Can Pakistan ever become a normal country?

Justice Markandey Katju-

Justice Markandey Katju

Justice Markandey Katju is a former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own.

I saw the post ‘How can Pakistan be transformed into a normal country ?’ published in In this post there is a discussion between Raza Rumi, Husain Haqqani and Murtaza Solangi.

With respect to the speakers, I submit their views are totally superficial.

The very title of the post shows that it is admitted that Pakistan is not a normal country. But why? I will present my own view.

Pakistan has been under military rule, overtly or covertly, almost since its inception. Its economy is in a terrible state, with record unemployment, skyrocketing prices of foodstuffs, fuel, etc. its healthcare and educational systems for the masses are in shambles, and corruption is widespread. And it has been in hostility with its huge neighbour India in some form or the other throughout. Surely these are not signs of a normal welfare state.

I submit that Pakistan can never be a normal state since its very conception after Partition in 1947 was to ensure that it remains abnormal.

The very creation of Pakistan by the British rulers was to ensure that the Indian subcontinent does not emerge as a modern industrial giant, like another China, which would become a big rival to Western industries. This has to be explained, and for that we have to delve into economics, for, as Lenin said, politics is concentrated economics.

The cost of labour is a big chunk of the total cost of production, and if the cost of labour is less, the cost of production is less, and one can sell one’s goods at a cheaper price. There is competition in the market, and one businessman eliminates his rival businessman not by guns, bombs or tanks but by underselling him. The same applies on the national and international level.

For instance, there was a revolution in China in 1949. Before 1949 China was a poor, backward, largely feudal and agricultural country, with very few industries. But after 1949 the Chinese leaders built up a massive industrial base. This, coupled with the cheap labour available in China, enabled the Chinese to undersell the whole world in consumer and many other goods. Today the Western supermarkets are packed with Chinese goods, which often sell at half the prices of goods made by Western manufacturers ( because the Western labour is expensive ).

So once a country sets up a massive industrial base everything turns on the cost of labour. Countries with cheaper labour have a distinct advantage over countries with expensive labour since the latter will not be able to face the competition.

Now labour in the Indian subcontinent is even cheaper than the Chinese labour of today.

So if the Indian subcontinent sets up a massive industry, for which it has all the potential with its huge pool of engineers, etc and immense natural resources, will the industries in the developed countries be able to face the competition and survive? No, they will close down, throwing millions into unemployment. So how is such a catastrophe to be prevented? It can be prevented by making people in the Indian subcontinent fight each other in the name of religion, caste, language, race etc.

This was the real reason for partitioning India and creating Pakistan as an Islamic state. The purpose was to keep Hindus and Muslims fighting each other, thereby weakening themselves ( and also ensuring huge sales of foreign arms manufacturers).

Hence, the very concept of Pakistan as an Islamic state separate from India is flawed. It can never be a normal state, because it was created in 1947 to ensure that Hindus and Muslims keep fighting each other. Sometimes there is talk of restoring peace e.g. the recent speech of the Pakistan army chief Gen Bajwa, who spoke of forgetting the past and moving ahead, but this is invariably followed by a fresh conflict. For instance, Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee’s ‘bus yatra’ to Lahore in 1999 was followed within months by the Kargil war.

In fact India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are really one country, sharing the same culture, which was one since Mughal times. We were artificially divided in 1947, like the partition between West and East Germany. In fact, that was the typical technique practised by the British, e.g. partitioning Ireland, Cyprus, Palestine, etc

Until we reunite under a strong secular government with modern-minded leaders who are determined to rapidly industrialise the country, the Indian subcontinent will remain abnormal.