My friend, the cine artiste and poet, Farooque Sheikh, has summed it up better than I ever could. He describes the TRP war being whipped up by our hysterical TV anchors as “dangerously boring and boringly dangerous”.
It is precisely because one had anticipated outrages of the kind that occurred on Sunday, January 6 (and have a much longer ancestry than TV anchors and their guest cohorts are willing to acknowledge — such, for example, as revealed by Praveen Swami in The Hindu) that I have for so long been advocating “uninterrupted and uninterruptible dialogue” as the only way for India and Pakistan to resolve their issues and normalise their relations. We need most to talk when we are on the edge of war; least when the going is, in any case, good.
The opposition to dialogue has little to do with individual incidents, however horrific. There is a large body of public opinion in India, chock-a-block with retired generals, superannuated ambassadors, and — the most dangerous of the breed — demobbed short service officers turned diplomats, who have never believed in or always had little commitment to a viable relationship with Pakistan. These incidents give them, and their Pakistan counterparts, the opportunity to regurgitate their favourite prejudices. So, it is not present anger that drives their outrage, but incidents of this kind that give passing validity to their shrill tub-thumping. Theirs is the mindset of “old, unhappy, far-off things/And battles long ago”.
There is a huge mindset change occurring in Pakistan, indeed, has been evolving with increasing acceleration over the last three decades that I have stayed in and visited Pakistan. Tragically, this changing Pakistani mindset is escaping far too large a section of public opinion in our country. This is inevitable when 95-99 per cent of Indians have never met a Pakistani but have strong views about Pakistan. What is unforgivable is the honing of prejudice in the minds of those who do know Pakistan but refuse to comprehend the fundamental changes taking place in Pakistani thinking merely because that would require them to transmogrify their deeply ingrained preconceptions.
First, whereas the horrors of 1947 were the direct outcome of three decades of stoking the highest levels of communal animosity in our 5,000-year-old history of unity in diversity, what prevails today is not communal animosity but national hostility. Saints are required to deal with communal animosity; diplomacy is about reconciling the issues that feed national hostility. Such diplomacy is feasible 65 years after Partition principally because, 65 years on, almost no Pakistani has actually met or known a Hindu and communal animosity cannot feed on the unknown, the exertions of the mullahs in their pulpits (or anchors on our channels) notwithstanding. On the other side, secular India is home to the world’s second or third largest Muslim community, to the point where we cannot conceive of India without Islam and, more to the point, where Islam cannot be conceived of without India.
Second, these 65 years have shown Indians that they live in a stable democracy. These same 65 years have shown Pakistanis that military dictatorship cannot be justified on any “doctrine of necessity”, any appeal to theology or any crying wolf over an external enemy. The Pakistanis know that their armed forces are capable of conquering only one country — their own. Moreover, the Pakistan establishment, and in particular its armed forces and intelligence agencies, have become the biggest victim of the very same forces of terror they thought they could unleash on others. Also, they are the worst victims of being the frontline state in someone else’s war. The very Americans they have embraced are returning the embrace with the ruthless killing of Pakistani citizens virtually every day in drone attacks. So weakened has the armed forces’ hold on the nation’s polity become that, for the first time ever, a civilian government is edging towards completing a full five-year term in office; the army chief still does not know if he is going to get an extension; the ISI chief the army chief wanted to retain has been replaced; not even the stand-off between the judiciary and the executive has enabled the army to intervene. What the armed forces are doing is licking their wounds over the brazen violation of state sovereignty in Obama’s kidnap and murder operation in Abbottabad. What they have had to endure is un-repulsed terror attacks on ISI headquarters in Lahore; on the army GHQ in Rawalpindi; on the Mehran Naval Base on the outskirts of Karachi. What the Pakistan army has had to endure is many thousands more of their soldiers being massacred by their own home-grown terrorists than in all the Indo-Pak wars and near-wars put together.
The Pakistanis are not stupid. They know the sins of their past are visiting them. They know that a nation-state created in the name of Islam and dedicated to the Nizam-e-Mustafa has resulted in 80 times more Shias being killed in an instant in Quetta than in all the incidents that led up to the ghastly incident in the Mandhar sector. They know that while an Indian Muslim can go to his Jum’aa prayers in the confidence that his wife’s biryani will be waiting for him when he returns home, no Pakistani Muslim can be certain that he will return alive from the mosque, nor when his wife goes shopping that she will for sure return from the bazaar in the burqa she wore but wrapped head-to-toe in a funeral chaddar.
It is this widespread recognition of the imperative for peace with India that is driving the change in the Pakistani mindset. But because we are inured in our secular democracy from all these terrible traumas, our mindset is changing very slowly, if at all. That is why we are so ready to listen to utterly irresponsible anchors screaming, “The Nation wants to know” as if they were the nation. Morality, fidelity to the values of our freedom struggle and even narrow national interest demand that we seek not instant gratification in bringing back 10 beheaded skulls for every one taken from us but the recognition that peace with Pakistan is an overwhelming national interest; that it cannot come without resolving the outstanding issues of Partition; that such issues can only be resolved through dialogue; that dialogue, to be fruitful, cannot be a game of snakes-and-ladders where we rise far for a while on the ladders and then allow ourselves to be swallowed by the snakes to plunge to the bottom, from where we have to start all over again, as has repeatedly happened.
I congratulate the Government of India on the sobriety and maturity with which it has handled the latest crisis. I salute the local army commander in the affected sector who rushed to the spot to calm tempers and urge restraint. I emphasise that the foreign minister of Pakistan has repeatedly committed herself to “uninterrupted and uninterruptible dialogue” — and urge Salman Khurshid to do the same. And, above all, I request the prime minister to not wait for the atmosphere to improve to visit Pakistan but to recognise that his announcing his readiness to go to Pakistan will, in itself, improve the atmosphere as nothing else can. And I suggest the time to do so would be when he congratulates the incoming Pakistan prime minister after the first elections held in Pakistan in 65 years without an armed interregnum.
The writer is a Congress MP in the Rajya Sabha
Mani Shankar Aiyar has mounted such a sterling defense of the terrorist republic of Pakistan that he deserves immediate and full membership of Difa-e-Pakistan. He has made a raft of spurious claims, but let me, as an Indian-American, first take issue with his characterization of the Osama takedown as "Obama's kidnap and murder operation in Abbottabad." That in itself exposes where Aiyar stands in the scheme of things -- firmly on the side of terrorists. Presumably, Aiyar's children or kith and kin were not victims of 9/11, just as they were not victims of 26/11 or any of the many terrorist attacks initiated by Pakistanis and supported or at least winked at the the Pakistani state in their use of terrorism as a policy tool. Perhaps Aiyar would have sent a negotiating team to Abbottabad? Too much drink has addled Aiyar's mind; the fact that he is so out of sync with so many retired generals, superannuated ambassadors etc suggests he needs to examine his spurious scholarship on the matter
Mani is best known for lowest kind of ire for all except three, first the Gandhis, then Rajiv, now Sonia & Rahul and soon...?, two, the Panchayati Raj and third, of course the Pakis. He is a self appointed High Commissioner of Pak in India and goes to salutes the supine Govt of Maun Singh for sobriety when in fact its passivity, he congratulates its inaction when only a day later it woke up to business not be as usual. Mani only sees hawks in us but has no words for those responsible for our headless martyrs or slain valley sarpanchs, remember he is a strong votary of Panchayati Raj. Obviously, he only knows the doves of his own flock who for last two terms are perched inanely watching the national decline from UPA I to II. Why can't he direct some of his bark across the border and may be even show he can bite..
What an irrelevant article from a person who considers himself as an staunch "secular". It is sad that some sections of media choose to print these ridiculous stories from people whose sympathies lie across our Wagah border. Instead of condemning Pakistan army barbaric actions, these self styled limo liberals lecture us Indians on restraint, blaming our army for "provocations". Instead of ostracizing pseudo-libs like Aiyar, the media goes extra mile and accomodates his hateful rant against his own army and country. Shameful indeed.
Any amount of diplomatic efforts,energy or money spent on ties with pakistan has proved to be absolute waste. Please consider a tangible cost-benefit analysis to justify ties with Pak MSA, not fairy tales of fraternity! The trade ties will only benefit a handful of industrialists on both sides and citing it as a reason, India is opening its gates (Liberal visa regime) to an imploding country. Instead invest in Bangladesh and Myanmar, atleast it would benefit our North East. Isolate Pak from any South Asian Trade regimes and use that control to exract results from Pak. Pak will never forget 1971 and will never let peace prevail in J&K. Tactical Detterance against its Jihadi attacks and economic/trade bloackades is the only way to deal with them. A Tiger has to be dealt only with a whip. Policies should be based on assesment of reality and not imagined feelings of brotherhood. MSA is not a minister now and I am relieved about the fact.
Perhaps two things can help in bringing a permanent peace between India and Pakistan(while working over our border issues): 1. School children in India and Pakistan be told the same story of India%u2019s freedom struggle. That is we need to have the same interpretation of historical events and should not consider one%u2019s heroes as the other%u2019s villains. 2. Pakistan should not let religion play a big part in the life of its nationals. It should either adopt a secular constitution like that of India or at least one like Bangladesh. This shouldn%u2019t lead to questioning of the rationale behind creation of Pakistan. For Pakistan was carved also because of the fear among many Muslim leaders of the Undivided India that they would not get significant roles of leadership in an India with Hindu majority - this fear is quite understandable. What is important is that %u201CPakistan%u201D shouldn%u2019t mean antithesis of%u201DIndia%u201D. By having similar political values the two countries will understand each other better.
We need to prepare for the day when Pakistan collapses completely (even now there's hardly any governance) - I foresee thousands of armed madmen rushing about, threat of nuclear blasts and yes, millions of poor refugees. How do we gear up against these ?
Its utterly wrong and irresponsible to say that most of Pakistanis haven't met a Hindu ever. The mindset that MSA is talking about may be of few elite people, who have got business and such monetary interests in India or may be, who knows, other vested interests. Read any Pakistani newspaper, the manner in which any news related to India is written, clearly shows the mentality of their media, business houses and people as a whole. Whether Pakistan defeating India or whether Omar Abdulla giving a speech in Kashmir. Every piece of simple news is written to promote hatred, animosity and derision to India. Just pick up any article related to India in www.nation.com.pk or www.dawn.com if you want to see the 'changing mindset' of people. And with icing on the cake, the Pakistani marked weapons found with Naxals clearly establish their abhorrence for India. Wake up MSA, I didn't expect you to take such ludicrous stand, atleast in instant matters! What do you plan next, a eulogy to Owaisi??
Perhaps Indian newspapers feel they ought to be providing 'secular' equivocalism, which is the only reason you have included this Pakistani Aiyar to lecture Indians. His racous comment, "we cannot conceive of Indian without Islam" ought to make clear to those who are still in the dark, of where this "Secular" beef-eating anti-Hindu mullah's realy loyalties lie - across the Wagah!
It is very easy for Mr. uninterrupted and uninterruptible to make lofty judgements on our nationalistic sentiments. Elite snobs like him live in their ideal world and harbour romantic dreams about our neighbouring country( maybe bcoz he was born there).It is easy for him to say that we overlook all the terror unleashed on us because he does not walk on streets and markets when there are bomb blasts. And what is the urgent need to engage with that country. They need us and we do not need them. India is happy with the status quo while they are not in terms of the border disputes. We should insulate ourselves from that country and take steps to prevent future terror attacks and develop capabilities to retaliate in the same coin. It is not India's job to rescue their public from their army establishment. We can wait it out for as long as it takes for them to get their house in order. As for Mani, lets make arrangements so that he gets a citizenship in that country & stops lecturing us.
This Beef Eating Brahmin is preaching snake oil technology to all of us - I really hope someone cracks the skull enough to make this rotund idiot soak some sense in his lard filled brain.
This reader seems to be out of her head, if she thinks Mani Shankar eats Beef, then I am sorry, she will find it utterly shocking that our ancestors,the Rushis & Munis were Beef eaters, so says the Vedas, according to the experts on the subject, so my request to her would be not to slide so low to criticize one's view, but apply logic & reason in a decent manner.
Enough of decency when MSA wants us to do sommersault and Kawwali to please our bloodthirsty neighbour and also correct your information, there was no where mentioned our ancestors where non vegetarian, its all in Mackuley's propoganda.
Mr.Shankar, perhaps you've never heard of a term called sarcasm which is what is dripping from Rani's post. Mr.Aiyar, in one of his diatribes, claims he is secular because he eats beef despite being brahmin. Now I don't have a problem with that, but if a standing MP wants to base his 'secularism' on eating beef, it does give us a peep into what his IQ is. Mr.Aiyar, himself, in his book has accepted that Pakistan exists to negate India, then why he is selling snake oil here is beyond me. I agree with Rani, his skull must be opened & checked for potential parasites or viruses.
Much prefer a bunch of hawks to "useful idiots" of your kind.
Mr. Aiyer, your article is good & predictably understandable to most of Indians including major opposition party, however as usual you have used your prejudice towards Indians & displayed deep understanding of Pakistanis. Article is filled with abuses to others same as you do on TV media. Hence your message is 50% discounted. To start with Indian Polity should be good communicator with speech & articles to spread message of Large Intentions to Indian Public. These behind the scene deals are back-firing on you people & specially Congress partyMore you people communicate openly & transperently with people of India, more people will understand your intentions. I think serious introspection for Elders in Congress party to do. Jai Hind.
Aiyar the mindset in Pakistan is not changing, they are , as we write, undergoing ( yet another!) military coup with a mad mulla paplu in place. that's how clued Pak is after 65 years ...Are you seriously this delusional or don't facts or history matter. And all because Congress has neither the brains or b .s to safe-gaurd our borders or us. Why are we paying these jokers! PS: Khurshid should have been left to embezzle from handicapped and cook affidavits- can't we find ONE minister in this bunch who understands how strategy and pressure work?
MMS can visit Islamabad and congratulate the Pakistani PM on being arrested.
MSA says: "There is a huge mindset change occurring in Pakistan". Only the elite Pakistanis are now beginning to see the problem in their country. The average Pakistani, one of 180 million Pakistanis who contribute to the Jamaat ud Dawa/ Laskha e Toiba have not had any change of mindset. Has Aiyerji asked an Indian polling company to poll opinions of Pakistanis in Pakistan about India? If not, has he read what Pakistanis feel about India in polls done by western agencies? In the absence of a poll MS Aiyer merely talking of Pakistanis based on his personal impressions He is wrong.
I request MSA to come this side of border and understand us,Inidans.
Even if pak people change, it is the pak army that has been sending terrorists into India. It doesn't matter whether general public are against it or not. Even if they are against the army, they are helpless. What the author should understand is that Indian people are literally fed up with pak terrorism. The govt has been trying to engage pak since the last 60 yrs and nothing has moved forward... if this is the case, its better to go for not dialogue options... including a war... People are just fed up with pak and don't blame the media for all this. blame the people of india because they are so literate that they clearly know what is going on
"Also, they are the worst victims of being the frontline state in someone else%u2019s war. The very Americans they have embraced are returning the embrace with the ruthless killing of Pakistani citizens virtually every day in drone attacks." Question: This war was something that Pakistan brought upon themselves when they committed to misadventure as state policy in the name of strategic depth back in the 80s. IF back then, they had chosen the path of either peace OR had committed to respectable overt action, they wouldn't be dealing with terrorism. In that context - HOW do YOU know that Pakistan is renouncing ALL forms of terrorism? Current evidence is that they continue to support anti-India terrorists a la Mumbai. Question : Are you sure that you are NOT getting carried away by your very evident anti-American prejudice??
A few very specific questions to the author : "There is a huge mindset change occurring in Pakistan, indeed, has been evolving with increasing acceleration over the last three decades that I have stayed in and visited Pakistan." Question : Pray tell us what the change in mind-set has been. For reference, the following very concerning developments ALL happened in the last three decades : 1) Beginning of militancy in Kashmir, 2) Kargil War, 3) 26/11 . In the light of these, what ground swelling developments are you seeing that out-weight clear belligerance displayed in all the 3 above??