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Number of Downlaods: 19

Published Date: Mar 11, 2013

Managing Diversity in Pakistan: Going Beyond Federalism (W-131)

Prof.
Yunas Samad (D.Phil. Oxon)

University
of Bradford

March,2013

Introduction :

The
paper considers various theoretical perspectives that underscore the relevance
of managing difference in a multinational state and the various strategies used
by states in regulating difference in general and in Pakistan specifically. It
then briefly illustrates the central features of federalism at different points
in Pakistan’s history and considers actually the practise of managing
difference at various historical junctures. A critical analysis of the various
alternatives is then deliberated on and an evaluation of the pros and cons of
each approach is made allowing for reflections on possible policy development.
Management of Ethnicity in the era of globalization

Ethnic
mobilizations have been a persistent problem in Pakistan’s history and
considerable angst and blood has been and is being spilt over this issue. The
breakup of the country in 1971 with the emergence of an independent Bangladesh
and continuing difficulties today in Balochistan are a key reminder of the
seriousness of the issue.  The concern is that on the 41st anniversary of
the independence of Bangladesh there is almost a complete amnesia here in
Pakistan with hardly any reference to the events that led up to breakup of the
country in 1971. Those who do not learn from history are bound to repeat their mistakes
and the same mistakes are being repeated by resorting to a military solution
for a political problem in Balochistan.

To
compound the problem, ethnicity has become more significant, generally, in the
era of globalization. The process of social change has initiated processes that
unleash ethnic and national movements challenging state systems, which were
locked in states during the Cold War. The processes leading to the collapse of
nation states, emergence of virulent forms of ethnic movements demanding
statehood have been invigorated by the emergence of transnational processes
that side-step the nation state, directly intersecting with the locale. It is a
testament to the impact of globalization, which has been in part responsible
for the explosion in ethnic and nationalist conflict (Barber 2003, Castells
1997), testified by the collapse of Yugoslavia, Somali and the emergence of
East Timor and South Sudan as independent countries. It is in this context of
transnational processes promoting ethnic national movements that Pakistan’s
enduring difficulty in managing differences needs to be seen in the issue of
managing difference, in particularly the separatist impulses in Balochistan are
more difficult to handle due to transnational character of the opposition. In
other words, state control has become vitiated by contemporary ethnic militancy
that has diasporic support, financial and technical, mainly in Oman and Gulf
states and uses transnational media, located in Europe and the USA, as both a
political and cultural tool evading national control and challenging
ideological hegemony.

Formally
Pakistan is a federation; however, federalism has only been operating partially
in its history, which has intensified complaints of majoritarian rule. Long
stretches of military rule with its majoritarian compulsions have exacerbated
the difficulties of managing ethnic mobilizations. A highly centralised,
top-down style of control associated with authoritarian rule simply exacerbates
the difficulty in managing difference as shown by the Balochistan example. Thus
any discussion on Federalism its refinement and advancement is grounded on the
assumption of democratic rule and rights of citizenship.

Managing
difference is a major concern for most nation states and various strategies are
employed on the macro and micro level that involve various combinations of
power sharing and recognition of cultural difference. For Charles Taylor, the
philosophical premise is that lack of recognition causes harm (Goldberg 1994).
Identity politics is shaped by its recognition or its absence or misrecognition
and absence or misrecognition causes harm. The issue of absence or
misrecognition causing harm becomes apparent when an overview of various
strategies for managing difference is made.  A taxonomy of managing
difference can be broadly divided into two strategies, those that attempt to
eliminate difference-genocide, forced transfer of mass population, partition
and/or secession; and those that try to assimilate or manage difference – ranging
from various form of majoritarianism, including hegemonic control, arbitration,
cantonisation or federalism, consociationalism or power sharing and
multiculturalism (Mc Garry and O’Leary 1993).

In
Pakistan, it is alleged, partitions, transfer of population, genocide,
secession, assimilation, federalism and hegemonic control have all been applied
for the elimination and regulation of difference. Partition of British India
into two independent countries was accompanied with transfer of population in
order to eliminate religious difference making Pakistan more than 95 per cent
Muslim. This strategy of removing diversity persisted into the 1950s when
communal violence in East Pakistan led to the forcible departure of the entire
Hindu population to India. Finally the military’s response to the political
demands of East Pakistan was allegedly an attempt to use genocide to eliminate
difference and when this failed it resulted in succession and the emergence of
an independent Bangladesh. In post-1971-Pakistan dominant mode has been
hegemonic control within a federal context, and the breakdown of hegemonic
control has resulted in other procedures being applied (Samad 2007:90-101).