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'The Most Dangerous Place' in the World?

T.C.A. Rangachari

By Farzana Shaikh
Foundation Books, Delhi, 2009, pp. 274, Rs. 695.00

By Murtaza Razvi
HarperCollins Publishers, India, 2009, pp. 243, Rs. 399.00

VOLUME XXXIII NUMBER 8-9 August/September 2009

Jinnah’s ideas about Paksitan remained vague. Vagueness was both the strength and weakness of the Pakistan movement. It became all things to all men drawing in a variety of people for different reasons but it also meant that once Pakistan was achieved there would be no clear defining parameters. Akbar Ahmed: Jinnah, Pakistan and Islamic Identity. (Routledge London 1997)   One result of Jinnah’s elaborate strategy was that India’s Muslims demanded Pakistan without really knowing the results of that demand…. A few months before independence, Khwaja Nazimuddin, who later became Pakistan’s second governor general as well as its second prime minister, candidly told a British governor that he did not know ‘what Pakistan means and that nobody in the Muslim League knew. Hussain Haqani: Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington DC 2005).   If, as suggested by serious scholars cited above, Jinnah himself—and the Muslim League he headed—did not have clarity about what Pakistan meant, is it any surprise that six decades after its creation we do not seem to be any clearer in making sense of Pakistan? Many of the rationalizations used to carve out of India a homeland for the Muslims of the subcontinent have been dented, if not disproved, including the two-nation theory, the ideological basis for the creation of Pakistan. The average Muslim in Pakistan is not necessarily better off than his Indian counterpart; his life and liberty, even his freedom to pursue his religious faith, is not much better secured. Pakistan has, indeed, come a long way in the sixty years since it was created though not quite the way in which its founder, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, would have wanted it to. This is the cumulative impact of the policies adopted over the six decades following the creation of Pakistan in 1947.   Making sense of Pakistan has become even more pressing as assessments regarding its future have become more dire. The cover of the first issue of the Economist in 2008 described Pakistan as ‘the most dangerous place’ in the world. The Atlantic Council Report released by Chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, John Kerry, in February 2009, regards Pakistan now as a country under siege with the possible short-and long-term consequences of a breakup of the country or civil war that could be catastrophic for the country and for the region. The report says time is running out ...

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