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Transforming a Dysfunctional Nuclear State

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The complex dynamics between Pakistan’s government, the military, and radical Islamist factions constitute an abhorrent labyrinth that profoundly disrupts the country’s political affairs. Devouring an excessive amount of time to a deep state has resulted in Pakistan becoming a sorcerer’s protégé, with severe consequences for its civilian population. The evident correlation between the government and terrorist organizations undermines the nation’s tarnished international reputation. Pakistan is characterized globally as “dangerous,” “unstable,” “an incubator for terrorism,” “fragile,” and “intolerant.” These unfavorable characterizations are founded on severe realities that are otherwise refuted in the nationalistic discourse of Pakistan. Intellectual citizens who bring attention to the unfavorable circumstances in Pakistan are frequently deemed unpatriotic and anti-national. Opponents who oppose the regime, which is clandestinely governed by a nuclear-armed military, face severe persecution. A public figure in Pakistan who espouses dissenting views is Husain Haqqani. Haqqani previously served as the High Commissioner of Pakistan to Sri Lanka and as the Ambassador of Pakistan to the United States. His affiliations include the establishment of the South Asians against Terrorism and for Human Rights (SAATH) Forum and membership as a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute in the United States. He offers a critique of the unstable semi-authoritarian regime in Pakistan. Constantly, he advocates for an unfettered democracy. The individual in question succinctly characterized the state of affairs in Pakistan as “a dysfunctional nuclear state” in his influential publication titled “Reimagining Pakistan: Transforming a Dysfunctional Nuclear State.”

The author of the book conducted an investigation into the enduring dysfunctional condition of Pakistan and presented an impartial analysis of the country’s fundamental concept. His compilation includes historical facts, political realities, and economic truths that are frequently flagrantly denied in an effort to construct a ‘positive image’ by means of illusory successes and half-truths. He is of the opinion that the greatest foe of Pakistan is one that denies its dysfunctionality. The author expresses a positive outlook regarding Pakistan’s future prospects, believing that by effectively confronting harsh realities, the country can achieve greater progress.

The introductory sections of the book have succinctly presented Pakistan’s perspective on the partition and its ongoing endeavour to establish a distinct national identity. Pakistan was declared to be an Islamic state governed exclusively by Sharia law. According to the author, Pakistan was founded by its elites on the premise of religion, disregarding all other significant distinctions including geography, ethnicity, and language. Jinnah, according to historical documents he has referenced, was adamant that partition was the sole constitutional means of ending the eternal animosity between Hindus and Muslims. He aspired for improved relations between Pakistan, a Muslim-majority nation, and Hindu-majority India to flourish after the partition. Due to the intensity of his conviction, he retained exclusive use of his Malabar Hill residence in Bombay, intending to revisit the city upon his retirement as Governor-General of Pakistan. His demise occurred in 1948, depriving his envisioned nation of any intellectual capacity. In contrast to Jinnah’s imagined harmony, the relationship between Pakistan and India deteriorated to the point of hostility and complete deviation across all aspects. Demographic separation between Hindus and Muslims, which the author resented, was the primary objective of the Muslim League. They apathetically disregarded the unique characteristics of its Muslim population. This negligent behavior resulted in the unwelcome secession of Bangladesh and foreshadows further fragmentation of the country. According to the author, politically active or ethnically distinct groups that seek regional autonomy, ethnic rights, or political inclusion have posed the greatest challenge to Pakistan’s authority.

The author has emphasized the divergence of opinion regarding Pakistan’s perception of itself in comparison to how other nations perceive this purportedly deep state. The author posits that the concerns expressed by the western world regarding Pakistan’s sustainability have significantly hindered the progress of the latter’s establishment. The author cites the dissenting opinions of numerous eminent intellectuals, including Hans J. Morgenthau, who belittled the establishment of Pakistan, labelling it a “strange state” and casting doubt on its very existence. The author asserts that these uncertainties and criticisms have profoundly affected the collective consciousness of the Pakistani people. Political authorities have exhibited a hyper-aware response in their endeavor to ensure the nation’s survival regardless of the consequences. Furthermore, the Pakistani establishment has obstructed any perspective that does not align with its pro-Pakistan stance and strategy in an effort to maintain a favorable reputation in the realm of international relations. The author further states that during the early stages of Pakistan’s establishment, the United Kingdom and the United States provided support. However, for Pakistan, such political and financial backing from these influential nations served as a safeguard against the realization of certain pessimistic forecasts regarding its future.

The book’s chapters presented a unified argument regarding the pervasiveness of security concerns and nationalism in Pakistan. Nationalism is frequently a target for revolutionaries and extremists. Terrorists with international recognition, such as Hafiz Saeed and Syed Salahuddin, are revered as national champions in Pakistan due to their ability to assert their nationalism. The author subtly clarified that Pakistan’s nationalism is based on two objectives: first, to project a favorable image of Pakistan; and second, to emulate a negative sentiment towards India. Pakistan is a nation concerned with its image. It responds vigorously to negative remarks and refutes them through rigorous censorship. The degree of information censorship has intensified commensurately with the scepticism surrounding Pakistan’s democratic credentials.

The author has examined the veracity of anti-India hysteria in Pakistan and the perpetual animosity between Pakistan and India that has formed the foundation of Pakistan’s identity. Pakistan was established as a nation-state on the foundational tenet that Hinduism and Islam are incompatible and incapable of coexisting harmoniously within a single society. According to the author, the cornerstones of a faith-based polity in pre-partition India were established by the leaders of the Muslim League. The sole objective of the Muslim League’s partition demand was the restoration of the noble path of Islam. The author posits that the survival of Muslims and Islam in South Asia can be deduced from the establishment and continued existence of Pakistan. The author criticized the Muslim League, led by Jinnah, on the grounds that, in contrast to the Indian National Congress, it was preoccupied with the formulation of Pakistani ideology and did not consider how it would govern the country after independence. The notion of Pakistan is founded upon religious principles, yet it also entails a complete estrangement from India. According to the author, the prevailing viewpoint among the intelligentsia is that Pakistan did not originate from political strife in British India, but rather from a protracted and profound schism between Hindus and Muslims that spanned centuries and ultimately gave rise to the nation.

The author’s legitimate concern in the book pertains to Pakistan’s preoccupation with matters of national security. According to him, economic issues are the true problem, whereas they have historically been considered ancillary and less consequential than a fabricated threat to survival. The author notes that conducting commerce in Pakistan is precarious. A mere 10 percent of Pakistan’s capital is invested privately. In Pakistan, entrepreneurs refrain from displaying their wealth in public and frequently face intimidation from a variety of sources, including the government levying taxes, extremists demanding costly ransoms, and politicians and clerics requesting donations. Entrepreneurship is frequently stifled by religious extremists in Pakistan. As a state that has relied on external aid and borrowed funds to survive, the economic crisis is critical. Presently, Pakistan is optimistic that CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) investments will revitalize the nation’s economy. However, the author cautioned Pakistan that China’s investment is exclusively for economic purposes, in contrast to the widespread Pakistani perception that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a strategic initiative aimed at bolstering the nation’s security. The author posits that in order to provide its citizens with improved nutrition, health, and education, Pakistan must enhance its economic system and generate its own currency. The author posits that Pakistan’s enduring prosperity is contingent upon its political and intellectual elites, as opposed to religious fundamentalists. It was explicitly stated by him that Pakistan could not achieve economic success under its own terms and conditions by depending on China’s clemency.

An eloquent account of the fallacies and foibles of Pakistan is presented in the book. The author has diligently cautioned Pakistan regarding its religious bias and fervent nationalism, which divert attention from the nation’s other pressing concerns. As per the author’s assertion, nationalism masked in ignorance has repercussions on the economy, politics, and national security. According to him, Pakistan will not gain anything from historical fabrication and the creation of a false sense of success. In the same way, Pakistan’s national development will not be aided by using historical injustices and international malfeasance as an excuse to disregard its internal and interstate issues. The book has presented a strategy for reassessing Pakistan and mending its deficiencies. The author recommends devoting more attention to commerce and trade rather than fixating solely on identity and how it relates to security.

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Writer is an independent researcher and Student of MPhil IR at QAU Islamabad.

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