Pakistan’s identity crisis

Published: January 26, 2015
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The writer has a master’s degree in conflict-resolution from the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California and blogs at http://coffeeshopdiplomat.wordpress.com

The writer has a master’s degree in conflict-resolution from the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California and blogs at http://coffeeshopdiplomat.wordpress.com

More than a month has gone by since the attack on APS, Peshawar. Military courts have been established and schools have been made responsible for their own security. The country is still limping back from one crisis and is now forced to deal with a self-imposed fuel shortage. Are these events written in the stars or does the fault lie within ourselves? We are racked with violence and extremism while our civil society is inept and known to celebrate suicidal maniacs with vigour and fanfare. Hangings of convicted murderers bring out a vote for sympathy in their favour. Volunteers administering polio shots are killed and anyone with a different ideology is destroyed.

The land of the pure wishes to represent all Muslims of the world, where ever they maybe, by rioting for their causes and protesting in their support. Buildings are burnt and facilities are demolished because of the emotional tantrum we suffer on account of real or perceived insults to our belief. Is Pakistan only made up of emotional mobs and nothing more, where might is always right and each citizen is left to their own struggle for survival of the fittest? Why then are the expectations of the population so lofty? There is talk of democracy and a demand for progress. Herein lies the contradiction and where we need to find the answer to how Pakistan can operate as a nation. Today’s society appears to neither have the intent nor capacity to right itself but is indecisively wavering about in search of answers. The ‘Pakistani Nation’ as a whole is at fault. Pakistanis act as their own worst enemy and are on a circular path that leads nowhere. This cannot be righted by anyone but ourselves and it must start by de-radicalising the populace.

Once the radicalised element is under control, society can relearn to live for their belief rather than to just die for it. People will once again be free to discuss in the open whether Pakistan is an ideological state or not. If, according to outspoken opinion, the most important pillar of statehood is ideology, then it should certainly not be left in the hands of the fanatical mullah. This extreme aberration holds domestic and foreign policy hostage to his own interpretation of ideology, causing violent protests if his narrow views and demands are not strictly adhered to.

A moderate form of religion-based governance may not be feasible, when one person’s interpretation of religion does not recognise another person as a Muslim. If ideology itself is responsible for dividing the nation into small little hate groups, then surely one needs to consider rational statehood in lieu of the theological form. Was Pakistan created as a result of repression or was it created in order for Muslims to have a way to repress others? Was Pakistan always an Islamic Republic? If there is an alternative identity which doesn’t violate the number one priority, the well-being of its populace, then it must be sought. Regardless of whether Pakistan turns into a more inclusive system or not, madrassas must be reined in and the role of religion in politics has to be reviewed. The authority of the maulvi also requires clear definition so as to avoid any delusions. The state should be returned to the citizens, to live in an air of freedom without fear and fraud, without prejudice and malice towards anyone.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 26th,  2015.

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Reader Comments (43)

  • KashmiriMuslim
    Jan 26, 2015 - 1:27AM

    Dear Mam,

    There are very few people like u in pakistan.What pakistanis have not understood in last 67 years is the philosophy of live and let live.They created terrorist and killed kashmiris.Then told they were self made mujahids.

    They created afghan mujahideen and want to control afghanistan by killing afghani people through the taliban.They did not care about innocent childrens and ladies and they still talk about independence of kashmir and afghanistan.Why they dont talk about xinxiang a.k.a. east turkeministan or kurdistan.This is hypocrisy at its best..

    Innocent people are brainwashed in the name of religion.
    Every person heart bleeds and weeps if he is human on peshawar tragedy and killing of innocent childrens,but its said as u sow u will reap.

    It took 67 years to get to this mess and it may took more than 67 to get out of this mess.

    Its upto pakistan wheather they want to live with love with all their neighbours or keep on posing threat ans problem to them..

    Well wisher of pakistan
    Ahmed wani
    kashmir,India

    ET…Please publish my facts..I have written nothing derogatory..

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  • Jan 26, 2015 - 5:28AM

    Dipak@KashmiriMuslim: Excellent analysis. The other day I had met a couple from POK and they said if given a chance most of the people there would like to join India.

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  • Jan 26, 2015 - 7:49AM

    @KashmiriMuslim:
    The author does not live in Pakistan. She resides in the US.

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  • S K Chadha
    Jan 26, 2015 - 8:08AM

    Madam, you are absolutely incorrect …… There is no identity crisis for Pakistan, it has a well defined identity around the world. Please travel outside Pakistan and judge it.

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  • irfan
    Jan 26, 2015 - 9:08AM

    @S K Chadha:
    Why talk Crap? Read the Justice Munir report, “we asked all the devine for a definition for a Muslim so we could be decided as to who was a Muslim and who was not. It is with a heavy heart that we have to regretfully state, that if we followed any one devine then we were effectively Non-Muslims for the rest”. This is recorded in the court, so which identity are you talking about?

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  • John B
    Jan 26, 2015 - 9:18AM

    Was Pakistan created as a result of repression = No

    was it created in order for Muslims to have a way to repress others? = No

    Was Pakistan always an Islamic Republic? = Yes

    If there is an alternative identity…. then it must be sought. = Look East

    Hopefully my answers summarize the long quest.

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  • KashmiriMuslim
    Jan 26, 2015 - 10:24AM

    I can just say If pakistan is so much champion of muslims or people cause and want independence for kashmir and palestine then it must start setting an example..
    It must held free and fair referendum in POK and gilgit and must set these people free according to their wishes.If pakistan set these people free than India will have to do something..Either India will go for POK part of kashmir or it will negotiate something with these people living on both sides..Something will happen for sure..It will be benefit to both side and kashmiris may live according to their will..This will be a win win situation for pakistan..They already are called champion of plebiscite cause in the world and after this they will be established as a champion for sure for the repressed people if they are repressed…

    Pakistan must also answer these points..
    Why does a puppet chief minister of POK when taking oath says i will be loyal to pakistan and when infact kashmir is altogether a different country for pakistan.

    Regards
    Ahmed Wani
    Bandipora
    Jammu and Kashmir,India

    ET..Please print my comment..I have stated only facts..I havent use any derogatory comments my friends..Both pakistanis and indians are long lost brothers and sisters of same civilisation and we must always question as this help get us better and know peoples opinion on either side and get closer to each other as much as possible..

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  • KashmiriMuslim
    Jan 26, 2015 - 10:28AM

    @Irfan..Chanddha saab is talking about terrorist identity of pakistan…I suppose..or what they are called Miskeen in saudi arabia and middle east i.e. converts..

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  • John B
    Jan 26, 2015 - 10:54AM

    @KashmiriMuslim:
    Finally I am glad to see an honest comment for PoK. There is more to your plebiscite request than comment but PoK causes are heard.

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  • Sid
    Jan 26, 2015 - 11:02AM

    @Sabina Khan, I live pretty close to Monterey. Would love to converse with you on this topic. Not to show how India is good and Pakistan is bad, but to seriously analyze this topic on why did the partition really answer. Maybe we would never have enough answer and may not come to any conclusion, but it would be a good start to get like minded people to talk on it. I am part of a small Indian Pakistani community on Facebook who share same interests and politely take such discussions with open mindedness.

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  • terry
    Jan 26, 2015 - 11:09AM

    @KashmiriMuslim:
    My friend there has never was and hasn’t been any independent Kashmir. You have been fed too much bull by your Hindu benefactors and so cannot tell fact from nonsense. It was either India or a Pakistan in the first place and don’t make me list out the UN resolutions to you on the subject. What happens in Gilgit will be an outcome of the referendum that was supposed to be held after Nehru lied that it would be done. Don’t justify your rubbish by now arguing about what Pakistan gave to China or that how your rigged elections in Kashmir have resolved the matter of the referendum. As long as there are people like you there will be many who shall not only be terrorists but shall be proud of being so.

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  • observer
    Jan 26, 2015 - 11:16AM

    The land of the pure wishes to represent all Muslims of the world, where ever they maybe,

    Err, Umm..

    I have to disagree.

    A. The land of the Pure first wants to DEFINE who is a Muslim.

    East Pakistanis were the first to be excluded.The Hazras also are excluded.

    Ahmadis, Zikris,Ismailis, Bohris and now Shias do not qualify.

    B. Having defined the Right Muslims, the State, and non-State Actors patronised by it, would like to PURIFY the land of the PURE.

    C.Only the remaining will be led to the Promised Land in the Land of the Pure.

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  • RealKashmiri
    Jan 26, 2015 - 11:40AM

    @ Kashmiri Muslim: Its quite clear that you are not Kashmiri Muslim but an Indian friend in disguise. That’s why you speak of POK (instead of AJK). You Indians have created a filter bubble whereby you say things amongst yourselves and believe that its the reality. And all of you are obsessed with Pakistan. Get a life and look elsewhere please !!! As for the article itself, there was nothing new, nothing of note – totally useless.

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  • vinsin
    Jan 26, 2015 - 1:27PM

    @terry:
    Pakistan never moved its Army to allow plebiscite. Pakistan opposed plebiscite stating that Sheikh Abdullah can influence it.

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  • ishrat salim
    Jan 26, 2015 - 2:28PM

    The reason for our continuous downfall is ” the state of Pakistan suffers from DENIALISM, roughly defined as the tendency to reject & replace it with twisted logic – illumati, Jews, intel agencies, establishment, America, India etc; so that on individual or collective level we can absolve ourselves of responsibility for the plight of this blighted nation “…

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  • Zen
    Jan 26, 2015 - 2:42PM

    @terry:
    Yes please do list out the UN Resolution.

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  • Kami
    Jan 26, 2015 - 2:53PM

    @ vinsin: taking cover of an obscure irrelevant detail. The fact is that Kashmir was ILLEGALLY given to India by then ruler of minority govt in Kashmir with generous assistance from Redcliffe and Mountbatten. Any struggle for independence as old as in Kashmir cannot have taken place just because of “infiltration” as your govt and your media wants you to believe. Otherwise why is there no struggle for independence in AJK. And to be honest, Pakistanis are okay with an independent Kashmir – we do not want to occupy the valley like your forces !!! now go and leave Pakistanis alone.

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  • terry
    Jan 26, 2015 - 5:41PM

    @Zen:
    @vinsin:
    Get your facts straight, after the false document, which has never seen light of day, ‘the treaty of accession’, your PM went to the UN and agreed to a plebiscite. It required a troop pull out from both sides. It was not done!!! Zen, it’s all over read it for yourself. It is the longest outstanding UN resolution that is still in search of a conclusion. In any case, what’s your obsession with not having a plebiscite; after all you guys are so democratic you could even teach the US and Obama a couple of things. By the way, when you do get down to a plebiscite or sorts, we will definitely have one here too. We have always wanted one after all. Stick to your guns but don’t ask stupid questions ‘why do they hate us?’. Pakistan may have a reason but what explanation do you have for the Samjhota Train, The Babri Mosque and the Gujrat massacre. But then when a country has a recognised terrorist for a PM and that too who till recently was not allowed entry into the US and was on their list of wanted criminals, what answers should one expect.

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  • Baqir
    Jan 26, 2015 - 5:45PM

    john B.If there is an alternate identity.
    We don’t need an alternate identity because,we have born and living on our land Pakistan from thousands years.We had an identity based on our race,ethnicity and culture.we were an empire stretching from Isphan up Malabar.This empire had been changing name with the changing rulers.sometimes it was called as Oxus civilization,the other time it was named as Indus valley civilization,while later on it was Ariana,Gandhara and so on.
    Unfortunately after independence from India were in power as out of 106 ICS officers 96 were from Indian Muslims,and they had no other afinity with the land except the term Muslim which was common with Pakistani es,hence they started saying that Pakistan is the fort of Islam so all world wide Muslims can consider it as their home for all their covert and overt agendas. It has haplessly killed lacks of Pakistanis and destroyed our economy and image to the ground.

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  • John B
    Jan 26, 2015 - 6:51PM

    @Baqir:
    I thought you were satirical with your first paragraph. Your second paragraph says you are not. You should read history and geography properly. Otherwise, PAK will not be having this “identity crisis”.

    Never in the world a religion defined national identity. It did not do for any religion in the past, present and future.

    None of your historical background belong to PAK history.

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  • Rex Minor
    Jan 26, 2015 - 7:15PM

    Miss Sabina Khan is just brilliant, her article is of world class as well and the questions she raises reveal not only her intellect but intution too. The question, however is about how sincere she is to influence the state of affairs when she lives abroad as an expatriot and is directly chalenging the structures within the community, namely the Madrassa education for the children to understand the values of the religion and the role of the clergy therein, without proposing alternative schooling or assure religon teachings which separates the beirvers from the Godless people..
    It was Voltair, who said that if there was no God, then we had to invent one because there can be no morals or ethics without the creator.

    Rex Minor

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  • Rafi Ka Deewana
    Jan 26, 2015 - 8:06PM

    Very well written article. Talks about the real problems and the real solutions. The only question is, where to start and who will bell the cat?

    And about Kashmir, the Kashmiris are gradually realizing that they are much better off with India. They can be better and safer Muslims in India as compared to the other side.

    The moment the few fanatics / terrorists are nullified, Kashmir will be as peaceful and as beautiful and as prosperous as Switzerland is.

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  • Tariq
    Jan 26, 2015 - 10:05PM

    @Kami: You are entitled to your opinions but you are not entitled to your facts. In 1947 India consisted of British India and a bunch of (supposedly) independent states ruled by various Maharajhas. When it came to the question of what should be done about the “states”, for some reason Jinnah agreed to a ridiculous plan by Mountbatten which allowed various individual Maharajhas to decide if they wanted to join India or Pakistan regardless of geography and ethnic makeup of their state. That was the only choice by the way. Independence was not an option.

    Jinnah should have been smart enough to know that Kashmir was a very special case. A muslim majority state ruled by a Hindu Maharajha named Hari Singh. Jinnah should have put his foot down during the negotiation process and settled Kashmir’s status up front. It should have never been left in the hands of Hari Singh.

    I blame Mr. Jinnah’s short sightedness for the Kashmir problem. He should have known what Mountbatten and Nehru were up to. All the protests and shouting after Hari Singh had handed Kashmir over to India were useless.

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  • Agrippa - The Skeptic
    Jan 26, 2015 - 11:48PM

    @ Terry

    Pakistan may have a reason but what explanation do you have for the Samjhota Train, The Babri Mosque and the Gujrat massacre. But then when a country has a recognised terrorist for a PM and that too who till recently was not allowed entry into the US and was on their list of wanted criminals, what answers should one expect.”

    One can search, find and give as many reasons as one wants to justify one’s actions. It is left to the discretion of the others if the reasons are believed.
    Samjhauta Express is a blot India has to live with and do penance. The identification of the culprits was done by the Indians without any external inputs and pressure. The cases are on.

    The Babri Masjid and Gujarat riots are 100% Indian affairs – there was no foreigner involved neither in the riots nor amongst those killed. Nobody other than the Indians have jurisdiction on these cases. Not even the so called protectors of Islam – who BTW are struggling to stay on their own feet. Indian judiciary has done a whole lot, more will be done.
    This is not what you could claim for your side of developments.

    For someone to be calling the democratically elected PM of a country names, one needs just look back 6 decades and look at the creator of a nation who called Direct Action and caused deaths in 6 figures. What would or rather should one call him?

    P.S. This is a public forum, does one have to use abusive language?

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  • Rafi Ka Deewana
    Jan 26, 2015 - 11:50PM

    @Tariq: I think your assessment is wrong. There were enough Muslim rulers in other parts of India (Hyderabad, for example) of which Jinnah was probably thinking about.

    The Kashmir problem came into existence because of the Pakistan-sponsored attack which made Hari Singh go with India.

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  • Rex Major
    Jan 27, 2015 - 12:08AM

    @ Rex Minor
    “The question, however is about how sincere she is to influence the state of affairs when she lives abroad as an expatriot and is directly chalenging the structures within the community, namely the Madrassa education for the children to understand the values of the religion and the role of the clergy therein, without proposing alternative schooling or assure religon teachings which separates the beirvers from the godless people..”

    What does Ms Sabina Khan’s being an expat have to do with the views she has expressed?
    Which statement in the article lets you infer that she is challenging the Madrassas and the role of clergy in education?
    She is suggesting a separation of State and religion.
    What is wrong with Godless people? Are they, in your opinion, bad human beings?
    Voltaire may have said the thing about inventing god but he also said:

    The truths of religion are never so well understood as by those who have lost the power of reason.

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  • W7
    Jan 27, 2015 - 3:46AM

    Pakistan and India donot waste energy on Kashmir. It’s like buying an expensive pair of jeans when you donot have food on table. Rather than competing with who killed more soilders focus on who created more jobs. Kashmir will sort itself out in due time.

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  • Rex Minor
    Jan 27, 2015 - 4:55AM

    @KashmiriMuslim:
    And all Mr Jinah wanted was to live in a country with muslim majority, separate from the Godless avatar creators of India. You are condemned and so are the muslims living in Pakistan having a billion plus non-believers as your neighbours!

    Rex Minor

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  • terry
    Jan 27, 2015 - 8:19AM

    @Agrippa – The Skeptic:
    “Abusive language”, Good Lord, aren’t you over reacting? The US called your PM a ‘terrorist’ and he was ‘persona non grata’ till only a year ago Or did you not know of this? I did not do this. Don’t shoot the messenger. Address the issue at hand.

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  • Jan 27, 2015 - 9:47AM

    Dipak@W7: Kashmir has already sorted out. POK Kashmiris are dying to join India for a better future that Pakistan can never ever provide. India will not want POK burden. J&K Kashiris are already sure for better future.

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  • Jan 27, 2015 - 9:52AM

    Dipak@Hobi Haripur wala: That’s even better because she gets see the overall picture that will never be shown to ordinary Pakistanis. They are blocked by Feudal, Luxurious Living Military and Relion Twisting Mullahs.

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  • irfan
    Jan 27, 2015 - 10:23AM

    @Dipak:
    Have a plebiscite instead of giving aimless opinions

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  • Alladitta
    Jan 27, 2015 - 10:44AM

    Pakistan is an Arab nation and has an Arab identity!!
    1. The dress code should be Arabic.
    2. National language should be Arabic.
    3. Every Pakistani should dig a well in his backyard.
    4. English must not be taught in schools.
    5. Camel should be made the National Animal of Pakistan.
    6. Women must be encouraged to eat more and have more children.

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  • Jan 27, 2015 - 10:55AM

    Dipak@irfan: your Military will never allow plebiscite, the way your people baced out the first time. Read history first.

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  • Jan 27, 2015 - 10:57AM

    Dipak@Alladitta: that is Madrassa brainwashing. Poor soul.

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  • irfan
    Jan 27, 2015 - 12:29PM

    @Dipak:
    How can our military effect a referendum in your area. What does it have to do with history. The UN demands a plebiscite under international auspices . What’s stopping you?? Just hold a referendum and whatever the result everyone will hold his peace. Is it difficult to understand?

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  • Agrippa - The Skeptic
    Jan 27, 2015 - 1:12PM

    @Terry
    “The US called your PM a ‘terrorist’ and he was ‘persona non grata’ till only a year ago”

    He was deemed persona non grata is true.
    Not true is that US called him terrorist – please show an evidence of this if it ever existed.

    Conspiracies and rumours do not become truth even after innumerable repetitions. Often times they are perceived as truth by the gullible.

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  • terry
    Jan 27, 2015 - 2:27PM

    @Agrippa – The Skeptic:
    Why was he person non grata; solicitating? It’s not rumours you should worry about. Come to grips with reality. It seems to always slip by you people.

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  • Tony Singh
    Jan 27, 2015 - 3:08PM

    “The land of the pure wishes to represent all Muslims of the world, where ever they maybe”

    But then isn’t ones religion his/her private affair? How can even ones parents, let alone nation be representative of his/her private matter? Beats me.

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  • Rafi Ka Deeawna
    Jan 27, 2015 - 7:58PM

    @Alladitta: Nice! Made me laugh. You forgot an important point – what to do when the door are shut and no one is watching you.

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  • trimmy
    Jan 28, 2015 - 2:36AM

    Pakistan is a Primordial Federation. (The Indus Saga by Aitzaz Ahsen)

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  • vinsin
    Jan 29, 2015 - 9:39PM

    @Kami:
    The boundary between India and Pakistan was decided by Jinnah and Mountbatten.
    AJK says completely opposite of what you said.
    Dr shabir Choudhry can help you.

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  • khizr
    Jan 30, 2015 - 9:18AM

    @vinsin:
    After coming across people like you, I have now not only understood what the two nation theory is but have also established it’s necessity. With a 500,000 Army in the Valley to maintain order, I cannot find words to explain your ignorance about AJK. None of the Pak Army soldiers are deployed in Aid to Civil Power. By the way are you familiar with POTA, a law passed by your democratic parliament only for Kashmir?
    The article was meant to highlight the issues in Pakistan and what needs to be done. You are part of the problem and not the solution. As long as there are neighbours like you who function on the basis of deceit, lies and trickery, this region will never have peace.

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