Consult with me on Maven
Consult with me on Maven

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Looking for Signs of Change

Looking for Signs of ChangeIjaz KhanDaily Dawn - 

(some date in the year 2000, probably April, though the Web archive gives the date as 12 June 2000, but am not sure. I am only sure it was between April and June, 2000)

THERE is talk of a liberal democratic restructuring of the state. Devolution of power is the name given to the path chosen for it. A comprehensive plan for the purpose has already been presented. It is woven around the concept and structure of local government. Layers of mayors and administrative officers are expected to bring around a positive change.
It is understandable that change will take time. So one way to judge whether some fundamental changes are being brought about is to wait for at least a few years and see which way are we going. But if nothing happens and by end of the day we are worse off and then embark on a new experiment, then it is simply something we cannot afford. We do not have much room or time for any further experimentation. So, there is another way and that is to look for signs of change. Seven months may not be enough for changes to become clearly visible, but is enough for some signs of direction the state is being taken in to become evident.

Foreign policy is an extension of domestic policy. Architects of a liberal polity within must have a liberal outlook abroad. Liberal economy, liberal politics and a peaceful foreign policy go hand in hand. Let's try to see whether there are any signs of change in foreign policy arena corresponding to the claimed changes in the domestic arena. A particular security mindset has dominated our security discourse throughout our existence. It has taken a specific colour and shape as it matured. The development of our security mind set can be
summarized as follows:-
1. India is the enemy. They have not accepted our existence and they will do everything they can to undo partition. So India is the focus of our foreign and security policy. Kashmir is the battle cry to unite the faithful
and bog down the Indians.
2. Enemy of the enemy is our friend. If India chooses Soviet Union in the early days of independence, we simply make ourselves available to the western alliance system. There is war between India and China in 1962 and so we become friends of China.
3. Come 1979 and the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan finally pushes Pakistani security paradigm into a fully developed security doctrine. It is mainly woven around religion, fundamentalism and extremism. Our security establishment finds religious fundamentalists and extremists as natural allies.
4. Afghanistan must be controlled to gain [the so-called] strategic depth against India. It can only be controlled through religious extremists because the liberal Afghan whether a nationalist, a former communist or a democrat cannot be trusted due to his history of opposition of the Durand line and their better relations with India. The choice of religious partners in Afghanistan is not simply attributable to the religious sensitivities of Gen. Zia. It was and is a result of a specific security mindset which has always dominated our thinking.

5. India, Kashmir, Afghanistan and religious extremists are the points of reference around which Pakistan's security paradigm is woven. This security paradigm has resulted in the domination of Pakistani decision making whether in foreign policy or domestic policy by the security establishment. It has directly influenced our inability to develop democratic processes and institutions.

The signs of change must be searched for in the above areas. One realistically cannot expect an overnight change. It would not be desirable, even if possible. Attempts for sudden changes may unleash forces that would not be controllable and may result in far reaching consequences that even the most democratic among us would start clamouring for the militarist politico social structure of today.

However, mindful of the need for a gradual change, the question is, are we changing direction? Another important question is our state capable of and has enough strength [intellectual, economic, cultural and institutional] to bring changes in direction and sustain the pressures it would unleash?
All those who are fascinated by talks of devolution of power, empowerment of women and by the sight of a few friends from the democratic and liberal civil society in the general's team, must look for some signposts of change. It must be understood that a liberal democratic forward-looking society cannot be built without a fundamental change in the security paradigm.
University teachers or other researchers [let alone the general public] have no access to information. We can only base our analysis on what every one can observe. Even the most secret decisions would always have some public manifestations. Surely, if you take a decision which for one reason or another cannot be made public [sometimes there might be good reasons for secrecy] must reflect itself in some sort of public posturing.
Without a change in Kashmir and Afghanistan policy as both are outcomes of the same mind, expectation of internal societal change by merely women becoming more visible and holding of local bodies elections, is a contradiction with far reaching consequences. Such a contradictory approach has a self-defeating potential with catastrophic results. It is imperative that the thinking minds of this country try to search
for the correct signposts. If such signposts are not visible then they must think about what needs to be done. 

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