Tuesday, July 21, 2015


Many people today seem to forget that there were once two Pakistans, one called East Pakistan, the other called West Pakistan, the consequence of Hindu-Moslem enmities when the Raj - the British Empire in India - came to an end in 1947. No one was happy with the arrangement; Gandhi even refused to attend the independence celebrations, because he was devastated that a single country could not have been formed, still named India, with Hindus and Moslems living together in peace, harmony and cotton-weaving.

Peace, and passive resistance as an alternative to war, both died with Gandhi. Wars between the Hindus and the Moslems were fought in 1947 and again in 1965, with proxy wars continuing in the divided Kashmir and Bengal regions to this day.

In the meanwhile, the Awami League had become established in 1949, campaigning for East Pakistani independence, which it finally achieved in theory in 1970, only for implementation of the election result to be delayed by a cyclone that killed a half a million people, the refusal of the government in West Pakistan to accept the vote, and then the kidnapping by them of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, their leader; they held him for nine months, during which time Bengali nationalists launched a guerrilla war against the Pakistani army, India took the Bengali side, Bangladesh was declared an independent nation, and Sheikh Rahman released to serve as President, later as Prime Minister, which office he used, in 1974, to establish a one-party state, close down all political parties except his own, and most newspapers except those who volubly supported him. Seven months later he was assassinated and, guess what, the military took power.

So much for East Pakistan, about which you can read more under its new name, Bangladesh. West Pakistan is what remains, now minus the "West", one of many examples that could be cited to show that the political geography of planet Earth was not achieved by intelligent design, or not by humans anyway. As the adjacent map demonstrates, it is a tiny sleeve of land, squashed between the giants of India and Iran, with the anarchy of Afghanistan to the north-west, the even greater anarchy of rival warlords and Indians in Kashmir, and then the Himalayas...but what the map does not show is that this very small country (just 300,000 square miles, the size of Namibia) has 191 million people living in it, making it the sixth most populous country in the world (Namibia, by contrast, has 2.3 million).

Not surprising then that Pakistan's seventy year history is one of military coups, dictatorships, corruption, war-lords and general mayhem, best told through the history of its Constitution. This took four years to create, but only two more before it was suspended (by Ayub Khan), then replaced (by Ayub Khan in 1962), though that second version did not actually take effect until 1973, only to be suspended again four years later (by Zia-ul-Haq in 1977), and reinstated in 1985. Or we could take a look at Pakistani history through the eyes of the military historian: military coups which imposed martial law and then turned their leader into a civilian President took place in 1958 (lasted until 1971), 1977 (lasted until 1988), and 1999 (lasted until 2008), so the next one is due in 2016 or 2017.

Pakistan, like India, is also a nuclear power, and more importantly not a signatory to the non-proliferation treaty (of the eight nuclear nations, the USA, UK, China, Russia and France are signatories, India, Pakistan and North Korea are not; Israel is not on either list because Israel continues to deny having any nuclear capacity). The Pakistani possession of the bomb appears to have been significantly overlooked by the Obama administration when it engaged in talks with Iran about its nuclear programme; Iran's eastern border is with Pakistan, and that, far more than the Israel factor, is why the Iranians want/need nuclear weaponry. They at least can count what Obama and Kerry have apparently forgotten, that Pakistan was known to have stockpiled up to one hundred and twenty warheads by the end of 2014, and has sufficient reserves of prepared fissionable material to expand that stockpile to two hundred. India probably has fewer, but its nuclear programme is so "highly classified" that figures are hard to come by; the current belief of the tracking agencies is between ninety and one hundred and ten. But If India and Pakistan can have the bomb...

Marks For: 9000 (the number of runs scored in test matches by Younis Khan, as of the time of writing this)

Alternative Marks For (Marks Against are obvious from all the above paragraphs, and far too many to enumerate): 6 - the number of places in Pakistan designated by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites (the Archaeological Ruins at Moenjodaro, the Buddhist Ruins of Takht-i-Bahi and Sahr-i-Bahlol, Taxila, the Shalamar Gardens and Fort in Lahore, several historical monuments at Makli, and Rohtas Fort)

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