«THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTION Brookings Briefing THE IDEA OF PAKISTAN Moderator: STEPHEN P. COHEN Panelists: AKBAR AHMED, MARVIN WEINBAUM Wednesday, ...»
understanding our own cultures and our own features. And one way of doing this is, really, to learn about each other and read about each other. I think that that really has to be emphasized irrespective of the politics of India and Pakistan. Because very often, that politics dominates everything else, whether it is the textbook, whether it is the interpretation of history itself.
great deal of progress in this realm in Pakistan. I think enlightened Pakistanis recognize this. There has been severe criticism of the way in which certain events have been depicted. The progress has been very slow here. But then again, in this country we are, you know, also debating what ought to be in our textbooks. As long as that tension exists between the two and as long as they see their struggle in existential terms, which they still do, you're naturally going to have those kinds of distortions. But I think a positive development is the that there are Pakistanis, not just Indians, who today say we've got to do better by our students in giving them a fair depiction of history.
all over the country, I talked to distinguished audiences like this, and I ask them could you please put up your hands anyone who's heard of Mr. Jinnah. And there's very, very few hands, as you can imagine. Of course, when I say "Gandhi," everyone puts up his hand. So the process of education has also to be a two-way affair. People in the United States have to understand and appreciate and come to know people like the founder of Pakistan, who for Pakistanis is a combination of Washington and Jefferson and all these great figures rolled into one. Still, very few people know about him.
if you could just elaborate generally on your observations of the young Pakistanis that are coming of age under the Musharraf government. Is there a culture of self-reflection or is it kind of a renewed projection of Pakistan's problems on external factors?
to my most recent visits to the campuses and so forth in the past five years. I think what is most distressing has been the attitude of young Pakistanis that they want to leave the country. If they can, they want to get out. They want to come to America or they want to go to Britain or Australia. America's no longer as easy to get to. And the long lines in front of the U.S. Embassy for many years were a bad sign, not a good sign. And the Pakistani Diaspora was not coming back, because there wasn't anything to do in Pakistan. I hope that--again, hope is not a policy, but I hope things are changing. But I don't have any evidence one way or the other.
with a lot of general support, unlike Zia, who came into office deeply hated by half the country. And Musharraf has squandered some of that support, but on the other hand most Pakistanis feel that he's a force for stability. And Pakistanis need stability. But they also need, in a sense, domestic revolution and change. My best scenario would be that Musharraf would become a revolutionary, a quiet revolutionary, one who would impose--impose or force change in a whole range of areas.
economy, where he spent a lot of time on this with very good people; transform the educational system, which is crucial for the long run; manage the sectarian issue, which is partly theological and partly otherwise; deal with the nuclear issue, deal with India, deal with Afghanistan, deal with his own army, deal with the Americans--that's an enormous agenda. And, you know, I wish him well, because my future and the security of my children may depend on his success. That's why I think we have to invest in Pakistan. Even if there are a lot of doubts and a lot of questions as to whether he's the right man or whether he's the only man, or what, I don't think we can let this opportunity pass.
met in close groups, like summer workshops I've founded, I think are marvelous people.
They're really--they suffer somewhat, compared with their Chinese and Indian counterparts, by not being as well educated and haven't traveled as much. But otherwise, there are a lot of very good people that, I think, if given the chance, they would come back to Pakistan, they would pursue careers in Pakistan. But the economy has to grow for that to happen.
QUESTIONER: I'm Pete Chetley from Brookings. My question follows up the earlier session. AQ Khan. In the whole history of the world since nuclear weapons, I don't think there's been anybody who's been quite the rogue proliferator as AQ Khan. And my personal impression is that the explanations by the Pakistani government have been pretty cavalier and not very persuasive--comments like "we had nothing to do with it, the government; this all happened." I just find that really hard to believe.
in future explanations of the Pakistani government that now things are things are under control, this won't happen again, et cetera. The cow's out of the barn. And what can the U.S. do about this? How can we trust the Pakistani government about their future explanations that things are now under control?
to the bottom of what did happen. And I think that's the worrisome part here. There is concern here that what we've done is we've given Musharraf a pass on this. We've enabled him to immunize his military and their involvement in what went on. I must say, I spent four years in the State Department on the intelligence side, and I'm very upset because we took as long as we did to blow the whistle. It really was the Libyan affair which really moved things.
allowed--and he repeated it when he was here, Musharraf; he said you do not have the right to interrogate AQ Khan. You or the atomic energy people, International Atomic Energy people, do not have that. This is our responsibility and we will share with you what we have. After having, I think, not leveled with us as long as they did, to now go back and expect that they're going to be forthcoming on the full story, I think, leaves one with a certain degree of cynicism. I'm very--I'm as upset as I suspect you are.
to rush off to supper.
QUESTIONER: My question--rather, statement, is about Islamophobia in this country and anti-Semitism in Pakistan. I was in Pakistan in 1996 and this was my first time after 11 years. And I observed, there's a lot of anti-Semitism in that country, but I think it is very, very superficial. And the reason it's there, because of poverty, because of lack of education, because of lack of opportunities. Based on this, politicians are able to channel that frustration and anger against Israel. I think the minute Pakistan has any kind of diplomatic relationship with Israel, this issue would get resolved.
the Hill for several years. I would go to several [inaudible], and it shocked me how ignorant people are about Islam. They think they're some kind of, you know, religion from jungle and people are so uncivilized. And then I talk with these people. I tell them, listen, do you know who was Jesus and who was Moses and who was Mohammed? They were like first cousins. And who are you guys? You know, you are dishonoring this American Christianity and you have so condescending feeling in talk about Islam and you are so ignorant, and you should think about this before you, you know, insult those people.
into the panel's knowledge base. Three questions: What were Jinnah's religious beliefs?
And what were his original visions for Pakistan, the land of Pakistan? And do you see those visions ever being realized?
Pakistan, read his first two speeches to the constituent assembly, August 1947.
Pakistanis seem to have forgotten those speeches. But those lay out the vision for Pakistan. It is a tolerant, modern democracy. It is a religion he could--these are his lines. He says Hindus are free to go to their temples, Christians to their churches, Muslims to their mosques. He's very clear about poverty, the gap between the rich and the poor, about corruption. He has a vision of a country run by religious groups, he says, no, Pakistan will not be a theocracy. Again, I'm quoting him. At the same time, he points out that we will be inspired by the principles laid down by the prophet of Islam.
what makes him so relevant for us today. Because he provides a model of a modern, democratic, Muslim leader. And when you look at the landscape in the Muslim world, 57 states, how many modern Muslim leaders do you see who are democrats? Very few.
constantly keep that vision of Jinnah's Pakistan before us because, if we don't, then Pakistan really implodes into ethnic, sectarian, and religious confrontations and conflicts. Because that vision is no longer holding Pakistanis together. And I have found that during my work on Jinnah that he was the one person who transcended loyalties. So whether they were ethnic loyalties or sectarian loyalties, people responded to Jinnah. I found whether they were Christian groups or Hindu groups or Muslim groups, Shiia or Suni, they all looked up to Jinnah. So he was a unifying factor, one of the very few in Pakistan. And I would say that it's in the interest of every government to revive that vision, because that is a very strong, a very modern vision for Pakistanis.
And it gives them a lot of pride. It is one thing that gives Pakistanis pride.
see Pakistani Muslims viewing their development as Muslims very differently than Arab Muslims? If Arab Muslims have had their major interpersonal and cultural and business relations outside their own faith with People of the Book, Jews and Christians who profess belief in one god, did it make a difference that most Pakistanis had their major relationships with Hindus, believers in multiple gods?
more qualified than I.
I think that Pakistani Muslims--Pakistanis are almost all Muslims; there are some small Hindu and Christian populations--are really South Asian in culture, and that flavors the kind of Islam that they practice. Arabs are Arabs, and their Islam is different. You get Arab Christians, but Arab Muslims are quite different than--Arab culture is perhaps a greater impact, a greater variable. So I think that as much as anything, the cultural underpinnings, rather than the religious faith from on top, are relevant.
with their religion, that their religion penetrates every aspect of their culture and society and their lives. That's not necessarily the same thing as being fanatical about your religion, about being willing to tolerate differences within your own religion and with other religions. Too often here we've equated those things, and that's not the case. By and large, whether we're talking about Indians or Pakistanis or Afghans, these are people who have a strong--for one thing, many of them, a Sufi tradition rather than this, what we would say, a more formalistic or radical tradition that we associate with Deobandi Islam. And that Sufi tradition is a far more relaxed version. Again, it's part of their lives, it envelopes their entire lives, but doesn't necessarily make them intolerant.
do some analysis in terms of Islam in regions. So if you look at the Middle East and you see the confrontation--sometimes friendship, harmony, sometimes confrontation between Jews, Christians, and Muslims, it is still taking place within the Abrahamic traditions. And they're fairly well defined: invisible omnipotent god, messengers, text, a notion of the after-life, a ledger in life, and so on. Identifiable within the same tradition.
Hinduism, Buddhism--completely different. And Islam has to adjust. And Islam does adjust. So Islam in South Asia, remaining Muslim, at the same time develops this reaching out to a non-Abrahamic faith, where it's able to live in great tolerance.
Akbar rules what today effectively would be Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh. I mean, this is really one-fourth of humanity or one-fifth of humanity. And Akbar creates a new capital outside Delhi, at Fatehpur Sikri. And at the entrance to this capital city there's a huge portal, a grand entrance. And on this entrance, Akbar has inscribed a quotation from Jesus. Now, I find that a remarkable example of Muslim tolerance. I don't think any civilization can give me an example like this, where a Christian king would quote the prophet of Islam, for instance. And here is Akbar, who could have quoted his own prophet, someone nearer to his own tradition, yet he's quoting Jesus. So Islam in South Asia does have a very strong tolerant streak in it. And I think, again, we need to remind Pakistan of that. Our challenge is precisely that. And Mr. Jinnah, in a sense, represents that particular tradition.
the innovators in radical Islam. And the Deobandis and others contributed to the Muslim brotherhood. In a sense, a lot of Middle East radicalism now is originally theologically from South Asia, and in a sense Islam is complicated by Christianity or Judaism. And it's these different traditions sometimes at war with each other. In fact, the internal wars are more interesting than wars between religions.
there was the killing, I believe, of about 50 Shiia last year during the Ashura. Was that highly, highly anomalous or is that--does that speak to a rift there?