This is probably the first time that an eminent Pakistani writer on politics and economy Mr Shahid Javed Burki, has questioned the validity of the Two-Nation Theory which formed the basis of the creation of a Muslim State - Pakistan, carved out of the Indian sub-continent to provide a safe haven for the Muslims of India wherein they could safeguard their endangered religious and cultural identity and have a life of dignity and self-respect away from the hatred and bigotry of Hindu India. Surprisingly, Mr Burki has debunked this theory after 61 years of Pakistan's existence. He writes in an English daily, "Jinnah's Two-Nation Theory is now 70 years old. It resulted in the partition of British India and the creation of two separate political entities. One of those split into two and what was once British India is now three separate states with their own histories and their own imperatives. Two of them - Bangladesh and Pakistan - are still searching for answers that would help them forge the meaning of nationhood. How should Pakistan define itself at this critical juncture in its history? "Notwithstanding the bloody campaign launched by some stateless groups, religion can't be the basis of Pakistan's nationhood. There are too many different interpretations of what can be called an Islamic State for Pakistan to risk its future on that concept. For the same reason, ethnicity can't be the defining concept. We have to be pragmatic: "we need to define the Pakistani identity and the Pakistani idea on the basis of geography rather than on the basis of culture and religion." This reminds me of a conversation I had in Washington DC with an American student of history way back in the sixties. He said, "Pakistanis are probably the first people in the world who have violated the definition of 'State' given by Plato, that the first imperative for the creation of a 'State' is a contiguous boundary." You have created a State with two parts - one in the Far East and the other in the Near East with over one thousand miles of hostile territory in between. Apart from religion and that too more of a slogan than the real religious spirit, nothing seems to be common between the people of the two Wings.  They have different languages, different cultures, different lifestyles and even different historical backgrounds. West Pakistan is Middle Eastern by temperament while East Pakistan is Far Eastern. The armed forces and the bulk of bureaucrats of the country are from West Pakistan, while the majority of the people live in East Pakistan. How on earth, do you think such a State can survive and if so, for how long?" I really had no answer to this question, but I told him that given the will and the determination and above all a genuinely sincere desire to live together and a confidence in its destiny, a nation can survive and overcome all odds and, may be, could prove Plato wrong. I said, "Look at your country. Heterogeneous ethnic groups of different religious beliefs and different languages, lifestyles and historical backgrounds converged on this vast in-hospitable land from all over the world. Who could have believed two hundred years ago that they would weld themselves into a great nation in such a short span of time? It was the wisdom of your Founding Fathers who granted full autonomy to all the federating units in their internal affairs and the dogged determination of your people which made it possible." There was nothing wrong with the Two-Nation Theory of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah which conceived a Muslim State on the basis of the majority of Muslims in to parts of India as a confederation like the United States. There has been a controversy on the wordings of the Lahore Resolution which some said has the word 'States' rather than 'State'. These wordings were mysteriously changed by some West Pakistan leader who wanted to rule over East Pakistan as their colony and not a State of equal status. A major factor of the separation of East Pakistan which not only alienated but infuriated the people of East Pakistan was their sense of deprivation in not getting their rightful share in the governance of the country and the nation's wealth. The Bengali leaders, who were selected by the presidents to serve as ministers in their cabinets with unimportant portfolios, did not represent the people of East Pakistan. In fact most of them were hated as stooges of the West Pakistan rulers. Likewise the army and the entire top level bureaucracy, who in fact ruled the country, came from West Pakistan and most of them governed East Pakistan as its colonial masters. Isn't it regrettable that during the entire 25 year history of united Pakistan only four Bengalis as against eight non-Bengalis headed the Pakistan government? One of them, Mr Ghulam Muhammad who was only a hired technocrat and had played no part in the Pakistan Movement, summarily dismissed the democratic government of Khawaja Nazimuddin unconstitutionally. This, in fact proved to be the first step towards derailing the process of democracy in Pakistan and putting East Pakistan on the back-burner. The last ditch effort to save united Pakistan was Shaikh Mujib's 'six points' which were meant to convert the State of Pakistan into a confederation, but these points were sabotaged by the West Pakistan rulers who did not want to give full autonomy to the Eastern Wing. The inevitable finally happened and the country disintegrated, and has not yet fully stabilised. Mr Burki says, "We need to define the Pakistani identity on the basis of geography rather than culture and religion." If we adopt this definition, Pakistan will lose its identity as a Muslim nation conceived by Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and will turn into a wasteland without any rationale for its survival. I may as well like to add that learning a lesson from the East Pakistan tragedy, we must give full autonomy to the remaining four provinces of Pakistan, if we wish to stop further disintegration of the country which is looming large on the horizon with full blown insurgency in Balochistan and ongoing War On Terror not only in FATA but also on the outskirts of Pakistan and in Swat. The writer is former director news, PTV E-mail: