The dastardly attacks in Mumbai have irritated the old wounds and replayed the familiar, jingoistic tunes across the Indo-Pak borders. The Pakistanis, clamouring for friendship with their larger and problematic neighbour, have condemned these attacks in no uncertain terms. Who could be a worse victim of terrorism than Pakistan in these extraordinary times? Yet, the Indian media and sections of its establishment are quick to involve ‘Pakistan’ as the key perpetrator of the terror regime. This has obviously angered some and allowed a few Cold-War practitioners to call for self-defence and fighting with India till the last. The truth is that much of Pakistan does not want war. Hopefully, the Indian citizens are also not looking at war as a solution, or so it seems.
It is almost a cliché to state that war is not a solution to the current imbroglio despite the hysterical calls by the Hindu right to ‘neutralise’ Pakistan. The saner elements in India have already pointed to the implicit and deep-seated issues of misgovernance, short-termism and the mess of Partition that were neither carefully deliberated nor rectified during all these decades. The non-state actors in both India and Pakistan have gained ascendancy due to the power distance of the Raj induced steel-frame structures of governance. If there are dozens of districts in India that operate beyond the writ of the formal state, there are areas in Pakistan that are not just outside the scope of the formal state but in a state of rebellion due to the war on terror.
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, an ignored persona in Pakistan, termed the partition of India as a partition of Indian Muslims. Whether we like it or not, this tragedy has happened in actual terms, leaving scars and wounds that will take years to heal. As if the 1947 bloodshed was not enough, the 1971 war of liberation fought by the Bengalis against the Pakistani state further divided the mass of Muslims into three distinct categories under tottering, imagined nation states. Continue reading