Is Pakistan Quite Simply a Misunderstood State? | Farah Adeed

There is voluminous literature on the ideology, creation and politics of Pakistan. There are also some scholarly articles and books written by some prominent and prolific historians, political scientists and journalists on the subject. Almost all articles and books address the very basic issues in the history of Pakistan, ranging from the controversial moment of Partition to present-day ideological confusion in the country. Interestingly, most of the books are authored by our foreign educated scholars and some of them by the western intellectuals and social and political scientists.

A forensic examination and critical evaluation of some most-read and profound books compel us to conclude that these intellectuals and political analysts see Pakistan through the prism of the west. This perspective convinces them to brand Pakistan as a “failed state” and a “failing society”. These books play a remarkable role in producing a community of educated or semi-educated so-called scholars who blatantly criticize and firmly reject Pakistan and its very ideology. Through these writings Pakistani state and society emerge as violent, extremist and directionless crowd of people who simply have no working mind and are being controlled by others for their own interests.

Is Pakistan really a “rogue state” or is it simply a “misunderstood” and “misrepresented” state? Is Pakistani society merely a cluster of idiots who are controlled by others? Are Pakistanis overly conservatives and do not accept any change and progress? Was the creation of Pakistan actually a “blunder” but politically a “big achievement”? Who rules Pakistan and why? Do the mullahs control everything in the country? Do religious parties represent the will of people? Is the Pakistani military all-powerful and all-wise?

We may not answer all the aforementioned questions in a single article but we can develop a perspective to analyze these “intellectual challenges”.

Every society and state has its own social, political, legal, economic and religious history and certain dynamics that are mainly the product of particular circumstances and unique experiences. A comparative study of human societies reveals that every society responds to, and copes with, the same issue in a unique way. Political development of modern-day sovereign states also reflects the fact that they experienced different socio-political circumstances and dealt with them according to their own wisdom and understanding keeping in mind their own history, religion, belief system and public opinion. It is certain that there are no objective values which a country practices or has practiced, and therefore, the rest of the world should also practice them.

Sadly, we have been wisely and very smartly confused by terms like “global values” and “universal human rights”. In reality, these “global values” are western values and people are fooled into believing them to be universal. These so-called global values are instilled in the minds of young students and budding scholars so that they view the whole world through the prism of those values. This is the indication of smart indoctrination.

In United Kingdom, for instance, Sir Samuel Romilly accepted the challenge and started voicing against the death penalty in 1808 but the Royal Commission on Capital Punishment (1864-66) didn’t decide anything to abolish it. Later on, in 1938, there was a parliamentary bill to suspend the death penalty for five years just for the experiment’s sake, but the changed socio-political scenario owing to the beginning of Second World War, meant that it couldn’t be sustained. In 1949, once again the Royal Commission on Capital Punishment abolished the death penalty but it was overturned. Finally, in 1965, there was a five-year suspension of death penalty on experimental basis. So, as we can see it took almost 160 years to bring a reform or change in criminal justice system of UK.

The United States of America, from Plessy v. Ferguson to Brown v. Board of Education, from Whitney v. United States to Dennis v. United States, from The Bremen v. Zapata Off-Shore Company to Bhopal Case, decided all issues and disputes according to their own socio-political realities and economic interests.

But our western indoctrinated pseudo scholars and some non-Pakistanis political analysts urge Pakistan to follow others’ footsteps if it really wants peace, prosperity and progress. This is an indication of smart indoctrination and mature politics played by the western giants. People often forget the fact that Pakistan has its own history, religion and belief system and one can’t impose foreign values on an independent nation.

The undeniable reality needs to be understood that all concepts like “modernity” and “vulgarity” are culturally defined and have different definitions in different cultures. Everyone likes and exhibits his or her own culture. So it is almost impossible—at least in the 21st century— to understand the politics of any society or state without first understanding its sociology. In other words, it is necessary to understand: what people think of modernity? How do they define progress and change? What is their religion? How do they think of their religion? What are their social problems? What do they like and dislike?

To conclude: if we really want to know and understand the reality behind the creation of Pakistan, the role of Pakistan’s military in politics, the place of mullahs in Pakistani society, successful failures of the hypocrite political elite, the thinking of a common Pakistani, and above all, the dominant and remarkable role of the religion in the process of civilizational transition in sub-continent, we have to observe Pakistan through the prism of Pakistanis. General (retd) Pervez Musharraf rightly said:“You need to understand Pakistan through the eyes of the Pakistanis.”


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