Karachi, November 15
ITS creator and governor general, M. A. Jinnah, has described Pakistan as “the biggest Moslem state… and the fifth biggest sovereign state in the world.” Though the second point might be disputed, Pakistan is unquestionably worthy of attention, for it is situated just where the Anglo-American and Soviet orbits touch in the strategic Central Asian theater.
Seldom has a new state been created under such contradictory pressures or with such a load of full-grown problems. Control of the government is vested in a few top officials, supported by a powerful bureaucracy, but Britain has a say in matters of defense, finance, and foreign policy. Already the government is shot through with corruption and nepotism. Social life is dominated by Mohammedan concepts, including the subjection of women. The structure of the state, however, has not yet had time to harden, and internal strains may reshape it in another image.
Although Mr. Jinnah exaggerates when he describes his dominion as “blessed with enormous resources and potentialities,” Pakistan is undoubtedly “workable” economically. With an: area of 230,000 square miles, one-fourth larger than 1933 Germany, it has a population of 70,000,000, about the same number as 1933 Germany. It produces an agricultural surplus and can export part of its wheat and rice and a good deal of its valuable jute crop. It also has some oil and chromite and considerable potential water power. Industrially it is the most backward part of the whole under-industrialized subcontinent. There are scattered woolen, cement, sugar, and cotton mills, but cloth and most other manufactured goods must be imported; some 85 per cent of the raw jute of all India is grown in Pakistan, but the jute mills are in Calcutta. Pakistan has no known coal or iron and only one modern port, Karachi. The people are largely illiterate; only 4 per cent can read as against 12 per cent in India. Among the well-educated, here as in India, are too many lawyers and too few engineers.
Close and friendly relations with the Indian dominion seem essential to the development of Pakistan’s potentialities. The Congress Party, indeed, finally agreed to partition, after years of deadlock, partly in the belief that Pakistan could not exist as a separate state. “Let them have their Pakistan,” it was argued, “if they’ll take it without the eastern Punjab and without Calcutta and western Bengal. They won’t have any coal, capital, or industries, and we can throttle them economically. After a few years they’ll come crawling back!” This attitude, although not shared by the entire Congress high command, has certainly pervaded the partition operations. In the division of assets the Moslems have had to make a separate fight for virtually every typewriter and ream of paper. Difficulties have even been raised over the handling of mail.
Pakistan’s economic troubles have been immeasurably increased by the bloody communal conflicts and the resulting influx of refugees. Almost every Moslem League leader from Mr. Jinnah down believes that this refugee inundation was part of a plot to swamp the Pakistan government before it could get established. “I’m sure that Nehru isn’t a party to this plot,” one declared, “but I’m just as sure that it is the backing of Patel [India’s Home Minister] and Baldev Singh [the Defense Minister and a Sikh].”