Pakistan bashing has become a favored pastime for many international organisations lead by the Americans. Yesterday the lone shrill voice in this context was India’s but today we hear a cacophony. Witnessing this transformation from a distance, one can’t help but wonder as to why it is happening.
The North West part of the Indian subcontinent is a treacherous place, both in metaphorical and literal sense. It was in the long forgotten pages of history when the Indus valley civilization existed, whose people were accepted to be advanced based on what-so-ever visible excellent living conditions. That civilization declined. Today we see only a shadow of that human mind and spirit. In no way am I blaming the people of that region. In fact over many countless centuries, the people of that region have seen the rise and fall of religions, the rise and fall of empires, the rise and fall of cruel and not so cruel kings, and the bad and not so bad changes in environmental conditions. Their sensibilities have been strongly tempered and they have learnt to live with a certain limited quantum of principles. Over generations these have made in-roads into their behavior patterns and into their understanding of life and living. It is unfair and unethical to expect anything alien from them, precisely which today the world is doing. It could be very easy to compare the history of this region with another so as to highlight similar circumstances but dissimilar behavior, but that would be merely a theoretical and futile exercise.
Mass migration in and out has left the region populated with variety of tribes and cultural groups from different faraway locations. The erstwhile riches of the river valley civilization have served more as a bane than a boon. These migrations have happened along with invasion and bloodshed, therefore there is little by way of a binding kinship within them. Due to their warrior background, individual honour and pride plays an important role in their psyche. These numerous tribes have accepted each other through an unspoken bond based on mutual respect and a mutual tendency to avoid trouble. As long as self-respect and honour is permitted to remain intact there would be no fighting. Secondly most amongst these people were mercenaries with an easy willingness to sell their soul to the devil in exchange for some wealth and physical comforts. Such attitude is still not considered unbecoming because condition of life in the region has always been unpredictable and harsh. Third, this region as a whole had never had the opportunity to develop an independent nationalistic feeling until the creation of Pakistan and Afghanistan in the 1950’s. They lived under the rule of the Hindu Kings of Maghad and then the Mughal emperors of Delhi but being the border region, skirmishes were too common and frequent. Each small group of men was a sellable commodity in the war market and thus they considered every other group as potential enemies. The ideas of nationality and one people never took root. Fourth, the cold dry mountains, the wayward rivers, the flooded plains and the unpredictable monsoons have all added to an unstable and poverty stricken lifestyle where people are more concerned with todays’ food rather than the niceties and extravagance of science and arts. Physical hardships have also made them strong willed and a determined lot. Therefore these people know tenacity, they know hardship, they know warfare, they know an enemy and they know what is loyalty honour and pride; all too well.
Since nationhood was thrust upon people of this region by Mohammad Ali Jinnah six decades ago, they have surprisingly chosen democracy over anything else. To their credit they have been trying but not without failing at every bend. The very principle of democracy cannot be acceptable to people who have accepted to live with the notion that might is right and so to consider that every ordinary man has a right is a difficult concept to digest for most. Military rule would be most suited to the people of this region however the urban population who had witnessed the rich luxuries of the British and Europeans would have none of it. The urban population has therefore taken to democracy more easily as compared to the non-urban population. Thus what the world can see today is a divided population based on their ideology and history.
Militancy and mercenary justifications are not new to the people of Pakistan. Thus whether it is the Taliban of Afghanistan or the Jihadists of Kashmir, the people of this region have been sympathetic to their cause. They relate easily to the need to take up arms because it strikes a deep rooted cord in their hearts; cords of honour, of living with pride and of economic deliverance. To expect ordinary citizens to desist from supporting the so called freedom-fighters is like asking for the moon.
Pakistan is a fragmented country with a striking display of different people from different backgrounds doing different things. The political and judicial class is trying to live up to the notion that they are a single nation. The urban rich and middle class population is only focused on earning money through every legal and crocked means possible. The tribal people are busy fighting for their pride against foreign forces. The army is confused and awkward being out of power and wonders why it is not being allowed to take control which infact only they can. It appears that everybody is fighting against each other which as a matter of fact they are not. However it is very clear that nobody is in charge, nobody has a length and breadth of vision and nobody knows how their problems can be solved. It is not their fault because too much maturity is being expected from too young a nation. Left to themselves they will slowly settle down and start improving in about another century.
However America as always is once again using dollars to get events in Pakistan to move as per their desire but amongst such fragmented people it is not happening. The Americans then end up bad mouthing the Pakistan government, calling them names, threatening them with not paying more money which is only denting their own reputation and jeopardizing their future abilities to extract better relationships with other nations. It is also hurting the Pakistani peoples pride and pushing them into a depressive corner. It is a lose – lose situation for both that is being created and pursued. It would be to everyone’s benefit if the Americans left Pakistan for good, to mind their own business.