Second opinion: The insidious logic of war
Khaled Ahmed’s Urdu Press Review
The damage the 1965 war did to Pakistan’s economy has been explained by economists, and the rift it created between East and West Pakistan has also been highlighted by later writers. The 1965 war brought down its ‘victor’ Ayub Khan and brought nearer the 1971 tragedy of Bangladesh. Today, national songs will be difficult to write
The Urdu press is anticipating war with India through its columnists, most of whom are writing pep pieces to ‘prepare’ the reading public for the task of standing up to a numerically superior enemy. There is also the tendency to close the door on all alternatives of war as that would mean that Pakistan is weak and wants to wriggle out of conflict. This makes the contradictory logic of the argument rather difficult to grasp. The truth that war begins when rationality evaporates has been accepted through the device of whipping up emotion during a phase when reason and logic should be the tools of persuasion. To emotionalise a situation, many facts have to be treated with an excessively broad brush.
Writing in ‘Jang’ (23 March 2002), Nazeer Naji said that the 1965 war with India was ideal because the entire Pakistani nation was united and stood at the back of their army. The rightness of the cause behind the war that was fought was a truth that people believed in. Pakistanis still sing the songs made during the 1965 war, which was imposed on Pakistan by India to remove Pakistan’s existence.
All wars before the advent of the global media coverage were ‘national’. Lack of information made it easy for the rulers to create a consensus that often took attention away from their governance. The damage the 1965 war did to Pakistan’s economy has been explained by economists, and the rift it created between East and West Pakistan has also been highlighted by later writers. The 1965 war brought down its ‘victor’ Ayub Khan and brought nearer the 1971 tragedy of Bangladesh. Today, national songs will be difficult to write. Even during the Afghan war, which legitimised a military regime in Pakistan, General Zia used to complain about lack of literary production supporting his war against the Soviet Union.
Writing in ‘Jang’ (23 May 2002), Rasheed Patel stated that America was trying to reduce Pakistan through an Indian threat because it wanted to hit out at its real enemy, China. To damage China it had to damage China’s closest ally, Pakistan. American military exercises in India were in fact a threat posed to China which is building the Gwader port which the Americans don’t want. America also didn’t want Israel to become weak and for that it had to destroy Pakistan because Pakistan offered assistance to its brother Muslim states in the Middle East. It was therefore using India to do two jobs at once: challenge China and strengthen Israel.
The linking of the present danger to an American conspiracy to dismantle China is a far-fetched device. It presumes that both India and Pakistan are stricken by some kind of mental palsy which prevents them from differentiating their own national interest from that of the United States. China is gradually normalising with India and has made great strides with its policy of not perpetuating its old conflicts. Its normalisation of relations with Russia and its rapidly growing trade relations with the United States ensure that it will continue to develop economically without the clouds of war looming over its borders. Pakistan is in no position to strengthen the Middle Eastern states militarily. The Middle Eastern petro-dollar goes to the United States and the European Union for the purchase of military hardware. The massive military build-up of Iraq and Saudi Arabia in recent times are examples. Pakistan in fact has depended on them for its military preparedness. The first batch of F-16s was bought with Saudi money.
Dr Miskeen Ali Hijazi writing in daily ‘Pakistan’ (May 23 2002) stated that America was busy intriguing to involve Pakistan in war with India so that it could then make Pakistan make concessions. Now America was insisting that India and Pakistan should talk rather than fight a war, but the talks too was a trap to make Pakistan come up with more concessions to India.
This is a clever device of faulting America on both counts: seducing Pakistan and India into war and asking them not to fight but talk. Pakistan’s own stance is that India should talk to it. Dr Hijazi thinks that talks will go against Pakistan. War too will go against both India and Pakistan. What then should Pakistan do?
According to Khabrain (22 May 2002) when the American ambassador Ms Wendy Chamberlain visited Jamiya-e-Naeemiya in Lahore, the chief of the seminary Sarfaraz Naeemi invited her and President Bush to embrace Islam. He said Islam had nothing to do with terrorism and was a religion of peace. He also presented her with a copy of the Holy Quran.
The Urdu press makes much of the Western man’s interest in Islam and respect for religions. The next step is to get him to embrace Islam. The logic is immaculate: if President Bush embraces Islam he will abominate Israel and hate Hindu India and Pakistan will win without making much effort.
According to ‘Nawa-e-Waqt’ (22 May 2002), Haji Abdul Qadeer of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) was suspended from service after he took 15 days’ leave and joined the jehad in Afghanistan. After he returned from jehad, he was put under inquiry, but he left for Afghanistan once again. When questioned, he said jehad was ordained by Islam and that he did not believe in national frontiers. He said he would go again for jehad and was not afraid of America and did not care if others were.
This phenomenon has served to undermine the status of Pakistan as a nation state through jehadi anarchism. It reinterprets the Islamic doctrine that jehad can only be declared by an Islamic government. The gentleman believes neither in the sovereignty of Pakistan nor in the international law based on the concept of sovereign frontiers.
Writing in ‘Nawa-e-Waqt’ (22 May 2002), S.H. Hashmi said that imposition of Urdu as a national and official language was a constitutional obligation. It was wrong to impose an ‘alien’ language like English on the country. Already the elite thinks in English and can hardly speak Urdu, which goes against the grain of Pakistani nationalism and affects unity, identity and national consensus. The lack of Urdu University has affected the national literacy scene too and the nation remains illiterate because most people don’t know English, and those who study it can’t pass exams easily because they don’t understand the subjects they read.
In India and Pakistan, the problem is with provincial consensus that does not exist. Pakistan can only enforce Urdu if the provinces agree, which they don’t. The real problem is that a language will be adopted if it empowers its users. English in a globalised world empowers those who learn it. Urdu empowers less and Punjabi even less than that. The provinces that refuse Urdu feel that it will empower a segment of the population unfairly. In India and Pakistan, the national language issue has come up against this obstacle.