Pakistan’s Elusive Nationhood

The imperialist intransigence over Pakistan’s nuclear assets and the doubts cast by American think tanks about its security, along with the perceived dangers of the fundamentalists taking them over has created a furore within leading circles in Pakistan. The general policy of the US on nuclear policy, however, reeks of hypocrisy, deceit and double standards.

The policy of turning a blind eye towards Israel’s covert and massive nuclear arsenal and even towards Pakistan’s nuclear programme during the atrocious Zia regime in the 1980’s, exhibits the opportunistic and callous attitude of the strategists of imperialism in their policy making. The whole talk of Obama about denuclearisation of the world has proved to be crude rhetoric.

The scramble to India in a short space of time by Obama, Sarkozy, Merkel, Medvedev and Cameron was plainly to sell nuclear technology and assets in an expanding market for nuclear technology. These quests for nuclear deals took place even when India has spurned the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. This exposed the real policy of the imperialists on this question, i.e. the profit motive, not any acclaimed safety.

The present crusade against Pakistan’s nuclear assets is in reality designed to put more pressure on the so-called ‘rogue’ sections of the Pakistani state to make them subservient to the demands of imperialism. The concerns expressed in the media are more about diplomatic and political manoeuvring than anything concrete or a serious policy matter. Like Islamic fundamentalism, it is being exaggerated to serve other policy interests. Ahmedinejad’s discovery of an American plot to remove these nuclear assets is another example of similar gimmickry.

The reaction of Pakistan’s political elite has been no less melodramatic and farcical. The right wing and the religious parties, not unexpectedly, churned out national chauvinism tinged with religious bigotry. The Mullahs are bemoaning the infringement of the integrity and sovereignty of Pakistan. As if there really were any such thing! The liberal and the ‘secular’ political and intellectual elite also quickly joined the fray.

However, the national chauvinism of the politicians and the media has found no resonance or credence within society as a whole. The masses have had enough of this nationalist rhetoric. Their silence and indifference speaks volumes about their plight. The country has atom bombs but their children die of hunger. Some might have cell phones but most are without shoes. There are advanced motorways in the midst of hamlets that are thousands of years behind technologically. The villages and shanty towns may have television cables but there is no piped and safe water to drink. There may be ‘beauty parlours’ in the slums but no dispensaries or scientific health facilities. Some of the poor might have paltry electronic gadgets but seldom have a power supply to utilize them. The working classes are being brutally exploited. Redundancies, layoffs sackings and restructuring are adding to the millions of unemployed. The oppressed nationalities are being further marginalised and oppressed. Poverty, hunger, deprivation and misery stalk the land.

In this grim scenario the political, military and bureaucratic elites are trying to infuse and stir up a nationalism that the ruling classes of Pakistan have never been able to nurture in the past. What we hear over the electronic media is talk of ‘our’ nuclear assets, ‘our’ sovereignty, and ‘our’ national interest. Whose national interests are these in reality? They belong to those who own this country, the elites who are so callous that they feel no moral indignation even to make profits from these weapons of mass destruction.

Who are ‘we’? How many people know about the real numbers and whereabouts of ‘our’ nuclear assets? The American strategists have more knowledge of their whereabouts than even their stooges in the Pakistani parliament or in top political positions. With a distance of nine ballistic minutes between Lahore and Delhi could these nuclear devices ever be used? We are told that being a nuclear power will protect the ‘nation’. Now it seems that it is the whole nation that has to protect the nuclear arsenal.

The greatest mystery, however, is the cost of this nuclear programme. Has it been discussed or disclosed anywhere by anyone? Has anyone ever asked how much it costs? No, because it is such a sacred asset of the theocratic state that to question its sanctity is no less than to commit a dreadful sin.

According to a study by Achin Vaniak and Praful Bidwai, two Indian sociologists, the amounts spent on the nuclear programmes of India and Pakistan are of such astronomical proportions that if they had been spent on social improvements, the diseases of poverty and illiteracy could have been eradicated from the subcontinent. Instead, national pride and the monuments of the nuclear tests in India and Pakistan are used time and again in an attempt to whip up a chauvinism that retards the class struggle and strengthens the stranglehold of the ruling classes and their capitalist system over our lives.

The political and state structure has been constructed by the imperialists in such a manner that it is tied to imperialist money and is meant to squeeze wealth out of the masses. The ruling classes and their imperialist masters profit enormously from this nuclear ‘business’. The upper middle classes set the tone of this chauvinist jingoism, while the oppressed in both India and Pakistan give sweat, blood and tears as these states spend extravagantly on the nuclear arsenal and the scrap metal of conventional armaments. It is a reality that although they are amongst the poorest and most corrupt states in the world they are among the first ten biggest buyers of arms.

Nuclear toys and conventional arms cannot protect the vast majority of the population from hunger, poverty, illiteracy and disease. Neither can they help provide them with shelter food and clothing. What use are they to the masses that are forced into this misery? What has this ‘nationhood’ given the oppressed in the last 64 years? The nation of the rich has accumulated billions and in its infinite lust continues to do so. The nation of the poor has faced brutalities and deprivation.

Now the worsening crisis is tearing apart the social fabric of society, the economic structures are crumbling and the institutions of the state are in disarray. So long as this system exists, the prejudices of national chauvinism, religious hatred and sectarian terrorism will continue to worsen. Imperialist plunder, the looting by the rulers and military expenditure will suck every last drop of blood from the oppressed.

However, barbarism is not the inevitable destiny of this region. There is a force that can cut across this barrage of tyranny and that is the youth and the proletariat. They have fought before to transform society. This time they will have to fight to the finish.