Declaring the India Act of 1935 as centralist, the Muslim majority states of United India, namely, Bengal, Sindh, NWFP and Baluchistan had supported the Lahore Resolution of 1940 for its truly federalist commitment and joined Pakistan in the expectation and belief that they would enjoy autonomy and independence in the new federation of the Muslim majority states.

This is clearly stated in the resolution moved by Saeen G.M. Syed in and adopted by the Sindh Assembly (the first among all the state assemblies of United India to do so) on 3rd April 1943 in support of the Lahore Resolution.

But no sooner did the new country came into being than the blow was struck on the states of Muslim majority territories in flagrant denial of their separate historical, geographical, cultural identities and entities. In the case of Sindh, first blows came in the shape of forcible imposition of Urdu and separation of Karachi by placing it under the Center.

The sovereignty and First Constituent Assembly of Pakistan was exercised through unrepresentative persons, who turned the soil of Pakistan into a theater of war between Capitalist and the Communist Blocks by binding it in the SEATO and CENTO treaties as a pawn in their conspiracies for furtherance of their respective interests. Passage of the Objectives Resolution by the Constituent Assembly on 12th March 1949 as moved by the first prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan and its later (1984)being made with certain amendments a substantive part of the constitution at the behest of the world powers paved the way for more and more entrenchment of the fundamentalist forces.

On the other hand, the idea of frontier less Muslim Ummah was developed in order to deny the historical existence and identity of nations under the notion of strong center. At the same time, majority was kept under the thumb of minority by seizing political power and civil bureaucracy.

ICS, the anti people and corrupt legacy of colonialism, was invested with greater authority and foisted upon political institutions and politicians by the first prime minister of Pakistan, who established a special cadre of central secretaries with Chaudri Muhammad Ali at its head as general secretary, which led to making these secretaries answerable to him instead of political government (the cabinet).

The chief secretaries and IGs of the states never felt themselves to the state governments as they were directly appointed by the center. Favourite junior army officers were deliberately preferred over their seniors for promotions to higher ranks, as a result of which Ayub Khan became commander-in-chief of the army as well as head of the combined armed forces.

Thus, the evil of direct participation of the civil and military bureaucracies in political decisions became a norm. Some sincere, honest, wise, full of the spirit of self sacrifice politicians of the Muslim majority areas like Saeen G.M. Syed, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Abdul Samad Achakzai, Husain Shaheed  Suharwardi, Mian Iftikharuddin, who had suffered a lot in the fight for freedom from the British rule, were, soon after the establishment of the country, constantly kept behind bars and hounded illegally and without any justification by the usurpers of power for raising their voices against obliteration of their nations’ separate identities, the measures to impose foreign languages upon the native languages, the denial of provincial autonomy, aligning religion with politics in governance, patronizing favourite and corrupt politicians and establishment at the cost of welfare of the provinces, infringement of democratic values, unlawful and unconstitutional actions, and disrespect for rule of law.

Yet another action against national entities for obliteration of their separate identities was enforcement of the One Unit scheme in 1955, when their geographical boundaries done away with. Under this chicaner of One Unit the multinational state of Pakistan was turned into an unnatural unitary state with two wings, eastern and western, to continue and protect which direct martial law was imposed in 1958. After 15-year anti One Unit struggle by the people, this unnatural scheme came to its logical end in 1969, when General Yahiya Khan annulled it with the words that the system of One Unit had weakened the integrity of Pakistan. Thereafter, general elections for a constituent assembly were held in 1970. Non-acceptance of the majority mandate that had emerged from these elections resulted in massive protest movement in the eastern wing. Army was moved in to crush the movement, which led to civil war and emergence of that wing as Bangladesh.

What the federation of remaining Pakistan needed in view of its multinational character was a new social contract. Instead, a new constitution was framed in 1972 and 1973 to legalize the system of One Unit by rejuvenating the system of strong center through controlled democracy, where under democracy was equated with numerical majority instead of equality, parliament was kept away from home and foreign affairs, armed forces were strengthened, national democratic parties like National Awami Party were banned, provinces were subjected to military operations after dismissing their governments, and workers of the national political parties imprisoned and harassed for long periods in the name of Defense of Pakistan rules. The new constitution of the country, while recognizing the geographies of its historical nations, manifestly denied its multinational and multi-linguistic character, and powers and resources of the states were placed under legal hold of a strong center by turning them into provinces.                              

Today Pakistan is nominally a country of federal constitution but in actuality it is a peculiar specimen of unitary form of governance in which the national entities/provinces are totally powerless and helpless. All their natural resources, administrative authority and most of legislative powers are hostage to the centralized system. Wealthy persons of rich national entities are considered poor. People are held tight in the snare of hunger, joblessness, poverty and lawlessness because their natural resources and financial means are not being used for their wellbeing. Since declaration of historical homelands of national entities as administrative provinces from the very inception of country, attempts are continuing to transmute permanently the self rule right of Sindh and Baluchistan in particular through   settlement of outsiders and forged show of settlers’ minority as majority. Ceaseless attempts are afoot to upset the balance of population by occupying the coastline of the provinces. Since the day Pakistan came into being the vested interest group has seized the country’s center and through it the provinces’ sovereignty, and rapidly increasing its share in power and benefits. The introduction of the new system of local bodies is an attempt to seize districts and cities. In the name of Devolution Plan, the divisional system of the provinces is being replaced with the district and city governments, which, on the one hand, challenges administrative authority of the provinces, and, on the other, by increasing direct contact with the center provides the center with justification to interfere in the provincial affairs, and in the name of enhancing administrative powers of the districts it has indirectly opened the way for dividing the provinces.

The country’s experiment with aligning religion with politics in governance has strengthened the people of a particular mindset so that they may, deeming it their right, impose their own beliefs and concepts upon other people of different beliefs and concepts. This has led to extreme religious, faiths’ and political schisms, anarchy, terrorism, disorder, and crisis upon crisis in the country.

Looking at all this political, economic and administrative deterioration in the country questions like these arise in the minds of the people:

* What would become of us?

* What should we do for the existence and survival of historical nations in this country beset with many-sided dangers and challenges?

* Are the seemingly federalist but in reality centralist and religious parties, being products of controlled democracy, conscious of this perilous future and have they the will and ability to face it?

* Can rights and interests of national entities in the country be secured through the party programmes of the political organizations, being supporters of constitutional subjection in the name numerical-majority-based democracy?

* Can the fundamentalist religious parties, who have always been trying to run affairs of the state and religion together, solve our problems, and should we give up our nationalist orientation so as to follow them?

* Should we leave everything to the parties, who represent the vested interest group with unlawful hold on power since birth of the country or who operate in accordance with its agenda and who change their colours with time so that they may continue to keep the historical nations subservient through appropriation of their resources and rights and to have, like always, the majority under the thumb of minority with the help of incorrect statistics?

The 64-year history and experience of the country have made it abundantly clear that this country is a multinational federal state consisting of different historical nations having their separate historical homelands, whom the natural and historical process can make one for securing their respective cultural, economic and political interests. To achieve this it is essential that they should have full autonomy and independence within their historical homelands. The subjects of defence, currency, foreign policy, foreign trade and some lines of communication should be handled by the federation and all the rest by the provinces.

The country should have a true federal parliamentary system, in which parliament alone is competent to frame internal and foreign policies. The upper house of the parliament, i.e. the senate should have the powers to pass the budget and select the provincial governors.

Religion-wise, Muslims of different sects constitute majority population of Pakistan, but peoples professing other faiths and beliefs are also citizens of this country. To have all of them living in harmony,

It is necessary to found constitution of the country on secular and democratic concepts.

 

Syed Jalal Memood Shah     

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