A peep into Pakistan’s history of infancy
By Brig Asif Haroon Raja
Creation of Pakistan on August 14, 1947 broke the century old shackles of bondage. Although a moth-eaten and truncated Pakistan, yet it was the largest Muslim nation in the world. Seventy million hearts of Pakistanis throbbed and pulsated with rapturous excitement and joy. The unfurling of the green and white banner raised their heads with pride and their jubilation knew no bounds. Their relentless struggle had borne fruit and their ardent prayers for an independent homeland had finally been answered. They willingly paid the price of freedom and hundreds of human caravans’ trekked long distances to enter the land of promise after wading through death and hell and the lucky ones saving themselves from the demented hordes of extremist Hindus and Sikhs.
The survivors were ready to wash away the excruciating pain and torture they had endured in bidding farewell to their dear ones. They bore the loss of their kin and friends who had been hacked to death while on their way to their dreamland, and the loss of property and belongings in anticipation to the comforting warmth of the haven they had so eagerly sought. For long they had cherished fond hopes that their period of deprivation would soon be replaced with happiness, their wounds would be healed and their tortured minds soothed in their new home and hearth free of suffocating noose of the Hindus and British.
Regardless of the daunting problems and resource constraints duly compounded by Indian machinations, the newfound liberty had catapulted the morale and motivation of the people of Pakistan to dizzying heights. They endured those privations with exceptional courage and worked their fingers to the bone from dawn to dusk to turn Pakistan into an ideal state as envisaged by their beloved leader Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Spontaneous and generous donations rendered to the refugees housed in refugee camps by the public at the call of Jinnah were unprecedented. Hope, optimism, and promise duly fortified by feelings of affections and brotherhood for each other oozed in abundance. The pioneers of Pakistan, burdened with domestic constraints, uprooted unsettled refugees still haunted by cruel tragedies of their loved ones, spurned their personal compassion and took up the gauntlet to defeat the nefarious designs of the enemies of Pakistan.
The creation of Pakistan was a historic landmark in the history of Muslim India. The Times of London in its editorial wrote on August 15, 1947, ‘In the hour of its creation Pakistan emerges as the leading state of the Muslim world. Since the collapse of Turkish Empire, that world, which extends from across the globe from Morocco to Indonesia, has not included a state whose numbers, natural resources, and place in history gave it undisputed pre-eminence. The gap is now filled. From today, Karachi takes rank as a new centre of Muslim cohesion and rallying point of the Muslim thought and aspirations’.
Pakistan emerged on the globe as the largest Muslim country of the world and was seen as a miracle in the annals of Muslim world. Never before the world had witnessed assembly of such a large force under the banner of Islam struggling to create a separate homeland. The unity of the Muslims on a single platform gained added significance in the backdrop of known forces that feverishly worked to keep the Muslims divided. It was unique that the Muslims of the minority provinces of India after consolidating Pakistan Movement calmly relinquished their most cherished ideal to enable the Muslims of majority provinces to enjoy the benefits of an ideal State. It was equally novel that Pakistan’s vast and heterogeneous population comprising different races, supporting different customs and speaking different languages, emerged as one people. The two wings lying so wide apart integrated as one united whole.
The Muslims of India were fortunate to have Mr. Jinnah as their guide. Creating a new nation had taken all the character, foresight, faith and energy of Quaid-e-Azam. His Herculean efforts saved the Muslims from permanent bondage of the Hindu majority after the departure of the British. He kept his ailment hidden for he well knew that he was the symbol of hope for the teeming millions. Well knowing that he had very little time at his disposal, he worked feverishly day and night and removed all the impediments put in the way of creation of Pakistan by the British-Hindu combine and to make Pakistan stand on its feet. Lord Mountbatten revealed his intentions after the demise of the Quaid that if he had been aware of Jinnah’s illness and his short life expectancy, he would have deferred the partition of India for some years and awaited his death. If the Quaid had died, there was no one else who could compel him to allow the partition of India. Even the Hindus to this day censure Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru for rejecting Lord Pethick Lawrence Cabinet Mission plan in 1946 which ruled out partition and envisaged Hindu majority and Muslim majority groupings of provinces for next ten years.
In their bid to bludgeon Pakistan out of existence, or to bring back the erring newborn into the deathly embrace of Mahabharata, the Indian hawkish leaders within Congress and Hindu Mahasabha, two sides of the same coin, helped by Mountbatten burdened Pakistan with plethora of difficulties. Some of those were unjust and haphazard division of Punjab and Bengal which severed the entire communication system in terms of road network, railway lines, telephone and telegraph and postal services. These were centered on focal points of Delhi and Calcutta with regard to West Pakistan and Bengal respectively. The two wings of Pakistan were separated by 1600 kms of Indian Territory with no land corridor to link the two. Partition of Punjab cut across the rivers and canals, making India upper and Pakistan lower beneficiaries of waters. Other knotty problems were rehabilitation of 6.5 million refugees in West Pakistan and 0.7 million in East Pakistan, non-receipt of rightful share of resources, assets and expertise from India to run the state machinery, Indo-British efforts to block accession of princely states willing to join Pakistan, suspension of water flow in canals and un-demarcated geographical frontiers. Pakistan was without a constitution and a seat of government or an administrative structure to enable it to exercise its sovereignty. All ordnance and ammunition depots were in India, Pakistan’s armed forces were scattered throughout India and were controlled by British officers, civil servants and administrative/technical hands were in the midst of migrating from India, Pakistan’s political and economic was completely disrupted and communication system had broken down.
Fuming Hindu leaders regarded Pakistan as a transient euphoria of Muslims. Its viability was doubted and its collapse considered imminent. The Hindu economic wizards had given Pakistan a mere six months to succumb to their diabolical scheme by depriving it every morsel of sustenance, which was due to Pakistan as a matter of right, under the internationally accepted share of the combined assets of the subcontinent. In struggling to create a state structure in the chaotic environments of partition and an early war with India over Kashmir, our managers remained tied down fighting the battle of survival and identity. Besides the irascible hostility of India, Pakistan had to contend with unfriendly Afghanistan and overbearing Soviet Union. There was no certainty that Pakistan would survive its traumatic birth.
Pakistan suffered a huge setback when Quaid-e-Azam passed away on September 11, 1948. Grief stricken people felt orphaned and vulnerable. Pakistan got another jolt when Liaquat Ali Khan was assassinated in October 1951. Thereon, the country lurched from one crisis to another because of self serving leaders. Apart from Indian factor which contributed towards keeping Pakistan destabilized, defective electoral system is one of the major reasons which have let the same lot of crooked legislators belonging to feudal class to remain in corridors of power and prevented emergence of true leadership that could fulfill the dream of Quaid to make Pakistan an Islamic welfare state. Military intervened because of total failure of politicians and utter desolation of people. But for the ten-year golden period of Ayub Khan, eleven-year rule of Gen Ziaul Haq and over eight-year rule of Gen Musharraf during which all economic indicators remained in positive with GDP at 7%, the country might have fragmented under the sheer weight of poor governance, ineptness, nepotism and corruption of politicians.