By Brig Asif Haroon Raja
On the eve of Pakistan’s Independence Day celebrated on 14 August 2012, Sabir Shah instead of writing something good about his country befitting the occasion, he chose to eulogize India in his article published in ‘The News’, ‘In 65 years India excels Pakistan in many fields’. Not for an instance he realized that all Indian writers pay glowing tributes to India on the occasion of Indian Independence Day falling on 15 August and paint Pakistan in black. In order to extol India and belittle Pakistan, he statistically tried to prove that Indians are far ahead of Pakistanis on economic, political, educational and communication network development fronts. To begin with, he reminded the Pakistanis that India is five times bigger in size and its population is six times larger than Pakistan. He then made comparisons of GDP, per capita income, exports, foreign exchange and gold reserves, literacy rate, growth of democracy and scientific achievements in various fields.
There is no denying the fact that Pakistan lags behind India in all the above mentioned departments and India today stands tall over Pakistan, and in this the major blame goes to our leaders. However, one must not ignore the historical facts when making a comparison. It is now an established fact that Indian leaders having grudgingly agreed to the partition plan had not reconciled to the existence of Pakistan and even after 65 years have still not reconciled. After giving a raw deal through infamous Punjab Boundary Award and forcibly occupying two-thirds of Kashmir and denying its rightful share of assets to make Pakistan fragile at the very outset, it was saddled with plethora of problems soon after its birth to suffocate newly born Pakistan. It was economically strangulated, militarily coerced and covertly subverted.
Threatened by a big neighbor with expansionist designs, Pakistan had to look for security alliances to protect its territorial integrity and security. The security perception took precedence over development and social priorities. The political process also broke down frequently. In spite of financial crisis, Pakistan had to keep raising its military expenditure to maintain military balance. Regionalism was inflamed in smaller provinces to thwart integrative efforts. In its bid to maintain hegemony in the region, all neighbors of India have experienced a high degree of coercion and remain wary of it. Since Pakistan stands up to India’s intimidating tactics, she is subjected to maximum doze. Besides hostile eastern front, Pakistan had to contend with unfriendly Afghanistan espousing the cause of Pakhtunistan. While creation of Pakistan was a miracle of 20th century, its survival was another miracle.
While India started its journey as a settled nation with vast resources and without any displacement, Pakistan had to start from a scratch. Unlike Pakistan, which took nine years to frame a constitution in 1956, and that too was given a fatal blow in 1958, in India the constitution was first framed by Mahatma Gandhi in 1920, which remains unchanged. It became very easy for Jawaharlal Nehru to formulate a secular constitution within one year, which remains in operation till this day. While India held the first general elections in 1952 and thereafter held it regularly after every five years, Pakistan on the other hand held its first general elections in December 1970 and that too led to its truncation.
Again as far as political growth in Pakistan is concerned, the Muslim League that had formed government at the centre and in all provinces of Pakistan started to split into factions within two years of creation of Pakistan. It got decisively defeated in the provincial elections in former East Pakistan in 1954 at the hands of Jugto Front. There on, it could never regain its former self and continues to stay divided. The Indian Congress Party on the other hand remained the pre-dominant ruling party till December 1989, except for a brief spell of BJP. The BJP is the only party which poses challenge to Congress. Credit for one-party rule for 42 years goes to Mahatma Gandhi and Nehru who nurtured the party as a mass organization. Nehru was a political giant in comparison to his rivals and popularly acclaimed as undisputed leader.
While Pakistan was unlucky to lose Quaid-i-Azam in September 1948, India was fortunate to have Nehru at the helm of affairs till 1964. He helped in laying strong foundations and enabled political institutions to fortify. His daughter Indira Gandhi kept the flag of Congress high because of her charisma and decisiveness and further solidified institutions. Conversely, repeated military takeovers in Pakistan because of absence of sound political leadership never allowed the political parties or institutions to nurture. One major reason for political instability in Pakistan was because of the ruling Muslim League leadership belonging to UP and Central Provinces of India and having no political base in Pakistan. Almost all were from the elite class having little understanding of the afflictions of the poor class. Majority of Congress leaders came from middle class with a large support of the working classes. They remained within their means and did not indulge in corruption or dirty politics at the cost of national interests. These factors put together helped India to strengthen political outlook and norms, and fortified rule of law and judiciary.
In India it has independent Election Commission and judiciary and the latter has no role to play in the elections. The elections are entirely supervised by civil servants. In Pakistan, except for former East Pakistan where the political leadership rested in the hands of politicians from lower and middle classes, the entire political leadership of West Pakistan comprise of big landlords, industrialists and rich lawyers. They are mostly concerned with self-interest and to remain in power and operate in league with the bureaucrats to safeguard each other’s interests. As far as elections are concerned, the judiciary and civil servants have always strictly followed the dictates of those in power, while the political and military elite remains partners in crime. For the first time the judiciary in Pakistan has become assertive and independent under Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhri.
There is greater sense of patriotism and nationalism in India and all segments of society very often stand united on national issues. Seldom has any Indian politician or any other official uttered anything anti-India, particularly when abroad or on a visit to Pakistan. Even Indian Muslims visiting foreign countries remain tightlipped. Reverse is true for our politicians, particularly those in opposition who miss no opportunity to damage Pakistan’s reputation and interests. The liberals and those belonging to the film and music world are all pro-India.
Notwithstanding India’s plus points, it has numerous negative points as well. The major ones are the growing gap between the rich and poor, raging insurgencies in 19 states where Indian forces are committing excessive human rights abuses, maintenance of perverse caste system and dominance of political and religious apparatus by 2.8 % Brahmins. Hindu fundamentalism has grown into a Frankenstein monster, which has deeply eroded the farce of secularism in India. Urge to convert India into a Hindu State has intensified among extremist Hindus led by BJP. All minorities in India, particularly the Muslims feel highly unsafe. India is an ethnic museum; and though the Indian leadership has managed to achieve unity out of diversity mainly by using coercive means, the loss of Congress as the single predominant party is a very serious one. Dependence on several political parties of divergent hues to form a coalition government has made the political dispensation in India fragile. Naxalites movement is by far the biggest and most dangerous and has become an existential threat to Indian Union.
In 2000, it was estimated that 394 million people lived below poverty line in India, a number larger than the population of the country at the time of independence in 1947. In Mumbai, India’s largest city, 40% of population is considered fluid – meaning that they do not have established homes, but rather move throughout the city, setting up tents or shacks wherever they can or sleep on pavements. In 1990, that amounted to around 1.5 million people. India is home to 350 million children, of which between 18 and 20 million are street children. It has been estimated that the working children living with families and those alone on the streets, range between 17.4 and 44 million for all of India. This population amounts to the largest population of street children in the world. India is undeniably home to the largest absolute number of poor people in the world. Resistance of the poor because of acute undernourishment is so weak that they die in thousands in cold climate or hot weather. In Pakistan 31% live below poverty line but the situation is certainly not as abysmal as in India. 60% of the population in India is illiterate. India is under the burden of $267 billion foreign debt. Corruption has seeped into every department including the government and the military. With this dismal record, Indian leader Manmohan Singh had the audacity to term SAARC as a bunch of ‘failed states’.
Despite monumental constraints suffered by Pakistan due to India’s interventionist policy and leadership crisis, Pakistan’s economy and its currency remained stronger than India till mid 1990s. India’s fortunes started booming during Narasimha Rao tenure when India fell into the waiting lap of USA in 1991 and USA and Israel became its strategic partners. Israel helped in revolutionizing India’s agriculture and upgrading its defence potential by becoming the biggest arms supplier, while USA uplifted India’s IT industry and overall economy through heavy investments and also upgraded conventional and nuclear capabilities. Soviet Union later reduced to Russian Federation also played its role in boosting India’s military and economic capabilities. Pakistan that had put all its eggs in the basket of USA was ditched repeatedly and put under harsh sanctions over and over again. Pakistan’s economic indicators have gone into negative because of the US imposed war on terror and massive corruption by the present government.
One can imagine the fate of India if it had been burdened with the kind of problems which Pakistan had to confront during its infancy. No country breathed over its neck or intrigued to destabilize it, or blackmailed it through coercive tactics. The only time it was attacked was in 1962. Short border skirmish in the Himalayan region proved to be a blessing in disguise for India for it impelled both Soviet Union and the entire western world led by USA to load India with war munitions and economic assistance. Moscow became the biggest arms supplier of India enabling it to build strong armed forces. Unlike India which never misses an opportunity to harm Pakistan whenever in a position of weakness, Pakistan didn’t exploit the situation in 1962 to force India to resolve Kashmir dispute despite China’s advice.
In short, it was not entirely the Indian politicians who bolstered the economic indicators of India because of their wise policies but because of the whole hearted support provided by USA, west, Israel, Japan, Russia and Arab world. All its sins including nuclear proliferation, arms race, human rights abuses, state terrorism, cross border terrorism and Chankyan tactics to undermine its neighbors were ignored. Above all, US-western-Jewish media played its part in showing India as shining and hiding all its negatives.
Having said what I wanted to convey, one cannot ignore the fact that Indian policy makers have played their cards astutely to draw maximum benefits from world powers and have boosted India’s GDP to $1.676 trillion with per capita income at $3700 and foreign exchange and gold reserves of $345.8 billion. Our leaders need to learn some lessons from India and China and see where we erred and how we can rectify our faults to improve our continuously falling economic indicators. Our foreign and economic policies need radical alteration and we badly need an incorruptible leader.