During the early history of Pakistan, the first Governor General, Mohammad Ali Jinnah declared to a large Bengali speaking audience in Dhaka, the capital of East Pakistan that Urdu would be the only state language. Along with other discriminating policies this helped to lay the seeds of dissent against the dominated Punjab central government. The subsequent civilian and military rulers rather then implementing policies that would help consolidate East Pakistan and help to unify Kashmir with Pakistan, continued to implement policies that would call for the break up of Pakistan. With the help of India, in 1971 East Pakistan broke away and Bangladesh was declared.
A few years back a US newspaper, The International Herald Tribune, published an article that entertained the question of a further break up of Pakistan. The article stated that ''if Bangladesh is quite a successful state, why not an independent Baluchistan, Pashtunistan, Sind and Punjab, the four present provinces of Pakistan, along with Kashmir?'' It went on to explain how the Baluchis of southwest Pakistan feel closer to their ethnic brothers in neighbouring Iran and Afghanistan than to the Punjab-dominated central government.
Musharraf's actions have aided the call to break-up Pakistan
Pakistan in the 6o years of its history has seen as many as ten civilian governments calling for democracy over a period of 27 years and with the remaining 33 years it has seen a direct military rule. We can also note that American involvement in the region with major support for Pakistan was as early as 1953, where after the dismissal of the first civilian government food and military aid poured into Pakistan. This continued for a decade as Pakistan under a military rule joined various US-sponsored defence pacts against the Soviet Union.
It is well known that the US will have no reservation in supporting dictators in the Muslim world in order to push for its foreign policy objectives. This was seen when the last civilian government of Nawaz Sharif was ousted in 1999 after his climb down on Kargil was seen as a betrayal of the Kashmiri cause. On 12th October 1999 the political landscape changed and resulted in the military taking power once again in Pakistan.
Since taking the lead in the implementation of the American policy in the region and with Musharraf's tenure in power, it is vital that we reflect over his period of rule and see what he has achieved for Pakistan. Musharraf has now ruled Pakistan for over 8 years and upon assuming power 1999 he talked about unity of the federation and how people in the provinces were brothers to each other. He spoke about rebuilding national confidence by strengthening the federation yet since his arrival he has helped the US in attacking a friendly neighbour, Afghanistan, which now views Pakistan with suspicion.
Musharraf joined with the US in the so called 'war against terror' (WOT), which is seen by Muslims worldwide as a war against Islam and which has resulted in the arrests and killings of hundreds of Pakistanis. No day goes by until dozens are killed in Pakistan and in particular in Waziristan, Swat and other areas of the tribal region. His slavish support for the US has resulted in on going US led operations in the tribal regions, where the Pakistani army after leaving the line of control between Kashmir and Pakistan was deployed against its own people.
It is also clear that Musharraf, has permitted American forces to establish bases in Pakistan, legitimised the occupation of Iraq, provided logistical support and intelligence to US forces in Afghanistan and surrendered control over Pakistan's economy to multinationals. There is a growing disparity in income, lack of health and education facilities and general poverty is on the increase. Musharraf has taken a u-turn over the Kashmir issue and rather then working to liberate the people from the brutal occupation of the Indian army and supporting the call for the unity of Kashmir with Pakistan, which has always been the aspiration of Muslims of the region, he now sees those fighting for Kashmir as terrorists rather then freedom fighters. So, where is the unity that he spoke off? Where is the Pakistan first policy he spoke off?
Fighting, imprisoning and alienating your own people, handing your own people over to foreign nations, making enemies of a brotherly nation is not working for the unity of the federation neither is it pushing for a Pakistan first policy. Musharraf for the first time in the history of Pakistan has sidelined the tribal administration in the Pashtun heartland and has deployed more then 90,000 troops in the region and most of them in Waziristan. The pretext for this deployment is to target al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters. Based upon US intelligence the army has conducted many strikes which has resulted in the killing of hundreds of its own people. Air and ground strikes continue to be conducted by the US inside Pakistani territory.
Lowering the morale of the army
It has been reported that the Pashtun tribesmen have tried to negotiate a peace deal with the government and on one occasion there was a peace agreement but with American and western pressure for Musharraf to do more to combat terrorism and extremism the short lived peace deal was broken. The Pakistan army continues to suffer many loses and it is reported that the army is struggling with low morale and some do not even want to fight their own brothers.
Musharraf in order to show his loyalty to foreign powers ordered the storming of the famous Lal Masjid in Islamabad. In July 2007 Musharraf ordered his security forces to storm the Red Mosque with its adjacent Islamic school, which resulted in the deaths of more than 200 people. No one knows exactly how many actually died. What we do know is that no one was spared. Men, women and children were all killed. Musharraf claimed that extremists and militants occupied the Mosque but many have said that the occupants were religious students or innocent civilians. This action along with the continuous clashes between the army and the people from the Pashtun dominated region further isolates Musharraf and his government from his own people and helps to reinforce those minority separatist elements in the North West Frontier Region who call for a separate Pashtunistan. It further helps the agenda of the enemies of Pakistan who would be happy to see a weak and dismembered Pakistan.
Instead of developing the North West Frontier province and offering a political future for the local tribesmen, Musharraf continues to bring insecurity and destruction in the province, which has created an insurgency against the army and his government. While tensions continue to mount in the Pashtun and the surrounding regions of Afghanistan Musharraf faces worsening problems elsewhere in the country.
Since the recent killing of Benazir Bhutto tensions between the central and local provisional government of Sindh, have widened. The supporters of Pakistan People's Party whose main power base is in Sindh claim that Musharraf's government had a hand in the murder of Benazir Bhutto. This resulted in thousands of ordinary people demonstrating onto the streets of Karachi and elsewhere in Sindh. In return Musharraf responded by ordering a shoot to kill policy of those demonstrating, imprisoned a number of opposition leaders and banned all forms of media. Again, through his heavy handed actions the Musharraf regime has emboldened secessionist and separatist movements to exploit the situation further.
In the Baluchistan province low-key insurgency continues to simmer, where it is claimed that Pakistan's most sparsely developed and least populated province is discriminated against by the pro-Punjab central government. Ordinary people complain that Baluchistan's resource is used to benefit Pakistan's other provinces, especially, Punjab – whilst Baluchistan is neglected.
The use of overwhelming force was demonstrated when the well known political leader of Baluchistan, Sardar Akbar Bugti was killed along with more than 35 of his followers when the Pakistan Air Force bombed his hideout in the Bambore mountain ranges in the Marri tribal area of Baluchistan. By killing Bugti, Musharraf has earned the permanent enmity of not just the tribal separatists but also the wider Baloch population. He underestimated the Baluch nationalism, which has led to four major insurgencies since the birth of Pakistan.
Musharraf has also isolated himself from the other provinces, reinforced the low-key insurgencies, has continued to weaken the federation but has also isolated himself from the judiciary and the media outlets in Pakistan. On the 9th March 2007, Musharraf suspended the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Chaudhry who was seen as someone who spoke out against Musharraf and his government. The suspension of the country's Chief Justice seriously backfired as the move triggered huge protests across the country against Musharraf's decision. These demonstrations were not merely backed many of the opposition political and religious parties but also gave an opportunity to the ordinary people to voice their anger at Musharraf and his pro American policies. Such was the level of dissent over the decision that Musharraf was forced to back down and reinstate the Chief Justice.
With the Pakistani elections scheduled for the end of the year, General Musharraf was desperate to stay in power and although he was elected to a new term as president by the four provincial assemblies and both houses of parliament in October last year, the result was not validated by the Supreme Court. As a desperate attempt to stay in power, on 3 November 2007, Musharraf declared a state of emergency where he removed the Chief Justice and many of the Supreme Court judges and instead installed hand-picked replacements.
The response of lawyers, human rights organizations, opposition parties and ordinary people was that of condemnation. This resulted in immediate demonstrations as the state of emergency was considered to be a virtual martial law. The Provisional Constitution Order and the state of emergency allowed the government to detain human rights activists, political and religious leaders; it allowed a ban on all forms of media and allowed an introduction to a shoot to kill policy.
Seeking approval from colonial masters
According to Musharraf, the announcement of a state of emergency was part of a plan towards democracy. To help achieve his aim, Musharraf during his recent visit to Europe begged the US, European Union and the Commonwealth not to criticize him for imposing the state of emergency. ''Please don't demand your level of democracy as we are trying to learn. Give us time. We are trying to learn about civil liberties and other such issues''. He continued by saying that Western preoccupation with human rights was ''obsessive'' and that Pakistan had to adapt to democracy, human rights and civil liberties.
Musharraf was merely seeking approval from western governments for his continued violation of the rights of his people by curbing political activity, suspending the constitution, banning all forms of media and even killing his own people.
The hypocrisy and duplicity of the West were clearly highlighted when during the state of emergency, the US deputy secretary of state,Negroponte praised Musharraf and said that under Musharraf's leadership great progress was made ''towards a moderate, prosperous and democratic Pakistan. President Bush referred to Musharraf as ''a man of his word''.
During his visit, Negroponte spent more time with the vice-chief of army staff, General Ashfaq Kiyani then Musharraf. Shortly after Negroponte's visit, on 28 November 2007 Musharraf under American pressure handed over command of the military to his personally anointed successor, an American educated Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani.
If the announcement of the state of emergency was not bad enough for Pakistan, the murder of Benazir Bhutto brought further instability to a nation that recently celebrated its 60th birthday. The leader of Pakistan People's Party was killed while addressing a crowd of supporters in Rawalpindi. This further caused instability, uncertainty and political upheaval to a nation that was fighting a civil war in one of its provinces and that faced a rise in sectarian violence in two others.
Asif Zardari was recently quoted as saying that "we are scared that Pakistan will break up. We are hoping that the US will help us form a democracy, will put its force behind the policy of free and fair elections and help Pakistan fight the terrorism which we are faced with." When will these politicians learn that the salvation of Pakistan does not lie with America? Every leader that has ruled Pakistan, whether that is a military dictator or a civilian leader, they have all without exception worked for the interests of foreign powers and in particular the interest of the US.
Regardless of the eventual outcome of the 18th February elections where no real change will occur, Pakistan desperately needs a sincere Islamic leadership that would actually work for the betterment of the people of Pakistan and not foreign powers. Pakistan needs a complete overhaul of the current political system that would help to unify the people and land, give them an accountable and representative ruler, an independent judiciary and a constitution, which provides stability. This system would have institutions that work for justice, security and economic development. Only the Islamic khilafah system can provide this.