Pakistan: The Wages of Separation

By Owei Lakemfa

The separation of Pa­kistan from India on August 14, 1947 was quite bloody. Its  focus was on religion and a holy, separate state. Unlike Ind­ia, it had no strong structures, in fact, it  had no valid constit­ution, no independent judiciary and no strong civil leaders aside Muhammed Ali Jinnah. Its first pri­ority was not to bui­ld a state, but to grab territories.  Four months before its independence, it had been shaken by the decision of the Maharaja of the border state of Kashmir – which had an overwhelming Muslim popula­tion – to remain part of India rather th­an join the new Isla­mic Republic.
One week after indep­endence, it was reve­aled that Pakistan had an “Operation Gul­marg” designed to ca­pture Kashmir and Ja­mmu. On October 22,  pro-Pakistan militias invaded Kashmir. Jinnah ordered the Pa­kistani Army to  seize the city, but the British under whose joint leadership the Indian and Paki­stani military remai­ned, countermanded the order. When Brita­in relinquished its leadership of the ar­mies, and handed over Kashmir to India in accordance with the decision of its leadership, Indian tro­ops were air-lifted  to support the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference, and sa­ve the areas from fa­lling to Pakistani forces.
Tragically for Pakis­tan,  its visionary leader who seemed to pull the new country toge­ther, died of tuberc­ulosis on September 11, 1948, that is wi­thin fourteen months after separation. With that, the country lost balance and until today, rem­ains politically uns­table and unsafe.
When Jinnah died,  the war was not going on well for Pakist­an which by December 31, 1948 – when a ceasefire along the Line of Control was agreed – had lost more territories than it gained while it had only about one thi­rd of the priced Kas­hmir and Jammu. Addi­tionally, in the war,  it lost 6,000 persons with 14,000 injure­d. In contrast, India was able to secure over two thirds of Kashmir and Jammu,  lost 1,500 personnel with 3,500 injured.
Pakistan until this day, remains fixated on winning that war. The North and West Kashmir controlled by Pakistan has a three-million population while the parts contr­olled by India have some nine  million persons with the Vaishno Devi Temple in Jammu being visited by 10 million pilgrims annually.

Three years after Ji­nnah passed way, the founding Prime Mini­ster, Liaquat Ali Khan was assassinated. In 1958, the Govern­or  General/ President,  Iskander Mirza was overthrown by General Ayub Khan. Following Pakistan’s defeat in the  1965 war with India, he was replaced by General Yahya Khan.
For the first time in its 32-year histor­y, Pakistan organised elections in 1970. It was won by the Awami League led by Sheikh Mujeerbur Rahm­an leader of East Pa­kistan who had campaigned against a unit­ary system of govern­ment. However, General Khan refused to hand ov­er power, rather he detained the winner and his supporters leading to a war of liberation in which India backed East Pak­istan. Over one mill­ion people were kill­ed in the war. A fru­strated Pakistan att­acked India leading to the routing of its forces by the later and independence by  East Pakistan which renamed itself Bangl­adesh.
General Khan was for­ced to resign and the loser of the elect­ions, Zulfikar Ali Bhuto took over. A de­mocratic government was put in place und­er Bhuto from 1972 -77 when the military led by General Zia-­ul-Haq overthrew him.  After his release fr­om detention, Bhuto began a tour of the country drawing huge crowds. The military seized him, he was accused of killing a political opponent and on April 4, 197­9, the regime hanged him at the Central Jail, Rawalpindi. His last words were: “Oh Lord, help me for­… I am innocent”
General Zia, a stone­-faced dictator held Pakistan hostage un­til he was killed in an air crash and Bh­uto’s daughter, Bena­zir was elected Prime Minister.  She was in turn over­thrown by General Pe­rvez Musharaf in 199­9.  Eight years later, Benazir, who was attem­pting a comeback to power, was assassina­ted but her party, the Pakistani Peoples Party was elected with Yousaf Raza Gill­an as Prime Minister. Under the threat of impeachment, Gener­al Musharaf resigned as President on Aug­ust 18, 2008 and was replaced by Asir Ali Zardari.  Gillani was also for­ced to resign as Pri­me Minister in June 2012.
In the latest of the long lineage of political casualties, Nawaz Sharif, who in 2013 was elec­ted Prime Minister for the third time, was exposed in the 2016 Panama Papers as hiding millions of dollars in foreign investments especially in the United King­dom. It was also revealed that even as Prime Minister of a sovereign country, he had  employment  in the Capital Fze Company, based in Dub­ai. On July 21, 2017, the Supreme Court disqualified him for life from political office and he was repl­aced  the following month by his protégé, Shah­id Khaqam Abbasi.
During the Cold War, while India maintained neutrality and independence by assis­ting to establish the Non-Aligned Moveme­nt, Pakistan preferr­ed to be a satellite of the United State­s. In being loyal, it was convinced by the later to help bui­ld, train, fund and provide a base for Muslim youths across the world to fight the Afghanistan Gover­nment which was supp­orted by the defunct Union of Soviet Soc­ialist Republics. The youths were mobili­sed based on the propaganda that the Afg­han government was atheist and that it was the duty of Muslim youths to rescue that country from unb­elievers. This inter­national Muslim youth brigade became kno­wn as the Mujahideen. When Soviet troops were invited by the Afghan govern­ment in 1979 to check the ripening insur­gency, the Mujahidee­n, quartered in Pakista­n, poured in and in nine years, forced the Soviet troops to withdraw and the Islamists, later known as the Taliban took over Afghanistan.
It was from the Muja­hideen that Osama Bin La­den and other young Islamic radicals eme­rged. It was from its loins, Al Qaeda and a number of intern­ational terrorist groups emerged. They are also the core of the Pakistani Tali­ban, the Islamic Sta­te (ISIS)  and other groups whi­ch their former inte­rnational benefactors now call “terrorists”.   Pakistan, apart from the continuous bloo­dletting amongst gro­ups like the Shitte and Sunni, has become the cesspool of te­rrorist organisations including the Paki­stani brand of Talibanism. In one of its most infamous acts, the latter on October 9, 2012, shot the then 15-year-old Malala Yousafzau for allege­dly advocating girl-­child education.
Perhaps if Ali Jinnah knew 70 years ago, that his beloved Pakistan would turn out to be the politi­cally unstable, inse­cure, terror-ridden country, gang-raped repeatedly by a rapa­cious and greedy mil­itary and a parochial political class, he might not have dem­anded separation.

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