to speak with malice. But this is my observation on India's stance on Kashmir.

cynical nerd said...

Regarding referundum, just to clarify:

- First it has to be conducted in the whole of Kashmir, not just the Valley.
- Second, the entire region has to be de-militarized, not just the Valley.
- Third, the demographics have considerably changed. Pandits have been chased away on the Indian side while Punjabis have beem implanted in PoK.
- Fourth, what about Gilgit, Northern Areas and areas donated to the Chinese.

reformist_muslim said...

Firstly regarding referendum's, this is what I said.

This doesn't justify Pakistan having a claim over the entire region, but it does suggest that the current suggested solution with the line of control as an open border is the right way to go.

I'll try and go over more stuff later.

In the meantime I recommend this piece by Hussain Naqvi on 3quarks daily.

reformist_muslim said...

Kumar either PoK has an Islamist culture or it has all been imported by Pakistan - I'm not sure you can have it both ways.

My own view is that its more to do with the misguided and morally wrong policies of the Pakistan government/military/isi in trying to take control of Kashmir through jihadi terrorism after seeing similar tactics work in Afghanistan.

As far as I know, under American pressure this policy has been abondoned. I'm not saying that there has been a total crackdown but at the same time its not 'state-sponsored' so to speak.

Also, since I'm not a big fan of Bhutto I'll point out that Pakistan's first millitary coup did not take place till 1958 and leave it at that.

Kumar said...

Reformist Muslim:

RM: ….either PoK has an Islamist culture or it has all been imported by Pakistan - I'm not sure you can have it both ways.

A false dilemma RM; I would argue that it is (now) a joint enterprise. A Pakistani export (jihadi camps, jihadi terrorism etc.) has found a willing—eager, even—market. Consequently, I fear that PoK’s culture has been irrevocably changed by this export.

RM:…As far as I know, under American pressure this policy has been abondoned. I'm not saying that there has been a total crackdown but at the same time its not 'state-sponsored' so to speak.

The continued existence and funding of terrorist groups like LeT, their open relief efforts in PoK, and the re-opening of terrorist training camps (as reported by a Pakistani news magazine) hardly suggest a lack of state sponsorship.

Military dictatorships, with power concentrated in the executive, are especially prone to ‘use it or lose it’. And what does one find in Pakistan’s case? A huge formal armed sector backed by an especially large cadre of terrorists groups. India would do well to pay attention to this infrastructure of terrorism and not to soothing words from Islamabad.

reformist_muslim said...

Kumar I think we'll have to agree to disagree.

This is not directly relevant to this discussion but Amit's post about Lahore is an important one.


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