PFS 5: Pakistani Psyche - General Observations

Chapter 5


Very few studies exist on the subject of the mind of the Pakistani or the Pakistani psyche. Pakistan has been too low on the priority of sociologists and psychologists, while most Indians, including Indian leaders and strategists have been content with describing Pakistanis as being “Just like us” - i.e. just like Indians.

Pakistanis, like all other people, display the usual range of human behavioral patterns: joy, sorrow, anger, pain and other emotions which are indistinguishable from anyone else on an individual level. But groups of thousands or millions of people anywhere in the world, who live together in nations tend to develop certain unique patterns of behavior based on the stresses, experiences and history of their particular society. Sometimes these unique patterns of behavior are very difficult to recognize, because the behavior is very much like that of anyone else. Even so, it is worth recognizing minor differences because this knowledge has some value in understanding behavior, and in negotiation and reaching agreements.

For example, communication between cultures becomes difficult if negotiators from different cultures cannot understand each others’ behavior. A deep understanding of Japanese culture was required before international agreements could be reached with Japan on the issue of whaling and protection of endangered species of whales. Some cultures, such as Japanese culture have been well studied (41). The important role of saving face and avoiding shame is well recognized, and must be taken into account in negotiation. Another well known example of the consequences of an inability to understand cultural nuances comes from a transcript of a telephone conversation in Arabic between Egyptian President Gamel Abdel Nasser and King Hussein of Jordan when Egyptian forces were being defeated by Israeli forces in 1967. The cultural need to avoid shame forced Nasser to state that his forces were fighting well against their enemy, but King Hussein was unable to understand the nuances by which Nasser hinted that his forces were being defeated. That left Hussein, and Jordan unprepared for their defeat in the war subsequently (42).

There are few studies of unique behavioral patterns among Pakistanis. But such patterns do exist, and their importance must not be underestimated. In his testimony to the United States’ Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in January 2004 (43) Stephen Cohen, speaking on India-Pakistan relations quoted a Pakistani army officer saying how important the question of pride was in Pakistani actions relating to India.

In the words of one Pakistani officer, the army understands it cannot wrest Kashmir from India, but it cannot turn its back on a 55 year struggle. At stake is its pride, and it literally calls the shots

But the subject of a specific and defined Pakistani mind has not gone unnoticed among Indian observers. J. N. Dixit, former Indian foreign secretary has spoken of the psychological hurdles that come in the way of Indian and Pakistani relations. These are listed in a review of his book (44):

Dixit identifies a series of Pakistani traits that refuse to live amicably with India. First, “artificially nurtured memories of Muslim superiority and a subconscious desire to rectify the unfair arrangements of partition”. Second, a certain envy Pakistanis would not acknowledge openly about the failure of their civil society to solidify democratic and tolerant traditions in comparison to an India where khakis and bayonets follow popularly elected representatives. Third, assumption by Pakistan of the role of protector and overseer of the welfare of Indian Muslims, who in the words of Maulana Azad, could be exploited from forces across the border owing to their “socio-political schizophrenia” since partition. Fourth, avenging the military defeat of 1971, which is a formal objective declared in the official oath-taking ceremony of every Pakistani officer-cadet when he graduates. Fifth, irrational faith in the “profound capacity for commitment to jihad amongst the momin”, as was publicly declared by Foreign Minister Gauhar Ayub Khan at a press conference in Delhi. Sixth, confidence that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program is an instrumentality to further geopolitical objectives in Kashmir. Seventh, widespread belief in the Pakistani establishment and media circles that India is getting exhausted in Kashmir and would not be able to hold on to it for long (a presumption of Musharraf in Kargil). Eighth, and most significantly, “the unarticulated ambition and hope that if India broke up, Pakistan will emerge as the strongest and most powerful political entity in South Asia”.

Of course, in 1947 and a few years after that it would have been perfectly valid and accurate to describe Pakistanis as being just like Indians. But after over 50 years of being a separate nation with different threat perceptions, problems and priorities, and with 75 % of present day Pakistanis having been born after 1947, it can easily be observed that there are certain behavioral characteristics that can be called Purely Pakistani There is, in effect a Pakistani psyche or a Pakistani mindset, that is separate from the old Indian identity.

It is useful to be aware of this in dealing with Pakistan as a nation and in predicting Pakistani responses to events. There are certainly some parallels in Pakistani behavior to Arab behavior described by Raphael Patai in his seminal book on The Arab Mind (42). These similarities are striking, and the most likely explanation is the internalization of Arab culture in Islam, leading to a degree of Arabization of behavior among devoutly Islamic people such as some Pakistanis who have actively sought to reject their earlier Indian culture (see chapter 9).

Certain types of behavior stand out among Pakistanis and are best demonstrated by studying examples of statements and actions by prominent Pakistani leaders and spokespersons. It would be wrong to assume that every Pakistani displays all the characteristics described here. No single characteristic is unique to Pakistanis alone, but careful observations of Pakistani statements and actions show that a sufficiently large proportion of Pakistanis, especially their leadership, display one or more of the following characteristics to make them recognizable as general guidelines to Pakistani psyche. Certain statements and actions are repeated time and again, and a pattern can be seen in the way Pakistanis react to people and events.

Hospitality and generosity:

The characteristic of being extremely hospitable and generous to guests has stood Pakistanis and Pakistan in good stead. No visitor to Pakistan goes away without being touched by this, and this characteristic has been used to good effect by Pakistan over the years.

An article in the American magazine, The Weekly Standard had this to say in its Nov 5th 2001 edition:

..the attractive character of elite Pakistani officials. Compared with their haughty Indian and chaotic Afghan neighbors, Pakistani VIPs are often wittier, warmer, and more knowledgeable about the insider gossip of U.S. politics. American diplomats and spooks often have a good deal of fun with their Westernized Pakistani counterparts. As one congressional staffer, who frequently visits south-central Asia, succinctly put it, “I like ‘em; the Indians are jerks.”

A series of Western writers and prominent people have been hosted and feted in Pakistan, and have later served as honorary ambassadors for Pakistan in the Western media.

One prominent example is the famous American pilot, Chuck Yeager, who was a guest of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and who later went on to write paeans about the PAF For many years after the PAF was comprehensively defeated in successive wars with India, Yeager’s words of praise of the Pakistan Air Force continued to be quoted, maintaining a reputation for the PAF that extended far beyond its real performance.

Pakistani hospitality has charmed a large number of prominent writers to write positively about Pakistan, and some have gone as far as to make needlessly hostile and malicious references to India in their writings despite strong evidence that their words are misinformed at best, and often just plain wrong. Prominent among people who have written warm words for Pakistan are writers like Brian Cloughley, Eric Margolis and John Fricker.

As recently as June 2002, the Washington Post reported:

It was mid afternoon Tuesday, and Anwar Mahmood, Pakistan’s information secretary, was on the phone discussing with an underling how to keep more than 100 foreign journalists happy for the rest of the week...if it keeps the reporters satisfied, he figured, it’s worth the $3,000 it will cost his ministry to rent the plane from Pakistan International Airlines...The Pakistani government, eager to make its voice heard, has ordered foreign embassies to expedite visas for journalists...Five times in the past month, the Information Ministry has rented air-conditioned buses to carry journalists to the Line of Control... There they are treated to hour-long military briefings, complete with maps, displays of Indian mortar shells—and tea sandwiches served on trays by white-gloved soldiers. You won’t get such hospitality from the Indian army.

Honour and Dignity:

The need to maintain honour and dignity is a fundamental pillar in the mind of the Pakistani. It is often more important to maintain honour and avoid shame than anything else. At a rural, tribal level in Pakistan, maintenance of honour often relates to women and doubts about fidelity or adultery. Death, in the form of an honour killing is often the sentence carried out on a woman who is thought to have shamed the family. David Pryce Jones has written (45) that the key to understanding some Islamic societies is to recognize the need for:

…acquisition of honour, pride, dignity, respect, and the converse avoidance of shame, disgrace, and humiliation. The powerful codes of shame and honour...enforce identity and conformity of behaviour. Everything is permitted in order to safeguard the family or tribal honour, lying, cheating, and even murder.

But honour and dignity play an equally important role among the richer and apparently liberated Pakistani elite rulers of Pakistan. The need to maintain honour and avoid the perceived national shame of appearing weak in front of India has led to the sacrificing of all developmental effort towards arms purchases to pursue military parity with India. Stephen Cohen’s quote of a Pakistan army officer’s words in this regard has already been alluded to at the beginning of this chapter.

The importance of honour is evident from the words used by US deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage after a meeting with the President of Pakistan, General Musharraf on the 6th of June 2002:(46)

..I would note that the conversations we had with President Musharraf made it very clear to me that he wants to do everything that he can to avoid war... Of course he wants to do this, keeping intact the honour and dignity of the nation and the armed forces,...

On 14th March 2003, General Musharraf, military leader of Pakistan said about Pakistan’s nuclear weapons aspirations (47)

“We only want the deterrence capability to preserve our honour and dignity.”

The need to maintain honour and avoid shame by Pakistani military commanders goes to the extent of suppressing any news of a defeat or setback suffered by the military, while insisting that victory was always achieved. A brief study of the way Pakistan’s wars with India have been reported in Pakistan are illustrative of this.

The 1965 war with India started with the infiltration of Pakistani Special Forces into Kashmir for sabotage and to incite acts of violence. As the conflict evolved war broke out over a wide front and by the time a cease fire was declared both India and Pakistan had captured small areas of each other’s territory. Significantly, Indian forces were well within striking range of the Pakistani city of Lahore, with Indian troops in the towns on the outskirts of Lahore, and Pakistani General Ayub Khan’s plans to take Srinagar were foiled. But the 1965 war has always been portrayed from the Pakistani side as a war in which attacking Indian forces were defeated. The need to maintain honour and dignity is so important to the Pakistani, that any available fact may be either picked up or selectively forgotten in order to save face and maintain the pretence of victory.

In 1971, the triumph of an East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) based political party in an election would have meant that a Bengali, Sheikh Mujibur Rehman would have become Prime Minister of Pakistan. This was disliked by the West Pakistani Punjabi dominated army of Pakistan, who commenced a genocide in East Pakistan. Millions of refugees poured into India to escape this. In a humanitarian move, Indian forces entered East Pakistan and defeated the Pakistani military and a new nation, Bangladesh, was born. More than ninety thousand Pakistani soldiers were taken prisoner of war. The Indian victory, unparalleled since the German Blitzkrieg that overran Poland was described by historian Brigadier Shelford Bidwell (48) as follows:

The operations of 1971 finally dispelled any vain dreams that the ‘sword-arm’ of old India could, despite its numerical inferiority, sweep aside the armies of the effete Hindus and win another battle of Panipat outside the walls of Delhi. Not an Indian brigade had to be moved West. General Jagjit Singh Aurora’s daring concentric attack on East Pakistan went forward uninterrupted and on 16 December he received the surrender of the Pakistani commander in Dacca.

The ignominious defeat of the Pakistan armed forces in 1971 and the formation of Bangladesh almost went unreported in Pakistan. An editorial in the Pakistani newspaper The Jang recalled the 1971 reports in Pakistan (49):

So great was the ignorance and absence of principles in West Pakistan that the government of the day had the temerity to issue a disgraceful statement casually mentioning that “by agreement between local commanders, fighting had ceased in East Pakistan and that Indian troops had entered Dacca.”

Pakistani children are not taught about the 1971 war. Mistakes made by the Pakistan army in the war were never investigated or made public, neither were the failures admitted or analyzed. Some of the defeated Generals in that war even received gallantry awards and honours in later years. The Pakistani need to maintain honour and dignity at the expense of truth is a fault that has done Pakistan no good. It may even be a characteristic that can be used to predict Pakistani behavior or provoke desired responses from Pakistanis, when used in a psy-ops role.

The Kargil conflict of 1999 ended with the rapid withdrawal of Pakistani forces facing rout. By the time the withdrawal started the Indian forces had wiped out almost the entire Northern Light Infantry of the Pakistan army. Nawaz Sharif, who was Prime Minister of Pakistan during this conflict, said in an interview to the Weekly Independent from his place of exile in Saudi Arabia,

..when the battle began, the whole Northern Infantry was blown up and 2,700 soldiers were martyred and hundreds were injured. The death toll exceeds even that of the 1965 and 1971 full-scale wars.

But the only history that is acknowledged by Pakistan is that the Kargil conflict was a great victory for mujahideen who held the Indian army at bay. Pakistanis do not admit the involvement of their armed forces, and yet do not explain how the Pakistan army withdrew from the conflict zone if they were not involved. In doing this, face has been saved and honour retained by the Pakistani army, but it is difficult to imagine how the Pakistani army can learn critical lessons from a disastrous war if the sole aim of its officer class is the save face and maintain honour and dignity

An explanation exists for the tendency of the Pakistani elite and officer class to protect each other’s honour even after embarrassing or disastrous events. A study of Pakistani society and kinship patterns (50) notes that the household is the primary unit for kinship and the male descendants, (the biradari) are under pressure to maintain a picture of unity, because disunity means dishonour. A quote from the study says:

There is considerable pressure for patrilineal kin to maintain good relations with one another. Biradari members who quarrel will try to resolve their differences before major social occasions so that the patrilineage can present a united front to the village.

It has been observed that Pakistan itself is ruled by a small group of between 22 and 43 families (4). With the entire ruling apparatus of Pakistan under control of a small group of family units, the family obligations of Pakistani society to avoid shame creates the need for whitewashing military disasters and other mistakes. The deeply Islamic fervor of the average Pakistani comes in handy here as all errors and defeats can be explained away as God’s will - an explanation that most devout Pakistanis will accept without question.

It is possible that the Pakistani need to maintain honour and dignity and somehow appear equal or superior to India was understood and exploited by Indian leaders in 1998, when India conducted a series of nuclear weapon tests, breaking a 24 year self-imposed moratorium.

Even before the 1998 tests Pakistan was widely acknowledged to possess nuclear weapons. Pakistan need not have tested immediately after India’s tests. If Pakistan had not tested, it would have put India in a very tight situation, with international censure and sanctions, while Pakistan could have basked in the sympathy it would surely have got for having an aggressive nuclear neighbor in India.

But the need to save Pakistani honour was too great after the Indian tests. The national sense of shame in being unable to publicly match India was so intense that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif acknowledged that he would not survive unless he sanctioned nuclear tests by Pakistan. Pakistan did test a nuclear device of its own two weeks after India’s tests and although there is some controversy about the real origin of the device tested by Pakistan, the test greatly diluted the international attention that India was getting after its tests, and put the spotlight on Pakistan, a spotlight that has only become brighter after the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks in the US.

Rhetoric and Hyperbole:

The Pakistani need for the maintenance of honour and avoidance of shame ideally involves and outright military victory. When such victory is not possible or unlikely, the war needs to be continued verbally to avoid shame. Every accusation is made to show that an adversary is cowardly, weak and untruthful, with Pakistanis being courageous, righteous and heading for victory.

Such hyperbole seems to be necessary psychological support for the Pakistani mind, although it often sounds hollow and unconvincing. Only a total victory or a mediator leading to a solution on Pakistani terms can maintain honour enough to allow such hyperbole to die down. David Pryce Jones has described the connection between honour, shame and rhetoric (45):

Honour makes life worth living whereas shame is a living death. Shame and honour involve publicity; success involves bragging, and shame means public humiliation.

Stemming directly from this rhetoric and hyperbole is the decades old campaign of misinformation that Pakistan has maintained about itself, its armed forces, its wars and about India. The degree of misinformation is astonishing, but easy to understand in the light of the deep Pakistani need to maintain honour and avoid shame.

For example, wars are never lost, and any defeats are temporary setbacks. Arms built under licence are always shown as indigenous. Ballistic missiles imported from China and North Korea are repainted and given Pakistani names to be flaunted as missiles designed and manufactured in Pakistan. Indians are always depicted as being conniving and scheming, never as courageous and honourable. The Indian armed forces are always referred to by Pakistan as being weak and dishonourable and always accused of raping and murdering civilians. Indian leaders are often referred to as scheming high caste Brahmins or Banias who are plotting to either dominate or eliminate people of all other religions and social groups.

An example of this tendency can be seen in a two part article on the events of 1971 that appeared in the online edition of the Pakistani paper the Jang as recently as 2004, written by a former Pakistani army officer, Brigadier Anjum (51, 52). In a farcical and fanciful description Brigadier Anjum does not say a word about the 1971 elections in Pakistan that were won by the East Pakistani Awami league party, and denies the well documented genocide of ethnic East Pakistani Bengalis by West Pakistani troops (chapter 11). Anjum’s explanation of why reports of genocide by Pakistani troops are false is as follows:

Senator Edward Kennedy, having a pro-India prejudice... addressed a press conference in New Delhi to say that he was convinced that Pakistan army had committed genocide in East Pakistan. This was enough to disparage Pakistan Army

Brigadier Anjum makes this record of India's role:

India with a mission in hand to destroy Pakistan was first to demolish its basis.

The Indian intervention to stop the genocide by Pakistani troops is described in the following way:

it was an act of military piracy at the highest level to destroy the professional propriety of soldiers who were on lawful duty...The interference of Indian army in East Pakistan was a well thought out conspiracy hatched by India and vociferously backed by the Soviet Union

Many sources (53, 54, 55) have documented the surrender of 90,000 Pakistani troops in East Pakistan at the end of the 1971 war. Brigadier Anjum records his version of history as:

The number of combatant soldiers out of the 90.000 so-called prisoners of war was just over forty thousands. The rest of PoWs were civilians and their families, mostly children.

The need to appear superior to and better than India is fundamental for the Pakistani. That is what justifies the formation and existence of Pakistan. Accepting that India and Indians may be in any way better than Pakistan is deeply dishonourable and shameful to the Pakistani. The feeling threatens the very existence of Pakistan and is a feeling that must avoided at all cost.

Disputes and mediation:

Pakistani leaders have initiated war against India mainly when they have assessed India as being weak. On every occasion, the Pakistani assessment of Indian weakness has led to a situation in which Pakistan is faced with military defeat. But to the Pakistani leadership, an offer of peace by any party is considered as a sign of weakness. Courage and a willingness to fight are honourable, and offering peace is a sign of cowardice and an unwillingness to fight.

When faced with a situation in which Pakistan is the weaker party, the need to maintain honour and avoid shame requires that Pakistan must not sue for peace by directly negotiating with India. This calls for the introduction of a mediator or middleman. It is cowardly to call for peace directly, but it is honourable to agree to peace when mediated by a respected third party, which avoids the need for defeat and dishonour. Any concessions that Pakistan is forced to make can be conveniently blamed on the mediating party. The important need here is for Pakistani leaders to appear to be strong and retain their honour in front of their own people. It does not matter if anyone else considers that Pakistan was defeated, weak or dishonoured as long as the Pakistani people see their leaders as having pulled off some kind of victory, and are not seen as having lost their honour to the weaker party India.

This explains the tendency that Pakistani leaders have to call for third party mediation in settling a dispute between India and Pakistan by appealing to the US, the UN, the International community or any other third party rather than facing shame by negotiating for settlement directly with India. In the Kargil conflict, when Pakistani forces were facing rout, the Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif demanded an audience with President Clinton of the US and then ordered withdrawal of the remnants of the Pakistani forces to give the appearance that it was not a clear defeat, but a respected third party’s request from President Clinton of the US that made a triumphant Pakistan pull back from defeating India.

Because talk of peace is considered to be a sign of weakness, it is likely that peace offers from India have been misinterpreted by Pakistani leaders. Indian peace initiatives are seen as a sign of weakness, which must be met with threats and demands for concessions. But an India that appears to be showing weakness by talking about peace mystifies Pakistan by refusing third party mediation. For India, third party mediation is unacceptable in what is essentially a bilateral dispute with Pakistan. This confuses and angers the Pakistani leadership, because on the one hand India appears weak to them by asking for peace, but on the other hand India refuses third party mediation which a weak nation should accept with gratitude to save its own face.

One more factor that must be taken into account in negotiation with Pakistan is that Pakistan may fail to honour prior agreements as it has done with the UN resolutions and the subsequent Simla agreement of 1972 with India. It is possible that Pakistani leaders consider all agreements and treaties as temporary instruments to buy time. When faced with the stark choice of being with America, or against America after the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks on the US, President General Musharraf explained to his people in a speech in Urdu that his aligning with the US would be a temporary alliance with the devil. In support of this plan General Musharraf used the analogy of the charter of Madina and the treaty of Hudaibiya signed by the Prophet Mohammad in his September 19th 2001 speech (56).

The Martial Mind:

One of the enduring myths to have come out of Pakistan is that Pakistanis are somehow a martial race - with military tradition in their blood, with the courage and valor that such a military tradition suggests being somehow enshrined in the Pakistani’s genes.

General Ayub Khan who led Pakistan into the 1965 war with India had boasted that One Pakistani soldier is equal to six Indian soldiers The genesis of this attitude is interesting.

In 1857, soldiers of the British Indian army rose up in a rebellion in what is now known as the first war of Indian Independence. That rebellion was eventually quelled by the British with troops mainly from the Punjab particularly Muslim troops from what is now the Pakistani Punjab, assisted by Pashtun troops. After this event, the British greatly changed the composition of the Indian army forces, by recruiting mainly Muslim Punjabi troops and Pashtun troops from the North Western parts of pre-independence India, which are now part of Pakistan. These troops were subsequently in the thick of all the campaigns that Imperial Britain was fighting. The British gradually began to refer to these groups as martial races. Retired Pakistani army Major Agha Humayun Amin wrote about the Pakistani army feeling of martial superiority (57):

The “Martial Races Theory” in reality was an Imperial gimmick to boost the ego of the cannon fodder. Various British writers like Philip Mason frankly admitted that the real reason for selective recruitment was political reliability in crisis situations, which the Punjabis had exhibited during the 1857-58 Bengal Army rebellion.

Pakistan the nation was formed with the belief that its army was, from the beginning, somehow superior by virtue of its being composed of martial races. Maj. Amin goes on to write:

The Pakistani nation had been fed on propaganda about martial superiority of their army...the Pakistani GHQ placed entire reliance on the Superior Valour and Martial Qualities of the Pakistani (Punjabi and Pathan Muslim soldier) vis a vis the Hindu Indian soldier, as proved in 1965 war and felt that somehow, in the next war to miracles would occur and the Pakistan Army would do well

Hard as it may be for a rational thinking person to believe, Pakistani military adventurism has been guided by a firm belief in the innate racial superiority of the Pakistani soldier and supported by a belief that Pakistan and Pakistanis are somehow performing Allah’s will and that God would therefore be on their side no matter how preposterous or ill advised the action.

Positive Self-image:

One remarkable feature noticeable among Pakistanis, especially Punjabi Pakistanis is an extremely good and positive self-image of themselves and their people. Their self-esteem is unshakable to the extent that no factor is allowed to get in the way of identifying themselves as superior and excellent.

Hamid Hussain wrote of Pakistani military officers' self-image in Pakistan's defence journal (58):

these military officers also have dangerously self-exaggerated opinion of their capacities both in terms of defense of the country’s frontiers and their ability as an organized body to fix all problems of the society. Confidence in one’s abilities, pride and constant struggle to excel professionally are essential elements of a good officer’s corps. The problem starts when these positive traits are stretched to unrealistic limits, which now enter the zone of grandiose ideas and self-righteousness.

A good self-image can be a useful personality attribute if it is not carried to extreme lengths in which all others are considered inferior. Unfortunately that has occurred among Pakistan’s elite, to the detriment of Pakistan. Former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto, herself a Sindhi, recalls having been taught as a child that West Pakistanis are tall, fair-complexioned and eat wheat, while East Pakistanis (Bengalis) are short, dark-complexioned and eat rice. The East Pakistanis were held in contempt by West Pakistanis. Major Amin writes (57):

the generals were convinced that the Bengali was too meek to ever challenge the martial Punjabi or Pathan Muslim..The Bengalis were despised as non martial by all West Pakistanis.

This contempt with which West Pakistanis viewed their own countrymen contributed to the secession of East Pakistan and the formation of Bangladesh in 1971. In one of the few elections held in Pakistan, the 1971 elections gave a thumping majority to the Awami League, an East Pakistan based political party headed by a Bengali, Sheikh Mujibur Rehman. If the results of these elections had been carried through to their logical conclusion, Mujibur Rehman and his party should have formed the government of Pakistan in Islamabad. But the Punjabi generals of the Pakistani army, who considered themselves superior to the short, dark and non-martial Bengalis could not face the idea of being ruled by an inferior Bengali as Prime Minister. The results of the election were annulled and martial law was clamped in East Pakistan. A subsequent genocide of over three million East Pakistanis led to the Indian military intervention in East Pakistan, and the liberation of Bangladesh.

If Bengali Muslim East Pakistanis were considered racially inferior by West Pakistanis, it is not surprising to note that Pakistanis have considered themselves racially superior to the “dark, ugly” Hindustani Indians. This feeling was a carry over from the pre-Independence days when the British relied on the martial race for their army recruits. Maj. Amin writes:

To Kiplings contemporaries, the taller and fairer a native, the better man he was likely to be

A visible symbol of the contempt with which Indians are taught to be regarded in Pakistan can be seen from some Pakistani textbooks for small children to learn the Urdu alphabet. The word kafir means unbeliever, but in the Pakistani context it is a derogatory term for a non-Muslim. Children’s alphabet books carry the word kafir as an example of a word that starts with the Urdu equivalent of the letter k. Associated with the word is a picture of a kafir - which is often the picture of a Hindu of a Sikh. Even today, in the 21st century it is possible to visit Pakistani chat-rooms and discussion fora on the Internet to find references to Indians as short, dark, ugly, weak or cowardly.

Stemming from the self-image of the Pakistani is his sense of entitlement. Spokespersons for Pakistan never tire of pointing out that Pakistan is not getting its due. Pakistan is always portrayed as being just, fair and sacrificing, and that India, the US or the world owe Pakistan a lot more that it is getting. At every step, Pakistan is said to have already done, or already given more than necessary and that the onus is on the other party to pay Pakistan back for services rendered and sacrifices made.

Islamic overlay in Pakistani behavior:

The obvious question is “Why would anyone’s religion make his behavior different or peculiar?” It is better to answer the question than ignore it and assume that religion has, or does not have any bearing on behavior.

Arab scholar Raphael Patai, in his seminal work on Arab psyche (42) lists a few characteristics of Arab personality that arise from Islamic beliefs. From the profound application of Islamic beliefs among Pakistanis, it seems that the same characteristics can be seen among Pakistanis, with evidence of the same in their behavior.

One powerful Islamic belief is that of pre-destiny; the belief that all events are predestined or decided beforehand by God and cannot be avoided or changed in any way. Patai quotes this Islamic belief as the requirement that”

Man has no choice but to go through the course of events, which have been written down for him in God’s Book to the smallest detail. Not even in everyday life can a man do anything, either to hasten or otherwise influence events

These beliefs are referred to in the words kismat and naseeb that occur in Urdu, but stem from Arabic and Persian respectively.

The average, poor uneducated Pakistani believes that his life is pre-ordained by Allah to be the way it is, and that he will be rewarded for his piety in an afterlife with an assured place in a well-stocked heaven. The average citizen’s life may be lived in poverty in someone’s service because that is what God has willed for him and attempting to change that would be against the will of God. For this reason, the average Pakistani is unlikely to revolt against his lot in life, or even to try to fight to make it better. He will do what his feudal master, local lord, or religious leader tells him to do, so long as it does not go against his Islamic conscience.

The docility of the average Pakistani in day-to-day life is probably beneficial to the stability of feudal Pakistani society, but does not augur well for development. Development requires effort and change and the belief in pre-destiny rules that conditions and events that the Pakistani experiences in life are ordained by Allah to be as they are and must not be changed or tampered with in any way.

Such beliefs also make the average Pakistani male citizen a prime candidate for motivation into leading a life as an Islamic warrior. Such a life is tempting because it meets all his human and psychological requirements. He is well looked after during the indoctrination and training period, and any subsequent violence he takes part in would ensure for him a respected place in his society as an Islamic warrior, or ensure a place in heaven if he were, as is quite likely, to die in action.

Unless there is a fundamental and deep rooted effort within Pakistan to change the relationship of the Pakistani with his religion, a relationship deliberately cultivated by the Pakistani elite for their own ends, there can be virtually no hope of achieving a sea-change in the internal situation of Pakistan, and the external consequences of that.

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