Bengaluru: “Pakistan has failed to create an overarching Pakistani identity, despite being Islamic by ignoring its various minorities,” said Mr Tilak Devasher, former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, Indian government. The author, columnist and former bureaucrat was speaking at a discussion of his book 'Pakistan: Courting an Abyss', at TERI Complex in the city on Tuesday.
The event was moderated by Ambassador P.S. Raghavan, Convener of National Security Advisory Board and former Ambassador to Russia, Ireland and the Czech Republic.
Referring to the youth bulge that Pakistan is currently facing (it churns out more than 3 million adults every year, a majority of whom are unemployable or without jobs), Mr Devasher said, "It could become fodder for terrorist organisations."
He insisted that the lack of investment in education was a blot and it is showing today in Pakistan, while pointing out the gender imbalance. He said, “Despite being a part of the working populace, women in Pakistan were not considered a part of its labour force."
Asked whether Pakistan youth could possibly rebel against the establishment in a movement akin to Arab Spring and whether there were any structures or conditions to support such a movement, Mr Devasher quoted a phrase by ISI's Major General Sher Ali Khan Pataudi to then Pakistan supremo Yahya Khan, "The Pakistan Army has a mystique and a charisma which must be maintained." Mr Devasher implied that as long as the Army has its mystique and charisma, everything would be okay.
He said, "An Arab Spring like situation could occur only if the Pakistan Army is totally discredited, like losing a war or another 'black swan' event like the operation to kill Osama bin Laden, were to happen."
He said that there were situations, like the aftermath of the 1971 war, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the 9/11 and, in recent memory, killing of Osama at Abbottabad, that could have led to an Arab Spring like movement, but did not.
The discussion was peppered with anecdotes and ended with a question-and-answer session. Revealing nothing concrete about his next book, Mr Devasher only said, “ISI is too delicious a subject to be explored.”