Tag Archives: Austro-Hungarian

Serbia 1914 and Pakistan 2014

By  Mani Shankar Aiyar

On the eve of the centenary of the first World War, Mani Shankar Aiyar draws an elaborate analogy between the events that triggered off the world’s bloodiest war and modern-day South Asia

Today, 28 June, exactly one hundred years ago, the Serbian terrorist, Gavrilo Princip, unwittingly started the First and Second World Wars that left more than a hundred million people dead before the madness gave over three terrible decades later. Along with five other young men, all about the same age as Ajmal Kasab and his companions, Princip and his companions lined up under successive lamp-posts along the quay that Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir apparent to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, was to drive down along with his wife, Countess Sophia Chotek, to the Sarajevo Town Hall for a formal welcome reception.

The five terrorists were infuriated because the Archduke and his consort had chosen the precise anniversary of the worst day in Serbia’s collective memory, the defeat of the Serbian Tsar, Dusan, by the Turks at the Battle of Kosovo in 1389, more than five centuries earlier, but which rankled as the day when the dream of Greater Serbia was ended for half a millennium. In the eyes of all Serbian nationalists and terrorists, with the Ottoman hold on the Balkans collapsing, the time had now come to avenge that defeat. Just as six centuries of Muslim rule in Delhi, from 1192 AD when Mohammad Ghori established the Sultanate to 1858 when the Last Mughal, Bahadur Shah Zafar, was deposed had reverberated in the minds of the Kasab gang of terrorists as the order to be re-established, so did the Serbian terrorists propose to reverse the 1878 occupation of Bosnia by Austria and its annexation to the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1908 to pave the way to the re-establishment of Tsar Dusan’s Greater Serbian Empire that had perished on the Fields of Kosovo on 28 June 1389.

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Pakistan: A vanishing state

By Shabbir Ahmad Khan
Both empires and states fail or collapse. Examples include the Roman, Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, Mughal and British empires. From the recent past, the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Sudan are the best examples. Professor Norman Davies, in his book Vanished Kingdoms: The Rise and Fall of States and Nations recounts the history of 15 European states which disappeared. Professor Robert Rotberg, in his book When States fail: Causes and Consequences provides empirical description on a state’s failure. Similarly, the Fund for Peace and Foreign Policy magazine publishes a list of failed states each year, on which Pakistan ranks 13. Pakistan’s score is just 13 points below that of the most failed state in the world, Somalia, and just five points below that of Afghanistan, which is at number seven on the list.Why do empires and states fail or fall? There are a number of factors for state decline, including social, economic and political. The most common factor is global; it includes intervention by external political agents or forces. In such situations, the empires or states first fail to cope with the new challenges and later collapse. There is a new challenge before Pakistan, which no state in history has ever faced. Today, the world community is unified against religious extremism of any kind and a nuclear Pakistan is heavily convulsed by internal violence linked to religious extremism. After World War II, colonial powers gave independence to many nations, including Pakistan, with a clear rationale or prime motive. At a very critical juncture in history, if states lose their rationale, they lose their right to survive. Pakistan is passing through a critical juncture of her history. If she loses her rationale, she loses her right to exist.Two questions are important to answer the above-mentioned query. Who creates states and what is their rationale — i.e., the cause of their birth? More than 140 states got independence after the two world wars. The winners of the wars designed the world map by decolonising nations. The process of giving self-rule to new states was intentional and purposeful. British rulers, in congruence with the US, wanted to split India for their long-term interests in the region. In my opinion, Pakistan — the same way as the state of Israel — was created as an independent state to guard Western interests in the region. In both times of war and peace in history, Pakistan proved herself as the guardian of vested interests of Western powers. In return, Pakistan also got the liberty to do a number of things, including attaining nuclear capability. Throughout history, Pakistan changed herself with the changing demands of the West to fulfill her utility and her indispensability.

Thus, a militant, extremist, rigid and nuclear Pakistan was in the larger interests of Western powers, particularly to contain the Soviets and its allies, i.e., India. Now, the Western world has changed its policy towards the region where Pakistan is located and has demonetised its political currency by putting immense pressure on the country to change her course accordingly. But Pakistan seems reluctant.

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