INDIA AND PAKISTAN – CAN WE LIVE WITHOUT BEING ENEMIES?

India and Pakistan are like two separated brothers, for example, in a Manmohan Desai movie. A time will come when we will pull the sleeves of our shirts back and reveal the common tattoos that our parents had got etched for us before we parted company or were separated by a tumultuous cyclone or earthquake; and Manmohan will exult, “Bhaiyya or Bhaaji” to Zardari and the latter will, in euphoric denouement scream, “Bhaii jaan”.But, until then, we hurl rockets, bombs, artillery shells, accusations, abuses, brickbats at each other with a regularity that would put rising and setting of the sun to shame. The following anecdote describes it aptly:

A Pakistani and an Indian were travelling together from Dubai to London and by quirk of fate (just like the quirk of our Geography) had seats next to each other; the Indian had the isle seat and the Pakistani had the middle seat. After take off when the aircraft had settled at the cruising altitude the Pakistani was about to press the overhead button for calling the hostess when the Indian turned to him and said, “Now what are you doing that for? I am just going to the washroom; on the way back I will fetch you what you want.” The Pakistani told him that he wanted a coke. This being a long flight the Indian had taken off his jutties (slip on ethnic shoes) and he tip-toed to the washroom and the pantry and brought the Paki a can of coke. In his absence, the Paki had picked up the left jutti and had deposited a big blob of his spittle into it.

Pic Courtesy: CHUP! – Changing Up Pakistan

After some time the Paki had the desire to spit in the right jutti too. So he proceeded to press the overhead call button hoping that the Indian would fall for the ploy; and sure enough the Indian did and went to get another coke for the Pakistani.

It came to be time to land at Heathrow and in preparation for the landing, the Indian started putting on his juttis. As he slipped his feet in the Indian realised straightway as to what the Pakistani had done. So he turned to the Pakistani and said, “India and Pakistan are two great nations and civilisations. We have common heritage and can be great friends. Hence, it is not understood, why we keep spitting in each other’s juttis and cokes.”

Pakistanis are busy teaching ‘Hate India and Indians’ in their madrassas (Islamic schools) so much so that even their once great friends (but now not so great friends) Americans have taken notice of that. The think-tanks, media, movie-makers etc on both sides of the divide are busy churning out stories about how the other party has gone rogue and how “our love and consideration” can bring them back to good sense and decent friendly behaviour.

Pic Courtesy: The Internationalist

After the break-up of the USSR, Henry Kissinger wrote in an essay in Time magazine that having an enemy in the USSR (the Iron Curtain etc) provided focus to the NATO; both for the industry and the defence forces. Without USSR, such a focus would be missing. Arguably, a similar focus seems to exist between India and Pakistan. You only have to witness a cricket or hockey match between the two nations to see the intensity or extent of this focus. Our governments would really have to concentrate on good governance without the comic relief of accusations and counter accusations between the two nations. That people die and considerable blood and money is spilled whilst retaining this enmity only adds to the focus. There is a race, a competition in everything, which assumes ludicrous proportions. If they shower hospitality over us we have to somehow outdo them and vice versa.

Pic Courtesy: Viewstonews

There is a great opportunity that has come our way post second of May when, just as we in India guessed, ranted, expected and proclaimed, Osama Bin Laden was found living in luxury in Pakistan itself in Abbottabad with the Pakistan Army almost guarding his house and pretending to be unaware of his presence there. As expected, the US has tried to be tough with Pakistan and, as expected, the chasm between Pakistan and the US is increasing since then. Our opportunity is that the two countries can now get back to sorting out matters between ourselves without intervention and mediation that we were averse to but which Pakistan wanted. Hopefully Pakistan would have probably learnt its lesson that those who mediate or intervene don’t do so out of love or consideration for us but out of – what they call – their strategic interests; one of which is, though not expressed in such blunt words, that conflicts are the stuff that armed industries love – their motivation and indeed their raison d’être.

Pic Courtesy: Anil Kalhan

The other opportunity that has come our way is the current tussle that is going on betwen the army and the civil government in Pakistan post memogate scandal. Curiously, the tussel is not to take over the reins of the country but to give to the other party the first choice in ruling the country; knowing very well that the rule (whether of the civil government or the army) is bound to fail under the uncertain environment that Pakistan faces post disinterest/dienchantment by the US.

I can explain this with this game we used to play when we were in our primary school. Two contenders would keep a kerchief on the ground between them and the contenders would circle around, getting into a position to grab the kerchief and run without being tagged by the other. Often, when they were hesitant, a third party would grab the kerchief leaving both the ontenders high and dry.

Pic Courtesy: Ring Time Pro Wrestling

Now, what if India were to think strategic (for a change) and give the kerchief to the civilian government and make arrangements that it is not tagged by the army? It would be easy to assure the Pakistan government that we would together not allow the kerchief to be taken by a third party.

Else, I can visualise the frightening scenario a number of years later when Pakistan breaks up and instead of one adversary we have to contend with a few of them.

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