I know quite well, that sitting in the city of Pune, in Maharashtra state of Indian union, which is exactly Five Hundred miles from nearest Pakistan border point, I am not particularly well qualified to comment anything about Pakistan. However sometimes, a view from far is more realistic than the myopic views one might get, sitting on a glacier, where one does not know, which part of the sheet of ice is going to cave in next. The situation in Pakistan appears very similar from this distance. Let us see first , as to why I am saying this.
Last year, Pakistan faced one of the worst floods ever faced by that country. Very little was actually done to help and cure suffering of the people; and yet even before completion of just one year, major parts of Sindh are flooded again.
Pakistan joined United States against war on terror exactly a decade before. During these ten years, the country received not less than 20.5 Billion US Dollars as aid. Most of the aid has been grabbed by the military. Yet all this effort by Pakistan to join war on terror has brought in just innumerable sufferings on its own people. US Drone planes keep bombing regularly border areas of Pakistan, where thousands of innocent people also have been killed. In Swat, Pakistan military fought a war with its own citizens again with high casualty numbers. After capture of Osama Bin laden and recent attacks in Kabul, things have come to such a flash point that any moment there can be an American action on Pakistan soil.
Pakistan considers itself a sovereign country yet there are American soldiers operating in it. Recently Indian army chief has reported that there are more than 4000 Chinese soldiers in the Pakistan occupied part of Kashmir. Few months back terrorists attacked a naval base in Karachi. Chinese military technicians were found working at the base.
The civil administration is incapable of controlling all powerful military. During recent crisis, Pakistan’s President disappeared from the country. It seems that decisions are taken by the army’s powerful Corps Commanders. The military dictates the country’s foreign policy especially towards India, Afghanistan and the US, consumes more than 30% of the national budget and runs several intelligence services that are unaccountable to parliament or the courts.
On one hand, Pakistan’s foreign minister visits India proudly displaying her million Rupee handbag and talks about improving bilateral relations, yet at the same time terrorist camps are organized across border in Kashmir and infiltrators are trying to break in Indian army’s defenses on the border.
Pakistan considers China as its most trust worthy friend, yet Uighur freedom fighters are being trained on Pakistani soil as claimed by China.
Pakistan was carved out of British India as a heaven for sub continent’s Muslims, yet sectarian attacks against Pakistan’s shia muslim minorities have increased sharply.
Since known history, the border areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan have been always recognized as Tribal lands where laws of their own had always prevailed. Yet instead of making peace with tribals, wars are raging here with no end in sight in foreseeable future.
A question arises in my mind as where this would lead and what would be the consequences for India? Since India is a neighbour of Pakistan, it is feeling uneasy. You cannot have peace of mind if your neighbour’s house is on fire. But there is precisely little that we Indians can do to help Pakistanis to improve the situation.
The Pakistani people themselves would have to act to bring their country out of this mess. I sincerely hope for an Arab Spring or a Pakistani Anna Hazare rising up there and can only wish them the best. I want to end this article with this little secret wish at the back of my mind. I have always wanted to visit the Bolan pass near Quetta and the Khyber pass in the North-West Pakistan some day or other. Standing there, I would have been able to see the route by which one of my ancestors must have walked down, eight or nine thousand years back, looking forward to the land of his dreams. Unfortunately, with the present imbroglio in Pakistan, my wishes I know, are just impossible to fulfill at least in my lifetime.
7th October 2011