The death of that loathsome murderer Slobodan Milosevic brought back memories of Yugoslavia and the strenuous efforts made by the Serbian nationalists to dominate that doomed country.
It got me thinking.
When Tito died in 1980, the Serbian leadership, promoted the concept of a strong centralized state under Serbian domination; this antagonized the other republics – Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia. Disaster ensued.
While the barbarity of ethnic cleansing is luckily not practiced in Pakistan, other parallels with Yugoslavia do exist. Simply juxtapose Punjab with Serbia and you will begin to get my drift.
A few years after partition, when Pakistan’s political leadership (mostly West Pakistani and Punjabi) realized that elections had to be held, it was decided to deny the East Pakistanis their rightful majority by the creation of the ‘One Unit’ system. Under this ‘parity’ system equal seats were given in Parliament to both wings, despite the fact that East Pakistan had a larger population.
By 1970 the Bengalis had had enough of being treated as a colony by the Serbian – sorry Punjabi – ruling elite and after violent upheaval Bangladesh was created.
In what remained of Pakistan, Punjab now held 56 percent of the population; Sindh with 23 percent; NWFP 16 percent; and Balochistan 5 percent. And yes, now that Punjab finally had a majority, the concept of parity with minority provinces disappeared out of the window.
Simply put, since the late 1950s Pakistan has been dominated by the Army – which is essentially regarded by many to be just an adjunct of Punjab. As far as many people in the three minority provinces are concerned the Army’s mindset can be summed up as follows: ‘What is good for Punjab is in the national interest’. And whosoever holds a view contrary to the Army’s viewpoint is automatically deemed to be ‘anti-State’.
Take for example the current opposition to the Kalabagh Dam, particularly by the Sindhis. It is based upon a complete lack of trust on any commitment made by Islamabad on behalf of Punjab. As far as the Sindhis are concerned when the Water Accord of 1991 was not correctly implemented, thereby harming Sindh, nothing was done. The non-implementation of the accord, according to the Sindhis, did not just enable Punjab to ‘steal’ water intended for Sindh but a lot of this water was used to irrigate newly developed agricultural land owned by army officers and bureaucrats belonging to Punjab.
The people of Balochistan have similar grievances against the Punjab. To them all the new mega-projects planned for their province will economically benefit only Punjabis and other ‘outsiders’. Islamabad views these objections as anti-state and blames three local sardars for it, which is a load of codswallop.
The simple reality is that in ‘Yugo-pakistania’ a domineering Punjab-centric mindset reigns supreme.