The Institute of Business Administration (IBA) Karachi, in collaboration with the Irtiqa Institute of Social Sciences, organized the 21st Hamza Alavi Distinguished Lecture, titled, ‘Pakistan’s Wars: An Alternative History’ by Professor Dr Tariq Rahman, Humboldt Laureate, HEC’s Distinguished National Professor, and Dean and Professor, School of Education, and Seeta Majeed School of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, Beaconhouse National University (BNU) Lahore. The lecture was held at the IBA City Campus and attendees included students, faculty, and academicians.

Dr Huma Ghaffar, Lecturer, Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH), commenced the event and delivered the welcome address.

Dr Syed Jaffar Ahmed, Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, Sohail University and BOG member, IBA Karachi, introduced The Hamza Alavi Distinguished Lecture Series, initiated by the Irtiqa Institute of Social Sciences, twenty-one years ago to honor the globally acclaimed Pakistani Marxist, academic, and sociologist Hamza Alavi. Dr Jaffar shed light on Mr Alavi’s life spanning more than eight decades and the many contributions he made to the academic and political world.

Addressing the audience, Dr. Rahman stated that the Hamza Alavi Distinguished Lecture series is a befitting tribute to a man of Mr Alavi’s stature. Speaking about his book on Pakistan’s wars, he said that Pakistan has had several wars, including the wars of 1947, 1948, 1965, 1971, Kargil war and the wars on Afghanistan. Shedding light on these wars, he stated that the decisions to go into wars in Pakistan were usually taken by a small clique usually comprising a few members that hold the most important ‘de jure offices’ of the state. These members make decisions about war and peace clandestinely, without consulting other equally important stakeholders and without following procedures established for taking such momentous decisions.

Dr Rahman said that when a smaller country fights a bigger country with modern weapons, it becomes a gamble. Enunciating the detrimental effects of wars, he said that wars effected not only the civilians but even the soldiers, due to which people remain in a state of tension, children suffer, innocent people lose their lives, women are raped and other numerous war atrocities take place.

Speaking about the 1965 war, the author said that the military forces on both sides weren’t prepared for war and the Pakistani protagonists of that war were President Ayub Khan, Foreign Minister Zulfiqar Bhutto and Foreign Secretary Aziz Ahmed. The 1971 civil was due to the very little political and financial power that the Bengalis had and due to the rising resentment as they felt that East Pakistan contributed more to Pakistan’s economy by exporting jute. But in their opinion the revenue earned by East Pakistan benefitted West Pakistan the most. He also explained how the narratives of all the three nations were false. Shedding light on the wars of Kargil, Siachen and Afghanistan, Dr Rahman maintained his stance that they all caused unnecessary bloodshed and the loss of precious human lives. Furthermore, the drone attacks which Pakistan suffered as a result of the war with Afghanistan compromised the sovereignty of the country and caused fear and uncertainty.

Concluding the lecture, Dr Rahman stated that decisions for initiating aggressive military action which precipitated wars were usually taken by a small clique of Pakistani decision-makers, who have clouded judgement as they believe that India is a civilization foe and that Hindus are bad fighters, therefore India should be resisted in order to win Kashmir.

Therefore, these decisions to go to war were risky and put the state in jeopardy, resulting in avoidable deaths, displacement, sexual transgressions, PTSD and injuries. Such decisions by cliques are also not questioned by the stakeholders or deemed wrong later. Hence the peril of risky decision-making precipitating a nuclear war is a very real one. Therefore, any military decisions of warfare should be thoroughly thought out and war should be avoided as it is usually in the disfavor of the country’s sovereignty.

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Arshad Yousafzai is a Karachi-based journalist covering Education and Human Rights. He can be reached on Twitter @Arshadyousafzay

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