LEARNING TO KNOW PAKISTAN Theories, difficulties and models with ulterior motives


Shakti, September 1965

L.F.Rushbrook Williams, The State of Pakistan, Faber and Faber, London, 1962.
A.G. Noorani
, The Kashmir Question, Manaktalas, Bombay, 1964.
Wayne Ayers Wilcox
, India Pakistan and the Rise of China, Walker and Company, New York, 1964.

Do we understand Pakistan?  Judging from the plethora of publications in recent times by experts and observers apparently we do understand or we should understand.  But a casual glance through some of these books leaves one more bewildered and they significantly fail to provide any convincing answers to some of the problems created by our neighbour.  Since its inception Pakistan has never failed to attract the attention of scholars in India and abroad but none has really come out with a thorough analysis of the Pakistani nation at work.  Now we are still faced with the problem of searching into the mysteries of Pakistan.

Prof. Rushbrook Williams in his book on the State of Pakistan devotes considerable attention to the evolution of the state.  He begins with a chapter on “Why Pakistan emerged,” and ends the book with the chapter interestingly titled “An end and a beginning.”  By the time he reaches the last chapter he is convinced that the basic democracy is based upon the “practical experience as well as upon a far-reaching trust in the common sense of the citizens of Pakistan.”  As if to justify what appears to us as undemocratic dictatorship the professor states, “Quaid-i-Azam would have approved of it, just as he would surely have approved of the work of those men, headed by President Ayub Khan, who saved the country which he founded from destruction and regained touch with the ideals which had originally inspired its creation.”  The path that Pakistan had traversed before arriving at this “stability” is described with a touch of admiration in a series of chapters some of which are interestingly titled as “fighting for life,” tragedy in Kashmir,” “chasing a constitution.”  While providing the background which is rather quite well known the learned professor’s conclusions are surprising.  Thus in a chapter entitled, “Parting of the ways,” which contrasts largely the foreign policies of India and Pakistan since independence, the professor writes, “Her (Pakistan’s) attitude to communism is clear; she holds it to be a godless philosophy which she cannot tolerate: she regards Communism in its militant international form as an enemy… she remains suspicious of their probable aspirations to world domination, which she is determined to resist, whether these aspirations are confined to cultural penetration or include the employment of physical force.”  Of course the professor could not have foreseen the late developments.  Yet it is hard to understand that how within three years of his sagacious conclusions were published, we find Pakistan hobnobbing with Communist China so happily.  On Indo-Pakistan relations, the professor describes that President Ayub Khan “is convinced of the fundamental identity of interests between Pakistan and India over a wide range of subjects” and claims that President Ayub Khan made persistent efforts “to improve his relations with Delhi.”(p.121.) Three pages later the professor writes that inspite of Ayub’s well intentioned efforts “the result has been to confirm the Pakistan Government in its conviction that Indo-Pakistani relations can never be satisfactory….”  The reason of course is the Kashmir question, according to the professor.

The book, The Kashmir Question as Mr. Noorani himself says in his preface is neither a history of Kashmir nor a definitive study of the question.  Mr. Noorani has studiously accumulated statements by Mr. Jinnah, Mr. Nehru, Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah other leaders and has attempted to demonstrate how from a hard position in the beginning Pakistan had moved to a reasonable position in recent times.  Ever since President Ayub Khan came to power, claims the author, Pakistan had “made many conciliatory gestures to India and proposed among other things joint defence of the sub-continent.”  This line, says the author, has been consistently maintained.  But the difficulty of course was that we (India) “have been adopting so far mainly a technical and legalistic point of view,” says Mr. V.B. Karnik who has given a long introduction to the book.  The Indian view that Kashmir’s accession to “India is final and irrevocable as there is in law no such thing as a provisional accession” has failed to convince most nations, says Mr. Karnik.  “How do we then explain our failure to win support amongst a large number of Asian and African countries?”  Running through the book one fails to understand how the sweet reasonableness of President Ayub Khan evaporated so soon and what factors had contributed to Pakistan’s aggression in other parts.  It is all entirely due to our “hard line?”   

Another recent book is by a well known professor of Columbia University, Wayne A. Wilcox.  The title of his book (”India, Pakistan and the Rise of China,”) is rather misleading since almost the whole book is an indictment of India’s foreign policy.  Not that there are no references about Pakistan.  There are.  Thus he describes how the idea of Pakistan arose and how it came “into existence after the idea ceased to be ridiculed by Britisher and Hindu alike.”  It had early difficult days.  But “the miracle was that the state continued…”  It had some difficulties in evolving her foreign policy.  But it solved it through another “diplomatic miracle.”  Writes Mr. Wilcox: “Originally the Middle East defence organization was to have been an Arab affair to fill the vacuum left by the departing colonial authorities. But for many reasons, the focus of the alliance was shifted to the non-Arab northern tier states of Turkey, Iran and Pakistan.  The South-east Asia Treaty Organization, the projected pact which was to exclude Communist China from further adventures in Southeast Asia, similarly lost the adherence of India and Indonesia, the most important powers in the region, and instead focused on smaller states with dissimilar interests.  Pakistan found itself, for once, favoured by its geographic bifurcation.  West Pakistan fits into a Middle Eastern pattern while East Pakistan was quite clearly in south East Asia.  Karachi commanded the Persian Gulf and Chittagong the Bay of Bengal.”  Mr. Wilcox explains Pakistan took advantage of this factor and entered into alliance with United States.  The author earlier had blandly stated that “it is apparent that India ceased to figure heavily in the world power balance.  The illusion remained for a time but inevitably decayed.”  Yet in the quotation given above SEATO’s weakness is attributed to its losing adherence of India and Indonesia, the most important powers in the region.  In a brief reference to the recent closer relations between Pakistan and China, Mr. Wilcox is content to sum up the opinions of President Ayub Khan.  He states that President Ayub Khan feels “that since India had ambitions to become a great power in Asia, China had been forced to humble them.  He said that as any military man knew, the Chinese could not support a full-scale invasion of India from their base in Tibet, which was in any case, incomplete, and that from the beginning theirs had been a limited action.  American arms, he contended, would not strengthen India against China even if that were desirable, and therefore the arms would only serve to dim hopes for a plebiscite in Kashmir and for Pakistan’s security.”  As mentioned earlier Mr. Wilcox is extremely critical of Indian policy.  His statements sometimes are startling.  Writing of the Chinese aggression in 1962 and our attempts to secure military equipments from abroad, Mr. Wilcox writes: “The hard fact remained, however, that the Chinese had withdrawn, that there was room for honest difference of opinion on the precise frontier between India and China, and that the Indian forward policy may have been the immediate cause of the Chinese campaign.  To more than one diplomatic observer, Chinese policy appeared to have aimed at administering a dignified oriental slap in the face, followed by unchallenged withdrawal.”  We are unable to decide whether to be amused or annoyed at such na´ve conclusions of the experts.
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