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Old Sunday, December 02, 2012
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Post The hurdles in our true independence

What are the hurdles in our way to becoming a truly independent nation?
Outline
• Introduction
• Characteristics of a truly independent nation
• The hurdles in our true independence
o Political instability
o Economic maladministration
o Leadership vacuum
o The three evils of terrorism, extremism and separatism
• Independence after our independence in 1947
• Geostrategic location of Pakistan and its independence
• Conclusion
We are not a truly independent nation. Our true independence is hampered both on the internal and external side. On the internal side, political corruption and economic mismanagement never let us enjoy the fruits of separation from greater India. On the external side, the absence of prudent leadership has embroiled us in terrorism and extremism. The unfair partition of the greater India in 1947, and the complicated foreign policy of Pakistan due to its geostrategic location have placed permanent impediments to our true independence.
The independence of a country is measured with various yardsticks. The chief among those yardsticks are territorial integrity and political sovereignty. The Kashmir issue has held our territorial integrity in limbo. Our political sovereignty has been hostage to our foreign policy. The political decisions made in the country are finalised after appeasing many internal and external audience. Due to these bottlenecks, we are shorn of healthy political independence.
Besides, there are other elements of independence. Why do we think of countries like USA, UK or France as truly independent? Because they have political stability. They have strong state organs i.e. executive, legislature and the judiciary, working separately and cooperatively. This has not been the case in Pakistan. We have switched rules from military leadership to civilian leadership. We have experimented with three constitutions. We are proposing 21st amendment for our current constitution in its life of around forty years when the Americans have made just 27 amendments to their constitution in 223 years! Those countries have vibrant and free media and democratic culture with strong roots. We have recently seen a free media and our feudal lords make people vote them to show the world that we are democratic.
On the economic side, true independence requires economic stability, progress and development. Since 1947, we have been hostages to poverty, unemployment and inflation. While most other nations grow every year, we regress. After 65 years of partition of India, we have become more vulnerable to other servitudes than before: the servitudes of hunger, crime and disease. In such abject conditions, true indolence is just rhetoric.
This situation does not entitle us to true independence. This was not the situation the founders of Pakistan envisaged when they demanded a separate piece of land. Now that we have separate territory, are we independent? No. We are still under the Raj, not of the British or the Congress, but of poverty, hunger and insecurity.
There have been certain hurdles to our true independence since our early years. As soon as the problem of partition was over, we fell to other problems that still plague us. The defining characteristic of those problems was political instability. We framed our first constitution after nine years of lazy cogitation in 1956 but abrogated it in 1958 after less than two years! We framed our second constitution in 1962 and killed it after seven years in 1969. The third constitution, framed in 1973 is still with us. However, it has been transmogrified after so many amendments. In absence of constitutional stability, we lost our eastern brothers, the Bengalis, due to socio-economic injustice not guaranteed by the constitution.
This constitutional travesty was a result of our civilian rulers’ inefficiency and the intervention of our military in domestic politics. The bureaucrats and the politicians were too self-centered to think of national interests. The civilian rulers were engrossed in corruption and inefficiency, which led to military takeovers. The military, maintained with public taxes, were meant to guard the frontiers of the country, but they also decided to supervise the lives of the taxpayers. They imposed military rules in the country in four times: in 1958, in 1969, in 1977 and in 1999. Of the 65 years of national independence, our nation has lived around 35 years under military rulers. The remaining years have witnessed ephemeral civilian governments, frequently dissolved. Those short termed civilian rules were plagued with corruption, quarrels and weakness. It is ludicrous to think of true independence amid such conditions.
What was the result of all this? We became hostages to circumstances and unable to direct our destiny. After 65 years of independence from the British, we have failed to develop strong and balanced national institutions. After executive has shuttled power between the president and the prime minister. It has been capable of every thing but implementation of core national policies. Our legislature has been notorious for not making effective laws for the poor, the jobless and the aged. It has been more engaged in pulling the legs of the executive and protecting itself from dissolution. In addition, our judiciary! Who is the guardian of the constitution? In addition, who could endorse military coups through the “doctrine of necessity”?
Consequently, today, we lack effective machinery to realize the full potential of our independence. The ineptitude of our political leadership was exhibited when we lost East Pakistan. However, the separation of East Pakistan has served as an eye-opener. We are still hanging on to the Kashmir dispute, which we should, while Balochistan is increasing in centrifugal tendencies. Our people ask the leaders what is independence. Were we not better off under the British or even the Congress? While political independence has meant license for the leaders to loot and plunder, it has not meant prosperity and progress for the people.
Enslavement of media is also an impediment to our independence. Not only military rulers but also civilian ones have been guilty of curbing and gagging the media. Consequently, free speech, fair elections, and accountable governments have failed to take roots in our society. The PPO of 1963, National Press Trust of 1964 and the Public Safety Ordinance have only been tools to enslave the media.
Let us take an analogy: Pakistan and South Korea. Like us, they have lived under military rule under General Parker. They also waged war with North Korea in 1950-1953. However, today, they are developed economy of the world! Despite a chequred history, they have emerged as the 12th largest economy of the world. Their land is 25 percent of our total land and their populating is 20 percent of our total population. However, our GDP is mere 20 percent of their total GDP! How was this possible? Through sound economic management.
The South Koreans are reported to have imported our homemade Five Year Plans to develop their economy. They have been successful but we have not been. We have been too engrossed in political corruption to pay to heed to economic management. Today, South Korea is robust and healthy society living an independent life.
We cannot be truly independent unless we develop economically. While our rulers have been slaves to corruption, our people have been bondservants to poverty. 33 percent our population is living life below the poverty line i.e. at less than a dollar a day. Our villages are still in mediaeval condition. Our youth commit suicide due to socio-economic stress. We spent just 2 percent of our earnings on education. Only 45 percent of our women are educated. In these conditions, true independence cannot be achieved.
Moreover, independence is made true by genuine leadership. Nations rise and fall in the matrix of leadership. As Napoleon Bonaparte has said,
“A pack of wolves lead by a lion can overcome a pride of lions led by a dog”
After the death of Quaid e Azam, we could not find leadership with mass following, and broad and genuine motivations. If we did at some time, they could not win the hearts of the people later on. History informs us that many nations have rise only because they got genuine leadership. USA got men like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, China got Deng Xiaoping, Malaysia got the like of Mahathir Mohammed and whom did we get?
China, Russia and four Central Asian Republics, within the matrix of Shangai Cooperation Organization, decided to fight the three evils of terrorism, extremism, and separatism in 2001. They have been, therefore, less threatened by those evils than we have been. We are cleft apart by these evils. However, we are on our own in this fight. While separatism has existed in Pakistan since 1947 and Ziaul Haq’s Islamisation gave birth to extremism, the first decade of 21st century has been ridden with terrorist and extremist holocaust in Pakistan.
We can never be truly independent nation so long as these threats exist. These threaten us from inside. Our whole existence is under threat. Separatism of Balochistan is detrimental to our future as was that of East Pakistan. It should be addressed properly.
The Pakistan movement demanded a separate land for Muslims in Muslim majority areas. The demand was prematurely granted in 1947. The partition gave us legacy of disputed borders with Afghanistan and territorial disputes, like Kashmir, with India. We fought wars with India in 1965 and 1971. India helped the secession of Bangladesh in 1971. The enmity with India led to armament in South Asia. The already poor Pakistan has to divert resources from socio-economic development to into developing nuclear weapons. Security on our borders and amity with our neighbors is essential to our true independence. Otherwise, our independence sits under Damocle’s sword.
Moreover, a static fact our existence, the geostrategic location of our country has been a hindrance to our independence. Instead of exploiting for trade and commerce, we have been fallen into quagmires due to it. Stephen P. Cohen, renowned expert on South Asian Affairs, rightly says,
“While history has been unkind to Pakistan, its geography has been its greatest asset.”
Yes, we have rivers, mountains, agricultural plains, oil, gas, coal, gold and other precious things. However, it was due to this geographic location as well, that we were the focus of cold war (1945-1990), first Afghan War (1979-1991) and regional alliance like SEATO and CENTO. Again, we are embroiled in second Afghan war (2001- to date) and the great game of oil politics. As a result, from the very beginning, we have been actuated not to pursue an independent foreign policy. We fail to pressure India to solve Kashmir dispute with us. We pay little heed to China, our closest ally. Our trade with the East Asia is meager. This is because, wily hilly, we had to be part of the conflicts because we were located so close to those conflicts. As a result, our independence has received checks on it.
In the end, it may be concluded that our true independence is impeded by political instability and economic backwardness. In absence of able leadership, we cannot realize true independence against the threats of terrorism, extremism and separatism. Our disputes with India and Afghanistan, resulting from premature and unfair partition have jeopardized our independence. Moreover, our entangling alliances in international politics have hijacked our foreign policy due to which we are bereft of true independence.
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