Friday, 24 March 2017

Ae Indo-Pak relations hai mushkil !

Joint families are now a thing of the past. The thought of living with our cousins and uncles seems intruding upon our privacy and personal space. But there used to be a time when the Indian sub-continent was dotted by huge houses with dozens of rooms and a plethora of kin. But now, the system is something of the past. A halcyon of emotional and financial solidarity among relatives. This has now been replaced by individual nuclear families who are at loggerheads with each other. This is not a factual interpretation of a social phenomenon, it is an analogy for Indo-Pak history. 70 odd years ago, both Indians and Pakistanis paid homage to the the same soil and the same rivers. Lahore was just like Bombay, and Indus was very much our own. Hindus and Muslims were fighting the same war, and the expectation of a febrile future had captured the sub-continent. The British sentiment towards the Indian cause had changed considerably towards the 1930s, and even the British people had become fed up with the 'imperialist' ranting. As independence became visible across the horizon, the personal interests of a few Muslim leaders created a new hindrance to the sub-continent. The professional insecurity of a few Muslim leaders resulted in the so-called '2 nation' theory that split the country into 2!

Fast forward 70 years, and the two countries are still at the same crossroad, courtesy Pakistan. Gandhiji, and even Jinnah had envisioned a future of camaraderie and 'bhaichara' between the two nations. A future of mutual understanding and friendship is what was expected by our forefathers. But reality is quite different. Newspapers on both sides are filled with stories on cross-border infiltration, though most of them on the Pakistani side are bogus. Needless to say, the major bone of contention between the two countries is Kashmir. Both sides claim sovereignty over this magnificent state which now forms the metaphorical crown of India. While Pakistan occupies around one-third of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, and has dubbed it as Azad Kashmir, the human rights violation in this area suggests that it is far from 'Azad'! The Indian part of Kashmir has enjoyed relative prosperity, and our Kashmiri brethren have also tasted the sweet fruits of democratic dividend, which has been lacking in Azad Kashmir. It has generally been accepted that while the amicable resolution of this dispute is desirable, the huge ego and inferiority complex that Pakistan carries around with it, is going to be a huge roadblock.

On a more emotional note, there is an inherent distrust and animosity that the 'average' Indian holds towards his Pakistani counterpart, and this is not without reason. India has always placed justice and propriety above selfish interests, and has tried to normalize relations at all possible times. The Pakistani response has however been hypocritical to say the least. Whenever the relations seem to be on the path of reconciliation, Pakistan offers us a dead-fish handshake, like the Kargil War. This, one has to assume is because of a genuine disinterest in the Pakistani establishment to foster a friendly relation with us. While the emotional baggage of the Partition is too big to ditch for either side, the animosity we see today seems to be something of a different genesis. It is far more recent, and has much more to do with bloated egos than actual historical victimization. Each government in India has adopted a path breaking policy to the Kashmir issue and to Pakistan in general. But the corresponding counter-policy from across the border seems to be as old as the state itself. Shedding our common past, and collective struggle, Pakistan has charted a separate historical narrative for itself devoid of the Mahatma, and Jinnah's nemesis Nehru. While this can be attributed to the compulsion of the establishment to establish a separate niche for the state in the global historical context; it says a lot about the respect the country accords to it's forefathers from India. Anti-India sentiments seem to be engineered into the DNA of native Pakistanis, while even the radicals in India seem flexible in their Pakistan approach. India has repeatedly shut down loose cannons who come out with anti-Pak rhetoric, while we see a consistent reprisal of anti-India speeches and proclamations from the other side. Enemies of the Indian state are treated royally within the cosy walls of Rawalpindi, while we shed genuine tears at the terrorist strikes within their borders. This uncompromising anti-India mindset can be seen in the actions of the Pak actors as well. The stubborn resolve with which Fawad Khan escaped India instead of condemning the Uri attack, shows that this genetic engineering is very close to irreversible. While the counter-accusations of RAW meddling in Balochistan may or may not be true, let us all remember that Balochistan is not paradise with sunny beaches and plump civil rights. It is a picture of desolation, under development, and disregard; for a state within the political grasps of Pakistan. What the Indian state may or may not be doing in Balochistan, is for the greater good and without bloodshed.

Now the Indo-Pak relations has been brought to the foreground with a moving message by a young student whose father was killed way back in the Kargil War. Apparently, it was not Pakistan, but War which killed her father. Her underlying message of peace, and the subtle condemnation of war is commendable and indeed desirable. But her analogy was outright wrong. Her father, and many other brave hearts who laid down their lives back then, were fighting 'our' war. India never provoked Pakistan. Kargil was an institutionally accepted blunder of the Musharaff government. And it destroyed the hope for a new peace, which had dawned over the sub-continent. Through no fault of India, or her own, Gurmehar Kaur's father was killed by PAKISTAN. Her plea for peace is representative of a huge outcry in India for a peaceful existence in pursuit of happiness and prosperity. This was echoed by the PM in the aftermath of the surgical strikes. But no man is detached from his social surroundings. Similarly, no country is detached from her geography. Pakistan, was, is and probably will continue to provoke and attack India, in a bid to thwart our consistent rise. And at each step we will have to retaliate. And yes there will be casualties. But in no way can we attribute these philosophically to war. Then by all means lets blame God for creating this mess in the first place! Utopian ideas generally seem nonsensical and offensive in an imperfect society. And India, like all other countries houses an imperfect society. We can accept the plea for peace, but not a eulogy for Pakistan!

Ms Kaur's idea is reflective of a general sense of apathy towards our soldiers, and an overwhelming sense of empathy towards the helpless situation that Pakistanis find themselves in. While the kind of backlash and mockery that she received was totally uncalled for, it was partly due to her fault to. Preaching righteousness to Yudhishtir is never a productive task! India was not responsible for Kargil, whichever way you look at it. So Ms Kaur's opinion is either due to a poor understanding of Indian history, or a mystical call for the greater good of mankind. While the latter can be tolerated , the former is out of bounds!

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