Pakistan: Democracy, Development and Security Issues
The book under review is a compilation of articles on various aspects of Pakistan by scholars of India, Pakistan and the US. This book has to be placed in the larger context of Indian contribution to literature on Pakistan. The state of affairs of Pakistan studies in India and vice versa is dismal; the main reason is attributed to hurdles created by the respective states in not freely allowing scholars to carry out first hand studies. As a result, most of the writings on Pakistan and India by Indians and Pakistanis respectively are characterized by misperception and complete lack of objectivity. Another problem is the general tendency of scholars to display their patriotism through their jingoistic writings. By providing equal representation of Pakistani and Indian perspectives, Pakistan: Democracy, Development and Security Issues tries to present a balanced picture in a fairly successful manner.
The editors in their introduction rightly point out that "[T]he dialectical contradictions between militant Islam and aggressive militarism and modernity are at the centre of Pakistani politics and economy" (p. 29). While contextualizing the ills of Pakistan - political instability and lack of a viable political system and institutions - they opinion that "the experience of sustained political and economic development shows that neither democracy nor capitalist development can survive without the other" (p. 10). This helps them to place the problems of Pakistan in a larger political economy perspective and suggest requirements for the institutionalization of democracy. According to them, "[T]he breaking down of the enormous power of the landlords and tribalist feudalism is imperative for the establishment of democracy in Pakistan." (p. 23).
From her birth Pakistan suffered severe insecurity complex vis-୶is India. According to Mohammad Waseem "[T]he dominance of the Punjabi and muhajir communities and the perceived bellicosity of India have played a deterministic role" (p. 39) in this. The large-scale migration of muhajirs from India altered the political and demographic landscapes of Pakistan. The sense of alienation of the muhajirs later transformed itself into hatred towards India; the other ethnic communities of Pakistan imbibed it. This helped the unelected institutions of the state to dominate the political sphere and sacrifice democracy for national security.
Saleem Qureshi's article "Pakistan: Islamic Ideology and the Failed State?" provides fresh insights on the working of Pakistani politics, which is placed in the wider canvas of politics in the Muslim world. According to him, the western notion of "failed state" cannot be applied to Pakistan. In his opinion, politics in Pakistan generally follow the pattern of politics evolved in the Muslim world. In the Muslim world, rulers legitimized their position through the use of absolute power. In the light of this, the military takeovers in Pakistan were not aberrations but normal political developments. He makes an interesting point by stating that the military coups in Pakistan were important junctures in the progression towards the achievement of democracy.
In the article "Language, Power and Ideology in Pakistan" Tariq Rahman argues that "language becomes a symbol of identity when different ethnic groups compete for power and resources." (p. 109) The Bengali language movement was the first of its kind. It was against the domination of West Pakistan and the imposition of Urdu. The secession of Bangladesh in 1971 was a natural development of the Bengali language movement. The "Punjabisation" of Pakistan post-1971 created severe discontent among the other provinces. Language plays an important role in the construction and articulation of ethno-national movements emerging from provinces like Sind and Baluchistan.
Ayesha Siddiqa in her article "Pakistan: Political Economy of National Security" shows how the military used Pakistan's enmity with India to augment its fortunes. This happened at the cost of sectors like education and health care. The quest for "national security" and parity with India only favored the civil-military complex and subverted the possibility of the institutionalization of democracy in Pakistan.
Lawrence Ziring's contribution to the volume "Pakistan: Terrorism in Historical Perspective" traces the historical roots of terrorism in Pakistan. He elaborates the role played by various Islamic movements and individuals in this regard since the pre-partition days. The slogan "Islam in danger", raised during the Pakistan movement and the Kashmir dispute after the creation of Pakistan, helped the country to transform itself into an ideological state. Under Gen. Zia ul-Haq (1977-88) this process got consolidated and later drifted towards outright extremism. The Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the late 1970s further complicated it. Pakistan military always used the Islamic extremists for its perpetuation in power.
In his article "Prospects of South Asian Cooperation in the Transformed World Post-11 September", J. N. Dixit vehemently argues for the separation of strategic-security concerns and socio-economic developmental needs in South Asia. He advices the South Asian states to use the potential and possibilities of SAARC to the fullest extent.
Satish Kumar's article "Reassessing Pakistan as a Long-term Security Threat" is an elaboration of the argument shared by many Indian strategic thinkers. According to this argument, being an ideological state Pakistan needs hostility with India to sustain itself. Since the army occupies the pivotal position in the power structure of Pakistan peace between India and Pakistan is a distant dream and India must be prepared for all eventualities. The major problem with this argument is that it denies the possibility of realignment of political forces in Pakistan and the role of civil society in transforming the nature of Indo-Pak relations.
In his article "Cross-Border Terrorism: Roadblock to Peace Initiative', Rajen Harshe explains how cross-border terrorism from Pakistan is going to affect negatively the peace process between India and Pakistan. He is of the opinion that terrorism in Pakistan has to be seen in the larger context of the growth of terrorism all over the world.
Apart from the "Introduction" and the article titled "Peace Process between India and Pakistan" along with M. P. Singh, Veena Kukreja has contributed two articles to the volume. These articles deal with Pakistan's political economy and the prospects of democracy.
The depth and breadth of the issues covered in this volume is vast and refreshing. No doubt this book is a serious addition to the existing literature on Pakistan.