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War On Terrorism Handled Wrongly

By       Message Muhammad Khurshid       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   No comments

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Most Americans were not wrong in supporting the decision to give the mandate to President George W. Bush to wage war against terrorists, who were a threat to the entire world.

But their president handled the situation wrongly - resulting in failure on various fronts. President Bush may accept this or not, but this is the fact: He has chosen the most corrupt people both in Pakistan and Afghanistan as his allies. These leaders have always shown the wrong picture to the Americans.

The lust for money has made these leaders mad. They have been enjoying the Killing of innocent people and destruction of properties. These leaders continue to allow time for the terrorists to reorganise themselves and carry out more horrible attacks in the world.

The majority of the tribal elders have asked the US leadership to deal with the matters of Pakistan and tribal areas separately. Though the tribal area is part of Pakistan, it still has its own law. Just look at the Supreme Court of Pakistan  -- it cannot make decisions about or for the tribal areas. According to the tribal elders, Bush must hand over issues of the tribal areas to another patriotic leader of the United States.

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According to its own people, Pakistan is a failed state. How can leaders of a failed state resolve the problems of other people?

One political writer, Salman Tarik Kurishi, stated that:

There was a time one heard some of our more pontific commentators pronounce: “We got our independence too easily. We never had to struggle for it.” This is a variant of another construction: “The achievement of Pakistan was due solely to the struggle of one man, to whom we owe everything. The masses had nothing to do with it.” These, and other related observations, have been trotted out as explanations of the divided — indeed, almost atomised — nature of Pakistani society, the repeated failures of the Pakistani state and the villainy or incompetence of our various governing regimes.

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The Pakistani people, it is perceived, did not go through the process of emergence as a nation. The acquisition of independent statehood preceded the formation of a self-conscious nation. The clear implication is that, had Pakistan gone through such a process before 1947, it would have been more stable and therefore more likely to enjoy longevity, stable democratic institutions, valid cultural evolution, etc.

What is the nature of a state, any state? Through most of history, states have been congruent with the military conquests of monarchs or dynasties. Monarchic states were amoeboid entities, which shrank, expanded or coalesced according to the relative military and political skills of particular rulers.

Thus, the Timurid ruler Zaheeruddin — better known as Babur — expanded his kingdom southwards from its origin in Ferghana, to incorporate, successively, the regions of Samarkand, Kabul and Peshawar before crossing the Jamuna into the Gangetic plain in 1526. Babur’s Mughal Empire was to expand under his successors (with a relatively brief setback during the reign of Humayun) until it reached its greatest extent under Aurangzeb and Bahadur Shah I, respectively sixth and seventh in succession, during the 18th century. But, during the reign of Mohammed Shah, the Empire began to come apart, with its ruins eventually being fought over between the Afghans and the Marathas, while the erstwhile all-powerful Mughal Emperor, reduced to little more than a local king of Delhi, cowered in his courtroom.

But a somewhat different kind of state began to emerge in Western Europe, one which was not necessarily congruent with the monarch’s power. In England in the 17th Century, the people cut off the head of their king in the interest of the British state. In the 18th century, the French people also beheaded their king, along with much of the titled aristocracy. Thus, painfully and violently, the specifically modern institution of the nation-state began to emerge.

Now, the point of the nation-state — whether its justification lies in ethnic homogeneity; linguistic unity; religious differentiation; ideological commitment or any other motivation — is that it is a more or less unified geographical area that commands the continuous institutionalised loyalty and commitment of its citizens over and above their fealty to a particular monarch or dynasty. It has therefore a considerably greater degree of continuity than old-fashioned monarchic states, which in turn permits superior political and economic evolution.

The stability or otherwise of a state is not really affected by its ethnic or linguistic homogeneity. The Germans have arguably been among the most intensely nationalistic people in Europe; yet the German nation is quite happily and unquestioningly divided among the three state entities of Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Pakistan’s northern and eastern neighbours, China and India, despite their enormous vertical and horizontal diversities and competing consciousnesses, are certainly not unstable. They are there as facts of geography, as durable as other features of our planet.

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And that is precisely the point. A nation-state, whatever narrative is chosen to justify its existence, is a piece of geography — a militarily defensible and economically unified portion of the planet. This is as true for Pakistan as for any other nation-state. It also follows that, whether or not the nation or nations contained within a state are strong, the state needs to be so in order to maintain the defence and economic well-being of its citizens. These are the first and last responsibilities of all states.

And it is precisely the strength of the nation-state, its sovereignty, which is under pressure today.

Philip Bobbitt’s outstanding work The Shield of Achilles sees the state as primarily a military construction (I did not say ‘militarily ruled’, please note). Bobbitt’s work describes the interplay, over the last six centuries, of war, jurisprudence and the reshaping of states. Bobbitt posits that certain wars should be deemed epochal — that is, seen as composed of many smaller wars. For example, the ‘epochal war’ of the 20th century began in 1914 and ended with the collapse of communism in 1990. These military affairs and their subsequent peace agreements have caused, each in their own way, revolutionary reconstructions of the idea and actuality of statehood and of relationships between these various new entities. Of these reconstructions (such as the princely state, the kingly state and the nation-state), Bobbitt is most interested in what lies beyond the nation-state. This new entity, he calls the ‘market-state’.

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Muhammad Khurshid, a resident of Bajaur Agency, tribal areas situated on Pak-Afghan border is journalist by profession. He contributes articles and news stories to various online and print newspapers. His subject matter is terrorism. He is also (more...)

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