Pakistan: Behind the Latest Protests (Updated)

pakistan stone thrower.jpg

Well, here we go again. Mass protests have erupted in Pakistan, as Nawaz Sharif and others have embarked on a “long march” to protest a recent judicial decision barring the Sharif brothers from holding office. Among other things, the protesters are demanding the reinstatement of Supreme Court Justice Iftikar Choudhry. But one gets the feeling that what is really at stake here is Zardari’s grip on power.

[Update: According to Reuters, Zardari has agreed to reinstate Choudhry, which should defuse the crisis somewhat, and perhaps stabilize his own grip on power. Also see SAJA, and #longmarch at Twitter, for the Tweets of the Twitterers]

First, let me just point readers to a blog from the newspaper, Dawn, with updates on the “Long March” protests. If the stuff hits the fan on Monday in the next few weeks, when the protesters go to Islamabad, this might be a good place to get the latest information.

Second, weren’t we just doing this in Pakistan last year? In a recent post on Michael Dorf’s blog, Anil Kalhan argues that the parallels are too strong to ignore. I’m not entirely sure I agree, since Musharraf was a much stronger leader before his power started to erode. That said, Zardari’s over-zealous response to threats to his authority has had a lot in common with Musharraf’s own response.

There is also a very detailed account of the back-story behind the current protests by Beena Sarwar here. Among other things, Sarwar notes that the coalition supporting the current protests, which includes the Jamaat-e-Islami, might cause progressives abroad to pause before we raise our fists in pro-democracy solidarity:

In this situation, political instability is distracting at best and dangerous at worst. The ‘long march’ demanding the reinstatement of chief justice Iftikhar Mohammed Choudhry, spearheaded by the legal fraternity and sections of civil society, has ready allies among the right-wing political opposition.

This includes Sharif’s PML-N and the Jamaat-e-Islami, a mainstream religious party sympathetic to militant Islam, as well as others sympathetic to the Taliban, like ex-chief Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and anti-India hawk Gen. (retd.) Hamid Gul, retired bureaucrat Roedad Khan who brutally quashed political opposition during the Zia years, and cricket hero-turned politician Imran Khan, chief of the Tehrik-e-Insaaf (Movement for Justice).

All these forces boycotted the 2008 polls, except Sharif who rescinded his boycott decision after Bhutto convinced him that elections were the only way forward.

Long-festering tensions between the PPP and PML-N came to a head with a Supreme Court ruling of Feb 25 barring Sharif and his brother Shahbaz Sharif from holding elected office. Bhutto’s widower, President Asif Ali Zardari is widely believed to be behind this controversial ruling. (link)

Finally, the reliable and independent-minded journalist Pervez Hoodbhoy has a detailed analysis in the latest issue of Frontline, on what he sees as Pakistan’s precipitous slide towards theocracy. His perspective on what is happening in Pakistan is quite alarming to me. Among other things, Hoodbhoy’s article makes me think that it almost doesn’t matter who is running the show in Islamabad; in terms of curriculum in the schools and the cultural mindset of ordinary Pakistanis, the Islamization Zia initiated nearly thirty years ago has steadily continued to progress even under subsequent leaders. (At least, that is what Hoodbhoy seems to be arguing. Any comments from Pakistani readers on this argument?)

145 thoughts on “Pakistan: Behind the Latest Protests (Updated)

  1. but too often posts about Pakistan become a place for commenters (largly Indian and non-Muslim) to spew all sorts of vitriol against Pakistanis and Muslims in general

    You’ll notice that the discussion was taken in that direction (Hiroshima – -Nagazaki — Perfidy of Jews and Indians – Suffering of Ummah) by Muslim Pakistani posters like Nilufar.

    Also, the discussion was placed in a wider context in the original post be referencing the article by Pervez Hoodbhoy.

  2. I’ve read comments on threads where people literally come out and say “Wouldn’t it be great for India if Pakistan totally breaks up?” As a Pakistani, I am offended by this type of rhetoric

    Kabir, there is a direct line that can be drawn between the crisis Pakistan finds itself in now, and a state sanctioned policy to use jehadis to break up India in Kashmir over the last 20 years. It does sound horrible for people to say that about Pakistan, but this is a fact. The institutional cultivation of jihadi ideology and organisations intended to loosen the territorial integrity of India is rebounding on the Pakistani state right now. As ugly as these statements are, they are directly linked to the denial of this by Pakistani commentators who for years cheered jehadis for the havoc they caused everywhere except outside Pakistan.

    I don’t want Pakistan to break up, by the way, because I don’t want India to have to deal with the hell that would be unleashed if it did happen.

  3. You’ll notice that the discussion was taken in that direction (Hiroshima – -Nagazaki — Perfidy of Jews and Indians – Suffering of Ummah) by Muslim Pakistani posters like Nilufar.

    A lot of discussions on SM about Pakistan devolve into Paki-Muslim hate-fests not unlike the discussions on Pakistan at rediff and other websites where the commenters are rabid Paki-haters Indian patriots. That happens without the likes of Nilufar usually.

    I like Sepia Mutiny and I appreciate the hard work the bloggers put into it (knowing that they all have day jobs), but I’m inclined to agree that if they decide to discuss Pakistan than they have a responsiblity to make sure that the discussion unfolds in a civil manner
    No. Bloggers have a great deal of influence over the tone of their comments, from the type of posts they write, the moral suasion they exercise in the comments, and the kinds of commentors they ban. Bloggers are not responsible, but they are accountable, for their comments.

    As I said earlier, this type of tone in the comments is not set by the bloggers. I have been reading SM for years and the bloggers (including Vinod) take a rather sensible approach to Pakistan. Is it America-centric? Yes, but the bloggers are Americans so that should not be a surprise. I think we will be hard pressed to find a post by a blogger which was patently unfair to Pakistan.

  4. correction:

    who for years cheered jehadis for the havoc they caused everywhere except INSIDE Pakistan.

  5. 102 · Bobby said

    and a state sanctioned policy to use jehadis to break up India in Kashmir over the last 20 years.

    instigated, supported, and funded beyond measure by the great communicator and that most wonderful of leaders, ronald reagan himself.

  6. Pakistan is a buffer state for India now – saving it from the crazies of the world.

  7. Let’s have a real conversation (i.e. please ignore all rabid anti-Pakistani people subsequent to this), because what is happening in Pakistan is significant in its own right, as something that is happening in South Asia, and as something that is simply interesting. We can save the discussion about “Muslim” attitudes towards “Kurds” and “Armenians” for another thread, eh? And perhaps the SM intern could take a stronger hand and start deleting comments (including any that I make) that drive the conversation towards oblivision.

    is perspective on what is happening in Pakistan is quite alarming to me. Among other things, Hoodbhoy’s article makes me think that it almost doesn’t matter who is running the show in Islamabad; in terms of curriculum in the schools and the cultural mindset of ordinary Pakistanis, the Islamization Zia initiated nearly thirty years ago has steadily continued to progress even under subsequent leaders. (At least, that is what Hoodbhoy seems to be arguing. Any comments from Pakistani readers on this argument?)

    I don’t understand how anyone can imagine that anything else could have happened given the limited amount of power that Pakistan has in the world, the enormous amount of money thrown at Zia (and others) by outside forces, the sabotauging of any semblance of the Pakistani state from the very beginning (see Ayesha Jalal), and the geography and history that made sound industrial policy basically impossible. Perhaps it’s teleological, but given how recent the Pakistani nationalist movement was when the state became independent (they hadn’t even fully settled the question of whether it was to be one or several states!), in hindsight, was anything else possible given the global and regional trends towards neoliberalism/islamism/Hindutva/other kinds of fundamentalism?

    However, all that said, what I’m more interested in are SPECIFIC interventions that could be made – in the same way that people are fighting the Hinduization of textbooks in Karnataka, the way that the Bangla language movement fought against the imposition of Urdu (successfully, i might add – bangla was added as a state language in paksitan in 1956 i think), whether there was anything that could have stopped the PPP from falling apart in the 70s given its social base, etc. You can only build a large enough coalition to be sustianable in a country with a combination of three things: ideology; subsidies to people; and selective use of force. Otherwise, shit falls apart.

    But for me the more interesting question, though is what TYPE of Muslim state Pakistan is. Given that Pakistan was founded on the idea of Muslims as a social and cultural group which has gradually turned towards one version of Islam as a political and legal framework, it would be interesting to hear how things can be directed towards a different kind of Islamic politics / legalism. The Muslim Family Law Ordinance is an interesting attempt at reconciling divorce law i think it is in a way that could be considered islamic and a marginal improvement over what had existed before. The revolution in iran and what it represents (islam + democratic revolution) has had lasting effects that are very different from the type of “islamic” regime that the Saudi government represents, both of which are very different from Pakistan or Bangladesh (which are in turn different from each other).

    Many people (my favorite being abdolkarim soroush) have tried to construct a notion of political islam that is sustainable and somewhat democratic, that tries to carve a middle path (e.g. the quran is infallible, but our knowledge of the quran ebbs and flows and is social in nature) between fundamentalism and ardent secularism, etc. How could Pakistan move towards being a “Muslim” state/society along the lines that India is a “Hindu” state/society? Or is it impossible as long as the military controls the economy and the state and authority is bureaucratised, fragmented, at odds with itself, and vulnerable to external threats (usually in the form of aid? ;) . Aside from the military, is social and economic power still rooted in the landlords? These are the things I wonder about.

  8. Kabir — The problem you describe is one SM has always had. Comment threads on pakistan are crap. Uninformed, full of trolls, idiots, and always veering to the question “is it good for india”. On other controversial topics, like the LTTE in Sri lanka, SM has productive intelligent, topical, if heated, threads, full of people making smart arguments in favour and against.

    Whatever you may say about this comment thread, you wouldn’t call it smart.

    To have a good discussion, you need people knowledgable on the topic discussing the issue, seriously, in a non-trollish fashion. The SM blog doesn’t attract readers who can do that for Pakistan, and the SM bloggers don’t think it is a priority that it do so.

    (Bangladesh posts have a similar problem, but with fewer trolls.)

    Paagal wrote: As I said earlier, this type of tone in the comments is not set by the bloggers

    Paagal, you are wrong. Bloggers set the tone of the comments in a blog, directly and indirectly, through active intervention and through neglect.

  9. Paagal, you are wrong. Bloggers set the tone of the comments in a blog, directly and indirectly, through active intervention and through neglect.

    You do realize that this is not dailykos and the bloggers here are not getting paid. The kind of moderation you want will require a full time person to constantly throw flags.

  10. Nilufer:

    The curriculum is not different from any other country. Are you talking about madrasas? Madrasas are perfectly legitimate schools throughout the Muslim world, not unlike religious schools–like Sunday school or Jewish centers for kids

    Have you ever seen Jewish kids/teenagers come out of their sabbath prayers screaming for the death of Muslims? That, unfortunately is a regular practice after Friday prayers in most Muslim countries, especially Pakistan.

  11. There are other important lens through which the situation in Pakistan must be analyzed.

    1. Regional/Ethnic: The power struggle between Zardari and Sharif is not just between two political parties, but also between Sindhi and Punjabi groups. These two groups who have either together or alternatively been in control of Pakistan for most of history. The Baluch’s and Pashtuns have had no significant representation in Pakistans history. So, what we have in Pakistan is also a power struggle between different groups. The third important group within Pakistan – the armed forces is mostly Punjabi. Analyzing Pakistan through this framework can sometimes provide interesting insights.

    2. Plutocracy: About a 100 extended families/clans control about 90% of Pakistan’s wealth. The really unfortunate thing about this fact is that the list hasn’t changed much in over a century. It was the same wealthy class that bankrolled Jinnah and the formation of Pakistan and which still controls most of the levers. Most people we think are players are really pawns in the ever running soap opera of this intra-country power realignments.

    All said and done, by a failure to form a cogent nation and fast slipping into a chaotic tribal factionalism, Pakistan leaves most of its neighbours (and western nations) no option but to treat it not as a nation but a complex set of allies and foes – frenemies we need to have temporary alliances with in a constant chess game.

    Ironically it may become necessary that India make friends with rich and powerful among the Punjabi and Sindhi elite and armed forces and use them as a buffer against the more insane amongst a nation gone crazy.

  12. Bobby, I grant that the discussion was taken off topic by Nilofur, who is ostensibly a Muslim Pakistani. However, since she is also clearly a troll, why do otherwise sensible people bother responding to her remarks and further derailing the thread?

    Second, to address your point about Kashmir and Pakistan trying to “break the terratorial integrity of India”. I’m afraid the situation isn’t as simple as your making it out to be. the Kashmir issue is a complicated geopolitical issue, similar to the Israel/Palestine issue. the LOC has been disputed for the last 50+ years, I think. Therefore, there is not one point of view. Many would argue that Kashmir has not been settled to be uneqivicolly part of India in the same way as say Mumbai. There is a Kashmiri freedom movement and Pakistan can have a legitimate point of view that Kashmir belongs to Pakistan. This is of course not to say that “jihad” is justified. I personally would like to see the issue resolved diplomatically in the same way that other countries are trying to implement a two-state solution in Isreael. Also, regardless of the whole jihad issue, it’s unacceptable for Indian commenters to gloat whenever bad things happen in Pakistan or wish for the breakup of the country.

    Ikram, I totally agree with you. I’m just disappointed that we as a disapora community can’t have any sensible discussion of Pakistan-related issues. Perhaps some of it has to do with blogging in general, and people’s freedom to say whatever they want, even in a field of study that they are not knowledgable in. I’m sure most of the commenters on Sepia are not International Relations experts. Neither am I for that matter, which is why I feel it is important to respect certain norms of civility. Both Pakistanis and Indians have greviences (both legitimate and not) against the governments of the other country. But hopefully, as members of the larger South Asian diaspora we can come together on a neutral site such as Sepia and have a dialogue, where we learn to respect differing points of view. Is that too much to ask?

  13. Pakistan is a buffer state for India now – saving it from the crazies of the world.

    If it gets further devoured by those crazies I don’t think it will be buffering anything.

    Many people (my favorite being abdolkarim soroush) have tried to construct a notion of political islam that is sustainable and somewhat democratic, that tries to carve a middle path (e.g. the quran is infallible, but our knowledge of the quran ebbs and flows and is social in nature) between fundamentalism and ardent secularism, etc. How could Pakistan move towards being a “Muslim” state/society along the lines that India is a “Hindu” state/society?

    Wait a political Islam that is democratic? Isn’t that exactly what the Hindutva movement is about? Is this a special case where what’s good for the goose is not good for the gander because I seem to recall you being pretty anti-Hindutva.

    India as a Hindu society gets put in quotes because India actually has a large minority of non-Hindus in it. Pakistan has no minority religious groups that are large enough, wealthy enough, or empowered enough (having been relegated to second-class citizenship by the government’s failure to enforce the law equitably) to be at politically consequential. You don’t have notable Hindu writers, lawyers, or film stars in Pakistan anymore the way you have them in India. You can’t have a pluralistic society if you don’t have a pluralistic electorate, so I think the idea of a democratic Islamic republic that respects the rights of minority religions would be a pipe dream. If you want to respect the rights of the minorities you can either not be democratic or not be Islamic. You can’t have both unless you are willing to let the electoral or political power of those minority groups swell to the point where they can adequately safeguard their own interests.

  14. You don’t have notable Hindu writers, lawyers, or film stars in Pakistan anymore the way you have them in India.

    That should read “The way you have Muslim and Christian ones in India.”

  15. I don’t know if this is a useful post on my part or not, as it only deals with my personal experience, but when I hear and read all of this talk of Young Pakistanis volunteering for the Jihad in Kashmir and Afghanistan, I’m honestly puzzled as to where these “Jihadis” are coming from?

    I think I’ve talked on this blog being about my background: second generation Pakistani Canadian whose extended family is still mainly settled in the villages of the Potohar region of Northern Punjab. I have a huge family, 100+ first cousins, most of whom are not that educated or well off and are just common everyday people who I would consider a very run of the mill, mainstream representation of Pakistanis, rural or otherwise. The kind of people whose young men of working age either go into the army to become foot soldiers or get into debt to work as general laborers in the middle east or in the major cities of Pakistan, or if they are really lucky and hit the jackpot and get an arranged marriage to a girl cousin settled in the UK. Most of the youth didn’t even seem that interested in going to the masjid, even the ones that had become Hafiz and memorized the quran….they’d rather be out with their hunting dogs, riding their motorcycles or playing with singing birds…

    Whenever I have traveled back to the home country or visited my cousins in their labor camps in the UAE, I did not get the impression of a rising current of fanaticism, fundamentalism or hatred. The last time I went back, was after 11 years of being away, and believe me, I was really looking for sympathies for the Taliban or Al-Qaeda…based on what I read beforehand about the country and where it was going. Yet, I did not hear of a single young person from my pind or the surrounding areas that had “volunteered” to fight in Kashmir or Afghanistan, or was that “radicalized” in their beliefs to the point where they were more focused on that “politics” than say watching indian movies, pakistani dramas, gearing up for next week’s bull racing or kabbadi festival, or bitchin’ about the price of atta and the bus fares

    Granted my sample size was small but what I sensed, at least in the corner of Pakistan that I spent time in, was not a rising tide of fanaticism but more concerns regarding personal safety due to family disputes that were previously settled with discussion, now being settled by the gun and paid killings (using pataan refugees) and the rise of thuggery. They just don’t believe in the govt. or anyone, being able to effectively police the state or provide basic services to its people. So definitely the picture is not rosy in Pakistan, there’s definitely a lot of hopelessness, but is it a state whose ordinary citizens are frothing at the mouth with hatred against everyone else, marching in step to some Jihadi agenda? Hardly.

    I read Pervez Hoodbhoy’s article and while it has some elements of truth, on the whole it seemed to exaggerate reality for the purposes of fear mongering.

  16. Second, to address your point about Kashmir and Pakistan trying to “break the terratorial integrity of India”.

    Kabir, the Pakistani establishment created, armed, gestated, fertilised and promoted an entire generation of jihadist ideologues and organisations with the aim of breaking up the territory of India, death by a thousand cuts. From within Pakistan, from the intellectuals, the writers, the journalists, from everyone, silence on this. And now these same people are killing Pakistan.

    Also, regardless of the whole jihad issue, it’s unacceptable for Indian commenters to gloat whenever bad things happen in Pakistan or wish for the breakup of the country.

    But gloating about, and attempting to facilitate the break up of India, has been the central policy of the Pakistani state through the sponsorship of jihadi ideologists and organisations, for the better part of twenty years. From Pakistani liberals and people in the diaspora there was absolute silence about this. When the same people turn on the Pakistani state, suddenly there is horror and outrage. Can’t you see why people are calling this hypocrisy? Are they only freedom fighters when they’re killing Indians, or Jews, or Westerners?

  17. 112 · Kabir said

    I’m sure most of the commenters on Sepia are not International Relations experts.

    I think ditching an International Relations perspective might be a good way to begin approaching a sensible discussion on Pakistan – whether one is an ‘expert’ or not.

    Take the approach from most of the mainstream media when something major happens in the country. The question seems to be: How does this affect stability in the region, and how does this affect the War on Terra?

    How about asking first: How does this affect the people of Pakistan?

    Naive and over-simplistic, perhaps, but… hearts and minds, anyone?

  18. Bobby, to me it seems that you are overly simplyfing a complex issue. Pakistan is not interested in grabbing random parts of India or breaking up the country. There is a specific historical dispute over a particular region, namely Kashmir, that was historically a Muslim-majority area. At the time of partition, Muslim-majority areas were supposed to form Pakistan. Granted, Kasmir was a princely state and the Maharaja had the right to choose to accede to India or to Pakistan. He chose India. Now clearly, it is problematic for a Muslim-majority area to become part of a Hindu-majority country just because the Hindu ruler decided so. Also, when the boundry lines were drawn, by the British, Muslim-majority areas such as Gurdaspur that techically should have gone to Pakistan went to India, presumably because of access to Kashmir. My point with all this information, is that the Kashmir issue is a complex geopolitical, and international issue which there have been several UN resolutions over. You cannot simplify it as simply Pakistan wanting to break up India. That you are doing so reflects your inability to accept different points of view on a complex issue.

    Anyway, Kashmir is really not the point. I don’t support Pakistanis who gloat about negative events in India, neither do I support Indians who gloat about the breakup of Pakistan. I think there are more productive things we could be doing with our time and better ways to ensure a peaceful South Asia for all of us.

  19. Vivek (# 117), I agree with you. My point about Sepia commenters mostly not being IR ‘experts’ was that these threads really become a kind of free-for-all, where people feel free to say whatever random thing comes to their minds, mostly based on their own life experience or what they have been taught growing up in a specific country. Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with that. It just means that we should all strive to be civil to each other and respect that we have differing viewpoints, none of which are completely right.

    I totally agree that the central question should be “How does this effect the people of Pakistan?” Unfortunately, as with most Pakistan related issues, it’s hard to totally seperate India/Pakistan relations out of the discussion

  20. . I assume that your point here is that when one realises the true nature of the SELF, all external divisions melt away, and the SELF is seen as an indistinguishable part of the absolute. One with the universal consciousness. This discovery brings much peace and happiness. Now try explaining the above to Mullah Fazlullah.

    I’d be happy too. In fact, I do alot of inter-religious dialogueing. The world needs more of it. Just because some few violent fanatics somewhere lack brain cells and compassion does not mean I have to come down to their level, does it? Let them come up to mine. It may take a lifetime or two, or several. But I will not regress myself. Let them progress themselves.

  21. I have difficulty in understanding the kind of state the ‘ideal’ Pakistan would be. What was the original vision of Jinnah? He did want a country based on an exclusive muslim identity, didn’t he? Yet, in his Aug 11 1947 speech, “He spoke of an inclusive and impartial government, religious freedom, rule of law and equality for all. He also seemed to advocate the separation of church and state“. Are all these things compatible with a new nation founded on the premise that it would be a “separate homeland free of external domination, based on the lofty ideals of Islam, where the Muslims of the subcontinent could live in accordance with the tenets of Islam” (link) I think the ideology was schizphrenic to begin with. It seems natural that Pakistan, whose diverse sub-nationalities were held together by the sole common glue of religious purity would have had to become more rigid and orthodox as time went on, to prevent the dilution of the it’s binding principle by secular and liberal influences. It also needed to find another substitute unifying factor, which it’s rulers did in the hatred of the ‘other’- India and the West.
    We might blame Raegan and America for exploiting these tendencies, but they were just catalysts (and powerful ones at that). The substrate was already there. The democratic/civilian governments have not done Pakistan any service in this regard. ZA Bhutto was partially responsible for the 1971 fiasco. Benazir Bhutto nurtured the Taliban, and set the ball rolling for the Kashmir Jehad. Nawaz Sharif is a friend of the islamists, and may or may not have known about the Kargil while signing the Lahore declaration. His probity is also extremely questionable, with a net worth of $1.4 Billion. Where are the land reforms? Where is the probity?

    As far as the world is concerned, democratic Pakistani governments are trickier to deal with, because they have the shield of deniability. They can pander to the extremists, and then blame the ‘non state actors’, or leave the field open to speculations about the role of the army and the ISI. At least with the Army, we are sure that we are dealing with the real power centre.

  22. At the time of partition, Muslim-majority areas were supposed to form Pakistan.

    Not so. Areas under direct British rule were apportioned out like poker chips, true. But the “native states” were supposed to go to where the princes wanted them to.

    Granted, Kasmir was a princely state and the Maharaja had the right to choose to accede to India or to Pakistan. He chose India.

    This account misses on important fact. What the Maharaja Hari Singh wanted more than anything was to remain in power. He vacillated for a long time as to which way he would go since he realized he would be out of power if he picked either side. In the end he chose India only when he could not delay any longer. The reason he could not delay any longer was because Pakistan armed and sent a small army of “tribal” rebels to take the territory by force. Deciding that India would at least step down with dignity rather than what the “rebels” would do to him he acceded to India.

    Then the UN said there should be a plebiscite. Both India and Pakistan agreed, but one of the conditions was that Pakistani forces would have to leave the parts of Kashmir that India had not pushed them out of. 60 years later they are still there, so obviously no plebiscite could ever be conducted and now that ethnic cleansing has already been perpetrated against anyone not sympathetic to the anti-secular cause, a fair plebiscite is no longer possible.

    Now clearly, it is problematic for a Muslim-majority area to become part of a Hindu-majority country just because the Hindu ruler decided so.

    Why? Why is it problematic for Muslims and Hindus to live side-by-side? Why do you think it is impossible for Muslims to live peaceably as a minority or in a majority minority region?

    Pakistan is not interested in grabbing random parts of India or breaking up the country.

    I am a firm believer in the idea that one’s actions reveal something about one’s objectives. I’d say the ISI’s funding of groups like ULFA and moral support for secessionist movements from Mizoram to Tamil Nadu all reveal an interest in breaking up the country.

    You cannot simplify it as simply Pakistan wanting to break up India.

    The reason it seems simplistic to you is that you’re conflating two separate issues together. You think Pakistan wanting Kashmir is part of an agenda to break up India. This is not so. Pakistan wants Kashmir and Pakistan also wants to break up India. This is simply the logic of power. The neighborhood is only big enough for one hegemon. India is that hegemon. That means the nation of Pakistan can choose to either be the Mexico to India’s United States or they can choose to try and hack India to pieces while she sleeps and take her place.

    Since Pakistan is under the heavy political influence of a praetorian military regime, even during periods of democracy it consistently chooses the latter course of action. I can’t really blame them. They are a military after all. Their political support is dependent on there being an outside enemy and their potential as a military power can only be achieved by eliminating the competition.

  23. Also, when the boundry lines were drawn, by the British, Muslim-majority areas such as Gurdaspur that techically should have gone to Pakistan went to India, presumably because of access to Kashmir.

    Since you are talking about technical points, just FYI, Gurdaspur is not Muslim majority considering that the population ratio was almost even between Muslims and non Muslims. The whole of Gurdaspur district had just 51% Muslims according to 1941 census. And the fact that Ahmadiyas (who had a substantial presence there) were included as Muslims in the 1941 who were made non -Muslims by law by the Pakistan government in 1974 , I think it is ok for India to get the district.. Non muslims are technically in the majority. :-)

  24. Wait a political Islam that is democratic? Isn’t that exactly what the Hindutva movement is about? Is this a special case where what’s good for the goose is not good for the gander because I seem to recall you being pretty anti-Hindutva.

    he..he.. looks like you don’t know the history of “secular progressives” like Dr. A. Dr. A is on record in sepia mutiny claiming that Rama is a mythical god, but when I asked whether Dr.A. considers Allah to be real and present or Allah to be mythical Dr.A went silent.

    They use different scales for different people / countries / religions.

  25. It would probably be in the best interest of all if both Bangladesh and Pakistan acceded to India but remained autonomous, like Goa. I mean, India has the best GDP of all 3 and a United SASC (south asian sub-continent) with pooled resources might actually have a chance at becoming a “super-power”. United we stand, divided we fall (or kill each other). Forget Kashmiriyat, Desiyat is the new buzzword. We need to draw upon our shared histories and cultures, Sufism could probably become the state religion by default (since it covers all bases), and all is well with the world.

  26. he..he.. looks like you don’t know the history of “secular progressives” like Dr. A.

    Ah, so it’s a secularism for you but not for me kind of deal? I get it now.

    Excuse me while I go throw up.

  27. Since you are talking about technical points, just FYI, Gurdaspur is not Muslim majority considering that the population ratio was almost even between Muslims and non Muslims. The whole of Gurdaspur district had just 51% Muslims according to 1941 census.

    Not true.

    The Punjab Boundary Commission led by Radcliffe awarded the three tehsils (sub-districts) of Gurdaspur District of Punjab to India inspite of these three tehsils having a clear Muslim majority (i.e. more than 51%) The fact that Gurdaspur itself had only a minor 51% Muslim majority is irrelevant. In fact the argument used by India at that time was if the three tehsils were awarded to Pakistan, then Amritsar would have been completely surrounded by Pakistan. Lets also remember that these three tehsils provided the only land route which connected India to Kashmir by land in 1947 and without these three tehsils India would lose Kashmir on the ‘contiguous land route rule’.

    Also 51% would still mean that the district should have gone to Pakistan because the rule was numerical majority (not super-majority) plus contiguous land route.

  28. Sufism could probably become the state religion by default (since it covers all bases)

    No. It doesn’t. Sufism isn’t some Hindu-Islamic fusion religion, it constitutes its own religious tradition and is a sect within Islam. Trying to caricature it as some pan-religious philosophy not only does terrible violence to Sufism, but manages to denigrate Hinduism and Islam as well.

    I mean, India has the best GDP of all 3 and a United SASC (south asian sub-continent) with pooled resources might actually have a chance at becoming a “super-power”.

    So Canada should accede to the US, the two Koreas should join Japan, and Taiwan should join mainland China too? The British entertained this idea that all there is to drawing national boundaries is screwing around with a map and a straight-edge but it didn’t work for them either.

  29. Not true.

    I don’t have the exact data. But the wiki says otherwise. the majorities are very close

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gurdaspur#Pakistan_and_the_.22Gurdaspur_conspiracy.22

    The Gurdaspur district in the undivided Punjab had on the basis of the 1941 census an overall Muslim majority of 51%, which came about in the first decades of the 20th century, mainly due to the out-migration of 45,000 Sikhs to the Chenab colony between 1891 and 1901. Gurdaspur had four tehsils (sub-districts) viz., Shakargarh (51.3% Muslims), Batala (53% Muslims), Pathankot (65% non-Muslim) and Gurdaspur it self (50.5% Muslims). Gurdaspur straddled a major river of the undivided Punjab of India, the Ravi, with Shakargarh Tehsil on the West Bank of the river and the rest of three Tehsils on the East Bank.

    Also 51% would still mean that the district should have gone to Pakistan because the rule was numerical majority (not super-majority) plus contiguous land route.

    That’s right. What I said was in jest. Now that Ahmediyas have been made non Muslims, anyways non Muslims were in the majority in Gurdaspur district at that time. that’d be an argument to console folks who are still not reconciled with what happened then.

    :-)

  30. Pakistan is not interested in grabbing random parts of India or breaking up the country.

    Not true. They fund extremists in places as far away (from Kashmir) as Kerala, and recruit Muslims from Kerala to fight in Kashmir. They print counterfeit Indian currency, and smuggle it into India to fund Jehadi organizations, and try to engineer communal riots by setting of bomb blasts in communally sensitive places. The stated policy is to “balkanize” India. Unfortunately, the balkanization seems to be starting at home.

    There is a covert actor in this show no one mentions — China. One reason the Pakistani Army cannot pull back its support for the Jehadi organisations is because China considers them a very effective way of containing and distracting India. In fact, after the Mumbai attacks, Pakistan sent a Chinese special envoy to India to negotiate on their behalf, and stated that he had a blank cheque from Pakistan. According to some views, India took that quite seriously, and when it didn’t get anywhere with the negotiations, promptly banned Chinese toys. Suddenly there was a lot of cooperation from Pakistan. There will be more such trade episodes now.

    Pakistan is Saudi Arabia’s social experiment gone horribly wrong. Americans funded the experiment, but the design, procedure and materials came from Saudi Arabia. Now China is trying to keep it running, even though history shows that the experiment has had significant blowback effects for the previous two sponsors. Pakistan’s dependence on aid limits its wriggle room. Ideally it should ask all these people trying to use it as a geopolitical wedge to get lost, but that is probably not going to happen. But since these external folks have invested significantly in Pakistan, they will also try to keep it together, to some extent.

  31. 119 · Kabir said

    “How does this effect the people of Pakistan?”

    No, the question from my prespective should be, how does this affect the People of India? Academics and Historians can debate why Pakistan is where it is today. The likelihood of a break-up of Pakistan is high, which is not my wet dream or nightmare, but a real possibility. The largest refugees will probably come from Punjab into Northern Indian states. Hope the army is ready for maintaining law and order during this time. Luckily for Gujarat, the reputation of Modi should keep influx to a minimum.

    As for the people of Pakistan, I show the same concern that many of my Pakistani collge friends showed for Indians. They cared about me and my friends, but had no problem donating to Kashmiri Freedom Funds at the local worship place. Quid pro quo.

  32. The real game-changer here is going to be the US’ acceptance of India’s offer to send troops to Afghanistan–that will put the nail in the coffin of the ill-fated US-Pakistan “alliance.”

  33. Why shouldn’t those commenters who support India gloat over Pakistan’s misery? We are enemies, after all.

  34. 132 · rob said

    The real game-changer here is going to be the US’ acceptance of India’s offer to send troops to Afghanistan–that will put the nail in the coffin of the ill-fated US-Pakistan “alliance.”

    the great communicator, leader of all that is good, mr. teflon himself, he who would sell arms to the ayatollah’s forces in iran, lights the match to set pakistan on fire, now the u.s. can all let it burn and take everybody in the neigborhood down. smells like victory!

  35. Why shouldn’t those commenters who support India gloat over Pakistan’s misery? We are enemies, after all.

    There are no permanent enemies or friends in international relations, but we can be good neighbours if we try (even though it seems improbable at present).

  36. So Canada should accede to the US, the two Koreas should join Japan, and Taiwan should join mainland China too?

    Why not?

    One Love One World

  37. or if they are really lucky and hit the jackpot and get an arranged marriage to a girl cousin settled in the UK.

    For some reason, I don’t think that these young pakistani girls in the UK feel the same way.

  38. 134 · mouth breather

    Why do you need a new handle for each post? And, by being smug for not being a “mouth breather” you, uhh–reveal all too much about your cramped, sorry and small little ambitions.

    Gilani’s reinstatement of Chaudhry was nimble–will be interesting to see how long he can keep up the balancing act!!

  39. Paging SM Intern – please close this thread and spare us. It appears that just the word “Pakistan” ["India"] is sufficient to trigger a Pavlov-like response (complete with the saliva) in some Indian [Pakistani] bloggers…

  40. 137 · Suki Dillon

    Suki–you seriously should make a blog for yourself–I would read it (and I’m sure I’m not the only one)! I felt really icky after going to Vancouver–you could help me get over that!!

  41. Jammu and Kashmir documents – read for yourself: http://www.jammu-kashmir.com/documents/documents.html

    -Maharaja Hari Singh’s Letter to Mountbatten -Accession Of Jammu And Kashmir State To India -Text of India’s Indian Complaint to the Security Council, 1st January 1948 -Sheikh Abdullah’s speech to the UN -U.N.RESOLUTION August 13, 1948 -Resolution on Assurances adopted by U.N. Commission for India and Pakistan(UNCIP) 1948 -Article 370 of the Indian Constitution -Excerpts from Sheikh Abdullah’s Opening Address to the J&K Constituent Assembly -The Tashkent declaration 10th February 1966 -The Kashmir Accord 13 Nov 1974 -Simla Agreement, 2 July 1972

  42. and there will be dark echoes for the Pakistani diaspora too, and in as much as British boys of Pakistani origin blowing themselves up and murdering innocent people in the name of the ‘ummah’ affects any of us with brown skin,

    The sad thing is there many young british pakistani men ready to do a repeat of the 7/7 London bombings and there actions will effect all of us. Even scary is that many of them could use there British passport and come to America and do something here. If that was to happen the people who would suffer from the backlash the most are my sikh uncles.

  43. If that was to happen the people who would suffer from the backlash the most are my sikh uncles.

    But why would you feel sympathy for them? They are Punjabis after all. I mean, hello, they are PUNJABIS! They are probably misogynistic, not assimilated, beat up their kids, engage in vile cultural practices and other unspeakable things Punjabis like to engage in. I would have thought you would have said something like ‘right on!’

  44. sepia mutiny should really just change its name to saffron mutiny. i’ve been quite amused to see the soft hindutva nationalist rhetoric that parades for commentary on this site. in any case, we should not be surprised at the anti-Muslim, anti-Pakistan flavour of this site – after all, India is one of the Democracies Against Terror, that lovely confluence of neo-con, zionist and hindutva interests. and for those of you who need to know my religious affiliation so that you can jump down my throat, i’m a communist. but then the new global indian elite hates them some commies, too. that’s cool – just don’t pretend that you’re on the side of righteousness.

  45. The two cows of Sepia Mutiny, a story in five parts:

    Hindutva commenters: “The cows are not cows, but were originally a mandir which was torn down by the ISI. Also, in case anyone wants to talk about anythiing else: ‘pseudosecular” “double standards’ ‘that textbook is biased’ ‘(we will repeat this as many times as necessary until we win on volume rather than merit of argument)”

    Valiant socialists and liberals: No, no, you’re all wrong about the cows. You see, they’re cows, not mandirs or hindus or muslims. What? No, I didn’t say anything about the genocide in Bangladesh? What? no that’s not what I said. No, all I was saying is that they were cows. What? No, will you stop interrupting me – I’m just saying they’re f”£king cows. Oh f”£k off – you’re just trolling and hijacking conversations!

    Secular liberals: Please give one cow to the Hindutvadis and the other one to everyone else. That way we can respect EVERYONE’S free speech rights, regardless of how incredibly aggravating their commments are, how much they violate the comments policy, or how much their way of speaking prevents anyone else from actually being able to conduct a conversation about something other than what the Hindutva trolls are interested in talking about. But no abusive commments please.

    Everyone else: Please just stfu. f”£k this – I’ll just go to another thread where people won’t talk about politics and we can talk about movies and books.

    Hindutva commenters: You see what doublestandards the pseudoseculars use! They don’t even answer our questions directly! Just like Nehru and Aurengzeb and Manmohan Singh. Anyway, let’s go give some money to VHP now and hope that someone stumbles across our idiotic comments and thinks they actually make sense because they’ve had no exposure to any South Asian history, politics, or other information.

    :)

    The moral: That, my friends, is how you hijack a blog. f”£k this – I’ll just go to another thread where we can talk about movies and books…just hope they’re not about Pakistan…