Geelani: We are Pakistanis; Pakistan is ours


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Home Articles Geelani: We are Pakistanis; Pakistan is ours
Geelani: We are Pakistanis; Pakistan is ours PDF Print E-mail
Written by Asad Sufi
Monday, 29 November 2010 17:08
Rarely does a single sentence encapsulate the message of a Movement. I saw a video clip of a speech made by Syed Ali Shah Geelani in Srinagar, where he said amid thunderous applause and palpable excitement, “Ham Pakistani Hain; Pakistan Hamara hai”. (We are Pakistani; Pakistan is ours) That is the truth but the words are so heavy with implications and potential impact that these had to be uttered by a person matching in eminence with the words.

Pakistan was a Movement before it became a country. The Movement had three objectives. The first and most important was to set up a sovereign Muslim State in areas of British India where the Muslims were in majority. The name Pakistan is an acronym made of the first letters of the states of British India where the Muslims were in majority i.e. Punjab, Afghania (NWFP now called K-P), Kashmir, (Iran which secured its sovereignty before Pakistan did), Sindh, and Baluchistan (last three letters). The princely state of Jammu and Kashmir was always and still is the nuclear element of the Pakistan nation as visualised during the Pakistan Movement. ‘Without Kashmir, Pakistan is incomplete’; that has been said often enough. But it has not been said often enough that Kashmiri aspiration for freedom is unfulfilled without being inside Pakistan as Pakistanis shouldering responsibility for the fulfilment of the objectives the Pakistan Movement.

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What are the other two objectives of the Pakistan Movement? These are: 1) to develop a model polity for a Muslim nation state that should be a beacon of light for Muslim nations who secure sovereignty and freedom – they number 56 today; 2) to be powerful enough to be able to protect the Muslims who live in a society and/or country hostile to Muslims. Because of the complexity in its foreign relations dictated by eternal hostility of India and the importance of the strategic location of Pakistan, this country has had to seek protection in alliances. Clearly, survival was its first priority. Military defeat in East Pakistan turned out to be blessing in disguise. Pakistan could not have defended a territory separated by a thousand miles of hostile Indian territory when the political leaders of Bengali Muslims decided they would be better off as a vassal state of India. The truth is that unshackled from responsibility to satisfy uneasy East Pakistan, the country has not looked back. Pakistan has made progress in achieving all the objectives of the Pakistan Movement.

The path to success and accomplishment is never even or straight. Those who give up early can never succeed. And Pakistan deserves credit for not giving up early despite inept and often corrupt leadership. Among the stalwarts who enthused the people of Pakistan was Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who gets credit for pulling Pakistan together after the defeat in East Pakistan and bringing the country to centre stage as a vehicle of Muslim unity with the help of well established leaders of the time – Late King Faisal of Saudi Arabia and Colonel Kadhafi of Libya. He is the one who started the nuclear programme in 1974 when India carried out its first nuclear test and stood up against almost universal opposition. His successors deserve credit for sustaining progress despite US sanctions. That Pakistan is the first Muslim country to become a nuclear weapon state is no mean achievement. The Kashmiris are just as proud as the people of Pakistan. The Kashmiris demonstrated that Pakistan is theirs as well.

Much reviled ‘military dictator’ Zia ul Haq was instrumental in the defeat of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan that eventually led to its disintegration and six Muslim countries – five Central Asia Republics and Azerbaijan – securing sovereign freedom . The US victory in the Cold War would have been impossible without Pakistan and the USA working together. While all the leaders of Pakistan including the nincompoops who rule it today have been aware of the importance of congruence of interests between the USA and Pakistan in South and Central Asia, the US establishment is divided on this issue. India is on the side of those in the US who underline the danger from ‘Islamists’ rather than the value of having Muslims on their side.

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As for evolving a model polity for a Muslim nation state, Pakistan has covered a lot of distance during the ‘lawyer’s movement’ that secured the restoration of the judges dismissed by Musharraf who Zardari also did not want to restore. It is now recognised by the intelligentsia in Pakistan that ‘good governance’ is not the product of democracy; it may even be undermined by the political class that democracy brings to power in many countries like India and Pakistan. Good governance depends more on the ‘rule of law’. Pakistani political class is corrupt and is therefore focussed on avoiding being held to account for its crimes. They are afraid that if the judicial system operated effectively and justly they would be in jail rather than in the halls of power. Since 1973, all governments – civil as well as military – have been successful in making the institutions of the state ineffective. They abolished the ‘neutrality and security of tenure of the civil services’ to make the civil servants no different from private servants of politicians. They undermined the independence of the judiciary – the civilian rulers by legislation to give them control over judicial appointment, and the military by forcing the high judiciary to justify the rule of the Army Chief invoking the dubious ‘doctrine of necessity’.

The military itself escaped atrophy – one because its chief was also the chief executive of the country and two because the service chiefs of the armed forces never tolerated interference in promotions and appointments. That the military is resented so much and so unanimously by the political class is therefore quite understandable. But the political class has not given up; another Nawaz Sharif may yet appoint another Musharraf and the whole country suffers. But the fact remains that it is the interest of the military that the country is governed well and it is willing and able to take measures when other institutions collapse or come under foreign influence or control.

I believe that Pakistan’s rich and varied experience in seeking to develop a model polity equips it to articulate one. This is not difficult. A polity does not define a system of government; it defines the principle of national solidarity of a state. All the fifty six Muslim nation states have different systems of government. It is impossible to find even two states which have exactly the same system of governance. But all fifty six of them have the same polity – Islam. It is not the result of anything Pakistan has done. But there is reason for quiet satisfaction in Pakistan that it is so.

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Ironically, the growing solidarity between Muslim nation states has led to encouragement of non-state actors to espouse fringe ideas that makes it easy to revile Islam and Muslims. There is apparently great anxiety in the world today over threat from the Islamists, from nuclear weapons in the hands of Muslims, and the ‘liberation movements of long standing like that in Palestine and Kashmir? USA has grouped all these together in politically correct terms of ‘terrorism’ and ‘nuclear proliferation’. How can any one be for terrorism or proliferation? The Muslims need to respond. They must assert ‘how can any one be for injustice, for betrayal of solemn promises and violation of international law’. The people of Jammu and Kashmir and Palestine are the victims of injustice and betrayal in clear violation of international law. As long as injustice and betrayal are sustained, violence will be justified and just as sustained.

What Syed Ali Shah Geelani has done is to claim ownership of the Pakistan Movement for which the Pakistanis are just as grateful as the people of Jammu and Kashmir. But there is a bigger challenge facing him and ‘his Pakistan’. The movement in Kashmir is reviled in India and the West as ‘Islamist and terrorist’. They have to be able to show and demonstrate that it is a movement against ‘Injustice, Betrayal, and Violation of International law’. Resistance is a lawful response to any one let alone all three. Resistance in Kashmir is not only legitimate; it is the duty of every Pakistani – whether living in Kashmir or Pakistan.

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