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India and Pakistan: whats the difference?

Both countries started off at the exact same time, August 14-15, 1947. Both
countries inherited a British civil service architecture, an intact local
government system, and an intact British railroad system for communication
and transportation infra-structure. Both countries had a strong political class
borne out of the struggle for independence from Great Britain, and both
countries had identified a charismatic leader with strong credentials and the
public support of their respective constituencies (Jawaharlal Nehru and Ali
Jinnah). Both countries were a combination of princely states and semiautonomous regions with a multitude of spoken languages. Pakistan was
made up of Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan, Bangladesh, and the Northwest
Frontier Provinces. India was made up of over fifteen disparate regions. Both
countries had poor literacy rates (@15%) and a large majority religion: Islam
and Hinduism, respectively. Neither region was rich in any natural resource
and neither country had any history of any type of democratic process. Both
countries were rural and primarily agrarian-based. Neither country inherited
a monarchy or ruling family. Neither country is landlocked, and both share a
wide geographic range (from fertile plains, deserts, mountains). Both
countries generated their own constitutions and opted for a British style
parliamentary system.
Now, sixty years later, India seems to me to be a robust democracy, with a
vibrant economy. It feeds its own people. Pakistan is on the verge of being a
failed state, the economy is in shambles, and the country requires foreign aid
to survive. Hard to imagine it today, but in the 1960s Pakistan was ahead of
India economically. With no industrial base, almost no mercantile
communities in its most populous state, Punjab (the real talent being the
Gujaratis in Karachi), and no particular natural resource, Pakistan was still
clobbering India in growth. How?It was unencumbered by romantic ideas of
socialism in its leaders indeed it signed up for military pacts against the
communists except in Bhuttos brief reign. Pakistan liberalized much
before India and its economy picked up.The 1960s was Pakistans decade of
development and Huntington of Clash of Civilisations fame likened
Pakistans leader of the time to ancient Greeces great lawgivers. Ayub
Khan, he wrote, came close to filling the role of a Solon or Lycurgus on the
Platonic or Rosseauian model.
Such confidence was reposed in Pakistan that when it was partitioned in
1971, it was Bangladesh which was assumed to be in economic trouble

(older readers will remember Kissingers contemptuous phrase, basket

case). Today Bangladesh is growing faster than Pakistan and will soon have
a bigger economy than its estranged brother.So what went wrong? It was of
course that Pakistan went into chaos that was deliberately created. In order
to punish India in Kashmir it armed and empowered Pakistanis.During the
run-up to the Iraq war, there was a great deal of discussion in the States of
what is necessary for a democracy to take hold. Talking heads exploded onto
the cable news scene, and academics, political wonks, and governmental
experts alike weighed in on the issue. When the rhetoric and political
jockeying was set aside, some interesting questions were in fact being
asked. What are the necessary ingredients for a democracy to succeed?
Some of the components that were cited as prerequisites were: the rule of
law, a high literacy rate, a political class, an independent judiciary, and a free
press. India and Pakistan offer a valuable lesson on this important question.
While the British were focused on their own interests, they inadvertently set
off a controlled experiment in democracy. Interestingly, many of the
necessary ingredients were not present in either India or Pakistan at the
time of Independence. Thus, returning us to the original question of how did
India survive and Pakistan fall into the cycle of dictatorship-ineffective
Canvassing opinion

. Muslims believe in the edicts from the Koran and would prefer to be ruled
by Sharia law. The Koran does not make any accommodation for democracy
and therefore democracy cannot prosper amongst a people whose gospel
does not support democracy. Further, Muslims have a strong sense of rule of
law and justice, but because Sharia law supports the second class status of
women, an impossibility in a modern, pluralistic economy democracy cannot
take hold.
At first blush, this argument appears attractive, but there are two obvious
counter-examples in the modern world: Turkey and Indonesia. Both countries
are democratic, super-majority Muslim, and make accommodation for women
in their society and political processes. As far as the argument about the
Koran is concerned, a thorough reading of the Old and New Testament does
not identify democracy as an optimal form of government in these texts
Both the Old Testament and the New Testament make
accommodation for slavery and set hard rules on some societal practices.

From an aggregate historical standpoint, the Vatican has been on both the
side of the monarchs and an active participant in secular politics. Therefore,
the favoured religious text of any group of people does not appear to be an
insurmountable impediment for democracy. Even the harshest critics of the
Iraq war have not made the case that Islam and democracy are
contradictory. When my friends and colleagues state that Islam is the reason
for Pakistans failure, they are not thinking of these historical nuances. They
are observing the empirical nature of the worlds democracies and their
respective population characteristics.
The second most common response was related to the nature of a Pakistani
class structure that prevented economic development and democracy. At
the time of Partition, Pakistan was based on a rural, feudal class-based
system. Similar to post-Magna Carta Europe, landowners controlled the
wealth, and the majority of the people worked the land. The merchant class
was minimal and the landowners never relinquished control. Because of this
class system, as Pakistan evolved, post-Partition, the upper class precluded
the inclusion of the lower class and therefore none of the development and
resources flowed to the majority of the people. Thus, the rigid nature of this
class system has precluded Pakistan from educational and economic
development and has saddled Pakistan with a class structure that hampers
The problem with this argument is that India was in exactly the same
position. One can argue that the Hindu caste system is more rigid than the
system that was pervasive in Pakistan at the time of partition. An Israeli
friend of mine summed it up well: I am not a big fan of Islamic
fundamentalism, but Europe had just as much class rigidity in its history, and
that has not prevented them from becoming successful democracies. I
doubt that this is why Pakistan has failed to become a strong democracy.
Some observers have observed that Indias socialist structure instituted land
reform, thereby preventing the asymmetric structure seen in Pakistan.
However, the same Indian socialist structure and central economic planning
restricted Indias annual GDP to 3% for decades while Pakistan grew at an
annual GDP rate of 5-6%. While these class issues remain in Pakistan, Indias
caste system is still well ingrained, particularly in rural areas. The empirical
evidence does not support this as the distinguishing issue and certainly does
not explain the different progress of India as compared to Pakistan.

The third most common response was corruption. The notion that corruption
can undo any political or economic process is not contested. Those who
have travelled abroad into a developing country who have encountered the
daily corruption that stifles the most trivial task have felt its weight.
However, as an argument to explain difference between India and Pakistan
this idea does not hold up. The corruption perceptions index (CPI) published
in 1995 gave Pakistan a score of 2.25, India a score 2.78, and China a score
of 2.16. The minimum score in that year was 1.94 (Indonesia) and the
maximum score was 9.55 (New Zealand). In 2008, India and Pakistan both
have CPI scores below 3.5. (The CPI is been published annually by
Transparency International) So while it is true that Pakistan is burdened with
a high level of corruption, so is India.The fourth most common reason was
the west, specifically the United States. This critique is a variation of the
critique offered by Dambiso Moyo in her book, Dead Aid. In the case of
Pakistan, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, and the subsequent
engagement and foreign aid to Pakistan to help fight the Soviets bolstered
the brutal military dictatorship of General Zia ul-Haq. In line with Moyos
reasoning, foreign aid perpetuates poor governance because the ruling
government controls the aid, and invariably uses much of it to support itself.
This line of argument suggests that if the US did not get involved, the poor
governance of General ul-Haq would have been brought down sooner, and
Pakistans democracy would have been returned. Echoes of this argument
were made again when the US supported Pervez Musharraf after the attacks
of 9/11.
The problems with this argument are numerous. Firstly, ul-Haq stepped down
from his self-appointed Prime Ministerial post in 1986. The Soviet-Afghan
war continued until 1988. In that same year, full democracy was restored
and Benazir Bhutto was elected Prime Minister. While it may be true that
General ul-Haq utilized foreign aid to maintain power, the US government
has continued aid since the Soviet-Afghan war to Pakistan to democratically
elected leaders as well. On the opposite side, India had received aid from
the Soviet Union throughout the same time period. India was part of the
non-aligned movement, which really meant that they were aligned with the
Soviet Union but did not want to be communists. The argument that the
wests support of Pakistan was the sole reason for the asymmetry in
Pakistans development compared to Indias is difficult to fathom. But it is
likely that the generous US support of General ul-Haqs government to help
fight the Soviets probably allowed him to stay in power much longer than he
otherwise might have.An hypothesis emerges

This last fact leads me to my conclusion and final hypothesis regarding the
difference of outcomes: the crucial factor is the cycle of dictatorship and
democracy in Pakistan. As I observe the histories of the two countries one
glaring difference becomes clear. India has had an unbroken chain of
democracy since its inception and adoption of its constitution in 1950. On
the other hand, Pakistan has had an unbroken chain of ineffective democratic
governments, followed by dictator-led ineffective governments since its
inception and adoption of their constitution in 1956.
From the very start, the Pakistani republic ran into trouble. After the
adoption of the constitution, Ayub Khan launched a military dictatorship and
took power in 1958. He remained in power until 1971, when Zulfiquar Ali
Bhutto (father of Benazir Bhutto) became prime minister. Bhutto remained in
power until 1977 when General ul-Haq came to power. The cycle continues
today with the recent removal of Pervez Musharraf and the reinstitution of an
ineffective democratic government. So how does this cycle explain the
differences between India and Pakistan? The reason is that the cycle
described precludes development and investment in the citizens of the
country. Dictators build and develop only enough to keep their
constituencies happy; they keep the rest for themselves or for their pet
projects. The ineffective democratic counter-cycle is not really a democracy
of the people for the people. It is an oligarchy of the dictators opposition. In
the end, the people get nothing. Moreover, the longer the duration of
dictatorship, the longer it takes the new government to govern on behalf of
the people and the longer the new government remains in payback mode.
So when the west supports a dictator for short-term interests (e.g. Musharraff
after 9/11), we must recognize that the extension and support of a dictator
comes with costs. Another illustration of this effect was when we supported
the Shah in Iran. The dictator fell, and the friends of the dictator (the US)
became the enemies of the new regime for thirty years and running.
While not all dictatorship transitions to democratic rule remain trapped in
this vicious circle, that is the exception rather than the rule. Three countries
emerging from longstanding dictatorships were able to break the cycle:
Portugal, Spain, and Chile. What these countries share in common is that the
incoming governments moderated the payback to those who were previously
in power. They prosecuted the big fish, but they worked hard at
reconciliation. A counter-illustration of this was in Iraq. The new Shia
Government and the US banished all members of Baath Party and disbanded
the military. This was a form of payback, and the result was pushing all

these people into the opposition of the new government: this certainly
exacerbated the resistance and made the job of instituting an effective
government harder.Because India was able to maintain a democratic process
since its inception, the politicians occasionally took time off from fighting
each other to actually govern. They were compelled to build roads, schools,
and other infrastructure so they could get votes to try and stay in power.
When the opposition came into power, they directed resources for their
constituencies, but they did not tear down the oppositions work: they just
preferentially supported their interest groups. This is democracy at work:
slow sputtering ugly progress, but progress nonetheless. This is the central
reason why India has managed to progress over the past sixty years and why
Pakistan remains so far behind.
Answer the following Questions:
1. If India and Pakistan were cut from the same geographic and ethnic
cloth, with the same parliamentary-style system, why is India held to
be a vibrant democracy today and Pakistan a political basket case?
2. What are the various social factors influencing the politics in both the
3. What kind of International relations do both countries have?
4. List the sequence of political history in both the counties.
5. What forms of govt.has both the counties witnessed
6. What elements of the syllabus are covered in the case study