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An ethnic group (also called a people or an ethnicity) is a group of human beings whose members identify with each other, usually on the basis of a presumed common genealogy or ancestry. Ethnic identity is also marked by the recognition from others of a group's distinctiveness and by common cultural, linguistic, religious, behavioral or biological traits. According to the international meeting on the Challenges of Measuring an Ethnic World (1992), "Ethnicity is a fundamental factor in human life: it is a phenomenon inherent in human experience" despite its often malleable definitions. Others, like anthropologists Fredrik Barth and Eric Wolf, regard ethnicity as a result of interaction, rather than essential qualities of groups. Processes that result in the emergence of such identification are called ethnogenesis. Members of an ethnic group, on the whole, claim cultural continuities over time, although historians and cultural anthropologists have documented that many of the values, practices, and norms that imply continuity with the past are of relatively recent invention.
The sociologist Max Weber once remarked that "the whole conception of ethnic groups is so complex and so vague that it might be good to abandon it altogether." In any case, Weber proposed a definition of ethnic group that became accepted by many sociologists Those human groups that entertain a subjective belief in their common descent because of similarities of physical type or of customs or both, or because of memories of colonization and migration; this belief must be important for group formation; furthermore it does not matter whether an objective blood relationship exists. At a basic level, it is a sense of ethnic identity where cultural and/or linguistic symbols are used for internal cohesion and for differentiation from other groups. In many ways, ethnicity is an alternative form of social organization to class formation. W. J. Foltz has identified four types of characteristics that distinguish different ethnic groups. The first characteristic is biological, where members of a group develop common physical characteristics by drawing upon a ‘particular genetic pool’. More important are the next two distinguishing features, cultural and linguistic, where the ethnic group develops a distinctive value system and language. Finally, the ethnic group may evolve a structural identity by developing a particular type of ‘joint’ relations, differing from the way others organize their ‘social roles’.
Paul Brass looks at ethnic groups within three definitional parameters: First, in terms of ‘objective attributes’ – some distinguishing cultural, religious or linguistic feature that separates one group of people from another. Second, in terms of ‘subjective feelings’ where a subjective self-consciousness exists. Third, in relation to behavior – that is, how ethnic groups behave or do not behave, especially in relation to other groups, since cultural and other distinctions really come to the fore in one group’s interaction with other groups. Anthropologist Ronald Cohen, in a review of anthropological and sociological studies of ethnic groups since Weber, claimed that the identification of "ethnic groups" by social scientists often reflected inaccurate labels more than indigenous realities: ... the named ethnic identities we accept, often unthinkingly, as basic givens in the literature are often arbitrarily, or even worse inaccurately, imposed. Cohen also suggests that claims concerning "ethnic" identity (like earlier claims concerning "tribal" identity) are often colonialist practices and effects of the relations between colonized peoples and nation-states.Harold Isaacs has identified other diacritics (distinguishing markers) of ethnicity, among them physical appearance, name, language, history, and religion; this definition has entered some dictionaries. Social scientists have thus focused on how, when, and why different markers of ethnic identity become salient. Thus, anthropologist Joan Vincent observed that ethnic boundaries often have a mercurial character. Ronald Cohen concluded that ethnicity is "a series of nesting dichotomizations of inclusiveness and exclusiveness". He agrees with Joan Vincent's observation that (in Cohen's paraphrase) "Ethnicity ... can be narrowed or broadened in boundary terms in relation to the specific needs of political mobilization.This may be why descent is sometimes a marker of ethnicity, and sometimes not: which diacritic of ethnicity is salient depends on whether people are scaling ethnic boundaries up or down, and whether they are scaling them up or down depends generally on the political situation.
An ethnic conflict or ethnic war is a war between ethnic groups often as a result of ethnic nationalism. They are of interest because of the apparent prevalence since the Cold War and because they frequently result in war crimes such as genocide. Academics explanations of ethnic conflict generally fall into one of three schools of thought: primordialist, instrumentalist or constructivist. Intellectual debate has also focused around the issue of whether ethnic conflict has become more prevalent since the end of the Cold War, and on devising ways of managing conflicts, through instruments such as consociationalism and federalisation.
Theories of ethnic conflict
The symbolic grave of Margot and Anne Frank at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp The causes of ethnic conflict are debated by political scientists and sociologists who generally fall into one of three schools of thought: primordialist, instrumentalist, and constructivist. More recent scholarship draws on all three schools in order to increase our understanding of ethnic conflict.
Proponents of primordialist accounts of ethnic conflict argue that “ethnic groups and nationalities exist because there are traditions of belief and action towards primordial objects such as biological features and especially territorial location”. The primordialist account relies on a concept of kinship between members of an ethnic group. Donald Horowitz argues that this kinship “makes it possible for ethnic groups to think in terms of family resemblances”. There are a number of political scientists who refer to the concept of ethnic wars as a myth because they argue that the root causes of ethnic conflict do not involve ethnicity but rather institutional, political, and economic factors. These political scientists argue that the concept of ethnic war is misleading because it leads to an essentialist conclusion that certain groups are doomed to fight each other when in fact the wars between them are the result of political decisions. Opposing groups may substitute ethnicity for the underlying factors to simplify identification of friend and foe.
Anthony Smith notes that the instrumentalist account “came to prominence in the 1960s and 1970s in the United States, in the debate about (white) ethnic persistence in what was supposed to have been an effective melting pot”. This new theory sought to explain such persistence as the result of the actions of community leaders, “who used their cultural
groups as sites of mass mobilization and as constituencies in their competition for power and resources, because they found them more effective than social classes”. In this account of ethnic identification, “[e]thnicity and race are viewed as instrumental identities, organized as means to particular ends”.
A refugee camp for displaced Rwandans in Zaire A third, constructivist, set of accounts stress the importance of the socially constructed nature of ethnic groups, drawing on Benedict Anderson's concept of the imagined community. Proponents of this account point to Rwanda as an example since the Tutsi/Hutu distinction was codified by the Belgian colonial power in the 1930s on the basis of cattle ownership, physical measurements and church records. Identity cards were issued on this basis, and these documents played a key role in the genocide of 1994. More recently, scholars of ethnic conflict and civil wars have introduced theories that draw insights from all three traditional schools of thought. In The Geography of Ethnic Violence, for example, Monica Duffy Toft shows how ethnic group settlement patterns, socially constructed identities, charismatic leaders, issue indivisibility, and state concern with precedent setting can lead rational actors to escalate a dispute to violence, even when doing so is likely to leave contending groups much worse off. Such research addresses empirical puzzles that are difficult to explain using primordialist, instrumentalist, or constructivist approaches alone; such as why some ethnic disputes escalate to violence while others - even in the same geographic region - do not.
In sociology and social theory, ethnicity can be viewed as a way of social stratification, meaning that ethnicity is the basis for a hierarchical arrangement of individuals. According to Donald Noel, a sociologist who developed a theory on the origin of ethnic stratification, ethnic stratification is a "system of stratification wherein some relatively fixed group membership (e.g., race, religion, or nationality) is utilized as a major criterion for assigning social positions" Ethnic stratification is one of many different types of social stratification, including stratification based on socio-economic status, race, or gender.
According to Donald Noel, ethnic stratification will emerge only when specific ethnic groups are brought into contact with one another, and only when those groups are characterized by a high degree of ethnocentrism, competition, and differential power. Ethnocentrism is the tendency to look at the world primarily from the perspective of one's own culture, and to downgrade all other groups outside one’s own culture. Some sociologists, such as Lawrence Bobo and Vincent Hutchings, say the origin of ethnic stratification lies in individual dispositions of ethnic prejudice, which relates to the theory of ethnocentrism Continuing with Noel’s theory, some degree of differential power must also be present for the emergence of ethnic stratification. In other words, an inequality of power among ethnic groups means "they are of such unequal power that one is able to impose its will upon another". In addition to differential power, a degree of competition structured along ethnic lines is a prerequisite to ethnic stratification as well. The different ethnic groups must be competing for some common goal, such as power or influence, or a material interest such as wealth or territory. Lawrence Bobo and Vincent Hutchings propose that competition is driven by self-interest and hostility, and results in inevitable stratification and conflict.
Ethnicity and Conflict in Pakistan
There are very few modern states, which are ethnically homogeneous. In his study of nation-building, Walker Connor points out that of a total of 132 states existing in 1972, only 12 (9.1%) could be viewed as ethnically homogeneous, while another 25 (18.9%) states consisted of one main ethnic group, which accounted for more than 90% of the state’s total population. In 31 states (23.5%), however, the single largest ethnic group formed only 50-74% of the population, and in 39 states (29.5%), no one ethnic group accounted for even half of the population of the state. With the addition of new states into the system, after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, and in the aftermath of continuing decolonization on the African continent since the seventies, the picture would not have altered in terms of the trend. One of the fallouts of decolonization was the resurgence of ethnicity as a means of identity assertion in the newly-independent states – especially since in many cases, ethnic groups were split across artificially created borders, without regard to natural, geographic borders and divides, especially in Africa. This also led to ethnicity often having a transnational framework. While, in most heterogeneous states, ethnic identities and groupings exist within the state and national structures, problems arise when ethnic movements transform into nationalist movements. As Tahir Amin points out, ethnic movements seek to gain advantage within an existing state, while nationalist movements seek to establish or maintain their own state. In Pakistan, the ethnic movements have been of differing varieties, and have shifted from seeking advantage within the state to moving beyond into the realm of ethnonationalism, and then reverting back to the former position. While these shifts have been correlated primarily to internal political developments (for example, in the case of the ‘Sindhu Desh’ movement), in some cases, external developments have also had a major
influence (as in the case of the ‘Greater Balochistan’ and ‘Pushtunistan’ movements). The 2002 elections showed a trend that had begun in the last elections (February 1997) – that ethnic parties have lost ground to national political parties.
Background: The State and Society
The Land and Its People
Pakistan, which means "land of the pure," is a predominantly Muslim state located in the northwest of the Indian subcontinent. Extending from the northern Himalayan mountain ranges one thousand miles down to the Arabian Sea, it is bounded on the northwest by the mountain ranges of Koh Sulaiman and by Afghanistan and on the southwest by the Iranian section of Balochistan. In the east, Pakistan is separated from India along the Sutlej River, the deserts of Rajasthan, and the Rann of Kutch; and a cease-fire line dividing the Kashmir Valley separates the two countries in the north. The country has a total land area of approximately 310,322 square miles, much of which consists of desert and mountainous regions. Yet the river system of the Indus and its tributaries has provided Pakistan with some of the most fertile and best-irrigated land in the Indian subcontinent, and a majority of the population lives along its banks. Frequent, occasionally severe earthquakes occur in the northern and western regions, while flooding plagues the Indus valley after heavy rainfall. Agriculture is the nation's principal occupation, employing half of the country's population and accounting for 25 percent of its GNP. Wheat, cotton, rice, barley, sugarcane, maize, and fodder are the main crops. In addition, the western province of Balochistan supplies a rich crop of fruits and dates. The industrial sector is growing and employs over 20 percent of the formal workforce. Key industries include textiles, construction materials, sugar, paper products, and rubber. Mineral resources are modest. In addition to oil and gas reserves, Pakistan has deposits of uranium, coal, sulfur, chromate, limestone, and antimony. The state has four constituent political units: the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), and the provinces of Punjab, Sindh, and Balochistan; a number of tribal areas are also administered by the federal government. Of the provinces, Punjab is the most populated and agriculturally rich, followed by Sindh. Balochistan, which is primarily desert, is sparsely populated, while much of the NWFP is also barren and predominantly tribal in character. The physical diversity of Pakistan's provinces is more than matched by the complex ethnic and cultural composition of the general population. The chief ethno linguistic groups are Punjabis, Sindhies, Pathans, Baluchis, and a significant population of Muhajirs - Urdu-speaking refugees and their descendants who migrated to the country en
masse following the partition of the subcontinent and the country's independence in August 1947. The dominant language is Punjabi (the first language of 65 percent of the population), followed by Sindhi (11 percent), Pushto (8 percent), and Urdu (9 percent). Gujarati, Sahraike, and Baluchi are among the languages of other ethnic minorities. English is generally spoken in business circles and in government. Islam, the state religion, is practiced by the vast majority of the populace. Muslims make up 97 percent of the population (77 percent Sunni and 20 percent Shia), while Hindus, Buddhists, and Christians constitute the remaining 3 percent.
State and Society
In theory, Pakistan is a federal polity, committed to Islamic religious principles and parliamentary rule. The executive consists of a prime minister, who heads the government, with a president acting as chief of state. The legislative branch is bicameral and consists of a popularly elected National Assembly and a largely advisory Senate, elected indirectly by members of the provincial assemblies. Yet the "practice" of truly democratic and representative politics has proven elusive. Non elected institutions hold sway over their elected counterparts, and the state has long been dominated by a military and bureaucratic elite dedicated to advancing its own interests largely to the exclusion of those of society at large. The contours of Pakistan's "bureaucratic-authoritarian" state emerged soon after independence in 1947, as the challenges of nation building threatened to overwhelm the modest resources of the newly created country. Almost overnight, enormous social dislocations arising from partition, pressing defense requirements, and the need to assert authority over newly acquired and disparate territories confronted the state machinery with demands it could not meet. Partition had yielded Pakistan 18 percent of the population, 17.5 percent of the financial assets, less than 10 percent of the industrial base, and slightly over 7 percent of the employment facilities of an undivided India. Organizational machinery was inadequate particularly in the regions the regime acquired - and the largely migrant political leadership had little direct contact or rapport with the indigenous population of the lands it inherited. The pressing need to consolidate territory and defend the nation prompted a rapid expansion of administrative machinery and wholesale adoption of the colonial British "vice regal" system of administration and resource management. This system had been long geared to maintaining law, order, and the collection of revenues on behalf of the British Empire. It included a professional civil service with a deep knowledge of local conditions as well as great access to and influence over provincial populations. It was an effective tool - and one readily available to the new Pakistani regime - for augmenting state revenues and financing burgeoning defense budgets.
Military influence within the society expanded apace. The outbreak of war with India over the northern princely state of Kashmir only months after independence, lingering doubts over provincial loyalties to the newly formed state, and the internal dislocations and communal conflicts that attended independence all gave the military a critical role in the creation and maintenance of the state. Defense spending became a top priority and along with the cost of civil administration - accounted for more than three-quarters of the federal government's budget during the first decade after independence. This spending was soon supplemented by western aid, as Pakistan adopted the role of junior guardian of the Persian Gulf in the Cold War. Yet there was little corresponding effort to ensure the supremacy of elected institutions within Pakistani society. Administrative/bureaucratic influence over the state rapidly increased, and democratic institutions decayed. By the late 1950s, the civil-military bureaucracy had consolidated its hold on the government, and the country settled into a mode of state rule that remained largely unchanged for the next three decades. A succession of military and civilian regimes followed, and while each professed some commitment to greater political participation, all ultimately fell short of popular expectations. Elites often opted for a controlled form of democracy; they saw politics less as a participatory affair than as something to be steered from above. Some analysts now speak of a trend toward greater democratization of Pakistani politics. There has been a routinization of some key elements of a democratic system, including more frequent general elections, somewhat more robust political parties, and a freer press. Nevertheless, nonelected institutions continue to have great power. The first prime ministerial tenure of Benazir Bhutto and that of her successor, Nawaz Sharif, were both, in effect, terminated following clashes with members of the permanent government. In short, while the grip of bureaucratic authoritarianism may have loosened, its final demise is a distant prospect at best. Pakistan comprises a heterogeneous ethnic population – in fact, the people of Pakistan form a complex ‘polyglot’, as Tahir Amin puts it, with migrations from Central Asia and Iran, plus the indigenous people. Pre-1971, there were six major ethnic groups: Balochs, Bengalis, Muhajirs (used primarily to denote the Urdu-speaking settlers from Northern India who settled in Sindh – sometimes also termed the ‘New Sindhis’), Punjabis, Pushtuns and Sindhis. But, with the exception of the Bengalis in what was till 1971 East Pakistan, there has always been a mix of ethnic groups in all the remaining provinces, and, unlike India, Pakistan has not altered the territorial status of the provinces it inherited from British India in 1947. So, although each ethnic group claims a ‘home province’, according to Rasul B. Rais, ‘the same territory is claimed as a historic homeland by at least one other, and in some instances, more than one ethnic identity.’ In fact, in Sindh and Balochistan, waves of migrations have altered the demographic balance – first with the inflow of refugees from India in 1947, and then from Afghanistan after the Soviet invasion into that country. Also, economic reasons have led to migrationary movements, especially of Pushtuns and Punjabis into Sindh, and of Balochs out of their home province.
Also, while the ethnic groups have used certain cultural traits – such as language and history – to retain their separateness, after years of common economic and political experiences as well as religious bonds, these groups have also acquired multiple identities that co-exist alongside each other and members of the group shift from one to another depending on the political circumstances and the interests of the individuals and groups. So, a Pakistani can have ethnic and tribal identities (a Baloch will also belong to a particular Baloch tribe) alongside his religious and caste ones. And, in the case of Pakistan, it is state policies that have impacted upon the ethnicity factor within the political process of the nation. To examine the ethnicity factor in Pakistan’s political process, six main historical periods have been included, including the present period beginning with the Musharraf coup: 1947-1958; 1958-1971; 1971-1977; 1977-1988; 1988-1999; 1999- Elections of October 2002. 1947 – 1958 During this period, the major issue, for the leadership, was to frame a viable political system in the aftermath of the state’s creation in August 1947. The preparation of the various drafts for a viable constitution, which could satisfy the expectations of all the provinces of the new country, reflected the economic, social, political and cultural problems, which confronted Pakistan. The failure of the political leadership to accommodate ethnic diversities within a representative political framework was responsible not only for the failure of civilian rule and the military takeover in 1958, but also for the creation of ethno-nationalism, with special reference to the Bengalis. In fact, ethnic diversity itself does not prevent cooperation or assimilation of groups within the state. As Connor asserts, if an ethnic group places greater value on factors of commonality, like religion, with other groups in the state, rather than on its own uniqueness, then that ethnic group is sub national – for example, if greater emphasis is placed upon being a Pakistani than a Bengali. In other words, one’s own perception of one’s group is important and political instability is caused by what M. G. Smith has termed ‘structural pluralism’. Smith identifies the essence of structural pluralism as being the prevalence of a ‘dominant-subordinate’ relationship, where the ruling group will attempt to perpetuate its control by institutionalizing the subordinate position of other groups. For Pakistan, it was this period which gave form to the manner in which ethnic movements and ethno-national movements took shape for the future. Therefore, this period will be looked at with a little more detail. The issues that arose within the framework of the political and constitutional debates, between 1947-1958, can be divided into three main categories: The issue of the national language; the issues of political representation and relations between the center and the provinces; and the role of Islam in the political framework.
The Issue of the National Language
After independence, the central government made clear its intent of making Urdu the national language, although, even in West Pakistan, only 3.37% of the population was Urdu-speaking. As a reaction, in September 1947 the Tamaddun Majlis was formed, consisting of professors and students of Dacca University, whose purpose was to establish Bengali as one of the national languages. Until 1953, there were two main political parties in East Pakistan: the provincial Muslim League and Suhrawardy’s East Pakistan Awami Muslim League (EPAML), and initially none of them lent their support to this organisation. However, the East Pakistan Muslim Students League did lend support, and the movement gained further momentum when it was rumoured that Bengali letters would not appear on currency notes, money orders and the like. By 1948, the movement was serious enough for the provincial government to accept their demands, but Jinnah remained adamant on Urdu being the only national language. The issue exploded again in 1950, when the Basic Principles Committee (BPC) published its Interim Report, in which the recommendation was made to retain Urdu as the only national language. By now, all the political and religious factions in East Pakistan had rejected this principle and in 1952, when an abortive attempt was made to introduce Arabic script for the Bengali language, the law and order situation in East Bengal collapsed. The provincial legislature recommended the Constituent Assembly to recognize Bengali as one of the national languages, and this issue became part of the East Pakistani United Front’s manifesto in the 1954 provincial elections. In the defeat of the Muslim League, the Bengali’s showed their rejection of the ‘national’ elite. By the time a ‘language formula’ had been worked out and Bengali became an official language (1954); Bengali resentment against the ‘Punjabi’ elite had already crystallized.
ii. The Issues of Political Representation and Relations between the Center and Provinces In these issues, the conflict centered on the East Pakistan political community and the political leadership of the Punjab. The initial suggestion of the BPC for a system with power equally divided between the two Houses was unacceptable to the Bengali leadership, especially since all the provincial units would be given equal representation in the Upper House. The Bengali political parties were committed to the concept of a loose federation with representation in the central legislature based upon population distribution. The center was only to deal with foreign affairs, currency and defense. Various formulas were put forward with the majority of Bengali deputies finally agreeing to the principle of parity between East and West Pakistan, including members of the Awami League. Based on this principle, the final distribution of seats in the Central Assembly was evolved and weightage was also given to the smaller units of West Pakistan. The real power on important issues was to be with the Lower House, while the Upper House would only have recommendatory powers. Now, it was the Punjab
representatives who objected, and the Punjab Muslim League joined the other political parties of the province in opposing this constitutional arrangement. As a reaction to this opposition, East Pakistan’s Chittagong branch of the Muslim League proposed a confederation scheme, where the provinces would collect and control the revenues, providing a fixed amount to the center for the administration of defense, foreign affairs and currency. As a final compromise, the ‘Mohammad Ali Formula’ was evolved in 1953, which provided for parity in the combined Houses. East Bengal was to have 165 of the proposed 300 seats in the Lower House, but all the units would have equal representation in the Upper House. Each House would have equal powers on critical issues, and for votes of confidence and in instances of a split between the two Houses, a voting strength of at least 30% was required from each zone. Although the Punjab and Bengali representatives expressed dissatisfaction with this formula, it was finally adopted by the Constituent Assembly with only two dissents. The Punjabi political leadership then presented a scheme to merge the provinces of West Pakistan into one provincial unit to counter the East Bengal majority. However, the Bengalis, holding the majority in the Constituent Assembly and supported by the Sindhi leadership, were able to reject the One Unit proposal. The powers of the Governor General were also curtailed. By 1954, the Constituent Assembly had adopted the Constitutional Report and hoped to take up the Constitutional Bill after a break. Although it seemed that some political framework might finally evolve, the Governor General, Ghulam Mohammed, in cahoots with the Punjabi politicians, used the religious disturbances that were taking place as a pretext for dissolving the Constituent Assembly and declaring the imposition of Martial Law. During the period of emergency, the provincial legislatures of West Pakistan were coerced, often physically, into accepting the Governor-General’s One Unit Scheme. The second Constituent Assembly was convened in 1955, and elections to it were indirect - members being elected by the provincial legislatures. The Bengali political elite were split and this enabled the Assembly to approve the One Unit Bill. A draft Constitution bill was presented in January 1956, and the religious parties mobilized public opinion in its favor. Partly due to the split among the Bengali representatives, the Assembly approved the bill and Pakistan became an Islamic Republic. In East Pakistan, political agitation continued for autonomy.
The Role of Islam in the Political Framework
In a speech to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, on August 11, 1947, Jinnah had clearly stated the principle on which the Muslims of the two wings would build Pakistan:
‘We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one state you will find that in the course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the state.’ Nevertheless, the Objectives Resolution of 1949 sought to base the Constitution on the ideals of Islam. So, Islam did influence the formulation of the 1956 Constitution, which declared Pakistan an Islamic Republic and laid down procedures to prevent the passage of legislation contrary to the Quran and Sunnah. Also, the Head of the State, the President, was to be a Muslim. However, no special privileges were given to the Ulema, and the Resolution gave no clear definition of the nature of the Islamic state. Debate centered on the issue of separate electorates which had been operational in India since 1909, and which Pakistan retained. Pakistan, in 1947, had a population of 15 million non-Muslims, and the issue aroused attention throughout 1947-1957, when it was finally resolved. In East Pakistan, the Hindus formed 23% of the population and were politically and economically an influential community. The Bengali political elite opposed the concept, but overall, the West Pakistani leadership accepted the principle of separate electorates. The 1956 Constitution left the issue to the provincial legislatures, and East Pakistan opted for joint electorates. The West Pakistan legislature initially supported the concept of separate electorates, but by 1957, they were persuaded to accept joint electorates. One of the problems the new state of Pakistan was confronted with was the fact that the Pakistan Movement’s organizational structure had lagged far behind the growth of its popular following and the Movement had not evolved a consensus on the type of nationstate to be built. Nor did any effective mechanism evolve to settle regional claims within the Movement – such as the issue of language. With the state pushing for a strong center, by the early fifties, increasing divisiveness between the Punjabi political elite and the elites of other provinces began to emerge. Ethnic identities were strengthened in East Pakistan, and, to a lesser extent, in the smaller provinces of West Pakistan, especially in Sindh. In anticipation of the 1954 provincial elections, political activity had increased in East Pakistan and all the opposition parties had united to form the United Front on the basis of two broad points of consensus: the institution of Bengali as one of the national languages; and provincial autonomy on the basis of the 1940 Lahore Resolution. Out of these points had emerged the 21 Points of the United Front programme. Their victory had lent greater impetus to Bengali ethno-nationalism with some leaders openly voicing their discontentment with Pakistan. Increasing violence between Bengali and non-Bengali workers gave the central government a pretext for dismissing the United Front government, establishing Governor’s rule in East Pakistan and banning the Communist Party. This dismissal caused further resentment amongst the Bengali population.
Inequitable distribution of resources by the central government had further alienated the Bengalis from the state, especially after 1954, when the overall economic situation deteriorated. Out of the total development fund, East Pakistan’s share was only 22.1%, and non-Bengali businessmen, financed by capital from West Pakistan had set up most of the industrial units. Insufficient Bengali representation at the center had increased their sense of isolation, and at a time of worsening economic plight and an influx of Muslim refugees from India, the central government had failed to respond to the needs of the province. The worsening economic situation in West Pakistan had also led people to become increasingly assertive of their ethnic identity. In 1953, G. M. Syed had formed the Sindh Awami Mahaz with an ideology that called for the recognition of the ‘de facto existence of separate nationalities’ in Pakistan. He demanded full provincial autonomy, leaving only defense, foreign affairs and currency with the center, and also the re-merger of Karachi with Sindh. Included in this party was the Sindh Hari Committee, a strong peasant body. The Sindh Awami Mahaz had been the first party to oppose the One Unit scheme, but groups in the NWFP and Balochistan had also joined in opposition to this action. An antiOne-Unit Front had been formed between former ‘Red Shirts’ of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan in the Frontier province and the NWFP branch of the Awami League. Supported by elites from the other provinces, they had formed the Pakistan National Party with the object of seeking the dissolution of One Unit in West Pakistan. By 1958 the policies of the ‘national elite’ had failed and had caused the collapse of the political framework, allowing the military to assert itself. In East Pakistan, which was politically and socially more developed (partition and land reforms having destroyed the old feudal structures) than West Pakistani provinces, Bengali ethnicity developed into ethno-nationalism as a result of the frustrations caused by the policies of the federal government and the attempts by the Punjabi elite to deny them adequate representation in the state apparatus. This is clearly illustrated in the gradual shift in the demands of the Bengali political elite between 1947-1958. From wanting adequate representation and recognition of their majority status through acceptance of the status of the Bengali language as a national language, to acceptance of the parity concept at the center and a demand for greater regional autonomy, culminating in the outright assertion of Bengali nationalism, voiced in the demands for complete autonomy. This growth of ethno-nationalism also reflected the failure of the Bengali leadership at the center to assert itself. They held a clear majority in the First Constituent Assembly and, yet, failed to win over other political groups into accepting the demands of East Pakistan. In the Second Constituent Assembly, the split between the Awami League and the United Front in East Pakistan allowed the Muslim League and Punjabi elements in West Pakistan to participate in the formation of the government. During this period, Bengali interests were often sacrificed by the Bengali political representatives in the Assembly for short-term personal political gains, which allowed the 1956 Constitution to
be approved. In the East Pakistan–West Pakistan tussle, Islam failed to act as a unifying force. In West Pakistan, too, political factionalism was rampant in all the four provinces. However, although ethnic groups were voicing their reactions against discrimination by the Punjabi elite, the federal structure was firmly intact in West Pakistan. 1958 – 1971 With the imposition of the first Martial Law in 1958, militarism pervaded the Pakistani state and society. Marek Thee has identified a variety of forms in which militarism can exist, ranging from a repressive authoritarian regime backed by the military, to direct military rule, to civilian rule with the military exerting predominant influence. The first Military government under Ayub Khan began as direct military rule and then moved on to military-guided civilian rule. The divisive ethnic movements that developed in the 194758 period were further aggravated by the highly centralized policies of the military regime. The political, cultural and economic policies all added to the instability within civil society. Politically, the creation of One Unit had fed the resentment of the smaller provinces, but especially of East Pakistan, which felt it was directed specifically against it. What little remained of Bengali commitment to Pakistan vanished in 1965, when East Pakistan was left totally undefended during the Pakistan-India War in September. The notion of ‘the defense of the East lies in the West’ ensured the growth of Bengali ethno-nationalism, which saw its culmination in the creation of Bangladesh in 1971. The political hostility between the center and the Pushtun ‘nationalists’ also increased with the Pushtun leader, Ghaffar Khan demanding a separate state of ‘Pushtunistan’. This movement had begun before partition and had received support from Afghanistan. However, the movement was never a threat to the Pakistani state because it had a limited following among the Pushtuns, and also the NWFP comprises two other important ethno-linguistic groups – Hindko and Seraiki. Nevertheless, during the Ayub era, the ‘Pushtunistan’ movement was seen as a major irritant by the ruling elite. The Balochs also clashed with the center in 1958-59 on the issue of land allotments to Punjabi settlers along the border with Sindh. But the issue was resolved when the local Baloch tribes were also allotted land in the area. In Sindh, there were two levels of conflict that prevailed – one, within Sindh between the Sindhis and the Muhajirs who had come to comprise 50 % of Sindh’s urban population by 1951. This led to the growth of resentment against them by the Sindhis, especially since the Muhajirs dominated the central government and used this advantage to gain urban property allotments and monopolize government jobs. Economically, the adoption of the ‘trickle down’ theory – of equality through inequality – further widened the gap between the haves and have-nots and led to increasing polarization. Culturally, the language issue became a symbol or rallying point for ethnic
groups when all regional languages were banned in 1958 on the recommendation of the Educational Commission. The bureaucratic elite that ruled Pakistan during the Ayub era (1958 – 1969) was composed primarily of Punjabis, Muhajirs and the Pushtuns. For example, according to Tahir Amin’s study, in the sixties, 60 % of the army consisted of Punjabis, 35 % were Pushtuns and the remaining ethnic groups composed the 5%. Among the top 48 generals, 17 were Punjabi, 19 were Pushtuns, 11 were Muhajirs and only 1 was Bengali. The picture for the civilian bureaucracy reflected a similar distribution. The most under represented groups were the Sindhis and Balochs.
Ethnic Origins of the Top Military Elite Number 17 19 11 0 0 1 48 Percent 35.4 39.6 23.0 0 0 2.0 100
Punjabis Pushtuns Muhajirs Sindhis Balochs Bengalis Total
Source: Khalid B. Sayeed, ‘The Role of Military in Pakistan,’ in Armed Forces and Society by Jacques Van Doorn, Hague: Paris, Mouton, 1968. Ethnic Origins (Class I Officers) of the Top Civilian Bureaucrats
Punjabi Pushtun Muhajirs Sindhi Balochs Others Total
Number 1727 287 1070 90 9 349 3532
Percent 48.89 8.12 30.29 2.5 0.25 9.95 100
Source: 4th Triennial Census of Central Government Employees, Islamabad: Government of Pakistan, 1973. Ayub’s attempts to engineer a limited form of democracy – the Basic Democracy system – failed to meet people’s democratic aspirations. The Ayub era saw the birth of the Jeeya Sindh Movement in Sindh and the Baloch movement in Balochistan. In the NWFP, the pre-partition ‘Pushtunistan’ movement failed to make much headway because the Pushtun educated middle classes were able to get recruited into the power structures. An amalgamation of the ethnic-based regional parties – the National Awami Party (NAP) – was unable to get beyond the two provinces of NWFP and Balochistan in terms of support. Ten years of a highly centralized dictatorship threatened to fracture Pakistan along ethnic divides. The 1965 Pakistan-India war and its aftermath added to the problems of the Ayub regime, especially when Z. A. Bhutto, Ayub’s foreign minister, broke ranks and challenged the regime – in 1967. He created the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and coined the phrase ‘Islamic Socialism’ which was to be the Party’s governing principle. While the NAP had also been inspired by socialist beliefs, its ethnic focus predominated. The PPP, thus, became the first truly national party with a non-ethnic and socialist agenda, and headed by a Sindhi. Bhutto led the movement against Ayub and, fuelled by economic pressures, street protest grew, leading Ayub to step down and hand over power to General Yahya in 1969. The Yahya regime moved to reverse the policies of the Ayub era – including the dissolution of One Unit. In 1970, the first general elections based on adult franchise were held, and the results reflected the deep ethnic divisions that had come to dominate the Pakistani polity. While the PPP had won majorities in Sindh and Punjab and overall in West Pakistan, the NAP was in a position to form the government in the NWFP and Balochistan. In East Pakistan, the ethno-nationalist Bengali Awami Party, led by Sheikh Mujib, swept the polls. The refusal of the ruling elite – both military and political – to accept the results of the polls and hand over power to the Bengalis at the center eventually led to civil war in East Pakistan. A ruthless military action followed and, with Indian intervention, Pakistan’s army suffered a humiliating defeat, which allowed for the creation of Bangladesh in December 1971. This also brought Bhutto to power in what remained of Pakistan – with Yahya handing over power to him. Bangladesh was primarily the result of the growth of Bengali ethno-nationalism in the face of an intransigent Pakistani ruling elite – which chose to seek a military solution to a political problem and thereby transformed the ethnic movement into a secessionist movement. However, it was also the result of external factors such as Indian support and military intervention as well as the fact that East Pakistan was physically separated from West Pakistan across a thousand miles of hostile Indian Territory. 1971-1977 For nine months after his takeover, Bhutto actually accepted sharing power with his political opponents who formed the governments in the NWFP and Balochistan provinces. So, there was a period of genuine federalism and this immediately led to a
shift in the approach of the ethnic parties in both the NWFP and Balochistan. In both these provinces, the leaders adopted Urdu as the official provincial language and Wali Khan, leader of the NAP, declared: ‘We have left the Pushtunistan issue. We are not even thinking of renaming the NWFP as Pushtunistan because it is no longer an issue for NAP.’ Unfortunately, it was the PPP government in Sindh which aggravated intra-provincial ethnic divides by adopting Sindhi as the official language of Sindh province. This naturally perturbed the Muhajirs - who comprised roughly half the population of Sindh – as well as other settlers in Sindh from the Punjab and NWFP. The result was that once again the language issue became a focal point for rallying ethnicity. Language riots spread throughout urban Sindh with more than 55 people getting killed and thousands injured. Eventually, the PPP had to amend the language bill by making both Sindhi and Urdu official languages of the province. Also, Bhutto, understanding the deprivation of the Sindhis in earlier governments, sought to compensate by fixing quotas for rural Sindhis in provincial and federal government jobs on the basis of their population. Similar quotas were earmarked for other provinces. What was new here was the fixing of separate quotas for urban and rural Sindh – in an attempt to protect the Sindhis, who would have lost out to Muhajirs in open competition – given the better educational levels of the latter group. Also, the inclusion of provincial jobs on this basis was to be a factor aggravating the intra-provincial ethnic conflict – especially since the quotas were also expanded to admissions into professional institutions. In Sindh, this institutionalized the urban-rural divide as well as the SindhiMuhajirs divide. However, the PPP’s adoption of an ethnic agenda in Sindh meant that it had denied Sindhi ethnic groups a viable platform at a time of growing Sindhi ethno-nationalism. The Sindhi voters shifted away from the Ethnic Sindhi Awami Mahaz party and voted overwhelmingly for the PPP. Since then, the PPP has continued to dominate the politics of rural Sindh. At the national level, Bhutto helped devise the 1973 Constitution premised on a parliamentary system, and Pakistan was declared the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Islamic Advisory Council was also set up under the Constitution to recommend ways and means to bring existing laws of the country in conformity with Islamic principles. There was a brief period when several measures were taken by the civilian ruling elite to reassert its supremacy over the military – as well as to allow greater autonomy to the provinces. With regard to the former, Bhutto appointed a commission of inquiry headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Hamood-ur-Rahman, to investigate the circumstances that had led to the military disaster in East Pakistan and the acceptance of a ceasefire in West Pakistan.
Changes were also made in the administrative setup of the military high command, with the designation of the heads of the three services being altered from Commander-inChief, to Chief of each relevant service. The President of the country became the sole Commander-in-Chief. The three service chiefs were also put under the command of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee to develop a greater degree of professional cooperation and policy coordination. And, for the first time, the functions of the military were defined within the Constitution. Article 245 of the 1973 Constitution states that the military, under the direction of the Federal Government, is required to ‘defend Pakistan against external aggression or threat of war and, subject to law, act in aid of civil power when called upon to do so’. The notion of High Treason was also defined very comprehensively in Article 6(3). Unfortunately, Bhutto’s political ambitions led him to undermine the elected governments of Balochistan and the NWFP and their eventual dismissal. This was followed by an extremely repressive policy towards regional ethnic movements through the use of force. These policies further politicized the ethnic movements, and in Balochistan, the ethnonationalist movement joined by leftist middle class idealists from the Punjab threatened to turn secessionist. By the end of 1972, the initial signs of an insurgency movement were visible in the province of Balochistan, and by 1973, the army had become overtly involved in fighting this insurgency spearheaded by two of the main Baloch tribes – the Marris and the Mengals. A civil war ravaged Balochistan for four years and resulted in the death of 6000 civilians and 3000 military personnel – while 2,500 Balochs crossed over into Afghanistan. The army was also called out to deal with language riots in Sindh Province in July 1972, anti-Ahmadya riots in June 1974, and the conflict between the civil administration and tribesmen of Dir, in Frontier Province, in October 1976. By 1977, there was widespread agitation against the Bhutto regime. The opposition parties formed an alliance against the government just before the March 1977 general elections. This alliance – known as the Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) was a mix of varied political parties ranging from the extreme right to the left – including the religious and ethnic parties. The only common ground was opposition to Bhutto. An agitational movement was begun after the elections with charges of massive rigging, and this PNA movement soon acquired a religious character when it claimed that it was a Tehreek-i-Nizaam-i-Mustafa – that is, a movement for the enforcement of an Islamic system. This movement continued despite Bhutto’s belated efforts to appease the leaders by promising the promulgation of Islamic laws within six months, and the immediate prohibition of un-Islamic activities such as alcohol and gambling. It began in the urban areas of Sindh, but eventually spread to Punjab and by April 20, 1977, all the major urban centers of the country – across the four provinces – were under curfew. It was under these circumstances that the army staged a coup, and so, Pakistan was subjected once again to Martial Law under General Zia ul Haq. At the time, ethnic forces were again threatening to evolve into a powerful political force as Bhutto’s policies had failed to allow the provinces the space needed to accommodate the ethnic sensitivities. Even the 1973 Constitution was heavily weighted in favor of the Center.
1977-1988 The 1977 coup reflected the resurgence of military power within Pakistan. The strength of the Pakistan Army within the country and its organizational recovery, despite the 1971 military defeat and the politicization after long years of being involved in governing the country, lay in its size – almost half a million strong – and its professionalism. In Pakistan, especially after 1971, the military’s professionalism had developed alongside its politicization. Even during periods of Martial Law, the military as an institution did not get directly involved in the civil administration, but exerted control through a militarybureaucratic alliance. Equally critical was the fact that the military defeat in 1971 led to a whole process of restructuring within the army, with emphasis on the education of army officers – including sending them to foreign universities. The 1971 experience also shifted the military’s politicization within a more ideologically motivated framework which extended beyond the military’s traditional focus on the national interest and its own corporate identity. Akmal Hussain points out that after 1971, the officer corps was exposed to indoctrination by the Jamaat-e-Islami, the party of the religious right, and the left wing of the PPP.22 Not only were a growing number of officers products of the indigenous educational system, where they had been exposed to systematic political indoctrination – especially by the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), which dominated most campuses – in addition, the JI had over the years made a concerted effort to penetrate the officer corps with its own cadres. A number of young officers were also influenced by Bhutto’s socialist rhetoric and saw in him the ‘harbinger of a strong new Pakistan.’ With the prevalence of politicization, by both right and left, the army lost its neutrality, and thereby, its ability to act independently of any particular political group. Thus, when General Zia’s coup took place, it did not create a veneer of ideological neutrality. Instead, General Zia drew on the Islamic ideology theme used by the PNA movement against Bhutto, and concentrated on winning over those social groups which had formed the main opposition to Bhutto – the small shopkeepers and petty merchants of the lower middle classes, as well as the industrialists and big businesses affected by Bhutto’s nationalization. He also utilized the biradri (kinship) system; so, unlike under previous Martial Laws, the military regime’s efforts to maintain itself in power extended beyond structures of state power into the dynamics of social relations within civil society. This meant that the cleavages within Pakistan’s civil society were accentuated by the Zia regime, as it attempted deliberately to win the support of segments of civil society rather than civil society as a whole. Initially, the coup had been justified by the claim that Pakistan had been on the verge of a civil war. But when that failed to convince people and their weariness with military rule became apparent, General Zia began to feel the need to legitimise his rule. He, therefore, talked in terms of holding the 1973 Constitution in abeyance rather than abrogating it, and claimed to be working towards creating structures for an Islamic state and society within Pakistan. Yet, by allying with particular segments within civil society, the efforts
of the Zia regime to legitimise its rule tended towards further polarization within Pakistan’s civil society. Zia’s efforts at Islamisation came to be linked to the precepts of a particular brand of Islam (that of the Jamaat-e-Islami) and led to sectarianism, with religion becoming enmeshed within political controversies. Most efforts at Islamisation were aimed at women, with a series of discriminatory ordinances being promulgated. For example, there were the Hadood Ordinances (1979) which made adultery indistinguishable from rape, and the proposed Qisas and Diyat Ordinances through which ‘blood money’ for a woman was half that of a man. The Law of Evidence (1984) also led to the evidence of a woman witness being equivalent to only half that of a man. While these aroused the opposition of some women, protests were initially largely confined to the Western-educated urban elite. It was Zia’s efforts to islamise the economy that divided society along sectarian lines, with the Shias vociferously protesting against Zia’s attempt to impose ushr (agricultural tax) and Zakat (alms tax). Although Zia exempted Shias from these two taxes, for the first time in Pakistan the population had to identify itself officially along sectarian lines. From this point, all the regime’s efforts at Islamisation were seen as pushing the interests of a particular sect. This gradually created the sectarian problems that have beset the Pakistani polity since. Meanwhile, in the face of political opposition to military rule and in order to forestall any mass mobilization in support of the deposed leadership, the military overtly and deliberately used psychological warfare against civil society by generating fear. While the international community tended to associate Zia’s public floggings and hangings with the process of imposing his interpretation of Islamisation on the country, these measures were in fact announced before his Islamisation programme had commenced. A few days after the coup, on 10 July 1977, military courts with absolute power were set up, and martial law regulations were enforced which instituted public floggings and hangings. According to Norman, ‘the conscious use of terror as an instrument of domestic policy was implemented through the uninterrupted use of Martial Law between 1977-1985.’ The hanging of deposed Prime Minister Bhutto in April 1979 symbolized the violence and terror the military was ready to use to maintain itself in power. The hanging of Bhutto, of course, further widened the schism between the military regime and the people, especially in rural Sindh – Bhutto’s home province. Bhutto’s hanging not only fuelled the Sindhi/non-Sindhi conflict, but also created overt hostility between the military and the Sindhi population. The latter saw the military increasingly as a ‘Punjabi’ force acting against the interests of Sindh, and the power of the central government became identified with a particular ethnic group. The policies of General Zia’s regime had led to the PPP becoming the symbol of Sindhi ethno-nationalism. According to one report, the ruthless suppression of Sindhis in general, and the PPP workers in particular, served to fuse nationalist and pro-PPP sentiments. In order to undermine political support for the PPP in Sindh, the Zia regime had seemed to encourage the Muhajirs to come together under one political platform; the first formal
assertion of Muhajir identity had been the creation of the All Pakistan Muhajirs Students Organization in 1978. However, the PPP continued to be the single largest political party at the national level; and the 1979 local body elections, although held on a non-party basis, saw the election primarily of candidates affiliated with the PPP. This continuing support for the PPP led General Zia to impose a ban upon political parties, which in turn meant further polarization between the military and the populace. It was an external factor that gave the Zia regime a new lease of life by allowing the regime to become acceptable within the international community, despite its dictatorial nature and its insistence on hanging Bhutto in the face of concerted pleas worldwide. The Afghan crisis, especially the entry of Soviet troops into Afghanistan in December 1979, made Zia’s Pakistan a front-line state in the struggle against this Soviet intervention, and a major recipient of US economic and military assistance. After a gap of over a decade, the Pakistan military was able to support an ambitious modernization programme involving the introduction of some of the latest weapon systems into the forces and the acquisition of advanced military technology. This led to a situation where the professionalism of the Pakistan Army developed alongside its increasingly partisan politicization. The Afghan crisis also altered the ethnic dynamics in both NWFP and Balochistan. In the case of the former, the large number of refugees (3.5 million) further weakened Pushtun nationalist aspirations; while, in the case of the latter the influx of refugees threatened to alter the demographic composition of the province with Pushtun refugees threatening to push the Balochs into a minority in their own province. Also, the Baloch political exiles based in Afghanistan lost their impact back in Pakistan – with the beginnings of the antiSoviet military struggle from bases in Pakistan. Nevertheless, with political parties banned and all venues for protest through legal means closed, polarization within society intensified. Cleavages and conflicts within civil society, which had already shown a violent trend under Bhutto’s increasing use of the coercive elements of the state, grew worse under military rule. The ban on political parties led to an increasing focus on seeking identity through group membership based upon ethnicity, sectarianism and the traditional biradri (kinship) system. This further bolstered the prevalent conflict within society, as polarization developed vertically. In Sindh, with ethnic and sub regional conflicts becoming more violent, the tradition of private armies was revived. The Hur and Sarwari Jamaats (that is, the armed forces comprising the disciples of the Pirs, that is feudal-cum-spiritual leaders, of Pagara and Hala respectively) had been in existence for a long time. By the late 1970s, other tribal chiefs followed the Pirs’ example and created their own forces – among them were the Magsis, the Unars and the Daharis from Nawabshah. General Zia’s efforts at co-opting some political factions met with only limited success. While individual feudal and business elites were co-opted into his nominated Majlis-iShoora (Assembly), the mainstream political parties formally remained on the outside. In 1983, all the major political parties of the country came together to launch a collective
Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD). Strongest in Sindh, it helped transform the politics of the province when a new militant force, the Mohajir Qaumi Mahaz (MQM), appeared which threatened the feudal component of the MRD as much as the government. The defection of several notable Sindhi feudal politicians to the side of the military regime is attributed to this growing militancy within the Sindh MRD during the 1983-85 period. At the same time, these defections, coupled with the ineffectiveness of the political parties in channeling frustration and disaffection, ultimately led to the creation in Sindh of armed gangs – many of whom went on to join the hordes of dacoits or robber bands. This led to a strange coalescing of forces where armed political workers linked up with common criminals; it allowed the army to carry out action in rural Sindh, ostensibly against dacoits but in fact resulting in the widespread terrorization of the rural population. In rural Sindh, 1984 saw the start of a sharp deterioration of the law and order situation; in addition to killings, there were, between 1984 and 1986, reports of destruction of property and crops – all at the hands of the government. Dacoity and politics fed ethnic polarization, and in March 1984 the MQM came into being. Growing out of the All Pakistan Mohajir Students Organisation (APMSO), the MQM was organized along the lines of a fascist party with armed cadres. Amongst the demands of the MQM were recognition as a fifth nationality – Mohajir alongside the Baloch, Sindhi, Pushtun and Punjabi – and allotment of a 20% quota at the Federal Government level and 50-60% in Sindh. The MQM arrived on the provincial political scene in Sindh at a time when ethnic tensions were extremely volatile. The MQM aggravated this volatility, leading to the start of regular, organized street violence in the urban areas of Sindh. The first evidence of this came in Karachi in 1985 when a young girl was run over by a Pushtun bus driver and a clash occurred between the Pushtuns and the Muhajirs. In addition to Karachi, other Sindh urban centers like Hyderabad also faced a breakdown in law and order. Between 1985 and 1990 Hyderabad was under curfew 13 times in the aftermath of violent incidents. For the military, the MQM provided a counter to MRD power in Sindh. The situation in Sindh became more violent as the military regime increased its repressive measures to undermine the MRD’s militancy in the province. People were killed, and many villages were destroyed in rural Sindh. At the same time, General Zia finally managed to co-opt some of the traditional political elite into the system, by successfully holding non-party elections for national and provincial legislatures in 1985. Following the elections, a Sindhi prime minister, Junejo, was nominated and the truncated 1973 Constitution restored, with the new amendments having altered the balance in favor of the President – an office occupied by General Zia. By 1986, the MRD movement seemed to be petering out, and this led to other changes in Sindh’s politics. There was a realignment of political forces as the Sindhi-Baloch-Pushtun Front (SBPF) and other militant nationalist organizations began to be heard among the masses in Sindh.
After 1977, the increasing militarisation of civil society in Sindh developed along the lines of ethnic and sub regional conflictual frameworks. The drug trade, dacoity, kidnapping and political killings became intertwined, fusing into the ethnic and subregional divides, while readily available weapons increased the spectrum of violence. In such a situation, any efforts to maintain law and order became prone to suspicion and retaliation. For instance, the Sohrab Goth ‘clean-up’ in 1987 in Karachi, which involved the local administration in bulldozing a Pushtun settlement on suspicion of its being a drug and arms den, led to a series of ethnic massacres and further polarized the ethnic ‘battle lines’. While Sindh reflected the most extreme case of militarisation within Pakistan, the other provinces also saw a growing violence pervade their civil societies. Both Balochistan and the NWFP saw levels of violence increase in their societies, directly as a result of the Afghan crisis and the influx of refugees. With Pakistan a front-line state in the fight against the Kabul regime, and a conduit for arms to the Mujahidden, the repercussions of the guerrilla warfare became felt in the country, especially in the Frontier Province with an increasing number of bombings and acts of sabotage, as well as violent clashes between rival groups of Afghans. In addition, conflicts between local population and Afghan refugees became violent, as the parties involved were armed. The linkage between the Mujahidden groups and right-wing religious parties within Pakistan made the whole Afghan issue part of the domestic political conflicts raging in the country – especially since General Zia had linked up an essentially political issue with religious obligation and a messianic zeal. The Zia period saw not only the emergence of an increasing number of politico-religious parties into the mainstream of the polity, but also the growing tendency for these parties to use violence against each other – leading to the murder of politico-religious leaders on all sides of the sectarian divide and the subsequent intensification of violent conflict amongst their loyalists. In May 1988, General Zia’s experiment with limited democracy came to an abrupt halt when he dissolved the National and Provincial Assemblies. Following the dissolution of the Assemblies, the political environment altered rapidly in Pakistan after General Zia and several of the military elite were killed in an air crash in August 1988. The psychological trauma of this act of sabotage against the ruling elite itself led the military to agree to the holding of General Elections on a party basis, in which the PPP emerged as the single largest party. 1988-1999 The years of Zia’s political machinations had had their effect, and although the PPP emerged as the single largest party in the 1988 elections, it failed to gain an overall majority in the national legislature. Benazir Bhutto’s prime ministership was, therefore,
the result of a compromise with the existing structures of power, with the division of powers tilted heavily in favour of the President. Meanwhile, the military would gradually withdraw from overt involvement in politics. Even with the restoration of a civilian democratic government, the ethnic and sectarian conflicts continued as violently as before. Even in Sindh, where the provincial government was in the hands of the PPP, kidnapping, dacoity and political violence seemed on the increase, with the PPP unable to end the polarizations within society. However, since the end of the Zia era, while the political situation remained unstable in terms of the staying power of the elected governments, overall, the ethnic factor declined as a major force in electoral politics – although in Sindh the intra-provincial polarization between the Sindhis and Muhajirs prevailed for some time, especially given the conflict between the MQM and the PPP. In the course of the four elections held in Pakistan since 1988, political coalitions have been built across ethnic lines and the national parties have made inroads into the provinces. (See Appendix I) For instance, after the 1997 elections, the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) chose to form a coalition government with a number of ethnic parties – although it could have ‘gone it alone’. Instead, it formed the coalition with the Awami National Party (ANP), the Balochistan National Party (BNP), Jamhoori Watan Party and the MQM – which moved on from its ethnic identity in an effort to have a national spread and called itself the Mutahida Qaumi Movement (United National Movement) instead of the Muhajir Qaumi Movement. The ANP, which had at times advocated Pushtun secession now became a coalition partner of the PML around 1989 and the two worked closely together not only on national issues, but also on Afghanistan. They fell apart in 1997 over the Kalabagh Dam issue and the renaming of the NWFP as ‘Pukhtunkhwa’. But the politics of the ANP were not dominated by isolationist ethnic agendas anymore. In any event, the Pushtuns have become integrated into the national mainstream through economic factors also, with their spread into Sindh in search of employment. They now form 4% of Sindh’s population. In addition, a growth in economic power has also come about with the migration of labor from the NWFP to the Gulf region and the ensuing remittance flows. Since the 80s, a strong middle and upper class of industrialists and bureaucrats in the NWFP has shifted the Pushtuns away from ethnic to more nationalist and religious politics. The Baloch leaders, who had taken up arms against the Z. A. Bhutto regime, were also brought back into the mainstream after the death of General Zia. While the Baloch political parties remain fragmented, the mainstream national parties have increased their support in the Province. The old alignment between the Balochs and Pushtuns also ended as a result of the influx of Afghan refugees into Balochistan. Although conflicts remain with the center over the distribution of resources, including water, these issues are not framed in ethno-national terms anymore. In Sindh, since 1988, the ethnic polarization within the province continues – partly as a result of the mainstream nationalist party, the PPP, continuing to stress its ‘Sindhi-ness’ in
the Province. Sindh has seen the most ethnic violence post-1988 – but most of this has been confined to the urban centers – especially Karachi. This is ironic because Karachi represents all the ethnic groupings of Pakistan – with a strong presence of Punjabis and Pushtuns as well as the Muhajirs and Sindhis. However, the PPP has taken away the support of the Sindhi ethno-nationalist parties. The MQM, still seen as representing the Muhajirs, continued to dominate elections in the urban areas of Sindh. Ironically, it was the Muhajirs who, in the early years of Pakistan’s political development, sought a strong centralized state and supported mainstream religious and secular parties that advocated centralization and Islam. Now they want to be recognized as the fifth nationality within Pakistan. What brought about the change? Partly, the change has evolved in the face of the assertion of Sindhi ethnicity and the institution of the quota system based on a divide between urban and rural Sindh. Despite splits within the MQM, the party continued to command the support of the majority of the Muhajir community. 1999-October 2002 The Musharraf coup, unlike earlier coups, did not result in a resurgence of ethnonationalism. Nor was the dismissal of the Sharif government seen in terms of ethnic victimization. Overall, the lines of political confrontation are now drawn along democracy versus military rule. The last elections – held in October 2002 – have shown the further erosion of the ethnic parties across-the-board. Even the MQM has seen a decline in its hold over the Sindh Mohajir electorate. In contrast, the trend signifying inroads by mainstream political parties continues. A new dimension has been added and that is the religious factor. Unlike in the early years when religion acted as a divisive factor (especially in the context of Bengali ethnonationalism), there has been a growing revival of populist Islam, which has resulted in the success of the religious parties’ alliance – the MMA. The implications of the October elections can be summarized thus:
The phenomenon of the MMA’s success, to a large extent, is also the reflection of the deep resentment prevailing in Pakistan against the Bush Administration in particular and against a perceived Western belligerency seen as anti-Muslim and Islam in general. For the first time, as far as this scribe can remember, foreign policy has been a major factor in influencing domestic electoral results. For those who have insisted on ascribing anti-US sentiment and a commitment to the Kashmiri struggle solely to a ‘religious’ minority should now reconsider their incorrect assumptions. Not only did the MMA sweep the polls in the two socially conservative provinces of NWFP and Balochistan, it also gained seats in many of the urban centers, including the capital. It was the feudal-dominated areas of southern Punjab and Sindh where the MMA failed to make any headway at all. However, there is also the factor of a revival of populist Islam within Muslim civil societies including that of Pakistan. Even the so-called Westernized elite have not been immune to what is generally referred to as the ‘al-Huda’ factor. With the
religious parties’ also coming together for the first time – most were previously not even prepared to pray together – there should have been some anticipation of the results that came about on October 10. Another factor that also undoubtedly contributed to the success of the MMA was the resentment of the general public towards what is being seen as the alienation of the Westernized elite from the mainstream of the polity and the continuing elitist structures of power that are being preserved. The MMA success has brought with it many ordinary, educated citizens into the assemblies and this will be equally reflected in their women-seat representatives. Also, for those who wanted to reject the Establishment, but were also disgruntled with the PPP and PML (all factions!), the MMA was the way to send a drastic signal. Imran Khan of the Tehrik-i-Insaaf, who spoke the same language on so many of the critical issues, once again failed to capitalize on this group. Now that the MMA has come into the political mainstream, it will have to play by the rules and laws of the land. Of course, in turn, their views will have direct bearing on future legislation and policy formulation. After all, their success, especially in the NWFP and Balochistan will help shape the character of the Senate as well. A new debate is bound to arise between the various social and political groups within the country, including women, and this will shape the future social and political relations of this country. Moving beyond the MMA, the elections have also revealed the fact that the PPP is perhaps the only party, which has a national resilience and a solid base within Pakistani society. It is a party that has withstood the disaster of ‘factorization’. However, it is equally clear that this base is not solely reliant on Ms. Bhutto, and it is this fact that needs to be accepted and built upon by the party leaders. After all, the PPP, over the years, has come to represent certain socio-political values. In any case, there are leaders like Aitzaz Ahsan and Amin Fahim (of the PPP) who have won on their own merit, rather than simply on a Bhutto wave. If it was just an issue of a Bhutto wave then other stalwarts of the Party would have fared equally well. So, it is time that the PPP members accept that the PPP can be a substantive party even without a Bhutto heading it – that it is now more than simply a dynastic phenomenon. And, if the PPP comes within the corridors of power, its elected leaders should be able to develop enough confidence to lead on their own. This will also help strengthen their political base even further and perhaps help bring about a culture of issue-oriented politics. Unlike the PPP, the Muslim League has always failed to develop its own, distinguishable identity and has broken up into opportunistic factions at crucial junctures. This time was no different. With the break up of the main PML into PML-N and PML-Q, the Sharif vote bank failed to stay the course. It would not be surprising to see the PML-N dissipate even further as post-electoral politics pursues its course. The other interesting development has been the near-demise of the ethnonationalist parties in all the provinces. Even the MQM has failed to live up to its earlier electoral performances.
So, what does all this hold for the future? Some trends can be predicted. To begin with, there is the question of whether the MMA will retain its coalition and avoid splits. So far, it has sustained its unity – despite intra-coalition differences that are known to exist. However, while the MMA has disassociated itself from religious obscurantism, it has created new social cleavages in the NWFP where it has formed the government, by trying to bring in Shariah and impose so-called Islamic values. This policy has unleashed a freefor-all in which the citizens of the province are being harassed by private gangs. Nor has the MMA managed to stabilize the law and order situation so far. Again, while ethno-nationalism has stopped being a fissiparous tendency in the body politic of Pakistan, there is a new danger that needs to be recognized and averted. This is the threat of two provinces with an MMA domination going in a direction totally different from the rest of the country – given that the MMA has hardly secured any substantive representation in the Sindh and Punjab Assemblies. The MMA’s so-called Islamic agenda will certainly aggravate this trend. There is a critical need, therefore, to evolve a national political consensus at the center, even as the provinces are allowed their autonomy. After all, one should recall the disastrous impact of the intolerant Bhutto approach towards the non-PPP NWFP and Balochistan governments formed after the 1970 elections. The impact of the MMA upon the rights of women is an issue, which is already creating fear and foreboding, but women have fought for their rights under all manner of adverse conditions and will not allow any political force to undermine these rights. All in all, it is clear that in the period following the 1988 elections, Pakistan’s political forces have moved on from provincial and ethnic agendas to a broader national perspective and the issues of contention reflect mainstream struggles for power and influence. The forces of ethnicity are losing their relevance in the face of new sets of problems and priorities of civil society in Pakistan. Specifying all the issues we can view the relations between the different provinces with the Punjab. First we will analyze the situation and causes of the separation of the East Pakistan.
Seperation of East Pakistan As a result of the wrong policies of the West Pakistan dominated governments, the bengalies started to feel that they are second class citizens. Within two decades they were given the impression that they were being alienated in every way. In 1971 india took the advantage of the weak position and dismembered Pakistan from its one wing. Deeply viewing the situation we will find that it was not a military defeat bay any means. It were wrong policies, economic desparity and the political alianation of the east pakistan which led to chaos.
Some of the blunders that were made by the leaders of the west wing were their non flexible attitude towards the national language. They were not ready to talk on the issue of Urdu as a national language. The Bangla culture and language were entirely different from that of the the West Pakistan. Later on the moving of the capital to Islamabad during the military regimn of General Ayub Khan was seen as a plan of maintaining Punjab influence on the rest of Pakistan. These types of moves by the government were highly unpopular especially among the Bengalies that led to the extreme consequences later on. Moreover the economic desparity played a pivital role in the dismenberment of Pakistan. The dismemberment of Pakistan and the emergence of Bangladesh in 1971 reinforced the aspirations of many ethnic movements in Pakistan. It was followed by the pakhtoons and the Balochi nationalist assertion in the 1980s and muhajir movement in the 1990s.
Punjab and Sindh The relationship of Punjabis and Sindhies has never been ideal. Actually since the partition the problems of zakat distribution, ushr and its distribution, water distribution and deprivation from the resources that resulted in the increasing the poverty, ignorance and technological backwardness. They believed that Sindh is generating the maximum zakat and when it is distributed on the basis of population Punjab gets the most. Being the highest producer of agricultural products Punjab collects the most of Ushr, but for its distribution the parameter has changed to benefit Punjab, i.e. the criteria now is changed from population to place from where it is collected. So the Ushr that is collected in Punjab remains in it. According to a survey in 1980, 23% were living below the poverty line, which increased to 35% recently. In Punjab the case is reverse. Once fertile land of Sindh is growing barren each and every day, for more than 50 years the problem of water lodging has not been solved. The Sindhies strictly believe that the projects of Thal canal and the Kalabagh dam will further serve the interests of the Punjabis and will barren the lands of Sindh further due to the diversion of the water to other areas and not to Sindh. Sindh is the first province to point KBD project a blame game, is the lower riparian and strongest opponent of KBD. But its case mainly against Punjab is more on a conceptual basis of what Sindh thought to be "theft of water by Punjab" rather than locating an actual incident of theft. Sindh supports its argument by stating that by virtue of its name and history of water rights of the province, Indus River belongs exclusively to Sindh. Therefore, claiming the construction of dams, Tarbela and Mangla and now KBD actions
of theft of water at the irrigation cost of Sindh. Further, Sindh presents many objections against the proposed dam, some of these objections are as follows:
Sindh objects that their share of the Indus water will be curtailed as water from the Kalabagh will go to irrigate farmlands in Punjab and NWFP, at their cost. Sindhis hold that their rights as the lower riparian have precedence according to international water distribution law. The coastal regions of Sindh require a constant flow of water down the Indus into the Arabian Sea so that the flowing water can keep the seawater from intruding inland. Such seawater intrusion would literally turn vast areas of Sindh's coast into an arid saline desert, and destroy Sindh's coastal mangroves. With the construction of dams, such as Mangla Dam and Tarbela Dam across the Indus, Sindhis have seen the once-mighty Indus turned into a shadow of its former glory downstream of the Kotri Barrage up to Hyderabad. They fear that there simply is not enough water for another large dam across the Indus, let alone three. The Kalabagh site is located in a highly seismic zone near an active fault, and the underlying rocks are likely to contain numerous fractures, causing the reservoir water to seep through the catacomb of fractures and discharge at the lowest point around the reservoir and the Indus river. Damming the Indus has already caused a number of environmental problems that have not yet addressed. Silt deposited in the proposed Kalabagh dam would further curtail the water storage capacity of Manchar Lake and other lakes and of wetlands like Haleji Lake. President General Musharraf and other leaders, such as Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, have promised 'iron-clad' constitutional guarantees to ensure that Sindh gets its fair share of water. However, these assurances mean little to most Sindhis, who claim that even the earlier 1991 Indus Water-Sharing Accord, which is a document already guaranteed by the constitutional body, the Council of Common Interests, has been violated, and that Punjab has "stolen" their water.
The objection to Kalabagh in Sindh is widespread. Even political parties of Sindh that are in the central cabinet and are supported by General Musharraf, such as the MQM, have strongly denounced the dam. Rural Sindhi were equally dissatisfied. Deep resentment of Muhajirs was accompanied by similar animosities toward Punjabis, who dominated a civil and military bureaucracy stationed in the interior of Sindh and owned vast tracts of land within the province. Sindhi under representation within commerce and industry magnified these resentments. By the early 1980s, the long absence of nationally based political parties had reinforced organization of loyalties along narrow ethnic lines. In rural areas, rising Sindhi
nationalism led to clashes between Sindhi guerrilla bands and Punjabi troops. Ruralurban migration continued unabated, taxing the absorptive capacities of cities and heightening competition among diverse groups for limited urban resources. Muhajirs slowly and steadily in the 1980s and 1990s gained a lot of power and demanded recognition as the fifth nationality of Pakistan, a fairer allocation of provincial resources, and greater representation in elected bodies, federal and provincial services, and the police force. Yet official efforts to address these problems have been inadequate, because of chronic institutional weakness at both the provincial and the national levels and a lack of support for the Mujahir cause within political elites. In addition, efforts to meet Muhajirs demands would compromise powerful vested interests, especially in rural Sindh.
Punjab and Balochistan
The Balochies are also not positive about the role of Punjab. They believe that the centre that is Punjab dominated is utilizing all of their natural resources without giving proper royalty to the Balochies. On the other hand the military operation to assasinate their tribal leader Bugti on the sui gas issue has created a lot of distance and the believe that the centre will do anything to acquire the resources of the Baloch has strengthened. That is why the regional parties have openly now started demanding their rights. Infrastructure outside of Quetta is still in development as is the province as a whole. Balochistan remains and will remain underdeveloped till the colonial and exploitation policies of Punjab and Islamabdand. Islamabad military rulers dominated by Punjabis want to keep Balochistan backward and use it for stratgic benifts (Nuclear+Missile Tests and Talibanization). Today there are several multi-million dollar Islamabad and Beijing controlled mega exploitation projects started in Balauchistan aim to extract illegaly the natural wealth of region. The Gwadar deep sea port Located at the entrance of the Gulf and about 460 kms from Karachi, Gwadar has had immense Geostrategic significance on many accounts.This port will facilitate as hub of the energy and trade corridor to China and the Central Asian repuplics . Gwadar’s strategic value stems from its geographical proximity to the Strait of Hormuz, and is situated 470 km away from Karachi. It has military and economic significance . The Balochis consider it as the Chinese outpost in
the Arabian sea. In March 2002, the Chinese Vice Prime Minister Wu Bangguo laid the foundation for Gwadar port without taking people of Balochistan into consultation.
There is a huge China’s involvement in the project. The total cost of the project is estimated at more than US$2 billion. China has invested in building a highway connecting Gwadar port with Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, and the other port on the Arabian Sea. China is also mining Copper and Gold in Saindak which is the World fifth largest copper-gold project. The people of balochistan have been deprived from socioeconomic benifit of both Gwadar and Saindak project. Mirani Dam another major project being built in Balauchistan to provide water to the future city of Gwadar, where pakistan military with help of Beijing wants to settle more then 12 million Punjabi and Mohajir ethnic groups to out number the local Baloch population. The Mirani Dam multipurpose project, is located on the River Dasht which is about 30 miles west of Turbat in the Mekran Division of Balauchistan. The Baloch are not directly affected by the Kalabagh dam as such. Rather, most nationalist Baloch Sardars see the dam as another instance of Punjab lording it over the smaller provinces. By opposing the dam they are signalling their disaffection with being the poorest province and most neglegted of all in development.In contrast punjabis also believe that in reality Balochistan can only get more water and its due share after the construction of Kalabagh dam and Kachhi canal.
Punjab and N.W.F.P Same is the situation of Punjab with the N.W.F.P. The major issues regarding the N.W.F.P. are the poverty, lack of development, infrastructure and the lack of education. They believe that the center is deliberately keeping them under developed to maintain the dominance of Punjab on them. The military operation that was conducted recently had an extremely adverse effect on the economy, politics and social life of the people. The tourism in some parts of the province especially near Swat has almost come to an end. The people believe that the Punjab dominated government lets the problems to increase (have no check and balance) and when the situation is almost out of control they use military and power to handle such problems. Another major problem is that the frontier people have chosen their representatives, and it should be of no business of the center or the Punjab to dislodge the elected representatives of the NWFP. The drama against the NWFP legislators on the issue of degrees is nothing but an act of suppression. The NWFP has two main objections to the dam of Kalabagh.
While the reservoir will be in the NWFP, the dam's electricity-generating turbines will be just across the provincial border in Punjab. Therefore, Punjab would get royalties from the central government in Islamabad for generating electricity. Contrary to this, however, Punjab has agreed not to accept any royalties from the Kalabagh Dam. The fact that the NWFP will suffer the adverse consequences of the reservoir but not get royalties is seen as unfair. Concerns that large areas of Nowshera district would be submerged by the dam and even wider areas would suffer from waterlogging and salinity as has occurred with the Tarbela Dam.
Possible Consequences of the Conflicts
The consequences of these conflicts can be very severe. Some of the apparent results are as follows. • These issues can lead to severe hatred among the people of the provinces and other non-important issues might also be highlighted due to the differences created by the major issues. The operation in Swat can raise the situation of a civil war at a larger scale or at different locations in the country if the situation gets worse. These grievances as they have recently increased the pace of terrorist attacks can further increase them. This can also result in the disintegration of the country, as was the case with the East Pakistan in 1971. The economic issues are also very related with the law and order situation and peace and prosperity of the country. So these issues can significantly cause economic problems for the country.
• • • •
Ways of addressing Conflicts
Five basic ways of addressing conflict were identified by Thomas and Kilman in 1976:
Avoidance – avoid or postpone conflict by ignoring it, changing the subject, etc. Avoidance can be useful as a temporary measure to buy time or as an expedient means of dealing with very minor, non-recurring conflicts. In more severe cases, conflict avoidance can involve severing a relationship or leaving a group.
Collaboration – work together to find a mutually beneficial solution. While the Thomas Kilman grid views collaboration as the only win-win solution to conflict, collaboration can also be time-intensive and inappropriate when there is not enough trust, respect or communication among participants for collaboration to occur. Compromise – find a middle ground in which each party is partially satisfied. Competition – assert one's viewpoint at the potential expense of another. It can be useful when achieving one's objectives outweighs one's concern for the relationship. Accommodation – surrender one's own needs and wishes to accommodate the other party.
Possible Solutions for Pakistan
Regarding Pakistan we have devised some of the special suggestions keeping in mind all the variables described in the report above. • There should be proper distribution of the resources among the provinces. A criteria should be developed that is acceptable for all the provinces whether it be population or the area covered • • • • • • • • Especially the criteria should be revised for the water distribution and proper canals and water distribution should be provided to all the provinces. The three pillars of the state i.e. judiciary, legislature and the executives should work within the boundaries explained by the constitution. The role of the army should only be to protect the boundaries of the country; they should not interfere in the political process. The judiciary should be powerful enough to challenge the bureaucrats and the high officials. The provincial autonomy should be provided to all the provinces to decide and provide the solution to their problems. Both the military and the civil bureaucracy should be the representative of all the provinces. There should be a proper check and balance system for the bureaucracy. As it is clear that the major problem is at the distribution of resources so the government should be responsible for the basic necessities of the people.
The print and the electronic media must emphasis on the unity, patriotism and the nationalism. The NGOs must put all of their efforts to minimize the differences and enhance cooperation between different ethnic groups.
The intermarriages between the different communities and ethnic groups should be encouraged to minimize the gap. The status of Pakistan should be changed from federation to confederation.
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