Problems at independence


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Problems at independence

  1. 1. Problems at IndependenceIn August 1947, Pakistan was faced with a number of problems, someimmediate but others long term. The most important of these concerns wasthe role played by Islam. Was Pakistan to be a secular state serving as ahomeland for Muslims of the subcontinent, or was it to be an Islamic stategoverned by the sharia, in which non-Muslims would be second-classcitizens? The second question concerned the distribution of power betweenthe center and the provincial governments, a question that eventually led tothe dissolution of the country with the painful loss of the East Wing (EastBengal, later East Pakistan, now Bangladesh) in 1971, an issue that remainedunresolved in the mid-1990s.The territory of Pakistan was divided into two parts at independence,separated by about 1,600 kilometers of Indian territory. The 1940 LahoreResolution had called for independent "states" in the northwest and thenortheast. This objective was changed, by a 1946 meeting of Muslim Leaguelegislators to a call for a single state (the acronym Pakistan had no letter forBengal). Pakistan lacked the machinery, personnel, and equipment for a newgovernment. Even its capital, Karachi, was a second choice--Lahore wasrejected because it was too close to the Indian border. Pakistans economyseemed enviable after severing ties with India, the major market for itscommodities. And much of Punjabs electricity was imported from Indianpower stations.Above all other concerns were the violence and the refugee problem: Muslimswere fleeing India; Hindus and Sikhs were fleeing Pakistan. Jinnahs plea toregard religion as a personal matter, not a state matter, was ignored. No onewas prepared for the communal rioting and the mass movements ofpopulation that followed the June 3, 1947, London announcement of imminentindependence and partition. The most conservative estimates of thecasualties were 250,000 dead and 12 million to 24 million refugees. Theactual boundaries of the two new states were not even known until August 17,when they were announced by a commission headed by a British judge. Theboundaries-- unacceptable to both India and Pakistan--have remained.West Pakistan lost Hindus and Sikhs. These communities had managedmuch of the commercial activity of West Pakistan. The Sikhs were especiallyprominent in agricultural colonies. They were replaced largely by Muslimsfrom India, mostly Urdu speakers from the United Provinces. Although somepeople, especially Muslims from eastern Punjab (in India), settled in westernPunjab (in Pakistan), many headed for Karachi and other cities in Sindh,where they took the jobs vacated by departing Hindus. In 1951 close to half ofthe population of Pakistans major cities were immigrants (muhajirs--refugeesfrom India and their descendants).The aspirations for Pakistan that had been so important to Muslims in Muslim-minority provinces and the goals for the new state these urban refugees hadfled to were not always compatible with those of the traditional rural people
  2. 2. already inhabiting Pakistan, whose support for the concept of Pakistan camemuch later. Pakistani society was polarized from its inception.The land and people west of the Indus River continued to pose problems. Themost immediate problem was the continued presence of a Congressgovernment in the North-West Frontier Province, a government effective atthe grassroots level and popular despite the loss of the plebiscite. Led byKhan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and his Khudai-i-Khitmagar (Servants of God, aCongress faction), this group was often referred to as the Red Shirts after itsmembers attire. Ghaffar Khan asked his followers not to participate in the July1947 plebiscite.Pakistan also had to establish its legitimacy against a possible challenge fromAfghanistan. Irredentist claims from Kabul were based on the ethnic unity oftribes straddling the border; the emotional appeal of "Pakhtunistan," homelandof the Pakhtuns, was undeniable. However, Pakistan upheld the treatiesBritain had signed with Afghanistan and refused to discuss the validity of theDurand Line as the international border (see The Forward Policy , this ch.).Relations with Afghanistan were hostile, resulting in the rupture of diplomaticand commercial relations and leading Afghanistan to cast the only voteagainst Pakistans admission to the United Nations (UN) in 1947.The India Independence Act left the princes theoretically free to accede toeither dominion. The frontier princely states of Dir, Chitral, Amb, and Hunzaacceded quickly to Pakistan while retaining substantial autonomy in internaladministration and customary law. The khan of Kalat in Balochistan declaredindependence on August 15, 1947, but offered to negotiate a specialrelationship with Pakistan. Other Baloch sardar (tribal chiefs) also expressedtheir preference for a separate identity. Pakistan took military action againstthem and the khan and brought about their accession in 1948. The state ofBahawalpur, with a Muslim ruler and a Muslim population, acceded toPakistan, as did Khairpur.The maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, unpopular among his subjects, wasreluctant to decide on accession to either dominion. He first signedagreements with both Pakistan and India that would provide for the continuedflow of people and goods to Kashmir--as it is usually called--from bothdominions. Alarmed by reports of oppression of fellow Muslims in Kashmir,armed groups from the North-West Frontier Province entered the maharajasterritory. The ruler requested military assistance from India but had to signdocuments acceding to India before that country would provide aid in October1947.The government of Pakistan refused to recognize the accession anddenounced it as a fraud even though the Indian government announced that itwould require an expression of the peoples will through a plebiscite after theinvaders were driven back. Pakistan launched an active military anddiplomatic campaign to undo the accession. The UN Security Councileventually brought about a cease-fire between Pakistani and Indian troops,which took place on January 1, 1949, thus ending the first Indo- Pakistani
  3. 3. War, and directed that a plebiscite be held. The cease- fire agreementformalized the military status quo, leaving about 30 percent of Kashmir underPakistani control (see India , ch. 4; The Formation of Pakistan , ch. 5).Partition and its accompanying confusion also brought severe economicchallenges to the two newly created and antagonistic countries. The partitionplan ignored the principles of complementarity. West Pakistan, for example,traditionally produced more wheat than it consumed and had supplied thedeficit areas in India. Cotton grown in West Pakistan was used in mills inBombay and other west Indian cities. Commodities such as coal and sugarwere in short supply in Pakistan--they had traditionally come from areas nowpart of India. Furthermore, Pakistan faced logistic problems for its commercialtransportation because of the four major ports in British India, it was awardedonly Karachi. But the problem that proved most intractable was definingrelations between the two wings of Pakistan, which had had little economicexchange before partition.The two dominions decided to allow free movement of goods, persons, andcapital for one year after independence, but this agreement broke down. InNovember 1947, Pakistan levied export duties on jute; India retaliated withexport duties of its own. The trade war reached a crisis in September 1949when Britain devalued the pound, to which both the Pakistani rupee and theIndian rupee were pegged. India followed Britains lead, but Pakistan did not,so India severed trade relations with Pakistan. The outbreak of the KoreanWar (1950-53) and the consequent price rises in jute, leather, cotton, andwool as a result of wartime needs, saved the economy of Pakistan. Newtrading relationships were formed, and the construction of cotton and jute millsin Pakistan was quickly undertaken. Although India and Pakistan resumedtrade in 1951, both the volume and the value of trade steadily declined; thetwo countries ignored bilateral trade for the most part and developed the newinternational trade links they had made.The assets of British India were divided in the ratio of seventeen for India tofive for Pakistan by decision of the Viceroys Council in June 1947. Divisionwas difficult to implement, however, and Pakistan complained ofnondeliveries. A financial agreement was reached in December 1948, but theactual settlement of financial and other disputes continued until 1960 (seeStructure of the Economy , ch. 3).Division of the all-India services of the Indian Civil Service and the IndianPolice Service was also difficult. Only 101 out of a total of 1,157 Indianofficers were Muslim. Among these Muslim officers, ninety-five officers optedfor Pakistan; they were joined by one Christian, eleven Muslim military officerstransferring to civilian service, and fifty Britons, for a total of 157. But onlytwenty of them had had more than fifteen years of service, and more than halfhad had fewer than ten years. These men formed the core of the Civil Serviceof Pakistan, which became one of the most elite and privileged bureaucraciesin the world. Members of the Civil Service of Pakistan were the architects ofthe administrative, judicial, and diplomatic services. They provedindispensable in running the government machinery during Pakistans first two
  4. 4. decades, and their contributions to government policy and economics wereprofound during the era of Mohammad Ayub Khan. The Zulfiqar Ali Bhuttogovernment in the 1970s precipitated a major reorganization and reorientationof the bureaucracy, however, which resulted in a noticeable decline in boththe morale and the standards of the bureaucracy (see Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto anda New Constitutional System; Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, 1971-77 , ch. 4).Data as of April 1994