Rogue, Maybe. But The One Thing Pakistan Is Not Is A Failed State

by R Jagannathan - Apr 12, 2017 01:26 PM +05:30 IST
Rogue, Maybe. But The One Thing Pakistan Is Not Is A Failed StateFlag Of Pakistan
  • Ideology, not territory, is the motivating factor behind the idea of the Pakistan state. As long as it holds on to its idea, Pakistan cannot be called a failed state.

    To defeat a state defined by ideology, you need to defeat that ideology. Defeat in war is not good enough.

Pakistan has a knack of getting our goat, and we fall for it every time. The latest reason for Indians to work up an apoplectic fit is the Pakistani Army’s decision to pass a death sentence on Kulbhushan Jadhav, a former Indian Navy officer who was probably extracted from Iran. Reason: he is allegedly a Research & Analysis Wing agent spying for India or fomenting trouble in Balochistan.

While Parliament went ballistic on the issue yesterday (11 April), security experts and analysts speaking on TV channels were busy accusing Pakistan of disregarding international law and condemning Jadhav through a sham trial. Some Bharatiya Janata Party spokespersons worked up enough of a froth to call Pakistan a failed state.

It may give us temporary and psychic satisfaction calling Pakistan a failed state, but its leaders cannot stop smirking at our naivete. Nothing gives the Pakistanis greater pleasure than to see Indians throwing a fit over what they have done. The least we can do is not give them this kind of vicarious satisfaction by exhibiting impotence. The Jadhav case shows how, despite 70 years of being witness to Pakistan’s perfidies, we seem to understand so little about them. The only way to handle the Jadhav crisis is to speak very little about it, find leverage and get his released in exchange for someone Pakistan values (like its own armymen).

Pakistan may be a rogue state, which follows no canons of justice or law when it comes to dealing with us. It may be a “greedy” state, an ideological state whose sole purpose is to fundamentally change the status quo in the sub-continent. It may be a “security” state, one that is excessively obsessed with security. But the one thing it is not is a “failed state.”

Given the contradictions emerging within Pakistan and its description of itself as an Islamic state, and a largely Sunni one at that, and especially following the separation of Bangladesh in 1971, Indians have come to believe that the idea of Pakistan will ultimately crumble and fail. Maybe it will. But “a failed state” is not one that is merely unable to keep itself in one piece. That has happened often enough – in Russia, Yugoslavia, Indonesia (East Timor), Cyprus, Sudan, etc. But the rump state continues as before in all these cases, and have possibly grown even stronger than before, now that they have shed their weaker parts.

The only definition of a failed state is one where central authority completely withers and dies, and the economy is unable to provide it the wherewithal to defend itself.

This is not the case with Pakistan. Since 2009, foreign investors have not given Pakistan a miss, and the Karachi Stock Exchange has been the third best-performing bourse in the world.

Moreover, with the backing of the world’s second superpower, China, especially through its investment in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the puny Pakistani economy is gaining ballast, growing at over 5 per cent, annually. Terror may be tearing its cities apart, but the idea of Pakistan is holding. And let’s not forget: in terms of reforms, a Pakistan under army control will be able to push them faster than India with its fractious politics. So the economy will hold up in the foreseeable future.

Most important, a state fails when it is unable to define itself or its strategic goals coherently. But this is the last thing one can say about Pakistan. Even when it was yet to be cleaved from pre-1947 India, Pakistan has never been unsure of its destiny or what it wants: an Islamic state that will ultimately rule over most of sub-continent.

Not only that. In a country where the army is the state, political parties and civil society do not matter. At best, they may be used as temporary covers while the army recoups its credibility after reverses (as in 1971). It has the military, and nuclear heft, to hold itself together, even if it means perpetrating the worst kind of brutalities. It is happy to take one nibble at time, with Kashmir Valley obviously being the first objective.

Venkat Dhulipala, author of Creating a New Medina, who looked at Muslim politics in the United Provinces (currently day Uttar Pradesh), says that from Day One the idea of Pakistan was modelled on the Prophet’s decision to create a new community of believers in Medina, when the Meccans were unwilling to accept his radical ideas.

When the idea of Pakistan was being conceived and key leaders of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind were supportive of the Congress in the name of a “composite” nationalism (muttahida qaumiyat), a prominent dissident from Deoband, Ashraf Ali Thanavi, said no Muslim could be part of a party or a nation whose leaders were not decisively Muslims. He asked all Muslims to stay away from syncretic ideas.

Mohammad Ali Jinnah, after initially using the idea of Pakistan to excite Muslims and make himself their sole spokesman, soon gave up his “secular” credentials and started believing in Islamism. At one point, he fantasised that “Pakistan holds the key to the liberation of the entire Islamic world.” (Note: All quotes from pre-independence Pakistani leaders are from Dhulipala’s book)

The Raja of Mahmudabad, a close Jinnah aide, told his Muslim audiences repeatedly: “The creation of an Islamic state – mark my words gentlemen – I say Islamic, not Muslim, is our ideal.” How much different is this from the Hizbul Mujahideen commander in Kashmir, Zakir Rashid Bhat, who said last month that the stone-pelters should think of themselves as fighting for Islam, and not a nationalistic cause. “I want to tell these brothers that they should not fall for nationalism”, for “nationalism and democracy are not permissible in Islam.”

Chaudhry Khaliquzzaman, another early convert to the idea of an Islamic Pakistan before 1947, went to the extent of comparing the Prophet’s moves as an attempt to create the first Pakistan in the Arabian Peninsula. The Indian one was thus the second Pakistan. He too bluntly declared: “Pakistan is not the final goal of the Muslims. We want more. Pakistan is only jumping off the ground. The time is not far distant when the Muslim countries will have to stand in line with Pakistan and then only the jumping ground will have reached its fruition.”

In other words, Pakistan is the staging post for global Islamism. It may never happen, but the idea of Pakistan is about Islamist supremacy, not very different from the goals of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. General Raheel Sharif, till recently Chief of the Pakistani Army, has been appointed head of an Islamic military alliance, which once again testifies that Pakistan is using events in West Asia to further its own existential cause.

Ideology, not territory, is the motivating factor behind the idea of the Pakistan state. As long as it holds on to its idea, Pakistan cannot be called a failed state. Pakistan is a state of mind, not just a defined geographical area. To defeat a state defined by ideology, you need to defeat that ideology. Defeat in war is not good enough.

Jagannathan is Editorial Director, Swarajya. He tweets at @TheJaggi.
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