Pakistan is not a country. It is a failed British fantasy about the fabrication of a nation-state. It has other failed and failing peers in the Middle East, all fabricated during the 20th century. It is time to seriously review all of these structures and redraw the borderlines.
Pakistan was a phrase coined for an idealistic confederation of five Muslim provinces within the old British-controlled India (Punjab, Northwest Frontier Province or Afghania, Kashmir, Sindh and Baluchistan). However, these are tribal lands with distinct traditions and have very little in common. These provinces were all knocked together, on presumption of a common religion, and a “dominion” was fabricated within the Commonwealth with self-governance authority akin to independence after World War II. It was all part of the post-war fire sale of territorial control of Britain. The ill-conceived plan even set up a separate territory of East Bengal as East Pakistan, a subcontinent away, with the rough-and-ready argument of common religious beliefs and a majority Muslim population. East Pakistan eventually became independent and renamed itself Bangladesh.
Pakistan’s short 60-year history is full of coups and raw, violent tribal rivalry, peppered by jailing or executing the previous rulers. Most recently, we saw a stark and bold example of such rivalry: a returning Pakistani politician, a former prime minister, was deported from his own country.
There is no commonly accepted language among these tribes and thus the official language of Pakistan is English.
For as long as I remember, Iran’s eastern border with Pakistan has always been a hub of instability, smuggling and violent crime. Pakistan is the main transit route for opium and heroin from Afghanistan, where more than 90% of the world’s opium supply is produced. In turn, that cash flow encourages money laundering, armed banditry, murder, violence and corruption. Therefore, several conflicting layers of official structure naturally form, each operating as lawless gangs or states within a state. Drug-infested territories have a poor record of development. Power and corruption leads to uneven, Byzantine relations between groups and to opaque alliances. Meanwhile, the masses remain in poverty: according to the World Bank, that’s about a third of all Pakistanis.
In this kind of political greenhouse of a country, no new politicians or doctrines surface. I wonder why news about Pakistani politics seems to be a game of musical chairs, with familiar names and faces periodically recycled.
There are other issues to ponder, namely a nuclear arsenal, missiles, a brisk small-arms export business (about $250 million a year) and the schizophrenic dual-tracked “friendship” with the U.S., al-Qaeda and Wahhabi extremists. Pakistan’s aimless Kashmir policies are perfect examples of circular political indecision. U.N. peacekeepers have remained stationed in Kashmir for more than three decades.
Pakistan is a relic set up as a counterweight to India -- and its tendency to tilt towards the Eastern Block. I think it is high time to revisit the old composite structure of five provinces combined into one artificial country. A redrawing of borders might serve useful and to cut through the farce. Let each province mature and declare independence. Some will eventually join their long-time tribal allies, leaving two or three independent lands and a more transparent political agenda.
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