Conspiracies, Bombings & the 1973 Constitution (The Balochistan Series – Part 4b)

This is the fifth installment of ‘The Balochistan Series’ here on my blog. To see more of the series, click here.

This is the second half of PART 4, and the first part went up separately, simply to make reading easier and more enjoyable.

Language Issue

The question of the province’s official language was another point of contention. The provincial government wanted Balochi to be formally declared the official language, and worked for the development of regional languages, and Balochi culture. The center, however, opposed this, and Urdu was declared the provincial language. It seems this decision by the center, though used by nationalists as an example of anti-Baloch sentiments, is logical. Urdu was the national language, and to have different languages in place in the four provinces would not have been cohesive with smooth-running of state affairs. The reason major opposition to this was not organized can be attributed to many factors relevant to the times:

1) The declaration of Balochi language as the official language of the province would cause immediate opposition by the Pashtuns, who would demand that their language also be deemed official.

2) Balochis and Brahuis are linguistically quite different, though usually accepted as one ethnic group. If schools were to be divided on the basis of Balochi language and Brahui language, it was feared that this would cause a divide between the people, and the Pathans might be able to claim that they were the majority in the province.

3) Fighting the center on the basis of language might bring ideas that the NAP government was seeking to secede, as Bangladesh had done. If this was the case, the Pakistani government could be expected to launch a large-scale offensive which the Baloch were at this time neither able nor willing to combat, and Balochistan would become the victim of suppression, oppression and neglect. “A decision against Urdu would have immediately raised the scare of secession.”  (Baloch, 2001)

London Conspiracy

The Pakistani government laid a charge of treason against NAP leaders Ataullah Mengal and Wali Khan (London Conspiracy of 1972) claiming that they had met with then-Bangladesh PM Mujib-ur-Rahman to “plan the disintegration of Pakistan… into several autonomous states”. (Awan, 1985) Awan, among other writers on the subject, points to the fact that Mujib told The Times that the charge was baseless when he says that the center was just creating an excuse to break up the provincial government. Accusations of PPP-led sabotage against the provincial government are recurring in the literature for this time period. Provincial government employees were mostly non-Balochis who owed their allegiance to the center and were “instructed to put every possible obstruction” and “acted in complete disregard of their minister’s instructions”. Furthermore, “They were made to believe… that the NAP ministries were only for a short period. Hence they should not ruin their future by becoming loyal to them.”[1] (Breseeg, 2004)

The 10 paisa coin in 1973

1973 Constitution & other conflict-points

According to the Daily Balochistan Express (Saturday, 12 May 2001), a majority of Baloch leaders did not sign the constitution of 1973 as they did not agree the quantum of provincial autonomy granted in the document. Out of the five MNA’s, only Bizengo and Abdul Haq signed it. The other three were agreed in their opposition that the state should handle only foreign affairs, currency and defence, while the provinces collected taxes and used them to benefit their local populations.

                Dehi Muhafiz (literal translation: Rural Police) was established by the Mengal ministry in 1973, and according to Bizenjo, was established with the consent of the governor. Islamabad viewed it as an “NAP army”. Interestingly, the later PPP ministry maintained this force, renaming it the Balochistan Reserve Force. The Civil Armed Force that was in place before the NAP government was abolished when the NAP came into power “depriving the two provincial ministries of an instrument for the maintenance of law and order”. (Dehwar, 1994)

                The list of offenses committed by the center is extensive. Following are some of the most evident:

  • Ghulam Mustafa Khar withdrew all Punjabi bureaucrats serving in Balochistan, causing a severe administrative problem.
  • A police strike was organized against the Balochi government as a response to the establishment of the Dehi Muhafiz.
  • Artificial law and order crises were created in Pat Feeder and Lasbela. When the Dehi Muhafiz attempted to combat it, the centre sent its own forces to combat the provincial force.[2]
  • The PPP government promoted landlordism.[3]
  • 1973 assassination of Abdus Samad Achakzai of Pakhtunkhwa-NAP – widely attributed to have been arranged by the center.
  • In the 1970 elections, the PPP did not have a single elected member in the Balochistan provincial assembly, but in 1974 (without any general elections having been held during this time) it had the majority.
  • Unlawful appointment of Ghulam Qadir as Chief Minister (in violation of constitutional article 131)
  • 1974 White Paper on Balochistan accusing Balochi government of expelling non-Balochis, whereas this decision had been made by Yahya Khan and was in the process of being carried out in 1972 when the NAP-JUI came to power.
  • Bhutto’s exploitation of the sardari system, causing in-fighting between tribal leaders, vilification in national media, manipulative political alliances. Mir Ghaus Bizenjo, in an interview with the monthly The Herald, on July 1986 said: “NAP introduced a bill… in 1973, for the abolition of the sardari system. The PPP opposed that bill and the central government refused to ratify it”.
  • 1976 Hyderabad Conspiracy Case against 55 individuals, claiming that they were waging war against the state.

Bhutto’s seeming tirade against the Balochistan government must have had a reason. One may say that it was simply his need to hold on to as much power as possible, and his sense of alarm with respect to the nationalist sentiments in Balochistan? As the first Prime Minister after the secession of East Pakistan, is it possible that he was hedging his bets, determined not to go down as the man who lost another piece of Pakistan? Determined to make a name for himself in the foreign arena, is it possible that Bhutto felt threatened by the strength of Balochi nationalism, and the obvious weakness of the central government after the dismemberment of the country in 1971?

One may also assume that it was not so much the Balochis and their nationalism that troubled Bhutto, but foreign pressures from countries such as Iran (the main supplier of economic assistance to Pakistan at the time). The dismissal of the NAP government could be a result of Iran’s fears that Pakistan-based Baloch nationalist tendencies would spill over the border and cause unrest in that country. During his Supreme Court trial, Bhutto is quoted as saying, “I cannot hand over Balochistan to NAP, because the Shahinshah of Iran does not approve of it.[4]” (Breseeg, 2004) Selig Harrison lists “Bhutto’s larger political objectives in Pakistan, pressure on Islamabad from the Shah of Iran, Iraqi Iranian tension, and the Soviet support for Baghdad in its conflict with Tehran” as the “key factors”. (Harrison, In Afghanistan’s Shadow, 1981) Lending further weight to this theory is the fact that “Iran’s government provided 30 Cobra helicopters with their own pilots to fight 55,000 Baloch guerillas.” (Khan, 2009)

Ataullah Mengal presented a third view, saying that the progressive educational and developmental reforms passed by his ministry and the ministry in the NWFP were accepted and acknowledged by the people as positive and more “rational” than any reforms in the PPP-led provinces of Sindh and Punjab. This attitude led to a decrease in the popularity of the PPP.[5]

Awan lists his “inherent mistrust and fear of Wali Khan as a political adversary” reason enough for him to seek to “neutralize… the NAP, as a political threat”, and refers to Bhutto’s socialism, saying that Bhutto viewed the sardari system as a blockade between him and the common Balochi, and saw the “political liquidation of the sardar” as a way of eliminating this blockade.

Image via Gaby Pruneda


[1] See People’s Front, London, Volume 2, No. 6-7, 1975, p. 5

[2] Ibid. p.3-4

[3] The Herald, Karachi, July 1986, p. 59

[4] In the Supreme Court of Pakistan: “Written Statement of Khan Abdul Wali Khan”, Peshawar, 1975, p.48

[5] People’s Front, vol. 2, No. 1, 1974, p. 3

1950 onwards – One Unit Scheme, Ayub Khan, etc. (The Balochistan Series – Part 2)

This is the first installment of ‘The Balochistan Series’ here on my blog. To see more of the series, click here

The One Unit Scheme announced by PM Mohammad Ali Bogra in 1954 was the bureaucracy-dominated Muslim League-government’s counterbalance against the numerical domination of the ethnic Bengalis of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). One may ask how the implementation of this scheme affected Baloch sentiments. The birth of modern Baloch national consciousness can be traced back to this period, the 1950s and 1960s, while the Scheme was in place. Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri, who encouraged the active participation of his tribe members in the  conflicts of the 60s and 70s, said, “Our people have slowly sensed that they [Pakistanis] would destroy our identity as a nation if we did not fight back.”[1] (Harrison, In Afghanistan’s Shadow, 1981) By unifying the provinces of West Pakistan, the individual identities of minorities such as the Baloch were subordinated to the Punjabi-dominated center, and the new West Pakistan provincial government, which was a Muhajir-Punjabi establishment.

The Muhajirs and Punjabis dominated Pakistan’s economy as well as its civil-military administration. This was a direct result of the vice-regal system inherited from the British and their control of the state bureaucracy enabled them to shape Pakistan’s structure and identity according to their own perceptions and image. Though this may not have been an intentional effort, it nevertheless resulted in the suppression or sidelining of the rights and concerns of other groups such as the Baloch. According to Bjorn Hettne, Pakistan gradually became “more and more a state for Punjabis”[2]. (Breseeg, 2004) The 1948 announcement by Liaquat Ali Khan that Urdu would be the sole national language is often viewed in terms of inspiring anti-center feelings amongst the population of East Pakistan. It became the centerpiece of emerging Bengali nationalism, but also the “further politicization of the Balochi”[3] (Breseeg, 2004) Jinnah’s 1948 address at Sibi was, in all probability, well-meant, but misperceived. He stated that until the Constitution of Pakistan was finalized, Balochistan would continue to be administered by him directly.

Nationalists viewed this as Jinnah’s support of a dictatorship in Balochistan, and all the evils associated with the term ‘dictator’ were thus exploited to fuel nationalist tendencies. Viewed from a different perspective, however, we see that Jinnah and the center most likely were not aiming to alienate the Baloch. At the time of Pakistan’s independence, the most educated and experienced in the work of bureaucracy and government were those whom Hamza Alavi refers to as the ‘salariat’, and these were most Mohajirs. As for economic dominance, it was the Muslim landlords in the Punjab that were in the strongest position to fund the infant government and employ policies in their respective areas. How could other groups expect to be given a part in government directly, immediately, and to have an entirely equitable democracy, where there is no “unfair” distribution of power, when the state had only just been formed, and was still on unsteady feet? It is not only natural, but also logical for a state to rely on its most capable citizens and institutions in times of instability, to strengthen its infrastructure and govern areas where there is, as yet, no viable alternative.

Balochistan was, as Jinnah matter-of-factly stated, “very underdeveloped” and had no system whereby a single leader (with the necessary skills) from amongst the Baloch themselves could be unanimously chosen. Who better to administer the province than the founder of the country himself, a man who has time and again proven his concern for the rights of minorities and the principles of justice and honesty?

The Balochistan States Union was established in 1951, wherein Lasbela, Makran and Kharan were merged into Kalat and these four territories would share a common executive, legislature and judiciary, under the common Constitution of Pakistan, with the PM a nominee of the Pakistani government. This was combated by Pakistan’s recent ally, the United States. Within the context of the Cold War, the US encouraged the implementation of the One Unit Scheme, even though it would result in the removal of domestic autonomy enjoyed by the Baloch. “It was seen as a way of consolidating the Pakistani state, which would serve as a now-stronger link in the anti-Communist chain… part of the Western strategy of ringing the Soviet Union with military and air bases.” (Breseeg, 2004)

The switch from the Muslim League government to the military dictatorship of Ayub Khan in 1958 did not bring about any change as far the One Unit Scheme was concerned. The Khan of Kalat mobilized widespread demonstrations along with tribal chieftains, protesting against the Scheme. Main opposition to the Scheme, was however, led by the Utaman Gall and later, the National Awami Party (NAP). One day before the declaration of martial law, the Pakistan army entered Balochistan as a response to the continuous agitation for self-determination. The Khan and his advisors were arrested, along with approx. 300 other Baloch leaders. This was the second anti-government rebellion (the first was that inspired by accession to Pakistan) in the 11 years Pakistan had been around.

In 1959, Nawab Nauroz KhanZehri, the chief of the Zehri tribe, emerged as the

Muhammad Ali Bogra

leader of a small resistance force and gathered his supporters in the hills. His opposition was centered on the fact that his house and properties had been either bombed or confiscated by the government. He and his advisors were tricked into leaving their stronghold (which eventually led to their arrest) in the name of the Holy Quran, the Muslim Holy writ. They were tried and sentenced to death in Hyderabad. According to former NDP president Sherbaz Khan Mazari, “after the atrocity and suppression the army committed… the Baloch felt it was a raiding army, and not their army… that was the time, when Balochistan’s national spirit and national identity spread, and continued right up to Bhutto ages”[4]. (Breseeg, 2004)

 The Bengali NAP’s position of provincial autonomy enabled Baloch nationalists to express their own alternative view of what the Pakistani state should be. In the 1960s, several changes were implemented in Balochistan by the center. Traditional sardars were removed from power, and replaced by center-friendly counterparts. Among these sacked sardars were Ataullah Mengal, Khair Buksh Marri and Akbar Bugti – three men who have played a prominent role in Baloch politics since then. The replacement of leaders that saw it as their birthright to rule, and whom the people naturally looked up to as leaders, was bound to result in confrontation between the Baloch and the center. Fanned by the waves of separatist propaganda that this inspired, the Baloch Student Organisation (BSO) was formed in 1967, the Balochi language was homogenized, and the Balochi press became more prominent than ever before.

The Balochis no longer viewed themselves as a series of individual tribes; a cohesive ethnic identity had now formed. The causes for this are many and varied: improved communication facilities, infrastructure, transport, the emergence of a small middle-class sector of society, the shared feelings of neglect and rejection to the One Unit Scheme. This initial cause for resistance soon bloomed into a plethora of complaints: economic inequality, Punjabi colonization, domination of civil-military bureaucracy, political inequality, lack of opportunities, etc.

The center’s reaction, sadly, is one that may be termed typical. The government ordered an intensification of military operations, and Ayub Khan is quoted as threatening the Baloch with “total extinction” if they continued their resistance. (Baluch, 1975) Violence begets violence, and we see that as one thing led to another, nationalist publications such as the Chingari prospered, the Balochistan People’s Liberation Front grew stronger, and guerrilla fighters started to establish base camps. The nominated sardars were killed, and Balochi rebels geared up by stating their aims (varying between autonomy and sovereignty) openly, and unabashedly.

 “The elite, in particular the army elite, has never recognized ethnic identities. From Ayub Khan to Pervez Musharraf, the army elite has always tried to promote a united Pakistan… To achieve unity, the army rule of the country has almost always favored military solutions over political ones and has tended to reinforce separatist tendencies. Cognizant of their province’s strategic and economic importance, the Baluch have been all the more resentful of the military’s arrogance and contempt.” (Grare, 2006)


[1] P. 47-48

[2] Bjorn Hettne, Att studera Internationella relationer, Goteborg: Padrigu Papers, 1990, pp. 75-76

[3] Miangul Jahanzeb, The Last Wali of Swat: An Autobiography as told to Frederick Barth, Oslo: Univesitetsforlaget, 1985, pp. 51, 114

[4] Interview with Sherbaz Khan Mazari

The Athenian Democracy

Early Athenian Coin, an "owl"

Image via Wikipedia

“It is true that we are called a democracy, for the administration is in the hands of the many and not of the few.” – Pericles (Athenian statesman, 5th century B.C.) (IED, 2006)

Even though Greece is often considered the birthplace of democracy, most ancient Greeks did not live in democracies. Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle were not particularly enamored with the most important democracy Greece produced – that in Athens. This thought paper will attempt to describe the nature of the Athenian democracy, highlighting three points which are striking contrasts to modern-day democracy.

The Athenian democracy was an experiment in direct democracy, implying that it was not elected representatives that made decisions, such as prime ministers, mayors, etc. but rather the citizens themselves. These citizens participated on a scale that was truly phenomenal in today’s terms. Keeping this in mind, it may be interesting to note that voter opinions were often sharply influenced by the political satire present in the poetry and drama of the age. Influencing factors which today play a central role, such as aggressive campaigning & lobbying by interest groups were by no means absent.

Even a direct democracy needs a core of public officials. In Athens, these were elected by lot. All individuals interested in holding a post would submit their names, and these would be randomly drawn, with the position allotted to the lucky winner. He would assume his role as statesman for the duration of a year, after which he may not apply for the same post again. This was seen as a way of opening the doors of statesmanship to all, regardless of material wealth, prominence, etc. This may also be seen as a highly inefficient way of doing things. (Carbondale, 1999) If we continue with the idea of one man holding one post for one year, and then possibly reapplying to be in the government (but only while holding a completely different post), we see that Athens was run by amateurs. There were no professional politicians; no professional lawyers or judges, no professional civil service. Citizens were literally unbound, and could pursue any policy they wished. Taxes could one day be raised, and the next day cut to half of the previous amount, laws could be passed and repealed from one voting to the next. This leads us to the natural conclusion that the Athenian democracy was an inefficient system. Without a constitution to keep them in check, a citizen’s right one day could be his death sentence the next. All this, unsurprisingly, resulted in problems of stability, which the Athenians later took into account as they made reforms to their system. (Blackwell, 2003)

It is clear that the Athenian system differs from what we know as democracy today, but most offensive to our modern-day sensibilities is the notion of Athens’ so-called “universal suffrage”. Even though Pericles said “the laws secure equal justice to all alike in their private disputes”, we see that his words had a much narrower scope than we would imagine. Only adult males who had undergone a compulsory military training were allowed to vote. Only 20% of the men of Athens actually participated in government. This excluded the majority of the population, namely slaves, freed slaves, children, women. Women had limited rights and privileges and were not really considered citizens. Their movement in public was restricted and they were very segregated from the men. The slaves were essentially Greek ‘untouchables’ who did the menial tasks of farming, etc. to run the city while the privileged male ‘citizens’ spent their time on philosophy and government.

“If democracy is such a good thing, let’s have more of it.” – Dick Gregory 

 

My reasons for Pakistan’s dismal democratic experience.

Through the 64 of Pakistan’s existence, there has never been a stable democratic government to complete its term in parliament. At Partition, East and West Pakistan were divided by a 1000-mile stretch of hostile Indian territory, and to develop a unified government at this stage “dictated little margin for error and great concern for control” (LaPorte, 1999). The colonial inheritance of the vice-regal system has dominated Pakistani politics from day one, and though it has decreased since then, it is still prevalent in government today. The leadership gap that emerged after Jinnah’s death was not filled until Ayub Khan came into power in 1958. The country has produced three constitutions, each one fundamentally different from the others, and the current one, established in 1973 has been altered by various amendments in a continuous tussle between governments to please the public or solidify their power.

Public decision-making was not open to ordinary citizens under the first two constitutions. Acts of political manipulation such as the One-Unit Plan to create parity and what was widely perceived as favoritism towards West-Pakistan led to the secession of East Pakistan in 1971, and greatly weakened the impression of the government in the eyes of the people. Furthermore, democracy has taken a back seat to military rule for over 30 years – approximately half of the time since the creation of Pakistan. The ongoing struggle between the posts of President and Prime Minister, over the power to dismiss the parliament, has only weakened the State’s legitimacy and authority. Instability has prevented any solid democratic institutions to be formed. Dictatorships fill the gaps between democratic governments, each regime wiping out the progress of its predecessor in an attempt to prove itself the better of the two.

Loopholes and overlooked details in major reform programs such an Bhutto’s nationalization of major industries instead of consumer goods, Ayub Khan’s tilted-one-way economic development policies, land reforms that could be surpassed with a simple change of names on the ownership documents, and of course the simple act of corruption – bribing an official not to report you, bribing a politician to give you an exemption, etc. have led to a weakening of the legitimacy of any government, democratic or otherwise. Pakistan’s democracy has never been given a fair chance at survival.

The Complete Persepolis

Here, in one volume, is Marjane Satrapi‘s best-selling, internationally acclaimed memoir-in-comic-strips. “Persepolis” is the story of Satrapi’s unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution; of the contradictions between private and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high school years in Vienna, facing the trials of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming, both sweet and terrible; and, finally, of her self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland. It is the chronicle of a girlhood and adolescence at once outrageous and familiar, a young life entwined with the history of her country yet filled with the universal trials and joys of growing up. Edgy, searingly observant and candid, often heartbreaking but threaded throughout with raw humor and hard-earned wisdom; “Persepolis” is a stunning work from one of the most highly regarded, singularly talented graphic artists at work today.

“Here’s the problem, today, the description of the world is always reduced to yes or no, black or white. Superficial stories. Superhero stories. One side is the good one. The other one is evil. But I’m not a moral lesson giver. It’s not for me to say what is right or wrong. I describe situations as honestly as possible. The way I saw it. That’s why I use my own life as material. I’ve seen these things myself, and now I’m telling it to you. Because the world is not about Batman and Robin fighting the Joker; things are more complicated than that. And nothing is scarier than the people who try to find easy answers to complicated questions.”
– Marjane Satrapi, in an interview with Believer magazine, August 2006

How the British Maintained Power in Undivided India

Taj Mahal, Agra, India.

Image via Wikipedia

1) Patronage: the British center would become the patron of local elites by granting them economic (land titles) and political (making them nawabs, appointment to councils) influence, in exchange for their loyalty and commitment.

2) The Brits restricted the executive control of the administration & legislature, in the hands of different councils (viceroy’s council, etc). Majority of members in these councils were British and only appointed Indians favored by the British, could join them.

3) The British favored a strong central government to exercise maximum British control over the political and economic affairs of the Indians. The provinces were given limited power and Indian political participation was confined to the provinces.

4) Limited franchise meant that voting rights were not available to the entire population. Only those individuals who owned a certain amount of land, or paid a certain level of taxes were allowed to vote.

5) The system on diarchy created two centers of power. The Indians got elected ministers by 1919, but the ministers had to report their decisions to the bureacracy, which had the final say on the matter, and was controlled by the center.

Nuclear Arms Race – A Timeline

The following is a timeline of the nuclear arms race that I put together using different books and online sources during my high school days. I used this timeline to prepare for my final World History exam, and am posting it on my blog to help other students who, like me, just can’t get the hang of all those dates!

  • July 1945: US successfully tests the first atom bomb. US has uncontested arms superiority over the Soviet Union.
  • 1946: Baruch Plan: Truman suggests the US turn all nuclear weapons and the means of producing them over to the newly formed UN, while not relinquishing their monopoly until a foolproof system of international inspection was in place. Rejected by Stalin.
  • 1947: Truman Doctrine & Marshall Plan
  • 1948-1949: Berlin Blockade
  • August 29, 1949: Soviets develop the atomic bomb. The US no longer has an atomic monopoly; It would have to build more atomic bombs if it was to maintain a quantitative and qualitative lead over the USSR. President Harry Truman authorized an accelerated production of atomic bombs. At this time the US had less than 200.
  • October 1st, 1949: Mao Zedong wins. Communist China is born.
  • 1950-1953: Korean War
    Atomic bombs were not used despite increasing military necessity because they had been developed for use against cities, industrial complexes, military bases and transportation networks. Few of these existed on the Korean peninsula. The Truman administration did undertake planning to drop these bombs on Chinese military facilities and cities north of the Yalu River in 1951. Unassembled atomic weapons were transferred to Pacific bases. But this was never carried out.
  • 1950: US has 369 operational atomic bombs and the USSR has 5.
  • January 31, 1950: President Harry Truman announces that US is developing thermonuclear bomb (H-bomb one thousand times stronger than A-bomb). He resisted a buildup of American conventional forces, chiefly because of the cost. Producing more nuclear bombs would be far cheaper than building up and maintaining conventional forces.
    In the same year Kennan points out that historically, the use of force had been a means to an end other than warfare, an end which did not negate the principle of life itself. Atomic and hydrogen bombs, however, did have this quality. The idea that weapons could be developed but not used was unfamiliar at this time. Thermonuclear weapons were seen as psychologically necessary, not militarily. Not having them would induce panic throughout the West if the Soviet Union got them. Having them would produce reassurance and deterrence: whatever advantages Stalin might have obtained from his atomic bomb would be cancelled, and the US would remain ahead in the nuclear arms race. If the US could build the hydrogen bomb, then it must build it. Even if the Soviets developed a hydrogen bomb, it would be better, Truman concluded, for both sides to have it than for the Soviet Union to have an H-bomb monopoly. To be behind in any category of weaponry – or even to appear to be – would risk disaster. The problem was not so much how to defeat an adversary as how to convince him not to go to war in the first place. An absolute weapon of war would become the means by which war remained an instrument of politics, for “bargaining purposes” as Truman said.
  • November 1, 1952: US has successful H-bomb.
  • August 12, 1953: USSR has successful H-bomb.
  • January 1953: Truman leaves office. Eisenhower is now President until 1961. Stalin passes away. Malenkov takes over USSR govt. as one of the triumvirate that succeeded Stalin. Malenkov denounced the use of nuclear weaponry. Khrushchev comes to power until 1964.
    During the final months of the Korean War, Eisenhower repeatedly pushed his military advisors to find ways in which the US might use both strategic and recently developed ‘tactical’ nuclear weapons to bring the fighting to an end. In the 1950s, many in the US still believed that a limited nuclear war could be fought.
  • 1955: Warsaw Pact & start of Vietnam War (till 1975)
  • 1956: Hungarian Revolution & Sino-Soviet conflict begins.
  • 1961-1963: JFK is President until his assassination.
  • 1961: Flexible Response Strategy implemented by Kennedy. & Berlin Crisis [the brain drain]
  • 1962: Cuban Missile Crisis.
  • 1963-1969: Lyndon B. Johnson is President.
  • 1963: Partial or Limited Test Ban Treaty (PTBT/LTBT): Also put forth by Kennedy; banned nuclear tests in the atmosphere, underwater and in space. However, neither France nor China (both Nuclear Weapon States) signed.
  • 1968: Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT): Established the U.S., USSR, UK, France, and China as five “Nuclear-Weapon States”. Non-Nuclear Weapon states were prohibited from (among other things) possessing, manufacturing, or acquiring nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. All 187 signatories were committed to the goal of (eventual) nuclear disarmament.
    Brezhnev Doctrine announced.
  • 1969: Nixon becomes President till 1974.
  • 1969-1972: Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT I) produced a superpower agreement capping the number of intercontinental and submarine-launched ballistic missiles each side could deploy, as well as a treaty banning anything other than symbolic defenses against missiles. Signed by Nixon and Brezhnev at the Moscow Summit.
    Importance:

    • Both superpowers understood that continuing the arms race made them both insecure.
    • US recognized that USSR was now its equal in nuclear capabilities, and ahead of it in some categories of weaponry.
    • MAD logic was accepted: remaining defenseless against a nuclear attack was the best way to keep one from happening.
    • Accepted spy satellites as a way of verifying compliance with these agreements.

Limitations:
1. Like détente, it evaded issues such as nuclear arms reduction. The production of nuclear arms was frozen, but not reduced.
2. Arms imbalance was not addressed. US missiles were more accurate than Soviet ones and many had multiple warheads, but Soviets numerically had more missiles, though of inferior quality.
3. There was no limit on long-range bombers which the US had in greater quantity, short-range ones, missiles on ships and with NATO, as well as the nuclear arsenals of Britain and France.

Jackson Vanik Amendments: The US Congress would not accept Soviet superiority in any form, and passed these amendments, calling for numerical equality in all weapons systems covered. This strained US-USSR relations and complicated the future of SALT II by insisting of some form of equivalency in systems that were not in themselves equivalent.

  • 1972: Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM): Entered into between the U.S. and USSR [Nixon and Brezhnev] to limit the anti-ballistic missile (ABM) systems used in defending areas against missile-delivered nuclear weapons; ended by the US in 2002.
    In a joint statement of Basic Principles, Nixon and Brezhnev promised that their countries would seek to avoid efforts to obtain unilateral advantage at the expense of the other. Stability had come to characterize superpower relations In Europe, NE Asia, the rest of Asia, Middle East, Africa and Latin America. They would reject whatever opportunities might arise to shift the status quo in those parts of the world. These principles were not to be taken literally. The Russians viewed it as an acknowledgement of parity with the US. US saw it as a way to contain Russia. Efforts to reduce the danger of nuclear war had to be linked to an end of the constant Soviet pressure against the global balance of power.
  • 1972-1977: SALT II negotiations dragged on for more than 6 years. It was a more open process, but also a less successful one. Salt II was a controversial experiment of negotiations between Jimmy Carter and Leonid Brezhnev from 1977 to 1979 between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, which sought to curtail the manufacture of strategic nuclear weapons. It was a continuation of the progress made during the SALT I talks. SALT II was the first nuclear arms treaty which assumed real reductions in strategic forces to 2,250 of all categories of delivery vehicles on both sides.

The SALT II Treaty banned new missile programs so both sides were forced to limit their new strategic missile types development although US preserved their most essential programs like Trident and cruise missiles, which President Carter wished to use as his main defensive weapon as they were too slow to have first strike capability. Six months after the signing, the Soviet Union deployed troops to Afghanistan, and in September of the same year, the so called Soviet Brigade in Cuba was discovered. In light of these developments, the treaty was never formally ratified by the United States Senate. Its terms were, nonetheless, honored by both sides until 1986 when the Reagan Administration withdrew from SALT II after accusing the Soviets of violating the pact.

  • 1973: Arab-Israeli Yom Kippur War
  • 1974: Threshold Test Ban Treaty: Capped Nuclear tests at 150 kilotons.
  • 1976-1981: Jimmy Carter is President.
  • 1979: Soviets invade Afghanistan and the Second Cold War begins. Détente ends.
  • 1981-1989: Ronald Reagan in President. Gorbachev is leading the USSR at this point.
  • 1993: Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty II (START II): 1993. Will reduce the numbers of U.S. and Russian long-range missiles and nuclear warheads from 6,000 per side to 3,500-3,000 per side.

Assumptions of the Cold War and the nuclear arms race in the 1980s:

  • A continuous superpower stalemate from the 1980s onwards.
  • A divided Berlin in a divided Germany in a divided Europe.
  • Strategies of deterrence claimed that the best way to defend their countries was to have no defenses at all, but rather tens of thousands of missiles poised for launch at a moment’s notice.
  • Theorists of international relations insisted that bipolar systems were more stable than multipolar systems, and that the Soviet-American bipolarity would last as far into the future as anyone could see.
  • Diplomatic historians maintained that Cold War had evolved into a long peace, an era of stability.

Was Pakistan REALLY made for Islam?

Khalid bin Sayeed begins his article,Pakistan: The Formative Phase (1857-1948), with the simple question, “How does one explain the origin of Pakistan?”[1] and it is with this that he jumps straight to the crux of the matter. Was the creation of Pakistan a victory of religious ideals, a personal accomplishment of the great Mr. Jinnah, the culmination of the white man’s evil design of ‘divide and conquer’, or was it something less romantic – a mere result of ethnic tensions, concerned with economic rights and seats in the assemblies?

Was the creation of Pakistan based solely on Hindu-Muslim incompatibility with regards to their separate religious ideologies, or was the underlying socio-economic and ethnic tension the main cause of Partition?

Firstly, we see that in the many events that led to Partition, very few had any direct relevance to religion. Initially, the Congress and the League were not always enemies. The demands of the League and the early Congress were remarkably similar. Not until the Hindu Mahasaba shot down Muslim proposals in 1928, did Jinnah stop fighting for a united victory. Persecution by the British after the Indian Revolt (1857) had pushed the ulema & mullahs out of the political arena. It was only with the Khilafat Movement (1918) that Gandhi “implanted the religious idiom in modern Indian-Muslim politics”.[1] Also, the political aims and ideas of all of India’s Muslims were not in accordance until the 1940’s.

The ulema felt displaced by the introduction of English into all government institutions, which left them with little or no authority, and felt betrayed by the Muslim salariat and educationists who accepted this change. Wealthy Muslim landed elites in the Punjab were aligned with the Unionist Party, which protected their power-structures within the province and they saw little reason to extend their interests to the national level. It was only when the withdrawal of the British from India had become inevitable, and Nehru had declared a dramatic land reform program that they decided to throw their weight behind the Muslim League. It was a purely political maneuver to preserve their feudal structures and had little or nothing to do with Muslim unity. The Muslim salariat were concerned primarily with their jobs in government. Muslim and Hindu professionals were “pitted against each other because their lives and careers were embedded within the rival institutionalized communities… Muslim ashraf were preoccupied…ignored poor Muslims and their problems.”[2] Peasants in Muslim-majority Bengal were concerned with basic economic provisions more than government seats. The majority was poor and wanted nothing more than decent living. So while the League claimed to represent all the Muslims of India, this ‘nation’ of distinct peoples, in reality it could not unite them under a single banner.

The economic, social, and political needs of each group were divergent. How was the Muslim League to bring them all together without a defined political agenda, and how was this agenda to be formed? Concede land reforms to Bengalis, and the Punjabis are in disagreement. Protect the feudals, and you are no longer fighting for the masses, as you claim. Fight for seats in government, but how can you win them when you don’t have the support of the majority of India’s Muslim population?

For 400 years, a minority ruled over the majority in India. With the advent of the British, Muslims realized that they had been “reduced to inferior economic and social status”.[3] Competition between the Hindus and the Muslims was fairly one-sided as the Muslims had not readily accepted the arrival of the British, the end of Mughal power, and the introduction of English. As such, the Hindus had a head start in taking over government posts. Muslims ignored the calls of Sir Syed to ingratiate themselves with the white man. They were nostalgic, trapped in the past of Mughal glamour and unable to come to terms with the harsh reality of the present. The Muslims were on the losing end of a fight for the representation, equality and rights to which they had been accustomed under Muslim rule. To them, the idea of a separate state, the idea of Pakistan, a separate place just for Muslims, was extremely attractive because it would, in effect, eliminate the competition.

What was the one thing that the Muslims of India had in common? They were Muslim. This was the League’s ticket. With the support of the Punjabi land magnates guaranteed by their reluctance to have their lands broken up by the Congress reform program, and the salariat entranced by the idea of not having to compete for jobs, how was the League to bring together the final piece – the Bengalis? A religious movement came into shape. The Muslims were a separate people; the Two-Nation Theory of cooperation presented by Sir Syed was overhauled in favor of a Hindu-exclusivist approach. What the Muslim League now declared was that “Muslims were a separate nation by virtue of their common faith in Islam. As a nation, it was entitled to the right of self-determination over territories where Muslims were in majority”.[4] This was to be the basis on which the Muslims fought for a separate national identity.

Despite present-day claims to the contrary, we can clearly see that the Muslim League had consistently maintained a secular stance, excluding the Khilafat Movement. When Pakistan was finally made, Jinnah declared, “You may belong to any religion or caste or creed. That has nothing to do with the business of the state.”[5] With this, he was only reinforcing the League’s secular approach. It was 22 years later that General Sher Ali announced that ‘Islamic ideology’ was to be ‘Pakistan ideology’.


[1] Alavi, Hamza. “Misreading Partition Road Signs,” Economic & Political Weekly (Nov 2-9, 2002): 4515-4523

[2] Alavi, Hamza, “Social Forces and Ideology in the Making of Pakistan,” Economic and Political Weekly (Dec 21, 2002): 5119-5124

[3] Sayeed, Khalid bin. Pakistan: The Formative Phase (1857-1948).
Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2nd edition, 1969, pages 3-12.

[4] Ahmed, Ishtiaq. “Nationalism: Inclusive vs. Exclusive – I.” Daily Times, Opinion, June 29, 2010

[5] Alavi, Hamza, “Social Forces and Ideology in the Making of Pakistan,” Economic and Political Weekly (Dec 21, 2002): 5119-5124


[1] Sayeed, Khalid bin. Pakistan: The Formative Phase (1857-1948).
Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2nd edition, 1969, pages 3-12.

End-Term Presentation, and 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Hitler.

It’s Friday evening, and along with two friends, I’m hunched over my laptop in the research lab, scanning pages and pages of information on the most popular demagogue of the twentieth century, none other than Adolf Hitler. Classes have ended for the day, and we’re are parched, each of us wishing we had a softmint to chew on. Thanks to the young lab technician we can no longer sip on our Cokes as we work. My two friends are busy cutting, pasting, paraphrasing and working Microsoft Powerpoint to the core, trying out all it’s themes and features. How snazzy can you make your presentation look? we ask each other between laughs and furrowed-brow Google-ing.

The other lab technician, the older man, occupies a seat in the same row as us, towards the very end and he constantly disrupts our concentration. After all, he’s got earphones wrapped around his head, a hat pulled down low as he sings along to the latest Justin Bieber mix. Baby baby baby oooh, like baby baby baby nooo. Won’t you always be mine? How could we resist the random giggle, as we lost control of our composure? While we worked, so did he, right through renditions of N’Sync‘s I want it that way, and Bon Jovi’s It’s My Life, head bobbing back and forth, foot swaying and tap-tapping to the beat.

Our presentation is scheduled for Monday, which we were all hoping was a holiday since it is Muhtarma Benazir Bhutto‘s death anniversary. Surprisingly, we did not get the day off, and with this grief weighing heavily in our hearts we set to work, determined to get at least something done.

Hitler. Hitler. Adolf Hitler. Amid photos of soldiers performing the Hitler salute Heil! and women crying into swastika-printed handkerchiefs, I came across some interesting facts:

1. Young Adolf‘s mother developed terminal breast cancer and was treated by a Jewish doctor who served the poor.

2. ‘Hitler’ was Adolf’s mother’s maiden name. Adolf’s father’s surname was Schickelgruber, and he was illegitimately born.

3. As a young boy, Adolf dreamed of entering the priesthood. For six months, the family lived across from a large, Benedictine monastery whose coat of arms featured a large, bold swastika. (Ooh, I wonder where he got the idea for the Nazi symbol!)

4. Virtually penniless in 1909, he wandered Vienna as a transient, sleeping in bars, flophouses, and shelters for the homeless, including, ironically, those financed by Jewish philanthropists. He existed in a hand-to-mouth fashion on occasional odd jobs and the hawking of sketches in low taverns.

5. Hitler was married! His long-time mistress, Eva Braun became his wife in a short, civil ceremony. She remained his wife for 40 hours, at the end of which she ate a cyanide pill and committed suicide along with her husband, as they were cornered by the opposing forces. Hitler’s officers no longer stood with him, and the couple decided to kill themselves in Hitler’s bunker. The German public was wholly unaware of Ms. Braun’s existence until after her death.

Collapse of the USSR

US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General ...

Image via Wikipedia

I was recently engrossed in a debate about the importance of nuclear weapons, which inevitably led to a debate about the reasons for the collapse of the USSR. This post is going to focus on how internal factors were more important than external forces in bringing the Soviet Era to an end in 1991.

The political class had lost the will to rule, and the ruled had lost the will to resist.

Towards the end of the Cold War, the Soviet Union was wracked with problems. Though relations with the West were significantly relaxed, the USSR’s home-grown issues were rapidly increasing. In a way, it was the internal issues that led to the development of its external issues.

Gorbachev had no alternative but to end the Second Cold War confrontation with the US because it was bleeding the economy. He convinced the Western governments of this purpose, as a result of which he became extremely popular in the West. This did not prove true in the USSR. Gorbachev and Reagen met in 1986-7, agreeing to cut down and destroy thousands of land-based missiles. In 1989, Soviet forces withdrew from Afghanistan, also under Gorbachev.

The Soviet Union disintegrated because glasnost brought an end to the structure of authority and perestroika destroyed the old mechanism without producing any new ones. The country moved towards electoral democracy along with economic anarchy. In 1989, for the first time, Russia did not have a five year plan.

Politically, the USSR had decentralized. The republics had an unprecedented degree of autonomy and by Brezhnev’s time, the party chiefs were dependent on the central party apparatus for postings & transfers – besides this, they were autonomous. The “second economy” functioned on a system of deals, barters and exchange of favors. The command economy was inefficient and corrupt. Party authority was all that remained. As Gorbachev and Yeltsin worked to shift their power base from party to state, nobody took any notice; there was no more ‘governing’ or ‘obeying’ in the Soviet Union anymore. A rudderless Soviet state drifted towards disintegration. As constitutional president, Gorbachev had legally accumulated powers greater in theory than any earlier Soviet leader had ever enjoyed, surpassing even Stalin.

Economic dissolution led to political fragmenting. There was no Plan, no command, no national economy left. A rush for bilateral exchanges, barter, self protection & self sufficiency prevailed. The economy had effectively relapsed into primitive practices.

By 1989, the situation was beyond repair. The breakdown followed the calling of new democratic assemblies (such as in France, 1789). The entire process of economic collapse took place between October 1989 and May 1990.

Party and State continued to wither away slowly until August of 1991. Perestroika had failed. The last years of the Soviet Union were a slow motion catastrophe. The Eastern European satellites fell in 1989. Moscow reluctantly accepted German  re-unification. All semblance of international power was now lost. The USSR was unable to play a role in the Gulf War of 1990-1991.

The last two years of the once-superpower’s life were marked by hunger and shortages. This, naturally, colored everything. Reformers thought nothing could be done without completely hacking down the old system and building a new one from scratch. This theory was based on free-market-system-based-ignorance & was supported by US & Brit economists who knew nothing about the Soviet economy. Both knew the system wasn’t working, but nobody proposed how to change it. Elementary economic concepts were repeated. Adam Smith’s invisible hand was idealised. Once supply and demand began working, shelves would be stacked full of good. This did not happen.

The final crisis was political – not economic. Once the center, Russia, dissolved, break up was inevitable. August 20th. Coup d’etat. This proved unsuccessful since there was neither a central power nor obedience by the people. Yeltsin dissolved the Communist Party & took over the Russian Republic and whatever was left of the USSR (which formally ceased to exist a few months later).

The problems of state, society and economy were worse. There was a rush of total separation, and now all semblance of a union and the Commonwealth of Independent States soon lost all reality. A reversal of 400 years of Russian history.

The collapse of the Soviet Union was driven by the collapse of the political system, the inability to reform, and increasing socio-economic problems. The breakdown of Communism in Eastern Europe began in 1980 and the clash with the West had lessened to a great degree. The US & USSR were negotiating arms limitation deals, deterrent policies, etc.

So everything external was kind of ranked second place when compared to all the turmoil within.