The least understood great power of Asia today is probably Pakistan. To Western eyes, Pakistan is that "other India," the vestige that was left over when India achieved her independence. A Pakistani is always being taken for an Indian, simply because he is a citizen of the same subcontinent. He feels something like an Israeli being taken for an Arab because both are Semites.
Pakistan would be easier to understand at a distance if it were one remnant. But it is made up of two unequal lobes separated by the vast territory of India - hung like two great ears of an elephant, two Muslim ears on an Indian skull.
West Pakistan, the left-hand ear, has some 33 million people, including energetic mountaineers and light-skinned members of the ancient Aryan races. East Pakistan, separated from the other ear by a thousand miles of Indian brow, has a darker, tamer race of rice and jute growers and there are some 42 million of them. In their swampy forest they are packed 800 to the square mile, while in the parched western plains there are hardly 110 people to a square mile.
The plan for a split Muslim nation, sketched by the father of Pakistan, the lean, aristocratic reed of fire called Mohammed Au Jinnah, drew little encouragement from Lord Louis Mounthatten, Nehru, and Gandhi, fellow artisans of the division.
Nehru had predicted earlier that a Muslim state carved out of India would collapse. In 1936 he had written: "Politically the idea is absurd, economically it is fantastic . . . . And even if many people believed in it, it would still vanish at the touch of reality."
Few people in the West, at first, wished Pakistan well. Pakistan, a new "Islamic Democracy" the Muslim religion as the foundation for its existence, did not seem to be a blessed move toward oneness of the world. The terrible mutual slaughters that accompanied the exchange of population when Pakistan and India separated caused observers to ask why so much blood was necessary, and to blame it on Pakistan. The contrast seemed the more striking because 43 million Muslims remained in "Bharat," as the Pakistanis call India, not going over to Pakistan at all.
West and East Pakistan, even amid so much pessimism, stoutly refused to make the worst come true. When Jinnah died his spirit was carried on by the cool international lawyer Zafrullah Klan, and by the able, thoroughly modern premier, Liaquat Ali Khan and his Begum, who bore with grace and good humor a Western opinion that often confused them with Rita Ilayworth and Aly Khan. A fanatic Afghan emptied a revolver into Liaquat Ali in the old Kipling town of Rawalpindi; still Pakistan did not waste away, but found fresh hope in new Prime Minister, the roly-poly little politician Khawaja Nazimuddin.
When Greece and Turkey exchanged populations a few years ago, they passed from being enemies to being allies of sorts. Pakistan and India are such a natural partnership, too, but the reconciliation has never taken place. What prevents it is the question of Kashmir, the mountain state wedged into the Western Himalayas.
Kashmir is partly Hindu, partly Tibetan Buddhist, but mostly Muslim. Yet India holds most of it. Irregulars from Pakistan's Khyber Pass country, riding in trucks with homemade rifles over their shoulders, attempted to take the lovely lakeland of Kashmir for their own, to "liberate" it, not without some looting. Nehru snapped in paratroopers and followed them with Indian army regulars. He still holds the country, stalling off the endless demands by both the UN and Pakistan for a plebiscite.
The Pakistanis managed to save for themselves less than half of Kashmir and about a quarter of the population. They block the main exit road and compel the Kashmir government of Sheikh Abdullah to wear out its trucks on the 9000-foot Banihal Pass, closed by snow in winter.
Pakistan, with its vast fields of wheat and cotton, and with its anti-Communist barrier range of healthy little Himalayan states like Swat and Ilunza, ought to be a happier and wealthier country than it is. The two Pakistans, East and West, share the advantage of all farming, nonindustrial countries in our day. But Kashmir prevents them from enjoying these fruits. Even when drought cuts down the yellow wheat of the Punjab, forcing Pakistan to buy bread, the trouble starts—the Pakistanis feel—with Kashmir.
Kashmir lies heavy on the Pakistani brow heavier than Trieste on the Italian. The Pakistanis know that just an auto ride away are thousands of co-Muslims who would go to Pakistan if they had a free choice. What prevents the Pakistanis from rescuing their Kashmir brothers-in-faith is the presence of a well-behaved Indian army. New Delhi's position in this matter is that India is responsible for the maintenance of order in Kashmir.
East Pakistan has worked out a fair deal with India by shipping its jute to the hungry factories in Bengal. The rice of East Pakistan—rice being the best bargaining lever in the East today—keeps East Pakistan financially independent. And the Pakistanis, who are providers of raw cotton for the mills of Red China, agreed in March to provide 10,000 tons more in return for 100,000 tons of Chinese coal.
But the narrow corridor of West Pakistan, squeezed between a hostile Afghanistan and an unfriendly India, strung on its cities of Lahore, Rawalpindi, and Peshawar, is too tense to be healthy. How long would it take India's tanks to stab westward through the Punjab to the Northwest Frontier, severing West Pakistan like a broken hourglass? This is the question every Pakistani asks himself.
Karachi, the seaport capital on the broiling Arabian Sea, has become an Asiatic Los Angeles a bursting boom town, living on a miracle of will. Its terrible slums, a vast Hooverville of ragged doorways, oilcans for water, and rickety children are very slowly being cleared away. But a fundamental fever in West Pakistan remains, though the incredible 6 million refugees are gradually be absorbed.
A Pakistani woman is usually more progressive than any of her Muslim sisters. The veil has been almost wholly whisked away. Clean and intelligent young women, wearing the national white tunic march with rifles over their shoulders ready to defend the nation. But some plain needs remain unsolved—among them, water. What about water?
Water is the life of the Punjab, the wheat regoion around Lahore. The Indus River in West Pak has six feeder streams, all rising in the Himalayas. They spring from doomed glaciers, mountain ice-fields that are gradually shrinking. As mid-Asia grows warmer, this belt of life-giving Himalayan ice grows thin. Far below in the valleys millions of farmers, wailing at sluice gates for melted snow come through to their fields, find that less brown water arrives each year.
The question for Pakistan is whether, as its water lessens, it will become like its ruined city of Mohenju-Daru, 4400 years old, a burned-out chain of roofless houses along a scorched street. Only 8 percent of crowded East Pakistan has man-made irrigation, thanks to the 200-inch rains. But in West Pakistan over 75 per cent of the irrigation is made by man.
Of the six rivers of the Indus, three start in India, three in Kashmir. David Lilienthal and Eugene Black of the World Bank have tried to work out formulas that would satisfy India and reassure Pakistan. The Indians in 1948 forced an agreement by partly shutting off the water. But Pakistan, from its portion of Azad ("free") Kashmir, is able to float down logs cheaply from its profitable lumber industry, while the Indians must truck them expensively.
All the troubles that beset Pakistan seem to be in the western part. One grief is the persistent effort of Afghanistan—a true Muslim state complete with veils—to disengage a portion of the Indus Valley. This plan is called "Pushtoonistan."
The Afghans, warmly encouraged by India, wish to form a new halfmoon-shaped state, running in a curve from the Himalayas to the Indian Ocean, and roughly paralleling the Indian border. This plan would reduce the crescent of West Pakistan to a thin fingernail. At the friction point of this crescent, around the Khyber Pass and Peshawar, there is more ill feeling than anywhere else between two Muslim nations. Afghanistan, to tap the rich Indian market for her fruits, must ship them across Pakistan. They do not always move rapidly and sometimes rot. The gasoline trucks that bring fuel into Afghanistan from Peshawar have a way of being held up by Pakistani delays, according to the claims of the Afghans.
The aging protagonist of the Pushtoonistan movement is the nearly forgotten Fakir of Ipi, who dwells in a border village of "independent Pushtoonistan," largely ignored by the Pakistanis. Once they bombed him a little. Now they snub him.
For the mettlesome Pathans, in their barren hills of the Northwest Frontier, the Pakistanis have adopted the same solution sanctified by the British: the pay-off. Through the chiefs, regular stipends are handed out to keep the jirgas or meetings of the Pathans from turning into frontier raids.
At Warsak, the gorge probably traversed by Alexander's army when he reached the Indus, a dam is slowly rising. It will flood thousands of acres and give homesteads to the uneasy tribesmen. This is the most enduring pay-off possible, far better than cash. The Pathans soon will be able to begin beating their homemade rifles into plows. When they do so, perhaps the government will no longer fear to release its curbs on the Red Shirts, the pro-Indian group of Muslims who almost stole the Northwest Province from Jinnah.
Not being a theocracy—though Indians often call it such—Pakistan needed a poet as well as statesmen. He appeared in Sir Mahomed Iqbal, a Thomas Paine who died before his state was born. He puta message of progress into the mosque. Fiery in his view of the future, he was gentle in the means of reaching it. He wrote: "I am absolutely sure that territorial conquest was no part of the program of Islam. I consider it a great loss that the progress, of Islam as a conquering faith stultified growth of those germs of an economic and democratic society that I find scattered up and down the pages of the Koran and the traditions of the Prophet."
It may have been Iqbal who spurred Pakistan to undertake early her program of land reform, of doing away as far as possible with the big landowner or zamindar and dispersing his lands—after compensation—to the landless peasant. Iqbal had written that the Koran is "the patron of the propertyless slave" and for the capitalist "a message of death.”
The vigor and pride that have gone into Pakistan have given its people a measure of steadfastness that wins quick admiration. The clean, healthy Pakistani citizen and his forwardness appeal to Westerners. Yet, possibly because Pakistan lacks a true opposition party, there is often a sort of suffocating sameness about the top-level atmosphere.
The Muslim League controls almost all political life. There are isolated leaders in opposition, but a kind of staleness seems to hang about the upper hierarchy, as of air that needs changing. Hints of crookedness leak into the press, and sometimes venal politicians are punished, but not soon enough. Pakistan, perhaps, is forced by its political dilemma to be a one-party state, at least until it is reconciled with India. But the Muslim League, lacking a purgative opposition, still takes too long to uproot its scandals and banish its inertias.
For five long years the Constituent Assembly has been putting together a constitution, making what should have been a cheerful task of triumph into a long chore of hairsplitting. Pakistan has not yet decided whether or not to stay in the Commonwealth. Though more tolerant of the British than India, Pakistan will probably also want to be free. The irony is that India and Pakistan can never be free of each other.
The Pakistanis, as Muslims, at first gave communism short shrift. They felt the menace of Russia and China. They recognized both powers but did not speed, like India, to intimacy with the Chinese Communists.
But when the U.S. gave its wheat and land-reform loans to India, the Pakistanis began to believe that India, by playing hard to get, was receiving more from the U.S. This imbalance offered an opportunity to the small clique of intellectual Communists shuttling between Karachi and Lahore, home of the beautifully printed fellow-traveling daily Pakistan Times. They could not organize their party effectively on a “peace front,” with war against India an open menace. So the small Communist underground adopted a clandestine war platform. They penetrated the army, subverting several high officers, mostly of Pathan origin.
The trail of the officers earned a twelve-year sentence for the able and popular Pathan general whom the Communists reached and a four-year sentence for his apparent ideological master, the Times editor. Ten officers got terms from four to seven years. The case ran twenty-one months, with 208 witnesses being heard, all for the prosecution. All the proceedings were secret. But the pattern that leaked out was instructive as a lesson in how the Communists can penetrate an “invulnerably religious Muslim community.”
Pakistan lacked arms and had nothing like India’s resources to buy them. The idea the Communists sold the officers was apparently this: Seize the government. Offer to turn your back on the UN and its Kashmir arbitration and give you allegiance to the Soviet Union. The Russians will ship you the arms you need.
It was the same plan that induced Red China to enter the Korean war, and it was brewed at about the same time. The Pakistani Communists saw no reason for not using Russian aid to make Kashmir a Himalayan Korea. As long as there is a Kashmir issue, it cannot be said that the Communist plan totally failed.
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