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Despite sane voices, 'hate politics' a major hindrance in development of Pakistan

By NS Venkataraman*
The history of Pakistan commenced in 1947, when the Indian subcontinent split into two nations, India and Pakistan. While the basic reason for the creation of Pakistan was to carve out a country for Muslims, unfortunately, the mindset of Pakistan has not much changed and continues such as that prevailed in 1947.
This is unlike so many other Muslim countries of the Middle-East region, where their love for Islam has not prevented the countries from paying attention to the rest of the world. In the process these countries have made enormous progress and have entertained citizens from various parts of the world, irrespective of the country of origin or religious background, to enter their territory as job seekers, entrepreneurs or even as citizens.
Also a theocratic state, like most Middle-East countries, Pakistan has, however, failed to overcome its hatred and animosity towards India. A negative stance, it has steadily taken Pakistan to a situation where the country has got into a cobweb. Since 1947, Pakistan has considered India an adversary, which has not helped the cause and progress of Pakistan.
It is not as if there are no hate mongers of Pakistan in India. However, India has not allowed itself to be just preoccupied with such hate feelings for Pakistan. It has also focused on several other aspects that would contribute to economic, industrial and social progress. There have also been sane voice in Pakistan, which insist that hate feelings and religious extremism should be given up, but they are sought to be silenced.
Most part of the history of Pakistan is marked by military rule. Army generals tried to create a semblance of democracy in Pakistan by holding elections. They even converted themselves into political leaders and contested election. They would inevitably win. But this has not helped Pakistan in any way.
In this process of constantly changing political climate in the country between military rule and democratic rule, Islamic extremism grew up by leaps and bounds, with extremists placated both by politicians and military generals as part of vote bank politics.
Islamic extremism became so entrenched that in many cases it manifested itself as terrorism. With military also playing a role in fostering terrorism, Pakistan itself became a victim of terrorism, as indicated by several terrorist acts including the recent attack on the Pakistan Stock Exchange in Karachi.
Not that Pakistan does not have possibility of economic progress. The country has important agricultural products like cotton, and mineral and natural gas resources in Baluchistan. But as Pakistan is largely focused on religious extremism and hate politics towards its neighbour, it has not forged ahead in economic and industrial progress.
Media and opposition parties in Pakistan often criticize government policies with confidence and courage. This is a good symptom
Even when Pakistan is viewed as terrorist-ridden country by the world community (international tournaments and events are rarely organized in Pakistan these days due to terrorist attacks), Pakistan’s rulers preoccupy themselves in fostering trouble in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) by encouraging terrorist acts. Government spokesmen and political leaders of Pakistan have not concealed their support by calling terrorists as freedom fighters.
With hatred and religious extremism against India becoming the central to Pakistani politics, the country’s leadership thought that it would be clever on its part to firmly align with China by allowing China to set up and own infrastructure and other projects in Pakistan. The net result is that Pakistan is under the virtual control of China, with Gwadar port in Pakistan fully under the control of China, and China laying pipeline and roadways from Gwadar port to Chinese territory.
In spite of these negatives, there is still ray of hope for Pakistan. The fact is, there are several knowledgeable and talented citizens in Pakistan. The government is democratically elected. Parliament is functioning, the justice system is able to assert itself. Media and opposition parties often criticize government policies and programmes with confidence and courage. This is a good symptom.
However, this democratic system in Pakistan has not still matured adequately to assert and make the country see the reason that Islamic extremism and hate policy towards the neighbour would not be the right strategy for future. The country’s quality of political leadership should change in order to ensure that it takes a mature view towards India and the world.
Such positive leadership alone can ensure that philosophy of religious extremism and hatred gradually decline. This would immediately contribute to economic and social progress. Such positive leadership would also go a long way to work to find a solution to the Kashmir dispute, even as getting out of Chinese control. Tar sighted thinkers in Pakistan should try to push Pakistan in positive direction. The media in Pakistan can also facilitate this effort.
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*Trustee, Nandini Voice for the Deprived

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