Monday, October 18, 2004

Pakistan: The ongoing "Battle for the Soul"


Jabbar said there should be a new “social contract” in Pakistan because the system had been unable to meet the requirements of the people. The electoral process should be made inclusive and leaders who were in exile, out of their own will or otherwise, should be enabled to return. The political culture of Pakistan must also be changed. The military remains suspicious of politicians, but that needs not be so because and it should outgrow the “lingering scepticism” it felt towards civilians. Answering a question about the India-Pakistan peace process, he said while Pakistan had shown great flexibility on Kashmir, India had so far failed to reciprocate. All it had agreed to was to agree to talk about Kashmir, which did not mean it was willing to come to a an acceptable settlement that would protect the interests of the people of Kashmir
Posted by Hello

Battle for the soul of Pakistan is on


WASHINGTON: Between the forces of obscurantism and those that favour the promotion of a democratic and secular outlook, a battle is now on for the “soul of Pakistan,” according to former federal minister and people’s rights advocate Javed Jabbar.

During a brief visit to the capital, he told a meeting of South Asian experts at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies on Friday that it was a pity that the word “secular” had been so grossly misinterpreted in Pakistan and been seen as standing for atheism. It was time to redefine the concept so that the Quaid’s ideal of a progressive, forward-looking Pakistan where no one was discriminated against on the basis of religion or race could be pursued and achieved. The Pakistan Movement, he reminded the audience, was a secular and not a theological or religious movement, as it was being made out to be. He saw the rise of violent sectarianism as threatening to the very existence of the Pakistani state and the federation. The “asymmetries” in Pakistan, he stressed, must be set right and no single province or unit ought to be seen as usurping the rights of others. He pointed out that there were wide disparities in the country from one province to the other. He was of the view that the Senate should be directly elected. As things were, the system appeared to be poorly equipped to meet the challenges that it faced on several major fronts, from water distribution to allocation of financial resources.

Jabbar argued that “civil-military” relations in Pakistan had to be redefined. The military should not be administering the country as it was. He recalled that things had not proceeded on the right track from the very beginning. When Gen. Douglas Gracy, Pakistan’s first commander-in-chief, defied the Quaid-i-Azam who had ordered him to send troops into Kashmir, the Quaid should have dismissed him. He added that when there were anti-Ahmediyya riots in Punjab in 1953, Gen. Muhammad Azam, GOC at Lahore, acted without obtaining permission to do so from the then Governor General. He also called the inclusion of Gen. Ayub Khan as defence minister in a political cabinet indefensible and responsible for the subsequent Bonapartism in the army. Turning to the present day, he said the Prime Minister had been elected democratically and it was to be hoped that the National Assembly would be allowed to play its full role. He praised both Gen. Musharraf and Prime Minister Aziz for having remained free of any financial scandal in the five years the government had been in office.

Jabbar said there should be a new “social contract” in Pakistan because the system had been unable to meet the requirements of the people. The electoral process should be made inclusive and leaders who were in exile, out of their own will or otherwise, should be enabled to return. The political culture of Pakistan must also be changed. The military remains suspicious of politicians, but that needs not be so because and it should outgrow the “lingering scepticism” it felt towards civilians. Answering a question about the India-Pakistan peace process, he said while Pakistan had shown great flexibility on Kashmir, India had so far failed to reciprocate. All it had agreed to was to agree to talk about Kashmir, which did not mean it was willing to come to a an acceptable settlement that would protect the interests of the people of Kashmir

Jabbar, because of his association in an honorary capacity with the government-funded National University of Science and Technology, was accompanied by retired Lt. Gen. Shujaat Hussain who is the Rector of the university.

Daily Times 17/10/2004