OUR major anniversaries of freedom have all seen us in or near major crises. 25th one saw us trauma healing of 1971; 50th one saw us about to go nuclear world. On our 75th one, we face huge crisis with in economy as well as key institutions under great stress. AT fact, soon after 1947, we became a crisis-resistant state, facing a political and/or economic crisis every three or four years. Why was the state created? with great hopes as a harbor for dozens of millions come to this point? And the state from which we came out (India), and one what broke from us (Bangladesh) feel better. Why didn’t the same DNA deliver for us?
Number of key prenatal and postnatal differences explain our different path from our cultural twins. National unity gives progress. Nations can be natural – where the vast majority of them one race religion and ethnicity – or cultivated – where different groups live together for mutual benefit. India was diverse, but like most South Asian states were political entities for centuries. Although Bangladesh was not so homogeneous. Many would then argue that, unlike Pakistan, Bangladesh was a natural nation and India already cultural one at birth. Unfortunately, in the case of Pakistan, even common Muslim identity was reinforced by huge ethnic and confessional differences. However, we hoped to become a cultured nation after birth by eliminating these divisions. via democratic transfer of powers as a wise focus of regional autonomy in the 1940 resolution showed.
AT second key prenatal factor was uneven abilities of three mother national institutions, i.e. parties of freedom. Although the Congress and the Muslim League existed for decades before 1947 and Awami League until 1971, Muslim League faced heavier burden of cultivation of statehood; the other two had greater grassroots coverage. The rulers here pretended that we were a natural nation and not in need of any cultivation and viewed regional aspirations as a disease to be crushed.
These policy gaps at birth were exacerbated by postnatal threats. in the form of political autocracy and rise of non-civilian forces and a security focus, which has fueled numerous fires given the huge national diversity. All main eras before and after have contributed, but it is under Gen Zia that our perverted state geopolitical development model cemented most of all, consisting, as it were, of a politically authoritarian and security-oriented worldview that strongly on big power to help. A lot of of the latter was divided up among national elite in the form of tax incentives and subsidies leading to stagnation economy dependent on handouts, not economic dynamism. it also fed extremist groups to persecute their regional and national goals against regional and national enemies.
Political gaps at birth were exacerbated by postnatal threats.
But four decades later key boards of this is model became unviable. AT world became intolerant of extremist groups and no longer gives free handouts. Domestic expenses of political engineering and extremist and populist politics he produced mounted. AT economy stagnant and prone to crises and social structures in society is becoming more and more regressive, leading to violence and social mediocrity.
Okay, continuing with such a state model I won’t work. Nonetheless new model is hard achievements as economic interests of all the elite groups are so heavily dependent on failure model. Wide contours of in new model are clear — democratic devolution and poorly focused growth. And yet the strength of change by clicking this model weak. And not global supporting context of a switch such a large state as Pakistan, given current global economic and political upheavals and rise of extremism and populism at the regional and global levels.
All the elite groups are given a big blame for this is a sad state of affairs, but class-based analysis leads to a strange conclusion. While general viewespecially among the middle class is that the feudal lords are most to blame, in fact it was the middle class that controlled Pakistan the most. It includes post- the political middle class of 1947, the middle class bureaucracy and judiciary from 1951 to 1958, and the army elite ever since.
Since the 1980s the middle class made return to politics but via extremist and populist parties like MQM, TLP and PTI. BUT move to the middle class politics regarded throughout the world as main path to improved politics as well as progress. But in Pakistan actually made politics worse and given extremism and populism, not mass character politics. This conservative and elitist tendencies of extensive sections of the middle class is even more difficult for us to accept new model. As Pakistan approaches another anniversary, we can only hope for in best. Happy birthday Pakistan and many happy returns of day.
The writer is a political economist. with PhD from the university of California, Berkeley.
Published in Dawn, August 9, 2022