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InternationalIs the idea of Pakistan dead?Pakistan has taken many blows in recent...

Is the idea of Pakistan dead?
Pakistan has taken many blows in recent times which put a question mark on its future

Date:

Prafull Goradia

Recently, former Congressman Ghulam Nabi Azad stated publicly that six hundred years ago, there were no Muslims in Kashmir. This is well known, but a distinguished politician should say this is historic. Is this a symptom of the loss of confidence that the above-mentioned leader's community has suffered with the march of time? Contrast this statement with M.A. Jinnah's speech of March 22, 1940, preparatory to the Pakistan Resolution passed the next day. On that occasion, the Qaid stated rather bluntly, but unambiguously, that Hindus and Muslims could not live together in the same country. They are two different people with not only different but mutually antagonistic views of life, he had said.
As if this was not enough, a few weeks ago, Afghanistan's Taliban rulers even more bluntly said “The idea of Pakistan is dead”. The Balochs, Pakhtoons and Sindhis are now out on the streets, openly demanding independence from the New Medina, whose dream was sold to them in 1947. Pakhtoons and Balochs have gone so far as to threaten Pakistan, “The Bengalis (i.e., East Pakistanis) took off your pants (in 1971), but we Pakhtoons and Balochs will skin you this time”.
Over these 83 years, the subcontinent of has turned a full 180 degrees. The secession of Bangladesh from Pakistan was the first blow. It proved that their religion could not hold a country together. The theory spun by the Qaid-e-Azam had been shown as being hollow. If the theory perpetuates itself, it would contain the portents of further disintegration. Pakistan, which had come into being as a dream of a New Medina, suffered a shattering loss of prestige. With it, the image of the country in the world was also shaken. The next setback was Pakistan's defeat in the Kargil War of 1999. Its humiliating withdrawal from Indian territory further eroded whatever military prestige it had left.
A very unexpected development in due course was the coming of Narendra Modi to power at the Centre. Initially, it was not expected to be a very different phenomenon from what had been seen earlier, and Pakistan as well as its terrorist proxies in the Kashmir Valley continued with their infiltration and violent attacks. The suicide bombing of Indian soldiers at Pulwama was particularly brutal. However, this time, Pakistan was forced to pay a prohibitive price by New Delhi's retaliation in the form of the Indian Air Force's bombing of Pakistani terror camps at Balakot. The Indian retribution shook Pakistan and its sympathizers as never before.
The next blow was the abrogation of Article 370, which, for all practical purposes, drove virtually the last nail in the coffin of the so-called Kashmir dispute. Uncannily, Pakistan has fallen in line with the reality that it is no use raising the issue anymore. Moreover, some leaders in the Pak-occupied Kashmir (PoK) have begun to claim that they belong to India because as per the Indian Independence Act of 1947 passed by the British Parliament, the (erstwhile) Maharaja of & Kashmir had acceded to the Indian Union.
Even more than the Balakot strike, what has hurt Pakistan is demonetization, carried out by the Modi government in 2016. Previously, Pakistani as well as Indian currency notes were supplied by the same printer in Britain, giving Islamabad free access to Indian currency. The change of currency was a huge economic setback to the Pak . Eventually, this led to virtual bankruptcy in that country. The impression in India is that the middle and lower classes across the border are mostly subsisting on a single meal a day. The American dollar is valued at over 300 Pakistani rupees and has lost any meaningful value. Internationally, the destruction of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre in New York on 9/11 has generated a great deal of prejudice. Terrorism in general has certainly not added goodwill. To add to all this, of course, are the pressures brought upon by modernization, particularly the revolution let loose by Information on a community that is essentially conservative but also orthodox, wedded to taqlid (orthodoxy) rather than experimenting with ijtehad (reinterpretation).
In light of the total of these developments, Ghulam Nabi Azad's statement about Islam being no older than 1,400 years in the Kashmir Valley may well be pregnant with vision. It may be calling for a revolution in the thinking of the community's clergy. For example, its attitude towards the advent of a uniform civil code. While the legal and constitutional journey towards this goal will be a saga by itself, what is pertinent is that many Muslim women have begun speaking up against the practice of instant talaq (divorce), and in favour of their rights as citizens governed by an egalitarian constitutional framework. Added to this, there is a small but growing community of people who're no longer afraid to call themselves “Ex-Muslim”; the nomenclature is self-explanatory.
But while the churn in the community merits our attention and study, its attendant turmoil in the neighbourhood, particularly what was advertised and sold as the New Medina, must immediately occupy the attention of our rulers and policymakers, as a breakdown there has all the potential of adversely affecting India's rise.

(The writer is a well-known columnist, an author, and a former member of the Rajya Sabha. The views expressed are personal)

Northlines
Northlines
The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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