By Dr Jay DubashiA few years from now, may be in about six months? time, according to the Pakistani President himself, there may not be a country called Pakistan. It will not make much difference to me, because I have always believed there is no such country called Pakistan, whatever others might say, and whatever the maps may indicate. As far as I am concerned, Pakistan has never existed, because you cannot make countries as you make babies, and Pakistan was an artificial entity without flesh and blood, with neither a past nor a future, purely a British creation of no worth whatsoever.
On paper, Pakistan looks like a proper country, with a government, an army, a currency of its own, and even a president of its own. But these things are not enough. There are countries in Africa which have all these things, but they are no countries at all.
Many of them, like Pakistan, are failed states, because, to start with, they were created artificially to suit the imperial powers, and, of course, their local underlings, who played the imperialists? game, until the whole thing collapsed.
When India was Partitioned, I was in England, and did not return home until five years after Independence. On the day of the Independence itself, I was in London, and a few months later I was in India House, which is where the Indian High Commission, or the Indian embassy, is housed, as a secretary to Krishna Menon, who became Nehru'sfirst high commissioner.
There was also a Pakistani high commissioner, whose name I forget, and he had set up his office a few miles away from us. I rarely visited the Pakistani high commission, but I used to meet some of their officials outside the embassy, at diplomatic parties in and around London. Had India not been partitioned, some of them would be working in our own high commission. One of them was a friend of mine, a young Muslim from Bombay, who used to be a Radical Humanist, an outfit created by a man called M N Roy, and he used to hate Jinnah & Co.
One day, I asked him how he had suddenly joined Pakistani foreign service, and whether he was still a Royist.
He gave me a long complicated explanation but I could see that he was himself not very sure what he was saying. He was a Bombay boy who spoke Gujarati, just like Jinnah himself, and like Jinnah did not know a word of Urdu or Punjabi, but was now representing a country which he had never visited. He wore an ill-fitting sherwani at diplomatic parties, and looked so funny in them I used to break into laughter whenever I saw him.
About that time, a few months after Gandhi had been assassinated, Jinnah himself died, and Menon visited the Pakistani High Commission to sign the condolence book. My friend was there, not in his sherwani, but in his usual dark suit, but he did not smile. I thought he was not smiling because he and his new country were in mourning, and he had to preserve decorum.
A few days later, I was surprised to receive his phone call, not in my office but at home. He said he had decided to resign his job and go back to Bombay, to his family. His brothers were exporters of spices and other things, and he was going into business to help them.
I asked him how he could convert himself from a Pakistani to an Indian so easily and so quickly. ?That is no problem,? he said. ?I still have my Indian passport.?
The whole thing was so funny, I could not help laughing. Here was a young man, who was born an Indian, who had become a Royist (if that means any thing), had come to England on a British passport, had joined Pakistani embassy which meant he had become Pakistani national, but had held his Indian passport even when he was a Pakistani national, had now dumped his Pakistani passport and was once more an Indian, and was returning to India to start his business. So what exactly was he?
This is the trouble with Pakistan and Pakistanis. Because Pakistan is a country of convenience, the Pakistanis do not know who they are. They call themselves Pakistanis, but there is no real country called Pakistan.
Actually, there is no real country called Pakistan, because you do not create countries out of the air, by drawing boundaries on the map. Countries have to be grounded in reality and in the past. A country without roots is no country at all.
Nothing in Pakistan is grounded in reality. When you meet a Pakistani, you do not know whether he is genuine or not, because the man himself does not know who he is. Was Pervez Musharraf an army man, or President (who he was supposed to be President) or was he working for Taliban, telling Americans, whose money he was receiving, that he was actually fighting Taliban? Who exactly is Asif Ali Zardari? Is he also in with terrorists, like most Pakistani bigwigs, and is blackmailing Americans for what he can extract out of them, as previous presidents and army chiefs have done? Does he have any powers at all? And who really runs the country?assuming there is a country called Pakistan?he or Taliban or the Americans, who happen to have the cheque book?
And what will now happen to all the friends of Pakistan in India, the men and women who used to sallivate at the very mention of Lahore and Rawalpindi, and who believed that Pervez Musharraf was the greatest friend of India? I feel sorry for the likes of Khushwant Singh and Kuldip Nayar, Prannoy Roy and Arundhati Roy, and, of course, Vinod Mehta and Teesta Setalvad, and many others of their ilk, who have always tried to pretend that Pakistan is a genuine country and Pakistani leaders are genuine men though they appear to be paper cut-outs.
I have always felt that Pakistan is, or was, culturally and territorially, a part of the Middle East, not South Asia, and has nothing in common with India. When I talk to a Pakistani, I feel I am talking to someone from Dubai, Kuwait or Iraq, not some one from the Indian sub-continent. Until I came to Delhi from Bombay (or Mumbai) I was never really interested in what was happening in Pakistan, anymore than, say, in Egypt or Libya.
To me, and most of my friends, it was an imaginary country that didn'treally exist, and could disappear one day without notice.
As I said, there may not be a country called Pakistan a few months from now, say six months from now, according to its President, and also according to Americans who know much more about Pakistan than Pakistanis themselves. It is the Americans who have kept Pakistan on Oxygen all these years, for reasons of their own, and, in the process, destroyed it. Only the Americans know, why, after the British, they patronised Pakistan, and in doing so, first destroyed its self-esteem and then destroyed the country itself. Is it part of their strategy in this part of the world, and does the strategy involve India as well? If so, we should be very very careful. America is like a giant boa-constrictor. What it embraces, initially in a seemingly friendly gesture, almost always ends up in death, first by asphyxiation, and then complete annihilation. If a giant like Soviet Russia can disappear before our eyes, what of Pakistan?