The topic is one which will interest people around the world.
What future, if any, does Pakistan have?
On the evening of Saturday 23rd November, I was fortunate enough to take part in an academic seminar held at the David Game College in London by the Jammu Kashmir Study Centre UK in collaboration with Indian National Students Association.
My fellow panelists included Dr Christine Fair: Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor, Georgetown University; Seth Oldmixon: Liberty Southasia; Foreign Policy expert; Taha Siddique: Pakistani Journalist in-exile, Founder Safenewsroom.org and Khalid Shah: Associate Fellow; Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi India
The seminar explored various options.
Seth Oldmixon took an “optimistic” approach and referred to the August 11th 1947 speech of the founder of Pakistan, Qaide Azam in which Mr Jinnah hoped that Pakistan could re-imagine itself by referring back to those principles where it’s citizens nationalistic identity is not determined by their religious identity.
Professor Christine Fair spoke about the importance of throttling the funding/sponsorship to Pakistan to allow the state to re-invent itself. She also clarified a point that there are various diaspora and these include those brave Pakistanis like Taha Saddique who despite a real threat to their life are fighting the establishment.
Khalid Shah spoke about the proxy war in Kashmir and explained how ‘Cyber-Jihad’ is now used by Pakistan, by creating thousands of WhatsApp and telegram accounts run by Pakistani group admins to spread jihad and mobilise youth to fight the forces. Khalid also spoke about the raison-de’tre of Pakistan to remain a Zakat based country which thrives in spreading Jihad across the region and keeps a low intensity conflict going to justify its military might.
Taha Siddique pointed out that Pakistan is not interested in the end game in Kashmir or Afghanistan, the idea for them is to keep a low intensity conflict alive so that the Pakistan military remains relevant as a power centre in Pakistan.
My own take was that Pakistan is a failed State, beyond modest reform, and a global terrorism incubator that we have indulged it quite long enough. The best solution is to use every option to create a reduced landlocked Pakistan Punjab, surrounded by a series of new independent nations such as Baluchistan, Sindh, Pashtoon and Muhajeer that are considerably more likely to live with us in peace and harmony. I also called for all UK Foreign Aid to Pakistan to be ended and for British Pakistanis to start accepting our laws and integrating to our ways. This, it must be noted for some slow learners, is not “racist’ but simply desirable.
There was then a panel debate amongst us. I was perhaps alone in seeking to explicitly break up this failed state but Dr Fair and I did at least tacitly agree that if the Soviet Union could be broken up (despite being a major global nuclear power) then perhaps we have less to fear than we think should the same fate befall Pakistan.
There was general agreement that Pakistan is rightly concerned about FATF sanctions and so behaves in the best way possible so as to avoid real financial censure. This suggests that there is leverage there but only if it is carefully managed. Whether such International will exists is another question.
There was then a Q&A from the floor with a number of great questions coming from the audience. I was very impressed with the knowledge and engagement from those asking the questions.
My summary is that this was a much needed debate on how we deal with a major global problem. The audience responded warmly to points made with honesty and passion. I left the event clear that many people do worry about the global influence of Pakistan and are open to hearing different solutions.
Reimagining Pakistan is a challenge for the civilised world and if it is done properly, and permanently, it will benefit the many peoples of Pakistan, its regional neighbours (most notably India) and make the world a safer place.