Forcing Democracy on Pakistan

By K.N. Pandita

Pakistan is very much in the news these days. Musharraf’s vendetta against the Chief Justice boomeranged. It did not weaken him institutionally. But some may take relief in having found a weak point in him albeit not exploitable.

1. The tantrum of “restoring” democracy in Pakistan is making rounds. There never was one; hence restore what? Each so-called democratic spell, of course ephemeral and at random, ended up in corruption, authoritarianism and sordid politicking of mundane order. Masses demonstrated either relief or benign no-concern on the liquidation of a democratic spell as they did with the liquidation of spells of military rule. That leads one to the structure and psyche of Pakistani civil society where the crisis lies.

2. The psyche is made receptive to hyper Islamism, first as a result of half a century of sustained anti-Hindu obsession in pre-independence period. Then with independence, Pak mentality got soaked in anti-India tirade via Kashmir issue et al. The disease has struck roots. Extremist Islamic organizations of various hues and colours are the sprouts of the disease. Pakistani regimes, civil or military, both left no stone unturned to nurture the disease and let it sprout. Islamabad is now face to face with the Frankenstein of its own making. The point is not that Pakistan is paying a heavy toll for its intransigence; the point is how long will the paying of the toll continue, surly at least another six decades if not more.  

3. What role is there for democracy in such a social structure? None. The US, as usual, is deeply interested in not obstructing military dictatorships intermittently usurping power in Pakistan, and not having regrets for the ouster of an elected government. Therefore, statements emanating from various responsible quarters in Washington are bizarre and just amusing.

4. The remedy does not lie either in asking the General to abandon his uniform and appear in civilian guise or in prompting the banished political heavyweights to declare forcing democracy on an unwilling mass of humanity. People seem to have rejected the antics that find reverberations in Washington.

5. Because the trigger happy Pakhtuns of NWFP, the defiant tribesmen of Baluchistan, the maltreated Sindhis and the ostracised Mohajirs are all made subservient to the dominance of the Punjabi stuffed Pakistani Army and bureaucracy, democracy is red rag to the bull in Pakistan. It will always end up in fiasco.

6. The Americans are just toeing a wishful thinking of exporting democracy to military dictatorship – loving people of Pakistan. So let it be. The greatest threat coming to Pakistan’s traditional military and dictatorial institutions is not from her extremist religious groups, armed or unarmed. It is from India’s secular democracy. Pakistan, therefore, hopes for either total failure of democracy in India or dismemberment of the Indian Union. US’ overt or covert support to Indian democracy is gall to Pakistan as it is to China. The catalyst to the forging of a nexus between Islamabad and Beijing emerges less from their hatred for India but more from their fear of growing Indian democracy. If by any quirk of destiny, Pakistan becomes a stable democracy, a phenomenon most unlikely to happen, then the map of the whole world will have to be redrawn.

Washington’s rhetoric of Pakistan’s imperative of democracy is for the consumption of her unsuspecting people. Washington has, and will continue to support all military dictatorships in Pakistan in order to keep Beijing in good humour. Nothing is more repugnant to China than any country supporting democratic dispensation for Islamabad.

One fails to understand why Indian print media is wasting tons of sheets and ink on writing so copiously and in fact meaninglessly about prospective democracy in Pakistan. It should be remembered that only such a political leader of Pakistan as is bigger than the issue can bring in a democratic revolution in that that country: a leader who can stand and raise his loud voice saying that the creation of a country on the basis of discrimination of faith or culture is suicidal. Unless he challenges the very concept of creation of Pakistan in 1947, nothing will change. Till that time Pakistan and the world are somewhat safe in the hands of a military dictator. When military dictator is out, the deluge is in: all Islamic groups will share, albeit inequitably, the genii in the bottle. Therefore long live military dictatorships in Pakistan.

(The writer is the former Director of Centre of Central Asian Studies at Kashmir University).

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