Af / Pak Islamic Civilisation — 06 September 2006
Pakistan- Time for New Political Vision

The Pakistani government post 9/11 has faced mounting pressure as a result of its compliance in the War on Terror and its close alliance with the US. The launching of raids in the North West and the Waziristan province under US directives has created an unstable situation in Pakistan. The problem has been complicated by the on going troubles it has faced in the oil rich province of Baluchistan. The assassination of the Baluchi leader Nawab Akbar Bugti last week heightened this conflict which has been going on for decades and at the same time raised questions surrounding the root cause of this conflict and the way to bring stability in Pakistan.

The Pakistani government has consistently blamed greedy tribal chiefs to external interference from India to provide an explanation as to why it has faced problems in Baluchistan. However, this laying of the blame at the feet of others seems to be a rather convenient policy for the Pakistani government, which has failed to look at its own role in the problem which have emerged from the Baluchistan region. This region has been highly neglected by central government for decades; the level of investment has been marginal compared to other regions. The number of social and economic problems in the region have, been mounting over the years. Therefore, from a brief understanding of the social and economic context, it can be seen that underlying grievances have been simmering for some time and it would be only a matter of time, before people in the region began demanding a greater share of oil revenues and autonomy to look after their own affairs.

The Pakistani government has consistently denied such reasoning for the problems it has faced in Baluchistan and continued with burying it head in the sand. This approach has not surprised many as the Pakistani government, whether under a military or a civilian dictatorship has failed to effectively extend its sphere of representation beyond an elite strata in Pakistan. This elite has been formed from the landowners, industrialists and business class which have since the creation of Pakistan been highly interwoven with successive Pakistani governments. Therefore the policies of the government have acted in the interest of this elite rather than the whole population of Pakistan- leading to an ultimate division between state and society, with ensuing tensions and conflicts between the two.

The Pakistani government can continue to blame others but the root cause of the problems it faces in Baluchistan and other regions are its own doing, with the existence of a highly unrepresentative socio-economic and political system. If this continues, the problems are unlikely to abate and there would be without doubt others in Pakistan waiting to fight the government for its right and appropriate distribution of resources. Pakistan is at a critical juncture and a new political vision needs to be adopted, one which will galvanise the Pakistani populace under it and create a stable political medium. The political vision, which is gaining momentum in Pakistan and other places in the Muslim world, is one of Political Islam, which is rising to the forefront of domestic, regional and international discussions and agendas. Therefore it is ever more important for an acknowledgment to be made of the future role of Political Islam in Pakistan and a debate to begin upon how it can deal with the problems, which the Pakistani government has failed to deal with over the last 50 years.

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