יום שני, מרץ 19, 2007

 

Does Pakistan have a right to exist?

Continuing with an occasional theme here about the notion of a state's "right to exist," via The Moderate Voice I came across a summary of a new book called Divide Pakistan, by Syed Jamaluddin. In the first paragraph of the summary, the author says:


India's democratic strength for the last 59 years has proved that its existence was fully justified. On the contrary, Pakistan emerged as a failed state for one single reason that a country which was founded by assembling almost eight different nations in the name of Islam, was unable to justify its existence.


The post-partition fates of India and Pakistan are relevant for comparative analysis of the Israel-Palestine conflict, as both sets of states (or proposed states) came about through UN-mandated partition in the early post-WWII decolonization period. Of course, there are numerous differences between the two cases, and the differences may well be more significant than the parallels. Nonetheless, it is worth thinking about the India-Pakistan partition, for, as in the Israel-Palestine case, one of the post-partition states has been a successful multiethnic and multireligious democracy, while the other is a failed state (or a non-state, which is an even more dramatic degree of failure, I suppose).

However, Jamaluddin's premise is unsatisfactory, and for precisely the reason I just alluded to. India, like Pakistan (and more so than either Israel or, especially, Palestine) is itself an assemblage of numerous "nations" (including various Muslim groups). Yet it has worked. Why not Pakistan? It is almost self-evident that East and West were not going to be viable in one state (lesson for Gaza and the West Bank?), and indeed the former East Pakistan has existed as the separate state of Bangladesh now for more than 35 years (not with great success, though more so than for the remainder of Pakistan). As for the current state of Pakistan, only in hindsight is it "obvious" that Balochis and Sindhis (etc.) can't coexist in one state. Jamaluddin proposes that Pakistan be further partitioned into its eight component nations (as he identifies them). I have no idea whether that would be a good idea (independent of whether it is achievable), but I am not convinced that, at the time of partition, it was so obvious that Pakistan would fail and India would succeed as viable multiethnic states.

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