By Fawad Ali Shah
KARACHI: Prominent historian Dr Mubarak Ali believes the fall of the Berlin Wall is an event that changed the whole political scenario in the Indian subcontinent since it resulted in strengthening the rightist forces in Pakistan and consequently, the rise in religious extremism in the country.
“For the people of the West, it was a matter of happiness, but the fall of the Berlin Wall had some dire consequences for the secular forces in Pakistan,” said Dr Ali, while delivering a lecture at the Goethe-Institute during a programme arranged by the German Consulate to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
He was called from Lahore to deliver a lecture on the topic, ‘Impacts of the fall of the Berlin Wall on South Asia’.
“The day some Western historians interpreted the fall of the Berlin Wall as the defeat of communism, secular and communist forces in Pakistan were weakened and religious extremists took it as their victory,” Dr Ali informed the audience.
Dr Ali is one of the leading modern day historians and a critic of history that is taught in the country’s schools and colleges.
He said after the weakening of communism, rightist forces assured the society that there was no place for capitalism as well in Pakistan, and hence the religious system was the best option left.
“It was after the fall of the Berlin Wall that the Islamists started cleansing the Western impact from the Islamic culture ,” he went on to say.
However, Dr Ali added that the fall of the Berlin Wall also led to some positive theories, such as some intellectuals arguing that if two states with different ideologies can unite in the West then why not Pakistan and India.
He said there were some similarities between the division of Germany and Indo-Pak sub continent, like the divided families on both sides of the border facing a lot of problems. “However, the number of people supporting this idea on both sides of the border were few and hence they started looking for alternatives,” he added.
Dr Ali said people-to-people contact between India and Pakistan was a consequence of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and added that during the late 90s, the relationship between the two countries had reached its peak but the Kargil war acted as a catalyst in the collapse of the whole peace process.
He said another peril of the fall of the Berlin Wall for the Indo-Pak subcontinent was the increasing influence of the United States of America in the region. “The influence of the US is increasing in both the countries since the day the Berlin Wall fell,” Dr Ali said.
“The result is that we are in a dilemma,” Dr Ali analysed.
“The event of the fall of the Berlin Wall was good for you, but we lost a lot,” he told the Western participants while ending his lecture.
Earlier the German Consular General in Karachi Dr Christian Brecht shared some of his eyewitness accounts with the participants. “It was so sudden that no one even in the upper hierarchy could have expected it,” Dr Brecht said, and added that he was in Munich when a friend suddenly called him and asked to switch on the television.
“What I saw was jubilations and celebrations and the next day I was driving towards Berlin to witness this historic moment,” the German consular general said.