By Jai Kumar Verma
New Delhi. 24 July 2022. Pakistan was carved out from India in 1947 under the two-nation theory which is an ideology of religious nationalism. According to the two nation theory Hindus and Muslims are two distinct nations with different religions, customs, and traditions, therefore people of both religions cannot live together hence Muslims should be given a separate country where they can follow Muslim religion and can live according to their customs and traditions.
However, the myth of two nations theory was busted in 1971 when a separate country namely Bangladesh was carved out from Pakistan. The creation of Bangladesh elucidated that people of different culture, language customs and traditions cannot remain united only through religion.
The creation of Bangladesh has strengthened several separatist movements in Pakistan. These separatist movements are spawned because of ethnic and regional nationalism, exploitation, and suppression by Punjabis. The residents of these areas claimed that Punjabi dominated central government is not making equal development of all parts of the country.
At present Pakistan is facing secessionist movements in Balochistan, Balawaristan and Sindh. The ethnic Pashtuns also demand “Pashtunistan” which would be a separate homeland for Pashtuns. They want to carve out an independent country namely “Pashtunistan” which would contain Pashtun majority areas of Pakistan as well as Afghanistan. Pashtuns claim that “Pashtunistan” is their historic homeland which unlawfully divided by Britishers and created a 2,450 K.Ms Durand Line. However, from few years the movement for “Greater Pashutunistan” is at back burner.
Sindhis also want to secede from Pakistan and fighting for an independent ‘Sindhu Desh’. They claim that Sindh was an independent country known as ‘Sindhu Desh’ in 711 AD under Raja Dahir. Sindhis claim that Punjabi dominated Pakistan is annihilating their culture, traditions, language, and values. The movement got impetus in 1970 under the leadership of GM Syed. Sometime back they have also organised rallies in Sindh to celebrate the birth anniversary of GM Syed who is the founder of modern Sindhi nationalism. The demonstrators carried play cards with pro-freedom and anti-government slogans.
The demand of separate nation is increasing and several nationalist parties and their leaders are raising the demand of independent Sindhu Desh. Jeay Sindh Freedom Party (JSFM) has organised several demonstrations in Sindh province. The JSFM leaders raises the issue of massive Chinese incursion in Pakistan. Chinese are exploiting the vast mineral resources of the country.
Balochistan is the largest province of Pakistan and rich in mineral resources. It contains 40 percent of Pakistan’s natural gas production and has world’s biggest copper, gold, and petroleum reserves. However, its resources are exploited by Islamabad and it has become the poorest province in the country. Insurgency in Balochistan started just after creation of Pakistan and forcible merger of Balochistan by Pakistani army. Khan of Kalat was forced to sign the instrument of accession. There are five phases of insurgency and the duration and ferocity of uprising lasted longer, covered more areas, and were participated by more people than the previous insurgencies. The fifth phase started in 2003 and it is still continuing. The current revolt is more violent and it is against Chinese megaprojects also. Balochis claim exploitation, economic and social underdevelopment, atrocities by Pakistan army, Chinese mega projects through which Islamabad wants to change the demography of the area.
The residents of Gilgit and Baltistan which is also called as Balawaristan also demand for a separate nation. Balawaristan National Front (Hameed Group) (BNF-H) and other groups like (BNF) of Nawaz Khan etc. are constituted. These groups either demand for independent country or autonomous region within Pakistan.
The residents of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) also want to secede but according to local laws no political party can contest elections with secessionists leanings.
The Urdu speaking Muhajir community in Pakistan is totally exploited hence they want to carve out a separate state in Pakistan for Muhajirs. As there is lot of resentment hence, they changed the demand to Muhajir Suba (Immigrant province) but Islamabad believes that once they get separate province, they would start the fight for an independent country.
Not only this residents of South Punjab which is also known as Saraikistan are also unhappy and claim that they are being exploited by central as well as state government and their language and culture is at stake hence, they want a separate province.
Pakistan army is the most dominant force and Chief of army is the most powerful person in Pakistan. At present Pakistan army is keeping the country united and preventing the numerous secessionist movements. The then Pakistan army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani stated in April 2013 at the Pakistan Military Academy Kakul that “Let me remind you that Pakistan was created in the name of Islam and Islam can never be taken out of Pakistan. However, Islam should always remain a unifying force. I assure you that regardless of odds, the Pakistan Army will keep on doing its best towards our common dream for a truly Islamic Republic of Pakistan, as envisioned by the Quaid-i-Azam and Allama Iqbal,”. He further mentioned that “let there be no doubt that with a strong Pak Army and the nation standing with it united, no harm can ever come to Pakistan.”
Pakistan is a nuclear state hence world at large is also worried about the safety and security of the nuclear warheads. The warheads as well as technology should not fall in the hands of some radical, extremist group which can endanger the world peace. Pakistan army assures the world that the nuclear arsenal is safe under their command.
“The primary objective and constitutional mission of the Pakistan Army is to ensure the national security and national unity of Pakistan by defending it against any form of external aggression or the threat of war.” Not only this Pakistan army also acts in case of internal disturbances, whether that is law and order problem, emergencies, or national calamities.
Pakistan army projects itself as the saviour of the country and claims that it played an important role in keeping the different nationalities together. It also mentions that as it consists of people from all the states, it develops the feeling of nationhood.
Army has convinced the masses that India has not accepted its division and would try to annihilate Pakistan that’s why country needs a strong army to defend itself. Army as well as Islamist extremists have also brainwashed the country that Kashmir which is a Muslim majority state would be merged soon in Pakistan. They also proclaim that Khalistan would be carved out from India and that would be the revenge of Pakistan’s division i.e. creation of Bangladesh.
Pakistan army does not have faith in the civil government and controls not only the important departments but also formulates the foreign policy of the country. Particularly Pakistan’s relations with China, USA and important Muslim countries are governed according to the wishes of army.
The opposition of India is a big unifying factor in Pakistan and army exploits the anti-India feelings. The ‘idea of Pakistan’ means different from India or oppose India. Pakistan’s intelligence agency Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) which is a part of Pakistan army and headed by a serving Lieutenant General has launched a low intensity war against India. The ISI propagates that India is suffering with several internal problems and Pakistan can exploit them.
Pakistan watchers point out that although army is a big unifying force and it has the power of gun hence the general public is afraid of it. However, there is rampant corruption in armed forces and the army officers are leading a lavish life style while public is suffering because of acute shortage of essential commodities. Hence if army does not change its way there can be uprising against the army and the secessionist forces would take the advantage of it.
Besides secessionist movements Shia Sunni gulf is also increasing and there is acute water scarcity, escalating pollution, inadequate medical care, illiteracy, and extremism is increasing, country is suffering from population explosion, economy is on ventilator, education system is in shambles, rising debt, political system is at the verge of collapse. Pakistan army with the help of political parties should make sincere efforts to solve the innumerable problems country is facing otherwise first the country may go bankrupt and then the possibility of more disintegrations cannot be ruled out.
(Jai Kumar Verma is a Delhi-based strategic analyst and Life member of United Services Institute of India and member of Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses. The views in the article are solely the author’s. He can be contacted at email@example.com)