Dear Indian friend,
I am sorry for the tardiness in marking 26/11. It was not deliberate but as we fight daily battles with terrorism, it is not easy to tell what date it is. Don’t consider this letter a sign of weakness because I am a member of proud nation which will one day prove its potential and take its rightful place in the comity of nations as a progressive and modern country at peace within and without.
I do realize however that day is somewhere in the future and I write to you today as a member of an embattled nation fighting its demons and trying to undo the terrible legacy of the 1980s Afghan War. What happened on 26/11 was probably part of the same cycle and I am sorry that it had to come to what it did on 26/11. India was attacked. The attackers- hardened militants and frankenstein’s monsters created by Pakistan- had not just India in mind but they wanted to embroil Pakistan and India into Nuclear war which could lead to a wider global conflict involving all major powers. Fortunately that has not come to pass. Statesmenship of the highest order is required however to ensure that we don’t allow the militants to succeed.
Please also realize that Bombay – or Mumbai as you call it now- is not just an Indian city but one of the premier Asian cities. For us Pakistanis it is hallowed ground- it was this city that our founding father Mr. Jinnah called his own, where he made a name for himself through sheer hardwork and perseverence and which allowed to rise from humble origins to significance. The Taj – which was attacked- was where Mr. Jinnah spent his honeymoon with his beautiful wife Ruttie – a marriage that itself signified the pluralistic and secular ethos of that magnificent city. It is this city that his grandson has built his business empire in. For us Bombay is sacred ground and like much of India, which is littered with monuments of varying importance and significance to Pakistanis, it is our heritage as much as yours.
So let us attach a new significance to 26/11… let this day signify an awakening on both sides that enough with this “geo-strategic thinking” of one-upping each other. Let this be a day when we realize that the zero-sum game we have played have cost us dear in the past and that Pakistan and India must work together for peace, prosperity and progress of this common subcontinent of ours. Let us base our relationship on intense rivalry in cricket, human development and economic growth. Let us renounce all tactics of a thousand cuts once and for all and realize that it is not hard to make bombs but prosperous nations are known by their intellectual health, civic sense and adherence to human rights. Let us sack irresponsible Bonapartists like your Military chief who threatened a “limited nuclear war” and instead seek inspiration from what India’s first Prime Minister Nehru told Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in New York: “Zulfi, we have to save South Asia from Nuclear War”.
Let 26/11 be a new beginning and perhaps a return to Mr. Jinnah’s vision for India-Pakistan relations modelled on US-Canada relationship.
YLH – Your Pakistani Well-wisher and rival claimant to progress and prosperity