Defang the two-nation theory

The Historic Task of the Pakistani Bourgeoisie

by Omar Ali

In order to lay the material foundation of socialism, the bourgeois democratic revolution had to be completed.”

This sort of sentence could be heard in tea shops in Pakistan 50 years ago but now that the task is almost complete (OK, not exactly, since the bourgeoisie has had to use the military academy rather than the universities to carry out its great aims, but why quibble over mere details?) the phrase “historic task of the bourgeoisie” is now available to us to be reused in some new context. I propose one here: the historic task of the Pakistani bourgeoisie today is to defang the two-nation theory (TNT). You may complain “how the mighty have fallen”, but I am serious. The military academy being what it is, it has built up the modern Pakistani nation state based on an intellectually limited and dangerously confrontational theory of nationalism. The charter state of the Pakistani bourgeoisie is the Delhi Sultanate, but that conception lacks sufficient connection with either history or geography. Bangladesh opted out of this inadequate theory within 25 years, though its trouble may not be over yet. West Pakistan, now renamed “Pakistan” to obviate the memory of past losses, is now a geographically and economically viable nation state, but the military has failed to update the TNT and in fact, made a rather determined effort to complete the project using “militant proxies” in the 1990s. That project suffered a setback after Western imperialism (aka the military’s old paymasters) announced that free-lance Islamist militias were to be terminated with extreme prejudice. Somewhat to the surprise of the state department, the Pakistani elite seems to have taken its TNT commitment seriously enough to try and retain some militant options even while accepting “aid” to assist in their elimination. But these are temporary setbacks. The ideology in question is not compatible with regional peace or global capitalism and needs to be updated and brought in line with current requirements. This is now the great task of our under-prepared bourgeoisie. …

Read more » 3quarksDaily

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