Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The Original Failed State

In May, Nawaz Sharif said that he intended to subject the Pakistani Army to civilian political control. I hope that we are now seeing the first sign of that. But I doubt it very, very, very much.

After centuries of presence in India specifically in order to preserve unity, an end integral to that of furthering British strategic and commercial interests, Britain’s crowning failure there was the creation of Pakistan. Mostly of Gujarati Hindu extraction, Jinnah himself had no roots there, and few in any Subcontinental “Muslim nation” for which he conceived of Pakistan as a separate homeland.

Read Sir Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, which is about postcolonial India, and then read the next novel that he wrote, Shame, which is about Pakistan. The contrast is clear. And I write as one with grave doubts about the emerging superpower of India, too.

When has there ever been civilian rule in Pakistan? The politicians are not even allowed the nuclear codes. The generals keep those to themselves. With the generals comes their intelligence agency, the ISI. And with the ISI comes a veritable cornucopia of Islamist factions. But none of them wants to bomb Britain. Unless we give them some cause. Let’s not. The “Taliban” have no existence apart from the Pashtun in general, who are old Indian allies. “Al-Qaeda” does not exist at all.

As for the ISI’s backing of “Islamist militant groups” or what have you, sooner rather than later, and at least arguably already, what else will Pakistan have? What else will remain of her founding dream of a distinct Muslim nation on the Subcontinent, acting as such? Especially if she is to be sandwiched between India and the restored, Indian-backed “Taliban”.

No wonder that the “Taliban” are open to this. The scholars at Deoband strongly rejected Jinnah’s theory of two nations. So did plenty of other people: just as there have always been more Irish Catholics in the remaining United Kingdom than the entire population of the 26 counties that seceded, so there have always been more Muslims in India than the entire population of Pakistan. And who can blame them?

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