Transcending Divisions: The Consolidation of Pakistan

By Bhutto, Benazir | Harvard International Review, Summer 1996 | Go to article overview

Transcending Divisions: The Consolidation of Pakistan


Bhutto, Benazir, Harvard International Review


DURING BRITISH COLONIAL RULE, a superb feat of political engineering kept together several nationalities clearly differentiated by religion, ethnicity, language, and cultural tradition. As a result, the withdrawal of the colonial power in 1947 brought to the surface national tensions similar to those which had already led to the creation of scores of nation-states in Europe, each based on the principle of national self-determination. The inevitable creation of Pakistan as an independent sovereign state in 1947 illustrates the historic existence of multiple nationalities in South Asia. It is further substantiated by the fact that when the eastern wing of Pakistan broke away in 1971, it did not return to India, which had militarily intervened to bring about the secession, but asserted its independence from India as strongly as Pakistan has always done.

In contemporary South Asia, states like India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka continue to be multiethnic and multi-national states. For each of these states, internal consolidation and cohesion has depended on the successful resolution of great sub-regional rivalry and competition. Occasionally, internal conflict has loomed so large as to create a genuine crisis of governability.

The case of Pakistan seems unique in many respects. It is the only country in which the internal contradictions that existed between the two wings of the country, separated by more than a thousand miles of hostile India, exploded into a major bloody conflict leading to the emergence of a third state in the subcontinent, Bangladesh. Paradoxically, the trauma of this separation led to deep soul-searching in Pakistan which, in the due course of time, profoundly affected its political culture. The loss of East Pakistan in 1971 did not exacerbate the tensions within West Pakistan, even though these tensions had been largely neglected during the pre-war attempts at mediation of the East-West conflict. Rather, the new Pakistan rediscovered a set of principles and allegiances which have played an important role in the country's consolidation.

First and foremost, the people of Pakistan widely attributed the secession of East Pakistan to a breakdown of democracy, and subsequently moved to re-establish a democratic system under the leadership of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. During the five years that were available to him before the military coup d'etat, Bhutto disseminated an abiding faith in democracy to Pakistanis far beyond the middle classes. The common people of Pakistan were enfranchised and empowered to decide their own destiny. The loyalty to a liberal democratic polity that the nation developed withstood extreme repression, as well as the lure of substitute political systems masquerading as democracy, during the decade that followed the military coup. The people of Pakistan clung to their conviction that the tragedy of East Pakistan's separation would be avoided in the new Pakistan only through a democratic framework that allowed the federating provinces to mediate openly and justly their competing claims to national resources and opportunities. Democracy, with all the imperfections to which it is prone in a developing country, has become an article of faith with the Pakistani people since the 1970s.

The armed forces have in recent years also changed their attitude toward national government, demonstrating a greater respect for civil society and elected representation. In recent political crises, the armed forces have not only resisted calls by misguided political elements to intervene, but have also thrown their support behind democratically-elected governments. A set of new conventions and tacit agreements to refine consultative procedures among the executive, the legislature, the governing bureaucracy, and the armed forces has supplanted the military coup d' etat as their chosen form of influence. Recognizing their fundamental task to guard the nation against external aggression, the armed forces have demonstrated their preference that the elected representatives of the people proceed unhindered in political leadership. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Transcending Divisions: The Consolidation of Pakistan
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.