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Photo Source: Dawn

Pakistan Reader# 381, 12 September 2022

Pakistan at 75: An introspection by Pakistanis



An analysis of opinions published in Pakistani media

Joel Jacob

On 14 August 2022, Pakistan completed 75 years of its independence with ceremonies held in different cities. Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif In his address to the nation ahead of Independence Day said, "If we can become a nuclear power, we can also become an economic power but we have to strive day and night.” The PM further said, “Time has come for the nation to understand what true freedom means. It is freedom from want, hunger & poverty. Without economic sovereignty, our freedom is incomplete. Our greatest strength is our people. It is about time we place their welfare at the centre of public policy.” People in greens and whites participated in marches in different cities to celebrate the country's diamond jubilee while children sang patriotic and national songs at various singing events.

The article is written on the basis of how the media has different opinions about the ways in which Pakistan was formed, its army and political scenario, towards the neighbouring countries, and finally the way forward to how Pakistan should evolve as an innovative and independent country.

Jinnah and his envisioning of Pakistan
Muhammad Jinnah in his famous speech says, “ You are free, You are free to go to temples, You are free to go to mosques, or to any places of worship in the state of Pakistan You may belong to any caste or religion or creed that has got nothing to do with the Business of the state.” But to others, the speech has a narrower focus after his death. Umair Jamal in his article, ‘Pakistan at 75: A country in search of itself’ opinioned that the speeches and statements of Jinnah before and after the establishment of Pakistan showed that he wanted Pakistan to be a modern democratic state that derived its ethical inspiration from the principles and teachings of Islam. He was against the notion of a theocratic or religious state dominated by orthodox clergy. He was convinced that the principles of modern democracy could be combined with the teachings and principles of Islam which emphasize participatory governance, the rule of law, equality for all, and socio-economic justice.

Pakistan and the rise of the Army
One emerging power group in the days after Jinnah’s death in 1948 was the army, among other things, their political leadership had failed to prosecute the Kashmir War effectively, a war that some of them had orchestrated and managed for the civilian leaders. They conspired to take control of the young state. Shuja Nawaz in his article, ‘The Forever Shining Idea Of Pakistan’ says that the coup attempt in 1951 was foiled but it prepared the ground for the first military dictator of Pakistan, General Mohammad Ayub Khan, to take over from the president of Pakistan in 1958. This set the trend for more military rulers, as the Constitution was set aside as needed, often with the aid of a compliant judiciary. The 1958 coup of Gen Ayub, the illegal appointment of Gen Yahya Khan as his successor in 1969, and the forcible removal of Nawaz Sharif in 1999 to prevent the removal of Gen Pervez Musharraf as army chief are some among the episodes that damaged the idea of Pakistan as a democracy.

Pakistan and the Political System
Shuja Nawaz points out the political scenario as the misalliance between the civil and the military has been mirrored in Pakistan’s external relations. He says that over time, Pakistani leaders welded bonds with global powers in unequal agreements that allowed them to overrule their national sovereignty in return for financial support and strengthening of their autocratic systems of rule. Political dynasties became the norm in religious and non-religious parties.

The country was formed from scratch when it struggled with drafting a constitution in Islamic Ideology and later developed its own Civil, foreign, and defence system. The country’s security institutions are more involved in managing politics than doing their mandated work under the constitution. Moreover, militant groups and their ideologies have taken deep root in Pakistani society. One could see a mounting power struggle among political groups and institutions which could see Pakistan getting destabilized substantially. Shuja describes the country as far more intolerant, regressive, and radical than ever before. According to the author, the biggest security crisis confronting Pakistan today emanates from within rather than from outside.

India from Pakistan’s perspective
Umair Jamal says, “For many in Pakistan, independence is more about showing the world that India remains an exclusive threat to Pakistan’s existence and that the partition of the Indian subcontinent has not been accepted by New Delhi yet. In the words of French Orientalist Ernest Renan, “Getting its history wrong is part of being a nation.” This accurately describes Pakistan’s case. For more than seven decades, the history taught at Pakistan’s schools tried to make a case for a country that was part of some sort of prophecy. School children are taught that Pakistan has its origins in Muhammad bin Qasim’s eighth-century invasion and takeover of Sindh and that Islam was the sole uniting force behind the Pakistan movement.” Since independence, Pakistan and India have had numerous wars, border skirmishes, and military stand-offs. They also continue to have unresolved disputes, lingering irritants, and a history of broken promises. Attempts made by the two countries in the past seven decades to address disputes have not been successful due to various domestic, regional, and global factors. India’s position on almost every issue regarding Pakistan has hardened ever since the emergence of India as a “strategic partner” of the United States and other Western powers. Developments since 2018, including the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A, which Pakistan considers to be a violation of UN Security Council resolutions further strained ties between the two countries.

Youth and women of Pakistan
The youth and women who wish to take Pakistan into the competitive modern world before it reaches its first century shows resilience and a thirst for education that makes them world competitors. Aasim Sajjad Akhtar in his article, ‘As Pakistan turns 75, will its people finally rise above the fault lines?’ opinionated that Pakistan today is one of the most patriarchal societies in the world. Girls, women, and Trans and non-binary people are subjected to myriad forms of domination, discrimination, and sexual violence. That there is today greater disclosure about these everyday realities and the public sphere is an important but ultimately small step towards redressing gendered oppression in all of its various guises.

Economy and Geopolitics of the country
Mubarak Zeb Khan makes a point in ‘Pakistan emerges as 24th largest economy in the 75-year journey,’ that the structure of the economy has drastically changed since Pakistan’s inception in 1947 with industry and then services sectors dominating the economy. The country’s economic system along with the settlement of the refugees were major challenges faced by the country. During the 1970s, foreign aid disbursement into Pakistan markedly fell during 1977-79 to USD 593.3million and USD 631.7million, as the US curtailed aid because of Islamabad’s nuclear policy. But as soon as Pakistan became a front-line ally of the US in its war with the then Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in Afghanistan, inflows of net development assistance and foreign aid got thicker again. Pakistan’s positioning in geopolitics plays a part in determining the size of international economic assistance and foreign aid. The shift in the US policy of foreign aid to Pakistan — from aid sanctions between 1985 and 1995 on concerns regarding Islamabad’s nuclear ambitions to the wide opening of the gates of foreign aid after 9/11 is another, example of how foreign aid into Pakistan remains linked with the geopolitical interests of the donor countries in particular and the Western world at large.

Chinese Development in Pakistan
Mohiuddin Aazim says about the relationship between Pakistan and China developed and the way it gets continued through the CPEC Channel as Partnering for progress with the world’s economic superpowers. This is truer in the case of the relationship between emerging economies with geopolitical aspirations and developing countries. The financing mix of any large CPEC-related project will be based on commercial Chinese loans and foreign direct investment, or in some cases interest-based Chinese state financing, form the bulk of the financing even where the requirement of counterpart Pakistan’s domestic financing is low.

A way forward
Uzair M. Younus, in his article ‘At 75 years, Pakistan is viewed as the sick man of South Asia. Can it heal over the next 25?’ said, “More than ever, Pakistan needs a clear direction, otherwise, the gradual decay of the state’s institutions and ethos would eventually lead to the implosion of the state. Increasing the security for life, property, and contracts in Pakistan is the way to get rid of the various distortions in the country’s economy today. “This insecurity is a primary cause of the current low-growth equilibrium in the economy. And solving this problem is not an economic, but a political challenge. A concerted effort to reform the political system in Pakistan, not its economy, is the critical building block for a stronger, more prosperous nation-state. Uzair pointed out that for the change, the starting point must be the continuous devolution of power, including policing and taxation authority, to the lowest level. A police force that is answerable to locally elected leaders is more likely to be responsive to local issues, key among them the security of individuals and their property. While Pakistan has passed the 18th Constitutional Amendment, a major landmark in the country’s history, full devolution of power has not yet occurred. Achieving this goal should be the number one priority as Pakistan looks towards celebrating 100 years of independence. The author opinioned that generating upward social mobility for ordinary citizens should be the priority for Pakistan over the next 25 years, for without enriching the many, not just a few, Pakistan can never be an inclusive, innovative, and independent country.

References
Shuja Nawaz. “The Forever Shining Idea Of Pakistan,” Dawn retrieved on 17 august 2022
Dr. Hasan Askari Rizvi, “Pakistan@75: Profundity of Pakistan Movement,” Dawn, 15 August 2022
Independence Day thoughts,” Business Recorder, 14 August 2022
Aasim Sajjad Akhtar, “As Pakistan turns 75, will its people finally rise above the fault lines?” Dawn 13 August 2022
Umair Jamal, “Pakistan at 75: A Country in Search of Itself,” The Diplomat, August 12, 2022
Uzair M. Younus, “At 75 years, Pakistan is viewed as the sick man of South Asia. Can it heal over the next 25?Dawn, 12 August 2022
Mubarak Zeb Khan, “Pakistan emerges as 24th largest economy in the 75-year journey,” Dawn, 14 August 2022
Mohiuddin Aazim, “Changing geopolitics,” Dawn, 15 August 2022
Jalil Abbas Jilani, “India and Pakistan at 75: Prospects for the Future,” United States Institute of Peace, 15 August 2022
PM Sharif vows on 75th I-Day to transform Pakistan into economic power,” Business Recorder, 14 August 2022

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