Dr Muhammad Khan
Had there been any chance of rival of the Mughal Empire in the post-colonial India, the Muslims might have opted for a united India. The post 1857 developments brought Hindus closer to the colonial British ruling class. The Muslims were considered as enemies both by the British rulers and the dominant majority population, the Hindus. Both isolated and discriminated the Muslims as the former ruling class. On their part, the Muslims wanted a joint and united approach for the freedom of India from the colonial occupation. The political platform in the form of Indian National Congress, established in 1885, served the interests of Hindus more than Muslims. Therefore development of a sense of alienation among the Muslims was a natural outcome of the sequential developments in India.
The two major milestones; the Independence in 1947 and Pakistan Resolution in 1940 were the consequence of the hectic efforts of our forefathers and painful history of the discrimination of Muslims. Nevertheless, there remained consistency and steadfastness among the Muslims for the achievement of their destination, a separate homeland in the form of Pakistan, where they could live free of any domination or subjugation. Until 1945, Pakistan was a dream, since the post WW-II situation was fluid and Hindu majority alongside the British colonial power was opposing division of the India. It was the determined leadership of Quaid-a-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and his colleagues, who forced their way forward for the formation of a separate homeland for the Muslims of India.
In the historical perspective, the Pakistan Movement was a challenge and Pakistan becoming a new independent Muslim State was even a greater challenge. The unfortunate death of Quaid-e-Azam and other founding leadership posed even a tougher challenge. The subsequent sequential developments put the country into new challenges, which could not be dealt efficiently, resulting into the regretful incident of 1971, the unforgettable tragedy. The challenges did not end even after this sad event.
Today, on 70th Independence Day of Pakistan, the challenges, facing the state and society of Pakistan are even more crucial, uncertain, hostile and dangerous. The past anti Pakistan nexus have grown in numbers and size with new allies, who are more lethal in cause and effect, making both covert and overt presence. These challenges are both internal and external having intimate connections and linkages. The elements of extremism, radicalisation and terrorism are only their tangible forms. The old rivals of Pakistan are now regrouping in a number of new forms and formats.
The strategies, these forces are adopting are very treacherous, aiming to destroy the very basis of the state and society of Pakistan. These forces want to defeat and destroy the social filament and the ideology of Pakistani nation. The social connection and a very strong historical linkage of Pakistani society is being shattered through the promotion of ethnic factor, sub-nationalism and sectarianism. The past two decades have witness these tendencies in a more recurrent and rambling way. These factors have damaged the traditional coherence and harmony, the Pakistani society had for centuries.
Whereas, the rival forces could solely and gradually proliferate into the roots of the peaceful Pakistani society to create a fissure and exploit those subsequently, the political leadership, the religious scholars and intellectual/ academic classes were found wanting in playing their desired role of maintaining the harmony and coherence in the society. They also could not developa counter narrative against the quite visible strategies of the anti-state forces. The Pakistani free media could neither conceive nor pursue a role it should have played for the promotion of national integration and social cohesiveness. Rather, at time, it becomes part of those narratives, which ultimately harmed the national integration, knowingly or unknowingly.
Radicalisation of the society by a selected class of the people while making use of Islam was a bigger conspiracy against the ideological basis of Pakistan. TTP and many other militant groups have misinterpreted the religion for the promotion of the motives, which have benefitted the anti-Pakistan forces more than this group even. They were and are being funded for misleading the youth of Pakistan, through a misconstrued form of Islam. This strategy has created extremism and terrorism in Pakistan, which has physically and ideologically damaged the state and society of Pakistan. Still these groups are being funded, trained and equipped by the anti-state forces.
The radicalisation of the society has greatly harmed the Pakistani society and state. The religious scholars though did not play a role; they should have played, but mainly remained divided over these developments. Some were even found closely affiliated with these militant groups and state could hardly take any action against them. Some political forces and more so the religio-political forces were also found having a direct and indirect association and affiliations with the militant groups.
The military actions; especially the Operations Zarb-i-Azb has resolutely destroyed the organised basis of these militants. This operation and linked with it the 20,000 intelligence based operations throughout the country have remarkably reduced the terrorists attacks and their potentials. The security forces, especially Pak Army deserve a special appreciation for these achievements. Since Pak Army and other security forces have played their part, there is a need that, political forces, the religio-political groups, the religious scholars, the academia and Pakistani society must play their role in the consolidation of the gains, armed forces have attained.
As a way forward, there is a need to develop the counter narratives to what the militants have been betraying the innocent masses for the last one decade. Whereas, a selected political, intellectual and social class of Pakistan should formulate these narratives, the media should play a role in the promotion and exploitation of these narratives for defeating the terrorist’s ideology and strengthening the national integration and social cohesion among the masses. Let us transform the society to its originality by consolidating the gains, the valiant armed forces of Pakistan have achieved in last one decade.
— The writer is International Relations analyst based in Islamabad.