The Umbilical Cord


Since 1947, Pakistan has been facing one crisis after another. Indeed, there are governance problems, but in my view certain issues lie in its genesis. The history of the North Western part of the Sub-continent, which comprises Pakistan, should be reviewed in its correct perspective. This state, like any other state, can only have sustainable development when it adopts internationally accepted practices while managing its economy, politics, governance, justice and legal systems and all the other important spheres of life. But diversions and aberrations occur routinely, systematically and frequently here, especially relating to certain fundamental perspectives, which are often not taken into account while analysing the problems and their solution for Pakistan.

Since its inception, the state created for the political and economic rights of the Muslims striving for development, progress and modernity, has been bracketed with a very narrow definition of the religion by certain quarters. Grand concepts and slogans of pan-Islamism were promoted – such as Pakistan Islam ka Qila hai – without objectively taking into account whether there are any takers for it in the other parts of the Muslim world.

Only time will decide whether this diversion and aberration proved an asset or a liability. Nevertheless, it remains a fact that the political history of Pakistan — from 1947 to 2022 — demonstrates that unlike the general perception, there is no effective effort or even desire for the implementation of any kind of theocracy in the country.

People want a simple life without changing their regular and traditional course of living and work. This is Indus Valley Civilization, which always welcomed intruders. This side of the picture is at times disturbed in the name of religion, but in the end, sanity has always prevailed. There has been a correct, but limited implementation of the strict fundamentalist interpretation of religion in the politico-socio-economic spheres of this state.

Pakistan, as a state, is an amalgam of four distinct civilizational attributes.

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Majority of the people and their origin is Hindustani, now being defined as Indian, who converted to Islam. Their language, food, and culture are highly influenced by the sub-continental civilization. The literature of the area is a derivative of Persian influence as Persian had been the official language of this area for over 1,000 years. Anyone conversant with Persian was considered educated. No wonder Pakistan’s national anthem is all in Persian except one line, but then all these Persian-origin words are also part of the Urdu-language. The religion is Arabic and the source of religion being the Quran is in pure classical Arabic. Over 95 per cent of the population do not have any knowledge of classical Arabic language. Even more than 70 per cent of religious scholars of the present day do not have basic knowledge of Arabic grammar. Islamic calendar months are in Arabic as ‘Rabiul Awwal’ without people knowing the ‘Rabi’ relates to summer months. However, the official language and culture is English. Nobody can get any reasonable employment unless their medium of education is in English. The country is faced with serious administrative issues and dichotomy in relation to the use of language.

For example, the First Investigation Report (FIR) being a primary document for any legal proceeding is in Urdu or Sindhi, whereas all subsequent judgments and proceedings till the Supreme Court of Pakistan are in legal English, which is alien to over 80 per cent of the population.

Pakistan as a state came into being just after the end of the Second World War in an economically chaotic time when its British rulers were facing a serious economic crisis. The British were not in a position to finance the huge military they had created to fight the war. So they, being shrewd businessmen, made a good compromise, which is summarily described in the following paragraphs.

The newly created Pakistan, located close to the new emerging communist regimes of the USSR and China, became politically and militarily important for the non-communist part of the world led by the United States. Our religious sentiment in 1947 was fully exploited against the perceived ‘atheist’ regimes in Moscow and Beijing. The dissent, on the matter of any tilt towards left in the society, was brutally crushed as its doctrine was ‘rightwing ‘.

However, the state was never economically strong enough to overcome its initial problems. And ironically, each new regime in Pakistan multiplied these challenges for the people.

The world’s dominant power, the United States, played a vital role in the politics and economics of Pakistan. On an overall basis, I have not found any primary error in the US approach. It must be clearly realised that the United States is not a benevolent benefactor. It is a lender of the last resort. There was no colonialism during the British Empire days. It was neo-colonialism and the neo-colonialists have no responsibility. They had their own interests to safeguard.

The problem lies with us:

(a)  We did not try to establish strong institutions thinking that the military would remain the dominant force.

(b) We did not ask for sustainable concessions from the United States for our economic developments. Instead, we strived for the military and cash support.

The results are obvious as in 2022 we are exactly in the same position from where we started.

Britain had won the war but they became extremely weak due to its expenditures. They had to rely on the United States to win it. In that ‘compromise,’ they ‘handed over’ the reins of the economic world to the United States, which included the ‘destiny’ of this new state Pakistan. As colonialism became a politically incorrect word, therefore its new form ‘neo-colonialism’ was adopted. This term has been aptly described by Nkrumah Kwame, the famous Ghanaian scholar as under:

“Neo-Colonialism is…… the worst form of imperialism. For those who practise it, it means power without responsibility, and for those who suffer from it, it means exploitation without redress. In the days of old-fashioned colonialism, the imperial power had at least to explain and justify at home the actions it was taking abroad. In the colony those who served the ruling imperial power at least looked to its protection against any violent move by their opponents. With Neo-Colonialism neither is the case.”

First Investigation Report (FIR) being a primary document for any legal proceeding is in Urdu or Sindhi, whereas all subsequent judgments and proceedings till the Supreme Court of Pakistan are in legal English, which is alien to over 80 per cent of the population

 It is to be admitted that a shrewd person like Sir Winston Churchill accepted, in principle, the demand of a separate state for the reason that Muslims of India, especially those who represented a large part of the British Indian Army at that time. Those Muslims were not ready to live under the supremacy of Hindus. Same is the position in 2022, which is correct. There is either a military conflict on the eastern borders or a standoff.

There is another side to be examined that is the Hindu perception of Muslim military in undivided India. The book Pakistan or the Partition of India was written by Dr BR Ambedkar, chairman of a committee appointed at the behest of the Executive Council of the Independent Labour Party (ILP). At the entreaty of the said committee was to prepare a report on Pakistan. The objective was to decide what attitude the ILP should adopt towards the project of Pakistan envisioned in the Lahore Resolution of the Muslim League. They supported the partition of India on the ground that the united India will not be able to control the mighty Muslim army in undivided India.

Sir Winston Churchill said to US President Franklin Roosevelt:

“We are considering whether any declaration can be made which will strengthen the defence of India against approaching invasion. Danger is of ending Muslims who besides being a hundred million strong, constitute the main fighting part of the army. They will not allow themselves to be governed by majority produced by the Congress caucus and the Hindus priesthood”

Since 1947, our economic survival depends upon assistance and support from the United States. Famous historian Stanley Wolpert in the book ‘Shameful Flight’ refers to the discussion between Winston Churchill and President Roosevelt in 1942 as under;

The question of the Armed Forces is another concern. The Indian Army (in Ambedkar’s time) is largely Punjabi Muslim, raised by the tax mostly paid by Hindus. They are docile under the British but are most likely not to remain so under the Hindus whom they consider as and are unlikely to repel any Muslim invasion on India from the West. The Hindus have a difficult choice to make: to have a safe army, or a safe border and the former being more important, thinking prudently, the Hindu should agree to the demand of Pakistan and upon being independent, raise its army from other parts of India which, by no means, wield inferior soldiers. That the British today recruits the Punjabis to the Army is no testament to the martial inferiority of other races of Hindustan, taking cognizance of the fact that the British used to recruit heavily from them at other times.

In the year 2022, nothing has changed for the state of Pakistan from 1947. It is facing two existential realities;

(a)   The military influences and

(b)  The necessity of support from the United States.

Now it is being substantiated by many notable persons including Mr Jaswant Singh that all the three main characters of politics of India at that time — MK Gandhi, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and J L Nehru — were fully apprised of this situation by Lord Wavell — the then Viceroy of India. They all agreed to provide autonomy to the Muslim dominated areas. Whatever was said or written, in between is either a smoke screen or lack of knowledge as all the three players – the British, Muslims and Hindus — agreed to divide India on communal basis. This basis was as indicated by Churchill in summary as referred above being disagreement of Muslim dominated military to accept the democratic dominance of the Hindu majority.

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There was nothing wrong in peaceful Partition, but the exact post-Partition landscape did not emerge before a ‘mess’ was created by Lord Mountbatten with the help of Redcliffe with the connivance of Krishna Menon whilst working in the Boundary Commission which cost over 200,000 lives and perpetual lack of trust between two communities living here for more than a 1,000 years.

The Jinnah Papers page 646 (Zaidi) referred to the discussion on April 19, 1947 between Quaid-e-Azam and Lord Ismay21 as under:

On the Pakistan side, an idea of alliance with the United States did not begin to take firm shape till partition. Earlier during a meeting with Lord Ismay, Mr Jinnah had examined the possibility of Pakistan after the British left and determined, according to Ismay, that ‘Pakistan could not stand alone’. It would need to be friends with a superpower. Russia had no appeal for them. France was weak and divided; there remained only England and America, and of these the former was the natural friend. According to Ismay, Jinnah ‘jokingly’ added: “Apart from anything else, the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t”

Muhammed Ali Jinnah was aware of the economic weaknesses of the newly formed state. Pakistan was born a weak state. Soon after independence, Pakistan’s founder asked the United States, in a letter sent with his emissary, for $2 billion in military and financial aid, including $170 million for the army, $75 million for the air force, $60 million for the navy, and $700 million each for industrial and agricultural development. He had made a cultural choice. As per reports this request was not accepted. However, it started the age of neo-colonialism which still persists. This raises the question about the kind of independence the people of this part of North West India got in 1947. From one viewpoint, it was the transfer of a colonial state by Churchill to Roosevelt in the form of a ‘neo-colonial’ state.

Nothing changed. Nevertheless, unlike Britain, Americans were not interested in taking any responsibility. They demonstrated the same in 1965, 1971, 1979, 2001 and as late as 2021. In my view they were right on their part. It is the duty of the neo-colonial state to derive best advantage from the neo-colonial ruler. Pakistan has miserably failed in handling that aspect. In my view the politicians in Pakistan including Mr. Jinnah were not conceiving what emerged after August 14, 1947.

The United States was the major state that participated in the inaugural ceremonies at the time of creation of Pakistan. The United States as a superpower tacitly supported the division of India may be for the reason that the rulers of Pakistan were absolutely clear about their relations with the other world being the ‘atheists’ in Moscow and Beijing. Nehru with his socialist politics was not a person to be relied upon. This was a compromise marriage. The story moves ahead as under:

A statement from the US Press in 1952 observed:

“By October 1952, the US was re-evaluating the role of Pakistan in the light of its review of the communist threat. It noted the “large number of excellent airfields and air base sites (notably in West Pakistan) with medium and heavy bomber range of major industrial and governmental centres in Soviet Central Asia and the interior of communist China and the presence of major ports and other facilities that would support communication between Western Europe and the Far East” “Pakistan is a country I would like to do everything for. The people have less complexes than Indians……….it will be disastrous if the

This statement of the US President Harry Truman made in 1952 explains the history of US-Pakistan relations and how we handled the matters of this state in relation to the superpower of this world. The earlier statement of Mr Jinnah is the prelude. As rightly observed by Mr Jinnah, a small and weak state like Pakistan cannot survive without the support of one of the superpowers of the world. The manner in which Pakistan dealt with this subject is the cause of the present state of affairs of the country. Mr Jinnah was seeking economic support only whereas Harry Truman for his own interest and our rulers for their political interests were asking for military support. This is a simple story of Pakistan’s economic reliance on the United States.

The US President Harry Truman was always tilted towards India. The US writer Dean Aitchison quoted him saying:

[The Pakistanis] were always asking us for arms and I was always holding them if Pakistan aid does not go through. This may force out the prime minister [of Pakistan] but it is not going to force the people towards communism.” “Interestingly, during each engagement or ‘honeymoon’ period, Pakistan had either a military or military-controlled government, whereas in Washington, the policy direction on Pakistan was in the hands of a Republican White House with the Pentagon and CIA playing a central role. Most of the ‘estrangements’ phases of the US Pakistan

The most important point we are unable to acknowledge on a national level is that the US Aid rescues us whenever we are at the edge of collapse, for example now in 2022

President Dwight D Eisenhower who had seen the destruction of war, but had a completely different perception. In 1963 he said:

“Every gun that is made, Every Warship launched, Every Rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who are hungry and not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. The world in Arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of laborers, the genius of its scientists, and the hopes of its children. This is not the way of life in any true sense. Under the clouds of war it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.”

John Foster Dulles was an American diplomat, lawyer, and Republican Party politician. He served as United States Secretary of State under President Dwight D Eisenhower from 1953 to 1959 and was briefly a Republican US Senator for New York in 1949. Dulles gave an interview to Walter Lippmann, American newspaper commentator and author, who in a 60-year career made himself one of the most widely respected political columnists in the world.

“Look Walter! I have got to get real fighting men into the South of Asia. The only Asians who can really fight are Pakistanis that is why we need them in the Alliance”

 Whether we agree or not all the decisions for the fate of the people in Delhi were made in London after 1857. The location changed in 1947 for the people living in North Western parts of India to Washington. The weather in Islamabad depends upon the weather in Washington.

The future US Presidents were not as magnanimous as Mr Eisenhower, however, it is to be recognized that there was no major war after 1945. In his book Mr Dennis Kux has made the following strange observation about US influence as under:

“Unofficially, however, Washington was less hesitant about passing on advice. The CIA managed political scientist Dr Charles Burton Marshall, to spend two years in Pakistan as a ‘constitutional advisor’. In addition to providing help to the Pakistanis in drafting their Constitution. Marshall’s mission was to ‘try by precept and examples to help Pakistani leaders settle down and establish a smoother government”. Marshall had easy access to the top leadership, which was aware that the CIA, not the Dearborn Foundation, a covert organization for which he ostensibly worked, was his true employer. US-Pakistan relations have been extraordinarily volatile, largely a function of the twists and turns of the Cold War. An intimate partnership prevailed in the Eisenhower, Nixon, and Reagan years, and friction during the Kennedy, Johnson, and Carter presidencies. Since the Cold War ended, the partnership has shriveled. The blunt talking delivered by President Clinton to Pakistan’s military dictator during Clinton’s March 25, 2000, stopover in Pakistan highlighted US-Pakistani differences. But the Clinton visit also underscored important US interests in Pakistan.

Dennis H Kux (born August 11, 1931, in London) was a diplomat and former United States Ambassador to Côte d’Ivoire (1986–89). He authored ‘India and the United States: Estranged Democracies 1941-1991’ and The United States and Pakistan, 1947-2000: Disenchanted Allies. Kux served in the US embassy in Karachi in Pakistan from 1957 to 1959, followed by a tour in India. He again served in Pakistan from 1969 to 1971.

From the date of Mr Muhammad Ali Jinnah request for aid from United States things have not changed substantially over the years. From 1947 to 2022 the total US support to Pakistan in different forms, including military, economic and coalition support fund is approximately $90 to $95 billion.

The exact figures from 2002 to 2020 are as under:

a)    Security $8,284 million

b)    Economic $11,326 million

c)     CSF Reimbursements $14,573 million

Total $34,183 million

These figures of direct overt USAid appropriations and reimbursements to Pakistan, FY2002-FY2020 are from a report prepared by the Congressional Research Service for distribution to multiple congressional offices, March 12, 2019.

Around $100 billion is not a very large sum of money in the present context where our home remittance exceeds around $28 billion per year. However, the most important point we are unable to acknowledge on a national level is that the US Aid rescues us whenever we are at the edge of collapse, for example now in 2022. In other words, the US is our lender of last resort.

Pakistan cannot afford to spoil its economic relationship with the United States in any sense. The US and its allies, the European Union, are the main customers of Pakistan’s exports. Out of the total exports of $31 billion, around $20 billion are to these countries. In the aforesaid discussion there is no reference of Pakistan’s ‘estranged’ relations with India. In my view, that is the result not the cause.

While the Indian National Congress’ top leadership had been imprisoned following the 1942 Quit India Movement, there was intense debate among Muslims over the creation of a separate homeland. The All India Azad Muslim Conference represented nationalist Muslims who, in April 1940, gathered in Delhi to voice their support for a united India. Its members included several Islamic organisations as well as 1,400 nationalist Muslim delegates. Muslims who were living in provinces where they were demographically a minority, such as the United Province where the Muslim League enjoyed popular support, were assured by Jinnah that they could remain in India.

Winston Churchill referred to Muslim military of undivided India in relationship to Hindus. He was by implication stating that this factor will continue to play a definite role in the new state that will emerge in North Western part of the sub-continent. Three wars and the issue of Kashmir has completely overtaken the subject of the relationship with India and ‘estrangements’ which were there before partition became solid like a rock.

This is what Dr Ambetkar wrote in his book when he argued that Hindus should agree for the partition of India. The North Eastern part of India [formerly East Pakistan now Bangladesh] was not so placed, therefore, they were aided to be separated in 1971. The ‘umbilical cord’ of this state were the ‘Muslim military of the undivided India’ and transfer of ‘ownership from London to Washington’. Their influence will always remain there in this state. In my view there is nothing wrong in both these inevitable influences. Now it is up to the civil society to take charge of this state, along with the aforesaid two constant dominant factors.

Shabbar Zaidi
Shabbar Zaidi
The writer is one of Pakistan’s best-known chartered accountants and a senior partner in A.F. Ferguson. He served as the 26th chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue

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