A NATION AT WAR

Anadi Naik

Pakistan, as a nation has been at war with itself and it shows. On its North-Western border, Shiite Muslims are being slaughtered by their Sunni neighbors. Members of the Ahmadiyya community in Karachi and Lahore are being declared as non-Muslims by their friends and neighbors. They are also being killed. Women are being gunned down for the “criminal act” of attending school. From the mouths of Mullahs one repeatedly hears about Islam. However, the interpretation of the religion varies from person to person – Mullah to Mullah. For whatever reason, if one is thought to be insulting Islam or the prophet then he or she is recommended for death. It appears that entire Pakistan is wearing its religion on its sleeves. In politics at home, religious affinity and background determines everything. That is why a good relationship with India does not sit well with a good many Pakistanis. They are usually the old guards of the military who were defeated at the hands of the Indian soldiers and have been seething for revenge for a long time. For them any friendly overture toward India is an insult to the nation because it helps calm the desire to be hostile. These men want a hostile environment between India and Pakistan. The French philosopher Voltaire proclaimed - If there was no God, man has to invent one. In the same way many Pakistanis still continue to believe that if there was no hostility between India and Pakistan they have to invent one. In that respect they are doing a good job. Very recently, there have been some incidents between soldiers from both sides. Each has been accusing the other of crossing the line of control. For years the armed forces of Pakistan and India have been facing each other on the Himalayan high points and in Kashmir. When the armed forces face each other, at any moment the situation is bound to flare up .Then, it falls on the civilian leaders to contain the aftermath. The problem is that the civilian leaders in Pakistan are weak and they are routinely overruled by their military subordinates. It is a dangerous situation. Pakistan is slated to have election in 2014. In a democracy, elections are held routinely to choose the leaders of a nation. One of the lessons of democracy is that the civilian representatives of the people, regardless how ill qualified they may be, become the leaders of the country. Military personnel – from the General to the soldier – carry on the mandate handed by them. Pakistan’s military has never been comfortable with such a hypothesis. It has never shown willingness to bow to its civilian bosses. In the changing atmosphere of Pakistan the military is worried about Pakistan’s forthcoming election. To the misfortune of the military, Pakistan stands to be surrounded by democracies: India and Afghanistan. Neither of them could be counted as friends of the Pakistani military. By disrupting democracy there it can achieve its goal. That is why in recent weeks border conflicts on both ends of Pakistan have occurred with such high visibility. It is not possible for a country to ignore its history. In that respect Pakistan is no different. The primal sound of its birth continues to resonate in its politics even sixty six years later. Religion based on extreme communality plays a very important role in politics. The dominant group tries to suppress others. As a result secessionist movements rise constantly and weaken the country’s stability. For Pakistan’s neighbors especially for India it is a big worry. Given the prevailing condition there, a careful reading of the Constitution is needed. The border skirmish on the high mountain may not be exactly as it looks. It could be the symptom of an incurable condition of the neighbor. Therefore, before the country and its population express its reaction, they must be made fully aware. It is a difficult thing to do.



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