Editorial: Pakistan – two-nation theory in tatters

Editorial: Pakistan – two-nation theory in tatters

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Wednesday, April 05, 2023, 08:42 PM IST
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Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif | File Photo

There is no end in sight to Pakistan’s multi-faceted woes. In the throes of the worst economic and political crisis in years, a clueless Shehbaz Sharif government seems supremely unable to handle either. It bumbles away the time, the only thing keeping it alive being the threat of the popular tide of the rabble-rouser Imran Khan. The irony is that the current troubles of Pakistan can be traced to the rank misgovernance of the Khan regime. As it happens, the common Pakistani is paying the price for the follies of their rulers. With widespread food and fuel shortages, and a sharply devalued currency, Pakistan’s economy in spite of a hoped-for IMF loan will take a long time to heal. Such is the shortage of foreign exchange that several export-oriented units have had to pull down shutters due to a lack of imported inputs. On Tuesday, the State Bank of Pakistan raised key interest rate to a record 21% to curb inflation which officially is ruling at 35%. The Pakistani rupee-dollar exchange rate, officially again, stood at 287.3 to a dollar. Even the remittances from West Asia have failed to bolster the falling currency. A few days ago, 16 people were killed in a stampede at a free food distribution centre. In the holy month of Ramzan, prices of food and beverages have further increased by nearly 50%. Hopes of a modicum of economic stability now hinge crucially on the IMF’s release of financial assistance. But without Pakistan enforcing stringent conditions such as lowering of subsidies and curbs on inessential spending this may be hard to come through. In the meantime a repayment of $4.5 billion will be due by end-June. Even if the expected roll-over of $2.3 billion comes through, payment of $2.2 billion to multilateral and bilateral agencies cannot be put off. The Chinese have rolled over their dues from Pakistan under the much-reviled road and belt programme.

As a result of the economic crisis, Khan’s party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, is drawing huge crowds at its street rallies despite the administration doing everything in its power to stop the former cricketer-turned-politician from contesting elections. His anti-establishment ( read anti-army) movement threatens to sweep away the established political formations of the Bhutto and Sharif families. To ward off the dreaded moment the Sharif Government tried to postpone provincial elections, but the Supreme Court in response to a challenge by the PTI directed the Election Commission to schedule the poll in Punjab in mid-May, holding the postponement order unconstitutional. The PTI-led Assemblies in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were dissolved early this year in a bid to force early national polls. But seeing the writing on the wall, the current rag-tag coalition with the tacit approval from the Rawalpindi GHQ had resorted to palpably delaying tactics. The outcome of the Punjab poll next month, as of now, is a huge win for Khan’s party. This in turn will make it harder for the national government to continue in the face of a popular upsurge. Though it must be said that Khan is a poor administrator who was largely responsible for laying the seeds of the country’s economic crisis.

Meanwhile, the existentialist crisis of Pakistan thoroughly blows to smithereens the original two-nation concept which had birthed the creation of a first religion-based nation by the partition of the then undivided India. It was Mohammed Ali Jinnha’s case that Muslims under “Hindu” Indian National Congress will remain marginalised and denied justice and fair play. The creation of Bangladesh in 1971 first proved that religion is a poor glue to keep hungry and famished masses fed only r on a rich diet of sectarian slogans. Followers of Islam even in Pakistan are not at peace with their co-religionists, killing and maiming each other in the name of what they believe is their own superior, and only sanctified version, of Islam. Internal unrest in Pakistan has intensified with the rise of several religion-linked extremist organisations. The Taliban-ruled Afghanistan has now become a thorn in Pakistan’s side.

In short, Pakistan is truly hoist by its own petard, unable to control evil forces it had unleashed to menace its neighbours. The failed state based on Islam as its founding credo can no longer serve as a beacon for Indian Muslims or, for that matter, Muslims anywhere in the world. Despite constant complaints, some of them justified, the cause of Indian Muslims is better served in the country of their birth. And they should stay steadfast in their resolve to be true and faithful Indian citizens entitled to same rights and duties as everyone else.

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