Pakistan’s successive layers of instability are wrapped like a moon around the notion of a separate homeland for the Muslim minority of the sub-continent; it is an unwanted espousal of many rings difficult to dispense.  At different points of history, whenever a national leader tried to break away from the rules of marriage, they were discarded in brutal fashion. The best-men of the wedding night have since grown powerful to ensure that the relationship endures. This genetic deformation like a kite flying sharp twine keeps cutting through the politic body of Pakistan. The vulnerability increases perceptions of vulnerability promoting dependence and ultimately barters stability. The cycle is repetitive.  

To summarise Part I, the first layer comprises the international geopolitical interest, the second the religious right, third the establishment comprising bureaucracy and army, the fourth, political parties linked to the first three, fifth economic experts, the sixth, a small but well supported group of civil society activists and most recently the media. None reflects the aspirations of people. Since independence these cycles have kept Pakistan hostage in scenarios juxtaposed between religion and threats.

To understand the first layer, it is important to recap some of the events from 1946 to 1947.

As a prelude to the Cabinet Mission Plan and even later, there was considerable debate and discussion in the security and political circles of Great Britain about partitioning India. The opinions on Pakistan and its inclusion in the British Commonwealth were divided. Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali wanted Pakistan to be part of the Commonwealth that would help it economically to become a strong state. The pre-partition bickers that Pakistan will not survive against a stronger India created a cognitive construct that warranted alignment with big powers. Soon after partition and two successive losses of leadership, Pakistan fell into the trap.

Lieutenant General Sir Francis Tuker of Eastern Command (While Memory Serves) advocated the creation of a new North Western Muslim state that would be a British ally. He envisioned an orient Muslim strip from North Africa through West Asia and, Afghanistan to the Himalayas to check Russia towards India and West Asia. He felt that as a collective, a state with battle hardy soldiers would boost the crescent and be strong enough to check Russians. This plan of a pro West Muslim Crescent was congruent to the Anglo-US concept of containment of the Russians that reflected Nicholas John Spykman’s Rimland Theory of containing Eurasia. A futuristic Muslim Pakistan was seen as a potent containment weapon against communism. This plan had two implications: Keep Pakistan in a tied loop and provoke Islamic sentiments against godless communism. As time proved, both were put in place.

Though Field Marshal Sir Claude Auchinleck apposed this idea in a top secret report, partition was supported by Britain’s great like Air Marshal Lord Tedder, Admiral Sir John H.D. Cunningham, Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery, Lieutenant General Sir Leslie C. Hollis, Minister of Defence, A.V. Alexander, Chief of the Viceroy Staff, Lord Ismay, and Major General R.E. Laycock. The idea of Pakistan indeed had support from the British security establishment and it was they who would decide how the partition was to be executed. Amidst lot of furore and debates in British India and Great Britain, India was finally divided. But the plan that emerged in Radcliffe was identical to Wavell’s Boundary-Demarcation Plan of 7 February 1946.

Narendra Singh Sarila the ex ADC to Lord Mountbatten confirms this in his memoirs (In the Shadow of the Great Game: The Untold Story of India’s Partition) that, “In agreeing to Jinnah’s project, the British also managed to whittle down Jinnah’s territorial demands to the minimum required for Britain to safeguard its defence requirements. Plan for smaller Pakistan was not worked out by Mountbatten in 1947 as generally believed but by Lord Wavell in 1945”. The defence requirements mentioned by him was creation of a Muslim Crescent they could manipulate at will.

The manner of partition created permanent scars and rivalries between India and Pakistan. Consequently, Pakistan not only inherited the baggage of British Afghan Forward Policy but also found a permanent enemy to its East. The box thus created would keep Pakistan in a tied tight loop.

Great Britain was a declining power and USA on the rise. Negotiations and plans at Yalta and Bretton Woods were dominated by USA where the future geography of the world was discussed and decided. So once Pakistan was created, the focus of policy makers led by Ghulam Muhammad and Iskander Mirza (ex-British civil servants) led the way. Understanding the tight box, Pakistan began looking beyond UK to USA for its military and economic needs. By 1954, Pakistan had moved into the US camp and become member of Baghdad Pact (Later CENTO) and SEATO. Soon these two top civil servants turned politician lured military into politics. The policy led military reforms policy of Suhrawardy were taken over by General Ayub Khan who eventually made Pakistan’s armed forces an extension of US regional policies.

This created a nexus of military and bureaucracy known as the establishment that calls shots in Pakistan. Initially they were supported by Unionists turned Leaguers and Republicans and later by many leagues that emerged. In course of time each segment of this layer has fermented permanent external linkages.

Pakistan’s acquiescence in this policy is akin to hare hunting with the hounds and has resolved no issues. In every engagement, though it has done all the dirty work, it has been left stranded wherever its interests mattered. Yet every event sucks it deeper into the quagmire.

This dependence impacts negatively on Pakistan’s socio-economic environments. Pressures have moved beyond geo strategy to non-kinetic munitions.

US bases in Pakistan, the US led war against Soviet occupation in Afghanistan and the WOT are burdens that Pakistan carries due to its politics of acquiescence. Pakistan’s scars have only increased. Over time the best-men of the wedding I described have also become masters in their own ways. These are the Arab Kingdoms that Pakistan betrothed to sustain the crescent in someone else’s interests.

Despite three Iraqi and two Iranian crises, the Muslim Crescent also called the Southern Front remains an outpost of global interests.

To be continued………