Pakistan's Faultline

The so-called land of the pure, Pakistan, on its creation in 1947 had approximately 13 percent  minorities residing within an Islamic population of 76 million. In its unholy fervour to achieve  physical instead of the spiritual purity, the minorities were reduced to 2.5 percent even as the country’s population soared to 156 millions by the year 2000. In any society, it is the minorities that play the crucial role of moderation. Their existence is a safeguard against extreme tendencies. Pakistan lost the benefit of this natural societal instrument of balance early in its history. Once the minorities, more or less, were out of the way, Pakistan’s Punjabi Sunni population which not only constituted the majority but also controlled the instruments of power in the state, turned to – killing Shias, expelling Ahmadiyas from Islam, denying basic rights to the Balochis, depriving Sind of water resources, and suppressing populations in the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir including Northern Areas. Under the clouds of Talibanisation, this became further skewed when the women who constitute nearly half the population were denied education and practically incarcerated in their homes – thus further impairing the societal balance. Simultaneously, Pakistan Army and the ISI persisted with their destructive spree by exporting terrorism to India, SE Asia, Central Asia, EU and America – all in the name of religion! In the comity of nations, one can hardly find a parallel to this inherent self-destructive proclivity.


Pakistan’s Punjabi dominated army in search of the elusive purity and to perpetuate its hold on power structures encourages the majority Punjabi Sunni population in its misadventures. In pursuit of power, the bogey of threat from India was conjured. In schools children were indoctrinated to hate Indians. Therefore, the genesis of the Pakistan’s present Fault Line lies in the diabolically engineered mindset that has created multiple fault lines and which have now coalesced into one deep and divisive fault line running right across the length of the country, threatening its virtual vivisection into two halves.


The first major setback to Pakistan occurred 24 years after inception when it lost 55% of its population in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and almost half of its territory. Religion could not act as effective glue due to the insatiable avarice the Pakistan’s Punjabi Army displayed in its refusal to share legitimate power with the eastern wing. Islamabad conveniently blames New Delhi for this separation but a closer scrutiny of facts reveals otherwise. Between 1947 and 1970, whenever Pakistan chose to attack India, the strategically simple option available to India could have been to annex East Pakistan, which Islamabad was never in a position to defend effectively due to the vast geographical distances and consequently the enormous military logistics involved. Nevertheless, New Delhi absorbed Pakistan’s attacks and localised it to its Western front, never extending the war to the eastern theatre. With millions of refugees pouring into India in 1971, Islamabad made its position in East Pakistan untenable, and India was compelled to initiate positive action. Since occupation of territory was not the motive, Indian Army promptly withdrew after liberating Pakistan’s eastern wing from the miseries and atrocities being perpetrated by the western wing on its own people.


In 1950s, Hans J. Morgenthau, the then Director of Center for the Study of American Foreign Policy at University of Chicago, in his book The New Republic had observed, “Pakistan is not a nation and hardly a state. It has no justification, ethnic origin, language, civilisation or the consciousness of those who make up its population. They have no interest in common except one: fear of Hindu domination. It is to that fear and nothing else that Pakistan poses its existence and thus for survival as an independent state.” During the same period, another American scholar Keith Callard in his book Pakistan - a Political Study commented, “the force behind the establishment of Pakistan was largely the feeling of insecurity.”  Both these scholars missed out on some vital aspects that can be attributed to the “fear of Hindu domination” and “insecurity”. First, creation of Pakistan was an Anglo-Saxon mischief to protect their vested strategic interests. Second, the land bestowed to create Pakistan was separated amicably without war. Third, the Western powers, (and China that uses Pakistan as a proxy against India) fuelled these imagined fears that only created the effect of exacerbating latter’s psychological fault line. Therefore, explanations like “fear of Hindu domination” and “insecurity” and other excuses as justification are used as psywar tool to disguise Islamabad’s treachery against New Delhi since 1947. Indian political right does not indulge in ‘export of terrorism’ or ‘suicide bombers’ as an instrument of foreign policy!


After the break-up of Pakistan in 1971, West Pakistan should have emerged as a more cohesive unit - geographically, politically, economically and in orientation. However 33 years hence, nearly 55% of Pakistan’s area is witnessing vicious insurgencies, which if not controlled, could lead to further vivisection of the country. Most of the population in these areas i.e. Waziristan, Balochistan, NWFP, and Northern Areas (Gilgit and Baltistan) in POK has been historically difficult to control and administer. This notwithstanding, ever since Musharraf’s ascension to power, these areas have slipped from peripheral disquiet to intense insurgencies. Normal governance in these areas has collapsed and is being held only by military force. These multiple fault lines as explained subsequently, if not adequately addressed can lead to internal strife and break up of Pakistan.


WAZIRISTAN (Federally Administered Tribal Areas). The population of this area is 3,138,000 that are 2% of Pakistan’s total population.  Socio-economic development has been totally lagging in Waziristan. The literacy rate is 17% and only 10% population has access to sanitation. With an area of 27,220 sq km, it constitutes 3% of Pakistan’s total landmass. The area is inhabited by Wazirs (Pathan Tribe). The Taliban and Al-Qaeda has significant presence and influence in this area.  Post 9/11, after reported death of Namangani (Head of Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan), the second-in-command Yuldeshev crossed over with surviving members of IMU into South Waziristan, where he and his Uzbek and Chechen instructors set up training camp for Jihadi terrorists. The Jihadi and Kalishkinov culture in this area is a legacy of the region’s intense involvement in the war against Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 80’s. Post 9/11, consequent to jettisoning of Taliban by the Pakistan dispensation, the population in Waziristan has been subjected to ground and aerial attacks to flush-out Al-Qaeda and Taliban carders. There are 80,000 Pak Army personnel deployed in the 13 areas / agencies that make up Waziristan or FATA.  The area known for its fiercely independent tribes and Islamic terrorists vehemently resent presence of the Army and its coordinated operations with US troops based in Afghanistan. The enormity of the growing strife in Waziristan can be gauged from the casualty figures.  In 2005, 300 civilians and 250 troops were killed, and another 1400 were wounded; while up to March 2006, 121 civilians, 475 terrorists and 71 soldiers have been killed. Reportedly nearly 80% of pro-government tribal leaders have also been eliminated. The Pakistan government has also been using money to buy the allegiance of tribal leaders.  Recently, the corps commander Lt Gen Safdar Hussain has publicly admitted to having paid Rs.32 million (US $ 5,40,000) to some tribal leaders for severing their links with Al-Qaeda and Taliban.


BALOCHISTAN. The Balochistan province constitutes 44% (347,190 sq km) of Pakistan’s landmass and has a population of 6.5 million i.e. 4% of Pakistan’s population. Only 70% of Baloch are in Pakistan, the reminder being in Iran and Afghanistan. The Baloch are Hanafi Sunnis and a strong group of Zikri Baloch, having a population of about 7,00,000 inhabit the Makran area, who believe in the 15th century teachings of Madhi – an Islamic Messiah – Nur Pak, have their own prayers and do not fast during Ramzan. Baloch nationalism has been a factor in Pakistan since its existence. The Baloch, who in general had supported the overthrow of Bhutto by Zia-ul-Haq, are up in arms against the central authority under Musharraf. In addition to 1,00,000 Para-military forces, there are nearly 23,000 Pak Army personnel deployed to quell the growing insurgency in Balochistan under the leadership of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti (ex Provincial Governor). The Baloch have been demanding greater autonomy, more public sector jobs and higher share of revenues. The extremely inhospitable landmass of Balochistan, where subsistence is difficult, is critical for Pakistan’s energy supplies, and its maritime security and trade by way of Gwadar port. Balochistan meets 45 percent of Pakistan’s energy needs. The Baloch people lament that the Gwadar area has been appropriated by Generals of Pakistan Army, who in turn have sold it to Karachi and Punjabi business magnets at astronomical prices.  All the 22 districts of Balochistan are currently impacted by insurgency incurring an estimated cost of Rs. 6 million every month to the Pak establishment, and also resulting in severe gas and power shortages in the country, especially in Punjab. Gas supplies from Sui, Loti and Pir Koh gas fields have been disrupted.  Surface transport has been crippled. Three naval boats have so far been destroyed in Gwadar port.  Railways have been compelled to operate only at night.  So far, on at least a dozen occasions, railway tracks have been blown and on more than two dozens occasions gas pipelines have been targeted.


NWFP. North West Frontier Province (NWFP) with an area of 74,521 sq km and a population of approximately 24 million in addition to 3 million Afghan refugees, is a problem in perpetuity because of the Pashtuns, who straddle the Durand Line (2450 Km long Pakistan-Afghanistan border). The relations between the NWFP and the central government are increasingly becoming tenuous, as the majority of the population is averse to Pakistan’s cooperation with the US against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. The area continues to be infested with fundamentalists and the Jihadis.  In fact, it is the fundamentalist Islamic parties, who call shots in the province and lend all kinds of support to the remnants of Taliban.


POK (NORTHERN AREAS). The Northern Areas comprising Gilgit and Baltistan have an area of 72,496 sq km and a population of 1.5 million, is governed directly by the Central Government in Pakistan.  In fact the Northern Areas, which are actually a part of POK, but incorporated in Pakistan, are five times of the area designated as Azad Kashmir.  This area, culturally and linguistically much different from other parts of Pakistan, has been subjected to state backed Sunni terrorism. The composition of the Northern Light Infantry Units is being re-engineered by the central government to make it Sunni dominant. Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK), which witnessed devastating earthquake in which more than 70,000 people lost their lives, demonstrated the administrative apathy of the Central Government in Pakistan with regard to the region. The Pakistan Army unlike the Indian Army was unable to respond to the needs of the people – thus leaving much of the rescue and rehabilitation to 1000 NATO personnel and fundamentalist organisations like JuD.


PUNJAB & SIND. The situation in the heartland of Pakistan i.e. Punjab and Sind is rapidly deteriorating, given the proliferation of Islamic fundamentalist ideology and their mushrooming activities. Organisations like Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD), the parent organisation of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) is fast occupying the political space due to absence of legitimate political parties. The reach of the Islamic terrorists in Pakistan’s heartland was evidenced by the car bomb attack near the US Consulate in Karachi before the recent visit of President Bush to the country.  The degeneration of law and order situation in the heartland can also be gauged by the fact that for security reasons, President Musharraf was asked by the US authorities not to receive President Bush at the Chaklala airport.



Predicated on the situation in Pakistan, it can be averred that more than half the country has slipped into anarchy and the remaining may also follow if Islamabad does not carryout a drastic reassessment of its nationhood and statehood. In fact, Pakistan Army is getting over- stretched owing to its commitments in internal security duties and deployment on its borders with India and Afghanistan. Internally, the anti-India catalyst that sustained Pakistan Army is no longer effective. Even on the Afghanistan border the ISAF and Karzai are fiercely determined to defeat any attempt by Islamabad’s to re-export Taliban.Today the internal instability within Pakistan is fast acquiring proportions which could lead to further break up of the country – all due to sheer myopic policies pursued by its military junta. An external power today does not need to wage a war. It can simply exploit the precarious internal situation by using its intelligence agencies to attain the same objectives by fuelling the dissent through psywar and financial means. Fortunately, Pakistan has to contend with a benign power like India, which in the first instance created the former by magnanimously donating its land. Therefore Islamabad instead of exporting hatred and destruction, should seek positive parity with India and others in terms of improving the quality of life of its citizens in an inclusive manner. Towards this Pakistan must:

  • Seek positive parity with India i.e. with regard to human development. Negative parity will bleed Pakistan in human and economic terms.
  • Realise that Pakistani statehood has remained vulnerable due to flawed nation building policies e.g. Punjabi domination that constitute 58% of the total population.
  • Realise that Army can be a symbol of nationhood and an instrument and not the state itself.
  • Realise that jihadis are a double-edged weapon and can never get Pakistan its illusive nationhood and statehood.
  • Realise that by attempting to engineer history, the future is rendered in jeopardy.
  • Realise that Pakistan has the potential to be a positive role model for other Islamic countries.

It is a well-known fact that a large number of Islamic countries are bestowed with extraordinary oil wealth that drives the world economy. If the jehad factory of Pakistan and other Islamic fundamentalist institutions had used this wealth to educate, modernise their societies and improved the quality of human resources in the early eighties, at the dawn of the 21st century, it would have emerged as a modern, powerful and positive entity in the world arena without firing a single shot!  Pakistan’s establishment therefore must realise that its possible vivisection, due to its flawed policies, may deal a fatal blow to the very Islamic cause, that it purports to countenance and guide.

The writer is Editor, Indian Defence Review. The article first appeared in Indian Defence Review Vol 20(4).   

©Security Research Review Volume 2(2) 2006.