Pakistan's checkered journey from using thorns to nuclear power
As Pakistan celebrates 74th Independence Day on Aug. 14, experts believe that the country carries a mixed bag of successes and failures.
The nation carved out of the subcontinent as a homeland for Muslims began its journey in 1947, amid tensions with India over the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, fears of survival due to economic hardships, the rush of refugees and ragging communal riots.
In one of the world's largest displacements so far, according to historians, over 6.5 million Muslims from different parts of India migrated to Pakistan, following the end of British colonial rule in the subcontinent in 1947.
The only Muslim nation, possessing nuclear arsenal with a population of over 210 million people began its voyage with no official secretariat or housing.
Historians believe that despite challenges the country has accomplished several feats over the past 73 years, from science and technology, medicines to sports.
"Like any other country, Pakistan's history is a mix of failures and successes. No doubt, the country should and could have been in a better position today, keeping in view its strategic, and economic potential," Akhtar Hussain Sandhu, a Lahore-based historian, told Anadolu Agency.
He said the country can take pride in many accomplishments in different fields, despite facing a series of conventional and unconventional wars, with India and its active involvement in the Afghan war against the now-defunct superpower Soviet Union, and then participating in the US-led war against terrorism.
Another historian Muhammad Reza Kazimi said that survival was its one of the biggest achievements of Pakistan as many had predicted that it will not last long.
"Pakistan was conceded by the British because it was not expected to survive. The last British Viceroy of United India Lord Mountbatten had told the Prime Minister of India [Jawahar Lal Nehru] that Pakistan was not economically viable and would come begging to rejoin India within six months," said Kazimi, who is editor of Karachi-based quarterly Journal.
Pakistan was given neither the old capital Calcutta nor the new capital New Delhi. It declared port city Karachi its capital, which had been the administrative center of southern Sindh province for only a decade.
"There was no secretariat no housing and a rush of refugees. Still, the first generation of Pakistan’s employees dug their feet using thorns instead of pins to club papers, even tables and chairs and stationery from their resources, and made Pakistan survive," he said.
"One can accuse us of corruption, mismanagement, and poor governance in the 21st century, but at the crucial time we displayed honesty, dedication, courage, and ensured survival," he added.
Echoing Kazimi's views, Sandhu said that Pakistan has successfully acquired influence in specific regions and has acquired a share in world politics due to its strategic location.
"Freedom, new country, and founding fathers like [Mohammad Ali] Jinnah were the blessings. Other big achievements were building of institutions, constitution, and nuclear program,” said Sandhu, who teaches history at iconic Islamia College Lahore.
"Pakistan did not have enough number of colleges, universities, schools and technological institutes, besides had a small industrial base. But over time, Pakistan has considerably progressed in the fields of science and technology, and education," he added.
According to Atta-ur-Rehman, a renowned scientist Pakistan has remarkably progressed in the field of science. He mentioned that country is manufacturing and exporting military hardware like aircraft, tanks, and other conventional weaponry.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Rahman, who also headed Science and Technology Ministry from 2000- 2002, said Pakistan has recently joined a handful of countries, which manufacture ventilators and in 2002 had launched its first indigenously built satellite Paksat.
“By 2000, Pakistani scientists, and researchers used to produce around 700 papers for international journals and publications per year. Now, some 20,000 papers by Pakistani researchers find ways in the international journals every year, which is 25% higher than neighboring India," he said.
"Presently, Pakistani researchers are producing 916 papers per 10 million population compared to 708 papers produced by Indian researchers annually against the similar population figures," he added.
Rahman said that in 2000 India was four times ahead than Pakistan in terms of publication of research papers. The trend started changing in Pakistan’s favor in 2018.
“Now we are 25% ahead of India on per capita basis," he added.
Also, he further said, Pakistan's sports goods and textile products have attained international recognition.
Supporting Rahman's views, Sandhu said: "Today, Pakistani scientists, doctors, and engineers have got recognition even in the US and Europe."
Further, the country is one of the largest producers of several key agricultural commodities, including rice, wheat, sugarcane, cotton, and fruits, he added.