Redefining national interest

Raza Rumi

Courtesy The Friday Times: —
The elusive quest for peace between India and Pakistan remains hostage to the military-industrial complex at both the global and regional levels. Such is the dynamic unleashed by two imagined “nations” that their existence as states is dependent on a perpetual state of confrontation. More so for Pakistan, given its deeply embedded paranoia, which has assumed a reality of its own. Sixty-two years ago, it was hardly envisioned that the two states would erect an iron-curtain and fight forever. From actual wars to propaganda campaigns the task seems complete now. The oft-repeated phrase ‘trust deficit’ is a natural culmination of this ugly process. Of late, another dimension has been added, i.e. information-deficit as India had marched towards a new phase of its economic development, it has stopped taking interest in transitional Pakistani society and kept the time-warped framework of understanding Pakistan. However, the situation cannot remain static. Policymakers are slow to catch up on both the sides.

Mumbai factor: Twenty months ago, the Mumbai attacks changed the atmosphere created by President Zardari’s unprecedented offers of peace, dialogue and cooperation. The day Zardari made his remarks in a conclave organised by the Hindustan Times in 2008, many observers saw a Mumbai coming. The jihadis of Pakistan and perhaps their counterparts in India were quick to stop this process. Ironic that PPP, a party fed on the Pakistani nationalist rhetoric, thirty years down the road had read the writing on the wall. Pakistan’s future and survival is dependent on a reduction of hostilities with India. More importantly, this also holds the key to correcting the endemic civil-military imbalance.

Zardari’s stride: Why would a national security state apparatus bloated by an Indian threat not react to Zardari’s statements: “I do not feel threatened by India and India should not feel threatened from us…today we have a parliament which is already pre-agreed upon a friendly relationship with India. In spite of our disputes, we have a great future together.” As if this was not enough, Zardari declared that Pakistan will not be the first country to use its nuclear weapons, thus undermining a carefully constructed Pakistani nuclear doctrine of first-use.
The acts of terror telecast live for more than two days stirred the public imagination in India far beyond what is understood in Pakistan. The stereotypes of Pakistan, Muslims and their faith came into play and a hysterical media added to the worst kind of paranoia. Pakistan, on the other hand, was also shaken by Mumbai. Our media also played up the war mantra with TV shows dedicated to the readiness for a nuclear confrontation and crank calls to the Presidency spelling war. Public opinion rallied behind the Pakistan Army which had lost considerable ground due to the street agitation against General Musharraf and widespread anti-Americanism.

Truncated dialogue:
All hopes for a meaningful engagement with India therefore were dashed to ground. A consensus prime minister, a powerful Presidency and a political consensus on making peace with India was scuttled in 72 hours after the attack. The attacks achieved the exact objective with which they were enacted. Perhaps, the odd gap in an otherwise well-devised and efficiently executed plan in the form of a lone survivor – Ajmal Kasab – of Pakistani nationality fired Indian public opinion as never before. This time, allegedly, a war had entered Indian homes and bazaars.

The emergence of anti-terrorism as a single point agenda sat well with the global focus and merged into the ‘truths’ manufactured by the international media and the war industry about Pakistan. The logjam was broken due to Manmohan Singh’s feeble efforts against a belligerent public mood and hawkish state machinery. It has taken a year to get to this point and failure remains a distinct possibility.

Pakistan under threat: In part, the Pakistani establishment (which includes the free courts) has not done the needful in arresting and combating the jihad factory directed towards India. On India’s part, it has also displayed indifference to the challenges which the fragile civilian government and the Army face in tackling the northwestern insurgencies. It is no longer fair to say that all militancy and jihadism is state sanctioned. The Islamist militants are on an all-out war against Pakistan and have taken the fight against the state of Pakistan to a new level by terrorising the civilian population.

Afghan endgame: The US factor, though not apparent, is now a driver of change in the India-Pakistan matrix. A workable Afghan solution cannot be devised without the active cooperation of India and Pakistan and if they refuse to talk to each other, a US exit from Afghanistan will lead to a proxy war within Afghanistan that spells doom for the region and perhaps the globe.

This is why India’s powerful Home Minister Chidambram visited Islamabad and sought assurances on potential action against the alleged Mumbai perpetrators. Confidence building measures have been talked about and the Indian Foreign Secretary was unusually positive in her last visit to Islamabad. But the central issue of Mumbai remains as it can put the Indian elected government’s credibility into question. On the other hand, the desire of Indian policy makers to achieve a faster growth rate is also influencing the peace process. The military has been in charge of the India policy in Pakistan, and the civilian government, far too pressed with its survival, has easily given away this critical policy initiative.

States under siege: Krishna-Qureshi talks need to be reviewed in the larger context of the way the Indian and Pakistani states function and the way they reinforce vested interests. The fact that Krishna had to take counsel from Delhi and Qureshi regurgitated the national security line is demonstrative of the fact that we lack a political initiative. Dr Singh is not powerful enough and remains subservient to the large party machine and of course the establishment that also rules India due to its permanence. In Pakistan, Zardari is discredited thanks to a national security obsessed media and Gilani with all his powers knows the limits of his control over foreign policy.

In this environment, the mere fact that a dialogue is taking place is nearly miraculous. It needs to be welcomed and before it is shunned as a non-starter, we have to consider the binding constraints within which the two states are operating. Hawks have had a field day in India and Pakistan after the inconclusive Krishna-Qureshi parleys. But they were surely intense and in a short span of six weeks, the high level elected officials have met twice. No breakthrough is likely but the stalemate has been broken.

Status quo machinery: The tragedy that the people of this region face is that they remain subjects of two cracking states that have failed to reform after 62 years. The outmoded bureaucracies are incapable of identifying creative solutions. The peace enterprise therefore is bound to fail if it is handled by status quo-ist bureaucratic structures. This is why the repeated references to resuming composite dialogue are neither here not there. Regional geopolitics is now driving the peace process. Paradoxically, the domestic constituencies for confrontation will have to take a backseat as India and Pakistan both cannot afford to lose out from the Afghanistan endgame.

Peace is in Pakistan’s interest: Pakistan can only benefit from peace dividends if its outdated security doctrine is revised. It is unfortunate that despite being sandwiched between two giant economies, it is facing a meltdown. More crucially, Indian growth is a chance for the Pakistani state to take full advantage of the economic opportunities. We know that the Army is concerned with the economy and it would suit its long term interests if Pakistan gains from trade and energy cooperation due to the mammoth Indian market.

Secondly, the Pakistan Army along with the civilian government has to fight a medium term battle with the home-grown militancy. Despite the semi-convincing conspiracy theories, Pakistan’s enemies lie within. The Army leadership has shown its understanding and resolve to tackle this problem, as is evident from the shifts since last year. Why should the Eastern border divert its energies and attention if there can be a peaceful settlement with India? Focus is what we need at this juncture and militant groups are now a direct threat to state power (read the Army).

Lastly, while no one disputes the validity of the Kashmir issue, it would be far better that Pakistani state consolidates the federation by alleviating the Baloch problem. Accusing India of stirring an insurgency is not enough when Pakistan is yet to bring evidence in the public domain. And, if there is such interference, then it is all the more a reason to negotiate in the context of an Afghanistan settlement with international arbiters.

Indian imperatives for peace: On the Indian side, it is clear that India’s dream of becoming another China cannot be realised without peace in the region. Similarly, the Indian state is already mired in the Naxal and Maoist rebellions, and cannot afford to have another front open. Furthermore, a workable solution on Kashmir with Pakistan’s consent can be a befitting response to another Intifada in the Valley. Back channel diplomacy had already reached a solution of sorts.

Paradigm shifts needed: All of this requires changing the definitions of security and national interest in Pakistan. In India, it requires liberating Pakistan policy from the hawks in the bureaucracy, former generals and RAW officials, who are makeshift Pakistan experts. The understanding on Pakistan needs an urgent review in India, as it remains stuck in the Pakistan-is-about-to-collapse discourse.

There is simply no alternative to information flow and dismantling the iron curtain. Let the disputes remain, but allow media access across the borders. Let the legislators take the lead and ask the Foreign Office mandarins to take a backseat. Trade and political compacts shall take care of the peace process. History teaches us that the pursuit of rational self interest is the key to progress. Annihilation is the fate of irrational states.

Raza Rumi is a writer and policy expert based in Lahore. He blogs at http://razarumi.com; and manages Pak Tea House and Lahore Nama e-zines. Email: razarumi@gmail.com

68 Comments

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68 responses to “Redefining national interest

  1. Humane

    Truly an eye opener. Meticulously explains the predicament facing Pakistan today.

  2. tilsim1

    Excellent article Raza. You hit the nail on the head, many times.

    Our two nations’ security policies are ironically policies for insecurity. A fundamental rethink is imperative and it begins with building common interests. We need leaderships that permit maximum trade and makes it easier for people to travel and see things for themselves. Attitudes towards each other need to change more than ever.

    Imagine how much economic growth we have lost in both countries by not having trade for the last 6 decades. If India can invest $1.3 billion for it’s security in Afghanistan (a small market), then some of India’s investment can be directed at Pakistan too. We have some excellent business houses but we can learn further India’s experience on how to compete globally – which will help develop our own industry.

    The old overarching protectionist arguments are not good enough any more. The two countries must stop treating each other as irreconcilable enemies to realise their fullest potential.

    Yesterday I met the founder of a PE fund who happened to be a Pakistani. He told me how he had only recently made one of his first investments in India. He felt excited backing the management team and the question of him being a Pakistani and the management team being Indian were simply not considerations. That is how it should be between the people of the two nations.

    The Mumbai event was dreadful. It changed opinion dramatically against Pakistan in India as well as internationally (the intention of the perpetrators). Dramatic progress is indeed needed now to bring this to closure but let’s not approach it the same way as Kashmir. The perpetrators need to be brought to justice.

  3. libertarian

    When Pakistan’s on the mat, out come the please for “talks”. Otherwise, it’s death by a thousand cuts to those idolators (yours truly is not an “idolator” btw). Pakistan’s been on the mat for a couple of decades now.

    … in transitional Pakistani society and kept the time-warped framework of understanding Pakistan …

    Raza, what fundamental shift do you see that escapes the rest of the world? Just stating it does not make it true. Where are the supporting facts, the hard evidence? Are what magical change is expected from this “transitioning” society? Inquiring minds …

  4. Tilsim

    The Glitter In The Godliness

    “India’s new affluence runs parallel to a new, homogenised Hinduism that is riding on a crest of religiosity. Gone with Nehruvian economics is Nehruvian secularism. ” William Dalrymple, Outlook India Jan.18.10

    “Perhaps surprisingly, India’s growing band of techies and software professionals seem particularly open both to religiosity in general, and right wing Hindutva nationalism in particular, so much so that many have joined a special wing of the rss, which now organises regular meetings called IT-milans, where right wing techies can “meet like-minded people and get a sense of participating in something bigger than just punching keyboards all day””

    Secularism and tolerant, peaceful ways are being threatened in India too unfortunately. It explains the trolls.

  5. NSA

    libertarian – it is “infidelators”.

  6. NSA

    “meet like-minded people and get a sense of participating in something bigger than just punching keyboards all day””

    — I suppose Dalrymple is some kind of aristocrat to sneer at honest work. Yes, jobs are often boring, stultifying, painful – but they are preferable to the alternative. It pays the bills, it enables a person to support his family – and since someone is paying for the work, it is of extrinsic value. Not to speak of the intrinsic value of being gainfully employed.

    Anytime you see somebody being derogatory about work as “punching keyboards” (or “digging ditches” or whatever else), oppose that person. If you are with such a person, I would term you a Mughal, which is one of the lowest forms of human life.

  7. NSA

    I think what upsets Dalrymple the most is that people that he could look down on as semi-literate religious folks are now earning as much or more than he does. His superiority that used to come by so cheaply is no longer so easy and that bothers him.

  8. Vijay Goel

    Raza Bhai, Tx for the Brave Article.Nice to see that you go along your way inspite of arrogant and spiteful responses. India is not all that shining. The disparities are glaring and life is difficult.However religion now plays no role in Indian Society whatever effort RSS may try to rope in the NRI IT professionals. Here in India even lip service to religion is out of date amongst the Hindus. This is also having its effect on the Muslims and Christians who are becoming far less rigid. But there is no change in our attitude of throwing our rubbish on the street and showing machoism on the road. In short still to imbibe social responsibility. Friendsip between our two countries !! Its a great dream. May God be with you.

  9. Tilsim

    @ Girish

    There are many many Pakistanis that have spoken against and condemned the state’s policy of proxy war. This policy is hardly a secret and Pakistan is by far not the only country that carries out such an immoral policy. The US’s own actions in Central America in the 1980s are just one example.

    I am disappointed that an intelligent person like you cannot see the efforts of many citizens of this country. Peace comes from fairness not fear.

  10. Tilsim

    This reminds me again that at present the conditions do not exist to talk peace.

  11. Tilsim

    @ Girish

    “Omar Sheikh, one of the killers of Daniel Pearl, whose case has not even gone beyond the hearings stage even after 8 years and who continues his activities at will”

    This is not correct information. Omar Shaikh was convicted in 2002 and sentenced to death. He is on death row in Hyderabad, Sindh.

  12. Good one Raza bhai.

    “”On the Indian side, it is clear that India’s dream of becoming another China cannot be realised without peace in the region. Similarly, the Indian state is already mired in the Naxal and Maoist rebellions, and cannot afford to have another front open.””

    India needs to make itself internally strong and forget about Pakistan.

    India needs to RE-ALIGN itself with its traditional allies like Iran and Russia.

    Pakistan on the other hand must understand that all the india-centric terror organizations and the likes of TTP and TALIBAN have the EXACT SAME IDEOLOGY OF EXTREMISMwhich is not in the national interest of Pakistan in the long term.

    Just look are mullahs benefiting Pakistan in anyway??????The ideology this guy prescribes to is totally opposite to what Raza bhai and YLH believes in which is secularism and tolerance. Hence , i am sure that the presence of such individuals in the long term will hurt Pakistan more……..

  13. Tilsim

    @ sid

    Whilst waiting for that change that we all seek, should Pakistanis stop talking about peaceable activities then with India?

    It seems that is what being implied by all these comments. I am hearing from Indians that good relations with Pakistan are inconsequential – you are far too important a country now.

    Well, dialogue has certain rules. If those are n’t followed a dialogue is not possible.

  14. lal

    excellent article…

    infact suggesting to keep the kashmir isuue in the back burner and take care of balochistan instead,or helping india to tackle the infatida call in kashmir will warm even the hardest of indain hawks.

    no realistic person in india dreams that pakistan vl sell its genuine national interests to sleep peacefully with india.what it seeks is a reorientation of pakistans national intersts in view of the changing reality in the region.

    i agree with the article that in general ,the indian public opinion about pakistan is all about mullah-army-isi.but neither kargil nor mumbai has helped in an average indian forming any new ideas.

  15. lal

    the fact that there is another pakistan,with people like raza there, is atleast known to everybody in the indian establishment…that is why there is a continuing willingness to talk and cliches like ‘strengthening the hand of the civivlian government’….but as everybody acknowledges,the real decision makers are different.Infact there is a renewed talk these days,even by sensible people,about opening direct channels of communication with the pakistani army,like america does.i believe hilary called on kayani in her recent visit,not krishna.

    But as the title of the article indicates,Redefining National Interest of both the countries,by the civil society within each country,is the most essential factor for a peaceful south asia.

  16. lal

    o karun

    dont dragg me into the camp..i just meant that people like burkha dutt,definitely a sensible anchor by all means,made such a surprising suggestion.i dont kno if it is useful,practical,feasible or sustainable.

  17. Karun

    @Raza

    See try and understand that people in India have been witness to mindless terror perpetrated in kashmir against ordinary civilians against the army.

    I narrowly missed the 2006 train blast in Mumbai which must have been orchestarted by LeT. If you have seen the movie ‘wednesday’ performed by the veteran artist naseerudin shah it was not an exaggeration. It was what every citizen of this country(be it Hindu or Muslim) felt against the terrorists from pakistan.

    The blast in Delhi(many times), bangalore, Surat,Jaipur…….how many terror cells have been funded here locally by state or nonstate actors across the border!!

    Mumbai is just the last nail in the coffin…Mumbai is not an isolated instance. It was mumbai where for the first time after thousands of denials elsewhere and at some other time, pakistani citizens were caught red handed. of course you will not forget will you that the whereabouts of kasabs parents is still not known, they have been taken away by security personnel, wont u ask why?

    Right now! pls try to understand my focus is elsewhere. Thanks for whatever reasons violence has come down in kashmir…..bomb blasts have not happened since mumbai…i have reasons to believe that Chidambaram is doing a good job….i am feeling a lot more safe and secure in my mundane life…hence i am more concerned about the completion of sea bridge, metro and monorail in mumbai….i will like the commonwealth games to be conducted sucessfully….i will perhaps look towards new property developments here…and try to buy a second house in mumbai……..

    I am enjoying some rather peaceful times here… and believe me i also sincerely wish you all the peace and prosperity, if u need any help we can lend a hand also…..but pls remember….if you say that we must come to the talking table….that we have no alternative to peace with pakistan…its that which irks me…comeon! after all i am the victim…should you talk to me like that!!

    Action and not words will set the right tone for the relationship…if thats what your priority….as far as i am concerned….if you can just effectively fight against all taliban (good and bad)..i will give two pecks on your cheeks and send a basket of ripe alphonsos over….

  18. Vijay Goel

    @ Raza Rumi, Tilsim1, Everyone makes mistakes and States more so but it requires courage to acnowledge ones mistakes with a clean heart. Acknowledgment as a political ploy does not help. Raza Bhai and Tlsim1 and Tilsim speak from the Heart. Acknowledging own country’s mistake publicly is a sign of great Patriotism and I respect them for it. With people like them around a Resurrected Pakistan will emerge more sooner (Use of ‘more’ deliberate to lend emphasis) than later.

  19. Karun
    You are repeating yourself. I can cite multiple instances where India has harmed Pakistan and Pakistanis. What about Samjhota Express and what about the funding to Balochistan insurgency. Even Brahmadagh Bugti has an Indian passport.
    Stop this holier than thou attitude and talk constructively. Otherwise, your repetitive stuff will be moderated.

    Pakistani state has not forgotten how India dismembered Pakistan in 1971.
    Yet we talk of peace as we have no other choice- war is not an option.
    Sometimes the belligerent and biased comments make me say: thank GOD for the Pak Army and the nuclear bomb –

  20. Hayyer

    Barkha Dutt a sensible anchor-maybe; it depends upon one’s notions of what is sensible. She can discuss anything to death; watching one of her shows is like attending an execution; nothing is safe, not even sex.
    If you called her vapid I might agree with you. Her back stage manipulations are a different story.

  21. Karun

    @Raza

    Its not an equal battle raza…

    The attempts by India/Indians to harm pakistanis is far, few and in between. There is no comparision. will you argue on this also? At best it was a reaction, a late and feeble one if at all.I condone it strongly even then.
    You will be surprised to know that quite often the gandhian goodwill zeal affects our top leaderships(MMS is in the throes of it lately), to the extent that Prime Minister I.K Gujral had asked Intelligence agencies to stop even collecting information through pakistani sources.

    thank GOD for the Pak Army and the nuclear bomb –

    This is what i dont want you to drive towards. No i dont want you to be a war monger and a mindless army supporter. you are our best hope. So, In order for you to keep your balance, I will keep quiet.

    Thank you

  22. Abhi

    @Karun,

    Don’t forget Mr. Morarji Desai, peacenik-par-excellence.

  23. lal

    @hayyer

    sorry if i ve touched some raw nerve der🙂

  24. Hayyer

    Raza Rumi:

    An excellent article. I apologize in advance for the spoilers that follow.

    Pakistani liberal opinion as expressed on PTH has this constant that it is India’s own interest to engage meaningfully with Pakistan. It is often hinted that there is a lobby of Indian hawks in the Indian establishment who are opposed to peace with Pakistan. Also, we read references to a decrease in India’s secular ethos. The secular ethos or its decline (which I dispute) has nothing to do with it.

    Peace between any two countries is desirable for its own sake, but in the bilateral context of India and Pakistan the question still remains what is it that India can do, or what is it that it is not doing?

    “….quest for peace between India and Pakistan remains hostage to the military-industrial complex at both the global and regional levels. Such is the dynamic unleashed by two imagined “nations” that their existence as states is dependent on a perpetual state of confrontation.”

    Not in India. The Indian military would be vastly happier having to face China alone. Armaments manufacturers of course thrive on war, but that is not peculiar to the sub-continent. India’s existence, emphatically, is not dependent on perpetual confrontation with Pakistan.

    “Of late, …… it (India) has stopped taking interest in transitional Pakistani society and kept the time-warped framework of understanding Pakistan.”

    It’s a case of damned if we do and damned if we don’t. India cannot interfere in Pakistan’s internal dynamics. Our understanding is what the latest Pew study shows it to be, or what our mutual governmental exchanges make it to be. With no other point of contact, no media exchanges no travel no knowledge what else can it be but the traditional one, warped by time or not. In India the feeling persists that as long as Pakistan keeps attacking India, even if only through its NGOs there is no point to a dialogue. How would you sell a different perspective to Indians? Pakistan arrests and deports terrorists to China and the US, and even Iran perhaps. Indian requests of a similar kind are rudely declined.

    “The emergence of anti-terrorism as a single point agenda sat well with the global focus and merged into the ‘truths’ manufactured by the international media and the war industry about Pakistan.”

    Manmohan Singh is a nominated PM. Even a PM as confident as Vajpayee had to retreat after the Lahore bus ride in 1999 in the face of the insult by the Service Chiefs in not attending his reception. Manmohan Singh’s “feeble efforts” are remarkable in that he makes the effort at all. Much easier for him to do nothing. If Indians are not enthusiastic now about his efforts it is because they don’t like seeing their Prime Ministers leading with their chin, and getting knocked down.

    “On India’s part, it has also displayed indifference to the challenges which the fragile civilian government and the Army face in tackling the northwestern insurgencies. It is no longer fair to say that all militancy and jihadism is state sanctioned. The Islamist militants are on an all-out war against Pakistan and have taken the fight against the state of Pakistan to a new level by terrorising the civilian population.”

    India would have sympathy for Pakistan’s condition if the jihad against India was also not under state sponsorship. India’s complaint is precisely this, that Pakistan is still running a campaign against India through non state actors. Headley’s revelations are precisely about the link between your state agencies and the LeT. Pakistan’s civilian government is united with its army in denying that there is any state sponsored machinery in Pakistan acting against India. When Mumbai happened Pakistan expected India to establish a case fully provable in court without access to the conspirators in Pakistan. Any investigation needs custodial interrogation plus collection of conclusive evidence, which was denied by Pakistan’s government. Was the Pakistani state not involved in a cover up in Kasab’s village and of his parents? How would the Indian Prime Minister answer to Indians over Pakistani evasiveness here if he carried on as if nothing had happened. Indian hawks are not guilty here. By contrast Pakistan bends over backwards to oblige China and the US in these matters.

    Mr. Qureshi’s performance at the press conference was quite incredible. Krishna was perfectly within his rights to talk to Delhi (though it is now revealed that it was his aide who was doing the phoning not Krishna). Consultation allows agreements to be reached sooner rather than later. Did the Pak FM think that Krishna arrived with authority to sign anything he saw fit. Consultation is only logical.

    “Dr Singh is not powerful enough and remains subservient to the large party machine and of course the establishment that also rules India due to its permanence.”

    No PM let alone Dr. Singh is going to concede a gimme to Pakistan. Any forward movement is bound to be a matter of give and take. If the PA believes there is something available to be grabbed without conceding anything then we will never get anywhere. The problem is as you have said that Pakistani Foreign Policy is under the control of its army. What point then in the two FMs discussing anything-unless like Hilary Clinton you want Krishna to talk to Kayani too. The difference with Clinton is that she wants something from Pakistan’s army whereas India has no such need or expectation. The US talks the PA along; some goodies, some cajoling, some threats. Why should Kayani concede anything to India when confrontation is his bread and butter.

    “The outmoded bureaucracies are incapable of identifying creative solutions. The peace enterprise therefore is bound to fail if it is handled by status quo-ist bureaucratic structures.”

    There are no bureaucratic solutions, to Kashmir anyway . There are creative solutions possible but those require good atmospherics. As you did say the Mumbai attack ruined them, but also, as we do know, there is no interest in the PA which runs FP towards India.

    Peace is in Pakistan’s interest you rightly said but will your army ever agree. True, Indian growth is a chance for the Pakistani state to take full advantage of the economic opportunities but why insist then that India solve Kashmir first?

    Generals and RAW officials do not make India policy but they do advise on the consequences of policy initiatives. With the lack of trust between us no political leader will step forward one inch without covering his back. Let us be realistic on that at least.

    May I suggest that the way forward is first of all to stop projecting hostility. It seems to us across the border that your FM your PM and your Army are far more prone to taking an aggressive stance than Indian leaders do. Of course that may be only our perspective and you may feel that we are more aggressive, but look at the state of the Wagah crossing with all that goose stepping. Indian suggestions to tone down the ugly display are rejected out of hand.

  25. Raj (the other one)

    Your message is, India and Pakistan need to talk peace and discuss all issues of concern!

    You write, Indian imperatives for peace: On the Indian side, it is clear that India’s dream of becoming another China cannot be realised without peace in the region.

    The only thing Pakistan can do, to stop that is to start a full-fledged war with India. That destroys Pakistan completely. India does not become China.

    So if India does not talk peace to Pakistan, India is not losing anything. USA seems to have the Pakistani Army, and the civilian government on a leash, so it probably would not come to that.

    So what is the imperative here for India to talk peace?

    Similarly, the Indian state is already mired in the Naxal and Maoist rebellions, and cannot afford to have another front open.

    Again, Pakistan is itself preoccupied with enough terrorism at home to want to start a war with India, create another open front for India.

    Another thing is, the Naxalites are hurting India and Indians, but are hardly denting our explosive growth. This keeps them a manageable problem.

    This is no imperative for India to talk peace with Pakistan.

    Furthermore, a workable solution on Kashmir with Pakistan’s consent can be a befitting response to another Intifada in the Valley. Back channel diplomacy had already reached a solution of sorts.

    Peace talks on this issue, would only encourage Pakistan to pursue cross-border terrorism with renewed vigor.

    So this is most certainly not an imperative for India to talk peace with Pakistan.

    Also we have seen how this jihadi-based proxy war has screwed Pakistan’s inner polity.

    Yet we talk of peace as we have no other choice- war is not an option.
    Sometimes the belligerent and biased comments make me say: thank GOD for the Pak Army and the nuclear bomb

    I can’t understand what is belligerent in saying that before Pakistan can proceed with peace with India, Pakistan-sponsored terrorism should end.

    India just does not want to talk peace with a gun held to her chest. India says, either terrorism or peace talks. Pakistan wants to keep both options. It is Pakistan that has to make up its mind.

    What Pakistanis always try to do is to show that Indians need to talk peace with Pakistan! That is a lost cause. What Pakistanis need to try to show is, that Pakistanis are worthy of peace with India.

    Arguments like giving India access to Central Asian markets or the IPI oil pipeline are good positive imperatives for making peace. This is the potential. To make it a realistic proposition, Pakistan needs to go ahead and change its national mentality, which builds trust with India.

    Either Pakistan gives India these concessions or India would go to Iran and get them. Later on Pakistan would have even less imperatives to offer India for peace.

    All the talk about India’s poverty and how India needs Pakistan to catch up to China and similar arguments just do not entice Indians for talks. If you want talks with India, try to find out what they want, what you can give, what arguments to make.

    When India wants to talk terrorism with Pakistan, it is not a case of moral grandstanding, but rather the basic necessary condition for talks.

  26. Dastagir

    Seal the LEAK before the flood does the talk. India-Pakistan-Bangladesh are not sustainable. This too-to0-main-main is sucking around USD 25 Billion Annually. The Muslim fears., the Hindus will kill his way of life (Civilisational Fear) and overwhelm him. The Hindus fear that the Muslim will have more kids and will overwhelm Hinduism and wipe it off. These FEARS are not based on realities., but on mythology, and artificial fear injected by politicians for political gains.

    MEANS ARE AS IMPORTANT AS THE END. What is morally wrong cannot be politically correct. There is great wisdom in this quote. But everyone wants to prove he is more “manly”, and that talking peace is somehow “soft” and “un-manly”., so its good to be a hawk. But excessive hawkishness (be it RSS., or ISI) will eventually bring great doom.

    There has to be a sense of moderation. Extreme actions produce extreme reactions. So if Narendra Modi takes over as PM of India., with Babu Bajrangi as the President of The Republic of India., naturally this will have some impact and some reaction. RSS will destroy India (from within)., Talibani Mulla will destroy Pakistan., and Fundamentalist Mulla will destroy Bangladesh too.

    Tears and Blood are the destiny of SE Asia. There is so much of religion., and yet., so little of GOODNESS. Why doesnt RSS / Mullah., tell their followers to be GOOD HUMAN BEINGS first.

    How will killing and raping muslim girls, make RSS followers a better Hindu. They say we are taking “revenge”. But in the process., arent young Hindu boys becoming rapists and killers (MOB PSYCHOLOGY… THE KILLING BY THE COWARDS). When a whole nation is inflicted by such a mindset., then it is extremely dangerous.

    The future : is war and destruction. SARVA-NAASH. (Hutta`maa)

  27. ved

    I’m probably be wrong but I think Indian public will not be ready to move beyond 26/11 without punishment of perpetrators across the border who still spew venom. The public has been fed so much against them and promised so much that it is difficult for even staunch supporter of Indo-Pak friendship to do any thing without seeing any substantive progress on the trials in Pakistan and here public believe that at least minimum Pak govt can do is to ensure they were not protected, they should prosecuted for crime against humanity.

    Second thing is the matter of Kashmir for Pakistan. It is their center point. Will they move beyond Kashmir? I think no. So what next? Should we stop here?

    In last 63 years of our independence, we’ve spewed and spread so much hatred and venom against each other that everyone will find it difficult to make concessions on its part and seen as perpetrators in the eyes of their country men.

    Progress lies in building of image of one country and its people in the eyes of other may be gradually but definitely . First of all Pakistan should understand that they should not fear from India, my reason is their wars against India in last 63 years and see result, India could not do anything and they’re still their. So existential threat of Pakistan from India is not in question, this boggy is created from those people whose bread and butter is opposition of India and same lies here in India too. The growing economy of India required many thing which can easily be brought from Pakistan in cheap rate than procuring it from west. Pakistani items especially in food and garment sector will see heavy demand in India. Pakistan can also choose variety of items from Indian export.

    But main question solution of Kashmir. In my opinion when the image and perception will change amongst people for one another, when trade and commerce get the priority and when people to people contact will acquire so much space that without which our life will be unthinkable then the time will be ripe for just and honorable solution for Kashmir, until then there will be blood shed, blame game and ho-hallah about trust deficit.

  28. tilsim1

    Raza, I really feel now we are at the end of the road here. Sadly.

  29. Suv

    I believe that peace between Pakistan and India is possible but only when there is greater pragmatism on Pakistani side.

    Indian relations with Bangladesh were also quite strained in past due to tacit support and shelter given by Bangladesh to North East based groups like ULFA. But under current administration Bangladesh has halted that support and handed over many militant leaders and taken a more pragmatic stand which has resulted in thawing of relations. Bangladesh SC has also banned religious parties. I believe Pakistan has much to be learn from Bangladesh.

  30. Gorki

    “Nations have no permanent friends or allies, they only have permanent interests”
    -Lord Palmerston.

    Dear Tilsim:

    It is easy to understand your sad sentiments but despair is not an option for us today due to the paradigm shift that is taking place in the geopolitical landscape of South Asia. Unless a majority of the inhabitants of Pakistan and India grasp this fact, we may condemn our two countries to decades of mayhem the kind of which was last seen during the ‘all against all’ in the 18th century when the Mughal Empire was unraveling.

    Unfortunately due to an accumulated baggage of the 62 years of hostility, it will take some time and a lot of convincing. For that reason, I believe that Raza and others like him in the media who understand this must continue to make there point, repeatedly if necessary.

    Raza was not wrong when he wrote: “However, the situation cannot remain static. Policymakers are slow to catch up on both the sides…” In fact, reading the comments here it seems that not only the policymakers but even the well informed intellectuals on both sides are very slow to catch on.

    The title of the article is: ‘Redefining national interest.’ Raza has forcefully argued that redefining our priorities are in the ‘national interest’ (due to changes taking place around us) but most commentators still seem to assume that we live in a static world in which there are only two real concerns; Mumbai and Kashmir respectively.

    I believe that while demanding justice for Mumbai massacre is very important not only from a moral and ethical but also from a strategic standpoint, it may have to wait a little for the reasons outlined below. I also believe that in the coming months both India and Pakistan will be forced to reassess and redefine their national interests in light of changes taking place in Afghanistan.

    While the attention is focused on the wiki leaks most people have missed the real story; there is a near unanimity in Washington DC among all opinion leaders; politicians on the left, the right, the media and the think-tanks; that the war in Afghanistan is all but over and all that remains to be done is to find a face saving ‘agreement’ by which the Southern half or perhaps the entire Afghanistan should be abandoned to the Taliban. In short the US led NATO forces have accepted defeat!
    Unfortunately while the US can pack its bags and leave, those who have to live in the neighborhood are not so lucky and must make appropriate policy adjustments now for the changes that are coming.

    On the face of it, it is a big victory for Pakistan especially the ISI and its army. It is now the new and most powerful powerbroker and its cherished goal for a strategic depth along with the strategic assets (like the murderous Haqqanis and their ilk) have emerged intact.
    Karzai has already seen the writing on the wall and has sued for peace. In the coming months the US will have no option but to be count on Pakistan to look out for its interests vis-a-vis Al Qaeda etc. Indian influence is bound to be severely limited if it is not altogether extinguished.

    In other words; it is a complete and clear victory for Pakistan and its aims.
    One may be tempted to believe that for Pakistan it will mean a return to the good old days of strategic depth, other assets and a war on India by a thousand cuts.
    Yet many things have changed.
    For one thing, Pakistani army its self is battling some of the militants and they may not tamely fall in line just because the US leaves Afghanistan.

    More importantly the ideological blowback from the faith driven war is taking a malignant root in the Pakistani heartland. Ideology driven warriors seldom submit to outside handlers (or beat their swords into ploughshares and settle down peacefully) once the war is over, especially if they feel that their ideological dreams remain unfulfilled. Afghanistan itself remained mired in a civil war even after the Soviets left after the previous war. Bin Laden’s ideological convictions turned him against the very Saudi’s and the Americans who had bankrolled him.

    Pakistan today is overflowing with Jihadist inspired ideological sentiments. The gentle Sufi traditions and the tolerant South Asian version of Islam is now under a violent attack by a small but determined group of zealots who brook little opposition and are uninterested in any dialogue. It would be wishful thinking if the ISI or anyone else believes that the puritanical zeal of these holy warriors will vanish once the war ends. And it is not a question of the combatants alone.

    To an outsider like me, it seems that there is a radical change taking place in the Pakistani society. Its has a large, young, but poor and illiterate population that has been primed over the years to expect a land of milk and honey once the crusaders are defeated by the righteous forces battling for Islam. Its imagination is bound to be fired up and will probably not be satisfied by merely directing its ire at the traditional enemy India. It is quite possible that they may very well demand a more radical change in the society itself in the name of Islam.

    In such a climate once the Jihadist are free of fighting the ‘crusaders’ it will be very tempting, for at least some of them to call for not only a Emirate in Afghanistan alone but for going all the way to set up a similarly puritanical Caliphate in Pakistan itself.
    Furthermore there is a risk that other Jihadist groups (like the LET) who have so far remained neutral towards the Pakistani state might be tempted, either out of conviction, or of coercion or a little bit of both into joining the revolution at home. This kind of scenario may seem far fetched but should give everyone in Pakistan (including the generals) very sleepless nights.

    If the above scenario comes to pass then the army will have one of the two choices; either to fall in line and let the Jihadist set not only the traditional ‘anti-India’ agenda but also let the social-revolution take place that will make Pakistan a Punjab version of Afghanistan under the Taliban.
    How far can it go?
    Women in Burkas and without an education; men forced to grow beards; No music, dancing etc. ban on western schooling? ban on any form of free speech….
    Most Pakistanis and army officers may still be able to live with the tail wagging the dog (on the anti India agenda) but many Pakistanis will baulk at the second social religious revolutionary if it becomes clear what is at stake.

    It is this nightmare scenario that should drive everyone in Pakistan, the army, the feudals, the liberals; the entire civil society to join forces to fight this battle not only as a security undertaking but also a propaganda battle.
    This may indeed turn out to be an existential struggle we keep hearing about!

    Recent pew polls show that most Pakistanis view that India is a bigger threat than the Taliban. The challenge then is to change this perception in line with the reality.

    For India too; the above scenario is a nightmare. A lot of folks seem to think that since India is growing economically, we need not worry about Pakistan. That is a mistaken view. Once the US led NATO leaves, the suddenly idle and euphoric Jihadists will have the momentum of victory behind them and can be expected to attack us with renewed vigor. We can expect more Mumbais.

    Besides States and nations are not built on economic success alone (so far modest in India’s case). Forget the giddy write ups in western media about us. We may have a few slightly better functioning institutions than Pakistan, but they are only just a little bit better. We too remain a fragile nation.
    Many of our institutions are very inefficient and far too many of our officers are corrupt and others are corrupted daily.

    No matter what we write here on the PTH we all know that we continue to fail on too many fronts. If it were not so then we should not be watching daily images of teenagers throwing rocks at our jawans in Srinagar or the Maoists rebels killing them in Jharkhand. Even if these acts of rebellion are wrong (as I believe they are) they are a symptom of the Indian state’s inability to provide basic governance even 62 years after a democratic self rule.

    Unless we earn the loyalty of our citizens through better governance, we will remain at risk for exploitation by malignant outside influences. The Taliban victory inspired Jihadists are one such influence likely to reach our shores soon and if it is ignored, it has the potential to radicalize not only the Kashmiris but also other pockets of Muslim majority areas in UP Bihar Assam etc.
    Such a scenario may not only slow down our economic growth but may also tear our Republic and its institutions apart. It should give our leaders sleepless nights too.
    For this one reason, for once I think our interests are aligned with those of the Pakistanis.

    Our challenge is to convince both our own people and those of our neighbors’ those who would not listen, or if they listen would not believe; who their real enemy is.

    We will have to find a way to get our message out to everyone in Pakistan; to the civil society, to the army, and yes to the ISI; that nurturing thousands of ideology driven young men in their midst is as much a risk to them as they are to us.

    We will have to sell the need to incarcerate men like Hafeez Saeed not as an imperious demand from a larger and more powerful neighbor but as a warning of impending doom from a worried neighbor if we are ignored. For that to happen we need to do what Raza has argued that we do; open up our borders for a free flow of media and unrestricted contacts among responsible stake holders. We need the Pakistanis to hear first hand the debates we have among ourselves and the small every day freedoms we enjoy from our own bigots because of our democracy. They also need to hear the fears we have concerning the safety of our Republic and our freedoms.

    Nine years ago a man called Osama moved into our neighborhood and then declared war upon a superpower turning a corner of South Asia into a battle zone. The world is today watching with disbelief (and perhaps some fascination) the defeat of that superpower. Yet as it unfolds, our troubles are not over; for even after US leaves, it will not be an end of the war that Osama and his Wahabists declared on all others.

    As Churchill once said, in the context of another great war:
    ‘Now this is not the end.
    It is not even the beginning of the end.
    But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning’.

    Unfortunately for all of us South Asians, the real battles lie ahead of us.
    We will need to get past our old troubled relationship to be able to appreciate the trouble that lies ahead of us both.

  31. Androidguy

    @Hayyer,

    “The secular ethos or its decline (which I dispute) has nothing to do with it….”

    This has indeed been a recurring theme over the last few years, picked up by the international media too. Can you elaborate the reasons you disagree. Perhaps as a separate post or article?

  32. Chote Miya

    Androidguy,
    “This has indeed been a recurring theme over the last few years, picked up by the international media too. ”

    I have been hearing that ever since I learned to understand language, which would be more than two decades, along with the much awaited Hindu fascism incessantly peddled by the likes of woolly headed commentators(Javed Naqvi is one.) You would be looking too much into rantings of a few academics who seldom venture outside the JNU campus to ascertain the facts for themselves. Given the size of Hindu population in India, it would be a statistical impossibility to say that there are no radical “hindu” elements. Sometimes it comes out in open but after a high in the early nineties, it has lost its strength.

  33. Androidguy

    Chote Miyan,

    Is two decades enough to conclude either way? Anyway, probably an issue to discuss in a separate thread, but very interesting nonetheless.

  34. sid

    @Gorki

    IMO you forgot the possibility that, after US leaves, PA may start a war with India to effectively take away Pakistanis’ attention from religious extremism that caused all the havoc there.

  35. Luq

    @sid
    Do you really think that sort of madcap adventure is possible?

    Luq

  36. Hayyer

    Tilsim:

    It is not a lost cause, at least not here on PTH.
    The first thing is to understand each others perspectives. If Indians contend with some of the points made by people like RR or yourself it does not mean that further discussion is pointless. We have to understand the others point of view and correct it where it needs correction.

    The Indian perspective is summarized in a very sensible piece in today’s Hindustan Times by Vir Sanghvi. (Sanghvi is a fair minded journalist who could be an outstanding one if he could get over his obsession with five star culture and the high life).
    wwwdothindustantimesdotcom/editorial-views-on/VirSanghvi/VirSanghvi-Vir+Sanghvi-VClid.aspx

    India is in a bind. Kashmir is a problem between our countries but for any number of reasons India cannot be induced to start talking with Pakistan under the threat of the NGOs of the Muridke sort.
    A Pakistani may retort that India cannot be induced to talk anyway so why not use the NGOs? And that rhetorical question has no easy answer except that India is a stubborn status quo state. For Pakistanis the lessons about Indian behaviour are to be drawn from 1963 when the stolid Swaran Singh stonewalled Bhutto over five rounds of talks despite the tremendous pressure that the West under Kennedy and McMillan (particularly his Foreign Secretary Duncan Sandys) exerted in the aftermath of our debacle with China. After that neither the Kashmir uprising and the Kargil war, nor the nuclear overhang has made an inch of difference. The lesson is in short that India will not negotiate under threat or from an induced fear.
    Most Indians are mystified by Pakistan’s approach to the problem. The PA’s hostility is a given but why is Mr. Qureshi so aggressive? Even the Prime Minister and the Home Minister sound off occasionally on India. It will be much easier if your representatives come to the table rather than talk down as they are prone to. It is incongruous to send out strong signals for talks and then respond so dismissively when they occur.
    Perhaps the Americans are passing on overly optimistic messages to Pakistan about Indian attitudes. India is willing to talk and to come to a workable agreement, not necessarily under American pressure alone, but it won’t concede anything under threat.
    My other point was about India’s attitude in general. What is it that India can do anyway? Assuming that Kashmir cannot be resolved, what then? The so called hawks in India’s establishment pose this sort of scenario. Their solution is to expect no breakthrough and be prepared for the worst; other than that they think India should ignore Pakistan. They are not aggressive, they only wish to avoid dealing with their neighbour, as far as such a thing is possible.
    RR’s point was that India should engage with and change its perspective on Pakistan-my question is, how is it to be done, and what has happened that should change the perspective? Except for Zardari’s brief spring when India briefly held its collective breath, Mumbai and its aftermath has only worsened the perspective. It could have improved if Pakistan’s civilian government had not appeared to immediately cover up.
    Can India and Pakistan come closer without a solution on Kashmir. Most Pakistanis would surely say no. Where are does that leave us then? If nothing can move without the Solution then the Indian hawks are right. Being Indian they are a pretty passive sort of hawk, preferring disengagement to fighting.
    There remains the issue of Indian secularism which Android wanted a further discussion. India’s secular ethos has not changed but we do have the Indian reversion to type. I would call it the After Nehru (AN) effect. Indians of all hues are intensely religious. Their world view is religion oriented. In recent years they have reverted to mindless temple, gurdwara and mosque building and recourse to godmen and charlatans generally. It is reversion to BN behaviour. Superstition, astrology, religious symbolism and all kinds of fakery is now fashionable with otherwise hard headed Indians. Relations with Pakistan are quite independent of this trend. A bit of this nonsense seeps into government now and then as in the ‘bhumi puja’ ceremonies that now attend public sector ground breaking ceremonies-but governance continues to be secular.

  37. Chote Miya

    Hayyer,
    Quite a good post. I would like to add that the growth of religiosity is a worldwide phenomenon(except for Europe, maybe.) The trough in our religiosity(especially in the public sphere) was a temporary phenomenon of the 70s and early 80 when proclaiming ones disenchantment with religion was more of a fad than anything else. India has always been religious, post or pre-Nehru.

    Androidguy,
    You are right: 24-25 years is not a long time to get any judgment of that sort. But this debate has also been of recent vintage.

    I read the piece by Darlymple. He seems to give too much weight to Nanda’s work. To move to a unifying form of worship has always been a stated aim of most reformers in Hinduism. Sometimes it has been explicit in rejecting one form or sometimes implicit in the way certain forms have been stressed more than others. Nanda is not talking anything new here. The important point is that no matter who the reformer or the guru has been they all stress that there are multiple ways to reach God, which inherently takes away the bite of a unifying theme. RSS can make all the noise but they can’t deny this essential theme.

  38. tilsim1

    @ Gorki

    Thank you for your considered post. I am at one with your thinking. However there are too few people like us who think this way.

    I quote Hayyer’s observation:

    “In India the feeling persists that as long as Pakistan keeps attacking India, even if only through its NGOs there is no point to a dialogue.”

    I have closely studied the responses of the many Indians posting here and it seems that with a little variation this seems the demand. Well, I and Raza can’t deliver on this demand because it’s not in our power to do. There does not seem to be any willingness to have a dialogue that is past that hence the conversation naturally ends. On top of that, I must say that I also find a lot of the comments sweeping and outright hostile. Whilst I can understand some of the hostility, I am not inclined to have my head bashed continuously.

    If there is no point to dialogue, these folks should not bother coming to PTH. They seem inimical to the very concept that ordinary folks can just talk with a modicum of respect to the other.

    Talk clearly if they must a la Cameron style and they will find that they are talking to themselves. As you have seen, hardly any Pakistani is involved in these discussions.

    That’s all I am going to say on this topic.

  39. Raj (the other one)

    @tilsim1

    On top of that, I must say that I also find a lot of the comments sweeping and outright hostile.

    While that might be so, that many Indians would have only hostility for Pakistanis, I for one think that in a discussion one should leave the hostility aside. It is counter-productive.

    All I have requested the posters here is to give me, and thereby other Indians, a good argument in favor of PEACE, rather than STATUS QUO!

    The arguments I hear is
    — give ‘peace’ or eat ‘terror’
    — give ‘peace’ otherwise India cannot do this and that, wrt. superpower status, China, poverty, etc.

    Peace should not be made with a gun in hand, nor should Pakistanis be condescending and tell Indians what is in our interest. Indians already know that.

    The bright minds of Pakistan should at least be able to make a good argument, a logical argument!

    I mean no hostility. I am sorry if I gave that impression.

  40. sid

    @Luq

    Yes, I believe it is a possibility. In all the wars we fought, who was the first attacker?

  41. Gorki

    “I never give people hell. I simply tell the truth and people think it is hell.” -Harry Truman.

    Dear Raj:
    You wrote: “Okay, this convinced me, that you may indeed be a jholawala of the JNU type”.

    I am flattered to be mistaken for an intellectual of the JNU types but the truth is that I am just an ordinary apolitical Indian from a small ordinary Indian town. The Truman quote is appropriate because while my post about corruption in India and its fragility as a state may have upset you but it is the sad truth.

    It is not that I am ashamed of India or am oblivious of its successes. I root passionately for India during the cricket matches and anxiously await the good news of its scientific endeavors like the Chandrayaan launch with each press release. I beam with pride when I see the PM represent India at the G8 meet as an equal partner or hear western media men like Tom Freidman who once described India admiringly as a ‘showcase democracy, with a Hindu majority, its Government headed by a Sikh PM and a catholic woman as the head of its largest and oldest political Party under a Muslim President’ or the predictions of India becoming a larger economy than the US by mid century.

    I am truly thrilled about all that. Yet I am also not unaware of the unfinished business we have on our hands. The same man after which the premier Indian University you mentioned is named, laid out the task clearly for all of us in the early years of our Republic when he mentioned that ‘as long as there are tears and suffering, our job will not be done’. I wrote those words of caution in my earlier post on this forum to highlight all that still remains to be done.
    When a politician like Jayalalitha decides to publicly flout her ill gotten wealth in a 100 crore wedding for a close relative or the President of the Medical council of India is caught with literally tons of gold in his possession it does not appear to me that the economic growth or the growing middle class is enforcing more accountability. If anything it demonstrates a growing corruption industry keeping pace with prosperity along with a near absence of any shame among the corrupt elite.
    It is perhaps considered old fashioned or in poor taste to bring up such things and call them shameful but I cannot help it because I know of no other way to improve things if we do not shine a spotlight on it or are repulsed by it. I post such things not out dislike for India but as a word of caution out of my love for my Republic.

    You further wrote about the situation in Kashmir:
    “why the panic, yaar? India has been dealing with the situation, and will keep dealing with the situation. I don’t expect the situation to remain dreary longer than 6-7 years ………………..There may be customary mentions of Kashmir in OIC, but otherwise nobody cares about it in the Arab world, Iran, Bangladesh, Indonesia. There is no support for Kashmir ‘Azadi’ anywhere”

    I beg to differ here. There is a reason for concern, very great concern here.
    I could not care less about what the Arabs or the Indonesians think but when I see our own teenagers dying on our own streets throwing rocks at our own security forces I am concerned at what our republic is coming to.
    Perhaps for an extreme nationalist it is not a problem; it is India, right or wrong and a ‘little mayhem’ as you mention it is nothing new.
    As for me, I believe in the Republic of India, founded upon noble principles of tolerance and justice for all, and held together with the implied consent of all its constituents.
    It is not an Indian Empire, to be held together by force.
    The Republic of India has my utmost loyalty and will have it till the last breath in my body, but if you take away that idea of it then what remains is not a nation. Neither was it ever a nation in the past nor can it be a nation in the future and then I feel nothing for it. Moreover I am not alone many more Indians feel that way. Once the constitutional guarantees and the covenants that bind us together are stripped away, we have no India; only a geographical expression, as an Englishman once remarked.

    You also wrote:
    “The more you tell a Pakistani about your ‘fears for the safety’, the more he will get a kick out of it. There is nothing to fear”

    I think you got a wrong impression. I am not afraid of the Pakistanis. What I am afraid of is the Jihadist ideology misleading our teenagers and interfering with our own process of nation building. Each time we have to suspend civil liberties in any part of India or an Indian under trial is killed in an ‘encounter’ it interferes with our own process of nation building. It corrupts us as people and weakens our republic and its values. It takes away our legitimacy and more importantly the loyalty of our own citizens. Such situations are best avoided.

    I have no doubt in my mind that separatist movements in India are wrong and need to be countered. It is only that how they are countered will decide whether we end up with a Quebec or a Chechnya on our hands.

    You mentioned that “If the peace lobby in Pakistan succeeds in convincing Pakistan of the need to let go of Kashmir and Jihad, then fine”.
    I don’t think the peace lobby in Pakistan can convince it to let go of Kashmir. It is only the Kashmiris who can do it; if they demonstrate unmistakably their own preference for India. The current troubles in the valley don’t help and must come to a peaceful end. They are in part driven by an ideology that has rightly or wrongly, captured the imagination of a large number of Muslim youth across Asia and it does not recognize international boundaries. That ideology has to be defeated decisively; once and for all. In that we share a common interest with those in Pakistan who want to take their own country into the 21st century rather than the 7th.

    I, (along with Raza and Tilsim among others) have been misunderstood so far by every one (including Hayyer Sahib) when we talk about an Indian engagement with Pakistan. No one is asking for a peace summit with the GOP or a meeting with the ISI etc. Such talks are bound to fail even if there were the best of intentions on both sides because the necessary mind set is not there among the ordinary people who have learnt to reflexively consider the ‘other’ as an enemy. While media and business contacts among such people can not deliver Kashmir or bring Mumbai attackers to justice, it can, if initiated and sustained over time, help each to see the other side as something more than a single dimension caricature that neatly fits in a stereotype of the ‘enemy’.

    For example an Indian on the street must learn that a Pakistani is not only either a cricketer or a fiyadeen but can also be a journalist and a secular thinker like Rumi or even an uninteresting and uninterested clerk or a school teacher who is concerned with nothing more than everyday life. The Pakistanis similarly must find out for themselves how few Indians know or care about the RSS or Varun Gandhi and how many of them have similar concerns about power shortages and rising food costs and honor killings.

    It is only after a prolonged period of such benign and ordinary but increasing contacts across the border, between media, business people etc, when we small town people start recognizing each other for what we are; can you intelligent and important people then start talking big words like ‘summits’ and ‘national priorities’.

    PTH seems like an ideal watering hole for such contacts and Raza’s call one such call for more of these. That’s all!

    Regards.

  42. Chote Miya

    Gorki,
    Excellent post, though I beg to differ on the following issues:
    “No one is asking for a peace summit with the GOP or a meeting with the ISI etc.”

    Actually, we should seriously start exploring that option. The worst thing to do is to keep them completely out of loop. The elephant in the room is the GHQ. We might as well learn to negotiate with them howsoever repugnant they may be. Who knows, over time, things may change. Musharraf, after all, did tone down his aggressive stance. Otherwise, this whole charade of meeting the FM who carries no power is bound to fail. And, after every such failure, the old reasons are regurgitated afresh, that Qureshi was just “acting”, which, I, personally, believe is a bunch of nonsense. We should open a dialogue with Shuja Pasha and his cohorts. After all, we have no qualms in dealing with the dictator from Burma.

    “an Indian on the street must learn that a Pakistani is not only either a cricketer or a fiyadeen but can also be a journalist and a secular..”

    I think you needlessly impugn the IQ of a common man in both countries. For all his/her faults, it’s the common man that lines up to vote. If the common man was heard, we would have had peace long time ago. It’s the elite(liberal or otherwise) that has been the problem. This is not about sane people on both sides. I doubt if ylh needs to come to India to understand the virtue of peace. We need the spooks at ISI to understand that peace and commerce is the only guarantee for security of Pakistan and India.

  43. NSA

    As a counterpoint to Gorki: “It is only after a prolonged period of such benign and ordinary but increasing contacts across the border, between media, business people etc, when we small town people start recognizing each other for what we are; can you intelligent and important people then start talking big words like ‘summits’ and ‘national priorities’. ” —

    This long-term benign contact was there “since time immemorial” (to be a little extravagant).

    Fat lot of good it did. (I’m saying this though I think it is the only way ahead.)

  44. NSA

    When Dr Edward Thompson once pointed out to Mr. Jinnah that Hindus and Muslims live side by side in thousands of Indian towns, villages and hamlets, Mr. Jinnah replied that this in no way affected their separate nationality. Two nations according to Mr. Jinnah confront one another in every hamlet, village and town, and he, therefore, desires that they should be separated into two states.

    How will people-to-people contact now help?

  45. Gorki

    Dear NSA

    The same way that people to people contact in Europe, Canada and USA makes Indians and Pakistanis live happily side by side as co-workers and friends.😉

    Serously though the same way that Germany, France, Poland, Turkey etc. live together today and the same way that ‘they’ too have lived since ‘times immemorial’.

    The ‘nation states’ of India and Pakistan came into being in a bloody century dominated by worldwide nationalistic fervor of both the rational and irrational kind. Nationalism itself is a European concept and ironically continues to lose its appeal in Europe and some day will lose its appeal elsewhere too as we all get connected and globalised.

    Pew polls show that while Indian and Pakistani population worry about an attack by the armed forces of the other side, they both feel peace between the two sides is desirable.

    People to people would help expose the myth hyped by the biased media on each side that the average citizen on the other side is a ‘hawk’.

    The people who will stand to lose most are the liars and the demagogues like Zaid Hamid who prey on people’s fears and keep hostile feelings alive. Economic ties between the two will make people look out further for their best interest and dampen calls for war and such.

    Regards.

  46. Hayyer

    Gorki:

    I don’t misunderstand at all. In fact I may claim to being misunderstood myself. I not only support the peace initiative I want it strengthened way beyond what it is. But I did question some of RR’s assumptions. These were-:

    1. That India has not changed its perspective of Pakistan.
    2. The definition of Indian Hawks
    3. That India should engage more with Pakistan.
    4. That there is a military industrial complex in India.
    5. That India defines itself by Pakistan.

    4. and 5. are trivial so I wont repeat my litany. 1,2 and 3 are important points though.

    How can India’s perspective change. Pakistan is not PTH. I like to think of myself as a liberal, open minded, unprejudiced sort of fellow but till I visited PTH I never knew that such people existed in Pakistan. And as we know, and as the regulars of PTH would admit they are not representative of Pakistani opinion in general.
    Indian governmental opinion of Pakistan is based on what its government says and does. One can say that nothing has happened to cause a change in Indian opinion.
    Indian hawks say that Pakistan’s attitude to India will never change and nothing will come out of talks. Their advice is to talk, but to carry a big stick. It is an extremely pessimistic, even jaundiced view of Indo-Pak relations. It holds that Pakistan foreign policy to India is run by the PA which does not want peace with India and nothing will come out of the talks.
    It is suggested sometimes that India should offer something on Kashmir to create a conducive atmosphere. That is all very well were it not for the fact that Pakistan has been trying to take Kashmir by force for more than 60 years. We have nukes aimed at each other and no two countries in the world are as inimical as we are. In such a situation is it realistic to expect India to concede anything to Pakistan at the very start. The ‘hawks’ may well ask why Pakistan having failed to get Kashmir by force should conceded anything now, and even up front as it were.
    The answer proposed by our foreign friends to that question is that if India wants to be a serious player on the world stage, becoming a permanent member of the security council for example, it needs to sort out the dispute with Pakistan. This argument is also taken up in India sometimes by the so called doves (thought it would be a funny sort of dove that wants to be a world player) and is also reproduced by RR in his article.
    In my view, and I am not a hawk but a species of dove, this argument won’t run.
    It is by no means certain that peace with Pakistan buys a seat on the Security Council. That depends on the non existent goodwill of China. China has a vested interest in Pakistan to which the latter responds enthusiastically. Strategically India gains nothing as long as China is an enemy.
    However, and this is the important point, India cannot be expected to bargain away bits of the country that it considers an atoot ang for great power status. Would India bargain away Kerala for example. India is nothing if not the sum of its parts.
    India should compromise on Kashmir because it is the right thing to do. This does not mean conceding something to Pakistan, but to the Kashmiri people whom India has wronged. There is no getting away from that. Pakistan can be part of a restored and modified covenant. In fact that may be the only way.
    But how can India deliver this up front to Pakistan when it considers itself the aggrieved party vis a vis that country.
    One way to change India’s perspective of Pakistan would be for greater cooperation over Mumbai instead of the regular stonewalling. How can India change its view if the Pakistan government cannot hide the fact that in so far as India is concerned it is a proxy for the PA. The Pakistan government may be scared of General Kayani, the Indian Army Chief is not. The Indian government, which is in control of its army unlike Pakistan, cannot give its own army the impression that it must adapt policy to suit the requirements of the PA.
    These are real problems confronted in the real world.
    The Pakistani line that India must solve Kashmir before there can be progress on other fronts immediately blocks the road to peace. Suppose Kashmir cannot be sorted out. What then? The Indian hawk starts from that position. They say it means continued stalemate and hostility, no different from now, and therefore to be endured as best as India can, and no doubting responding in kind at points west of Pakistan.
    India is not under any great pressure to negotiate. It will negotiate in an atmosphere of goodwill. That goodwill is something that the Pakistan government does not even pretend at. RR mentioned the very brief moment of hope when Zardari said no first use of nuclear weapons, and that India and Pakistan had nothing to fear from each other. We know what happened to that? It is genuinely difficult for Indian leaders to make overtures to Pakistan in the face of the overt hostility.
    When India tries to open up negotiations it is confronted with a closed negotiating position and even rudeness. When in frustration it turns away the hawks are said to have won. What is to be done?
    What is India to make of Zardari’s statement during his recent visit to China that Pakistan can be a force multiplier for China. Against whom?
    These are some of the problems confronting us. We have to start our with goodwill not threats. At present Pakistan’s stance is entirely minatory. Look at the river waters business and the threat to go to war over it. How is India’s perspective to change, and how can it engage meaningfully. Voters do ask questions.

  47. Luq

    >RR mentioned the very brief moment of hope
    > when Zardari said no first use of nuclear weapons,
    > and that India and Pakistan had nothing to fear
    >from each other. We know what happened to that?
    > It is genuinely difficult for Indian leaders to make
    >overtures to Pakistan in the face of the overt hostility.

    Your analysis is sensible and precise. Its clear that there is no solution unless there is a true democracy in both the countries and the two armies behave like armies and not as governments. One side is ready, the other side is not.

    Sometimes knowing that there is no solution to a problem is a solution in itself.

    Luq

  48. lal

    @ ylh,
    on the dar ul ullom fatwa on banking

    The Darul Uloom has current accounts in many nationalised and private banks, including the State Bank of India (Deoband branch), the Union Bank of India (Deoband), the Punjab National Bank (Deoband), the Corporation Bank (Deoband), the Central Bank of India (Deoband), the Bank of Baroda (Saharanpur) and the ICICI Bank (Saharanpur). The details of the accounts are available on the seminary’s website.

    ” There are several construction projects underway in Darul Uloom Deoband. You may participate in the same and contribute.

    Darul Uloom has started constructing a grand multi- storeyed library equipped with all modern facilities, in- sha- Allah . Its estimated cost is: Rs 13,94,69,500.

    The old Dar- e- Jadid hostel is being rebuilt afresh as a threestorey building, which will consist of 90 rooms. The estimated cost of one room is Rs 5,63,000,” an appeal posted online reads.

    they also have saving banks accounts

    jokers🙂

  49. lal

    sorry that was a blunder…it was meant 4 d blunedr post🙂

  50. Sadia Hussain

    Clearly we need to redefine our national interests and in my view it should be:

    a) Investing in education so that the youth does not fall prey to religious zealots.
    b) Put an end to rampant hate-speech it is form here the religious extremism stems.
    c) Giving minorities their due human, legal and constitutional rights.

  51. Raj (the other one)

    Dear Gorki,

    Thanks for your response. I appreciate the idealism in your words. A good measure of idealism is a must for any society.

    You are a fellow Indian, and I respect your right to your sentiments. To be truthful, in my school years I had similar thinking.

    I am flattered to be mistaken for an intellectual of the JNU types but the truth is that I am just an ordinary apolitical Indian from a small ordinary Indian town.
    I have never been able to see any intellectuality in the JNU types. It is a pseudo-intellectuality, based on proposing ill-fitting semantic constructs on a society, constructs imported unfiltered from Western social and political thinkers; denying local cultural reality; using a sham outward attire to show identification with the underprivileged. If they were in USA, none of them would even be considered for a seat in a think-tank. But India has many jokers, be it the politicians or the JNU jholawallas. There is also a place for them in India.

    The Truman quote is appropriate because while my post about corruption in India and its fragility as a state may have upset you but it is the sad truth.

    Believe me, I am not upset by the ‘sad truth’. In fact I am not upset at all. I am however often amazed by the conclusions that are drawn, and justifications that are made, based on the ‘sad truth’.

    I have developed certain stereotypes of Indians, for getting a first impression and measure of a man. Now no stereotype, or even a set of stereotypes, can really capture the complexity of a human, but it is a start.

    My intent is not to degrade anybody or hurt anybody’s feelings, but based on some of your comments, I’d like to venture a stereotype. So have some patience with me here.

    It is not that I am ashamed of India or am oblivious of its successes.
    The double-negatives here indicate actually a very deep shame. That thought would not even whistle past someone who feels at ease in his skin and amongst his people.

    I root passionately for India during the cricket matches and anxiously await the good news of its scientific endeavors like the Chandrayaan launch with each press release.
    Interesting here is not, what is mentioned as targets/objects of pride, but what is negated through this shortlisting.

    The shortlisting is based not on what constitutes a nation, the culture, the faiths, the people and their customs, the history of the people and the nation. Rather it is based on a West-sanctioned political correctness manifesto regarding patriotism. Sport is considered ‘halaal’ as an outlet for patriotism. In fact it is deemed as mandatory for de-racinated-marxist-liberals, so that they not be accused of being unpatriotic. As far as scientific achievements go, that too is given a green flag. It is thought that pursuit of science, would aid in uprooting people from their culture and religion. The Western manifesto writers however forget that scientific curiosity and pursuit, have been at the heart of the Indic thought process. Scientific thought is at home in India. It can never be the trojan horse that they assumed to smuggle in. But the de-racinated-marxist-liberals buy the Western argument that it is a trojan horse and show willingness to cheer India’s scientific achievements.

    I beam with pride when I see the PM represent India at the G8 meet as an equal partner
    It is fine and good that India can speak with others at still another forum. But there is not the least need for any of us, to feel pride if an outsider accepts us or not. Our equality with other nations, the equality of Indian citizens with citizens of other nations, is not ordained by their reaction to us.

    Most of the time I live in Germany. Half of my family is German. Would I be feeling pride if other Germans accept me and talk to me? Is that some sort of honor. My self-esteem is not a function of acceptance of me by anybody. It is rooted in my heritage, it is rooted in my culture which allows me, to be open-minded, pluralistic, rational, self-critical, forward-looking. It is rooted in my citizenship of Republic of India.

    or hear western media men like Tom Freidman who once described India admiringly as a ‘showcase democracy, with a Hindu majority, its Government headed by a Sikh PM and a catholic woman as the head of its largest and oldest political Party under a Muslim President’
    I am a fan of Tom Friedman. I think for an American he has the ability to transcend the self-centrism of America and look for values and trends in other parts of the world. He is able to see, salvation of the world, emanating from quarters other than the Eurocentric world view.

    Pluralism has however been a hallmark of Indian Civilization, and is not something that suddenly becomes visible as soon as a Westerner sheds light on to it. Tom Friedman’s message is meant for the Westerners who know little about India. His message is not meant for giving Indians self-esteem.

    or the predictions of India becoming a larger economy than the US by mid century.

    The Indian economy was a giant in the past. It was not called the jewel of the British crown for nothing. Here some figures – the Indian share of the World GDP in the past (as per Angus Maddison) was:
    1 32%
    1000 28%
    1500 24.3%
    1600 22.3%
    1700 24.4%
    1820 16%
    1870 12%
    1913 7.4%
    1950 4.1%
    1973 3%
    2003 5.5%

    So a thousand years ago, our GDP was ~ a third of the world.

    There is nothing extraordinary that our GDP share will rise in the future.

    I am truly thrilled about all that. Yet I am also not unaware of the unfinished business we have on our hands. The same man after which the premier Indian University you mentioned is named

    JLN was indeed a great man, because he gave India a vision, he gave inspiration and he gave India an industrial base. At the same time he was also allowed grave failures in leadership.

    The University is there, and it instills a social conscience among the Indians, but at the same time, the graduates are corrupted by a foreign narrative of goodness. They end up becoming tools of Western interests.

    laid out the task clearly for all of us in the early years of our Republic when he mentioned that ‘as long as there are tears and suffering, our job will not be done’. I wrote those words of caution in my earlier post on this forum to highlight all that still remains to be done.

    That is a mission statement, that our first PM gave us. Both you and me, and a billion other Indians have to try to fulfill that.

    What the de-racinated marxist-liberals of India however do is that they instrumentalize poverty and try to push ideological crap, policies which would only do cosmetic changes to poverty, instead of eradicating it. Secondly they try to wrap themselves around poverty, using it as their flag, and do moral grand-standing. Important is not how much one bi.ches about poverty, but rather how much of one’s own money and effort one invests fighting it and bringing opportunity to the underprivileged. Using poverty as a stick to beat India will not remove poverty.

    When a politician like Jayalalitha decides to publicly flout her ill gotten wealth in a 100 crore wedding for a close relative or the President of the Medical council of India is caught with literally tons of gold in his possession it does not appear to me that the economic growth or the growing middle class is enforcing more accountability. If anything it demonstrates a growing corruption industry keeping pace with prosperity along with a near absence of any shame among the corrupt elite.

    Middle Class empowerment is both an economic as well as an awareness issue. The development takes time. Anybody can sit on the high horse and look down upon society. It is when middle class instead of becoming a disenchanted non-voting voter group becomes a majority, politically aware and a serious voter group, would one see the changes you would like.

    It is perhaps considered old fashioned or in poor taste to bring up such things and call them shameful but I cannot help it because I know of no other way to improve things if we do not shine a spotlight on it or are repulsed by it.

    No there is nothing wrong with increasing awareness of the problems in our country. However you are talking to our Pakistani cousins here. Do you think, they will come over and bring us democratic and good-governance heaven?

    Discussion of Indian poverty on a Pakistani forum is meant for only one purpose – to preserve the illusion that India and Pakistan are equal nations sharing the same problems and doomed to the same fate. This forms the basis of Pakistani arguments why India should come to the table, and treat Pakistan as an equal. The Pakistanis feel falsely reassured when Indians show the same despondency, the Pakistanis feel at the moment for their country. The Pakistanis want to be reassured that they did not make a mistake at the time of Partition. The Pakistanis want to be reassured that the ideological basis of their state, Islam, is just as effective as a political and social ideology, as any state ideology that Hindu India comes up with. You are only feeding their appetite for reassurance, instead of telling them to do some open-minded introspection outside the bounds imposed by Islam.

    I post such things not out dislike for India but as a word of caution out of my love for my Republic.

    India is more than just a Republic.

    I beg to differ here. There is a reason for concern, very great concern here.
    I could not care less about what the Arabs or the Indonesians think but when I see our own teenagers dying on our own streets throwing rocks at our own security forces I am concerned at what our republic is coming to.

    I wonder why there are no Kashmiri Pundit kids throwing rocks amongst the teenagers you mention from Kashmir!

    Perhaps for an extreme nationalist it is not a problem; it is India, right or wrong and a ‘little mayhem’ as you mention it is nothing new.
    As for me, I believe in the Republic of India, founded upon noble principles of tolerance and justice for all, and held together with the implied consent of all its constituents.
    It is not an Indian Empire, to be held together by force.

    India is neither an empire, nor just a republic. It is a nation, and this nation was there long before it became a republic. Depending on the time period, it may have been politically consolidated or fragmented. The sages and rishis gave this land a common life-philosophy and values; and imbibed the rulers of the land with the same political philosophy. India is the custodian of a 5000 year old civilization.

    If you want to feel India, you have to close your eyes and meditate on the billions of souls around you, their aspirations and their vibrancy; on the land that has seen so much history flow through time; on our forefathers, and their fathers and mothers, who toiled this land and poured love onto their children. We are the bearers of their legacy.

    The Indian Nation is like a Carriage, and the Indian Republic, our Constitution, our values are the Horse. This Horse has to take the Indian Carriage in a forward direction, in the direction of social peace and prosperity, in the direction of individual achievement and and scientific progress.

    However I get the feeling some would rather get up on Horse and start giving sermons and berating the Carriage. The Horse is in the service of the Carriage, and not for bearing on it with its hooves.

    Moral Grandstanders may like to mount the Horse and they will feel good about themselves. They may even find a few cheerleaders, but all in all they do the Nation no service.

    The Republic of India has my utmost loyalty and will have it till the last breath in my body, but if you take away that idea of it then what remains is not a nation. Neither was it ever a nation in the past nor can it be a nation in the future and then I feel nothing for it. Moreover I am not alone many more Indians feel that way.

    That is what I mean. Some people think, it was the British who gave us India. In fact, this is an idea, that is so vigorously propounded by the Western academics, that it would make one laugh, were it not for the tragedy of so many idiots who would fall for something like this.

    After all, it all comes from a colonized mind. You have accepted the White Man as your superior, as the only one able to impart to you rational thoughts. The White Man gave us history, and before that we were all just apes jumping from tree to tree.

    The ideas of secularism, pluralism, just political system, consensus building, rational dialog all have their roots in Indian philosophy. It is the White Man, who is trying to sell you Indian goods with a made-in-West label, because the Western World Order needs a Western narrative.

    It is Indian Civilization, the Indian Nation, that has allowed the Republic of India to be realized. Why else would Indian democracy survive in a land with such diversity and after having survived a thorough plundering by Central-Asian Turks, Persians, Arabs and Brits alike?

    The Indian Republic is not a book given by the British Gods to Jawahar Lal Nehru, according to which India had to be ruled!

    Without the Indian Nation, the Indics, there would have been no Republic of India.

    What I fear is that you wish to understand the Indian Constitution as a new ideology, in the process becoming just another ideologist like Communist, Islamist, Capitalist, etc. The Indian Constitution is a living embodiment of the aspirations of a nation, but the nation is much more than just the Constitution.

    If you want to come along on the Indian journey, you should come in the carriage. Nobody should ride the Horse and do meaningless grandstanding. Fighting for the Constitution and not the people, it is supposed to protect, is, I believe, another compromise a man with an inferiority complex would make. Love the Constitution but hate the Nation, because Constitution given by nice White God.

    Once the constitutional guarantees and the covenants that bind us together are stripped away, we have no India; only a geographical expression, as an Englishman once remarked.

    Exactly, what I mean. “As an Englishman once remarked”!

    I think you got a wrong impression. I am not afraid of the Pakistanis. What I am afraid of is the Jihadist ideology misleading our teenagers and interfering with our own process of nation building.

    Jihadism is simply the natural evolution of Pakistaniyat. There is nothing to fear from evolution, one just needs to be prepared for it.

    In fact, Pakistaniyat is a mid-way house between Indic values and full-throttled Islamism. As such the Indian Muslims are far more susceptible to Pakistaniyat than Talibanism. With Pakistaniyat, they get the feeling that it is Indian version of Islam, which it is not. Pakistaniyat has the extra aspect, that Muslims are a nation apart from all others. But that difference can get lost in the bonhomie.

    Once Pakistan makes the irreversible transition to Talibanism, the proposition in front of the Indian Muslim youth would be far more clear – to be part of the Indian mainstream or to ape the Talibaniac Pakistanis.

    Each time we have to suspend civil liberties in any part of India or an Indian under trial is killed in an ‘encounter’ it interferes with our own process of nation building. It corrupts us as people and weakens our republic and its values. It takes away our legitimacy and more importantly the loyalty of our own citizens. Such situations are best avoided.

    All this is true. Mostly this happens in areas where the Indian nation has become too diluted through the infiltration of foreign ideologies. As India rises, the pull of these foreign ideologies would weaken, as the people are reconnected with their roots.

    I have no doubt in my mind that separatist movements in India are wrong and need to be countered. It is only that how they are countered will decide whether we end up with a Quebec or a Chechnya on our hands.

    One of the main tools of secessionists is propaganda. Truth is one thing, propaganda is another. In war, truth is the first casualty. If there is a huge pool of people telling the world that gruesome atrocities are being committed, then you are batting for the secessionists. It is as clear as that.

    As soon as the Kashmiri Pundits were thrown out of Kashmir, it stopped being ethnic separatism and became a Pakistan-induced insurgency, who again were willing to use religion for political purposes.

    Kashmir was a part of India long before Islam came to the subcontinent. It will also stay that way, as the Republic of India has the instrument of accession in her favor. How soon the current inhabitants of Kashmir with their alien pan-Islamist thinking come to their senses is up to them. Otherwise the Center has been pumping more money into the development of the Valley far in excess of funds other parts of India receive.

    I don’t think the peace lobby in Pakistan can convince it to let go of Kashmir. It is only the Kashmiris who can do it; if they demonstrate unmistakably their own preference for India.

    Kashmir remains part of India because the Indian nation owes it to the memory of the Indic ancestors of present-day Kashmiris, as well as the offspring of present-day Kashmiris, whatever their faith may be, who would want one day to enjoy some music once in a while and not want to carry beards, like in the country next door.

    Pakistanis can keep on craving for Kashmir until the sun goes out. It doesn’t make a difference. Perhaps Kashmir was indeed an issue JLN left behind to unmake Pakistan. Very very clever indeed. The abyss the Pakistanis are seeing approaching is because of their determination to stay on the Kashmir course. Without Kashmir, there would not have been so many Jihadis roaming around in Pakistan.

    The current troubles in the valley don’t help and must come to a peaceful end. They are in part driven by an ideology that has rightly or wrongly, captured the imagination of a large number of Muslim youth across Asia and it does not recognize international boundaries.

    You are talking about the same ideology on which Pakistan is founded.

    That ideology has to be defeated decisively; once and for all. In that we share a common interest with those in Pakistan who want to take their own country into the 21st century rather than the 7th.

    What makes you think you share a common interest with Pakistani liberals?

    What Pakistani liberals want is a soft-Islam, which allows them the privileges of the modern world, their freedoms. That much is ok. But hardly any ‘Pakistani Liberal’ is going to question the Two Nation Theory. Hardly any Pakistani would go ahead and say, that Kashmiris should remain in India, because the Indian Constitution is willing to provide them with full civilian rights.

    The Pakistani Liberals are staunch Muslim nationalists, who think that religion can be a basis for nationhood. They only want that the ensuing nation should not start asking them to stop hearing music and carrying long beards.

    On the other hand, they look for Indian ‘peace-lovers’ who are willing to totally eschew their Hindu faith, call themselves atheists, distance themselves from the Indian Nation itself, and bind themselves with some abstract values of humanism, constitutionalism, secularism, Marxism without the context of their applicability for the nation, people.

    These Indians/Hindus accept the Pakistanis despite their Muslim chauvinism all in the name of secularism, whereas the Muslims only promise support for reform in Islam, for moderation.

    And the Indians think both of them are meeting half-way. Now that is a joke.

    I, (along with Raza and Tilsim among others) have been misunderstood so far by every one (including Hayyer Sahib) when we talk about an Indian engagement with Pakistan. No one is asking for a peace summit with the GOP or a meeting with the ISI etc. Such talks are bound to fail even if there were the best of intentions on both sides because the necessary mind set is not there among the ordinary people who have learnt to reflexively consider the ‘other’ as an enemy.
    Indians consider Pakistan as the enemy not reflexively but because of a history of attacks, facts on the ground. Pakistanis consider Indians as the enemy because of establishment propaganda from childhood – very effective propaganda, especially as it is built on fears, rumors, hate of the Kufr and hardly any truth.

    There is no need to consider them as equivalent.

    While media and business contacts among such people can not deliver Kashmir or bring Mumbai attackers to justice,
    It almost sounds as if one is equating the righteousness of finding justice for Mumbai Attacks and delivering Kashmir to the Pakistanis on a platter.

    it can, if initiated and sustained over time, help each to see the other side as something more than a single dimension caricature that neatly fits in a stereotype of the ‘enemy’.
    For the Indian, the ‘enemy’ in Pakistan is based on historical facts, Mumbai 26/11 just being the latest of such facts. When the ‘enemy’ is as such very real, is it of any interest to know that in Pakistan there is also ‘qawwali’ and ‘mujra’?

    On the other hand, in Pakistan, the ‘enemy’ in India is based on institutional brain-washing. Many institutions in Pakistan, many vested interests in Pakistan are based on keeping the ‘enemy’ in India. The Pakistani liberals, I concede, may not wish this trend. However I think, this has a lot more to do with the predicament of their country, rather than some holistic sentiment.

    So the single dimensional caricature of the other has a justification – for India it is to not allow distraction from reality; and for Pakistan it is to not allow a weakening of the institutions.

    For example an Indian on the street must learn that a Pakistani is not only either a cricketer or a fiyadeen but can also be a journalist and a secular thinker like Rumi or even an uninteresting and uninterested clerk or a school teacher who is concerned with nothing more than everyday life.
    I think the common man in India is generally aware of the diversity in any society, both in opinions and in professions.

    The Pakistanis similarly must find out for themselves how few Indians know or care about the RSS or Varun Gandhi and how many of them have similar concerns about power shortages and rising food costs and honor killings.

    Ah yes, .. they need the assurance that the Indians too are sharing Hell with them.

    It is only after a prolonged period of such benign and ordinary but increasing contacts across the border, between media, business people etc, when we small town people start recognizing each other for what we are; can you intelligent and important people then start talking big words like ‘summits’ and ‘national priorities’.

    Yes, wish you success!

    PTH seems like an ideal watering hole for such contacts and Raza’s call one such call for more of these. That’s all!

    Well then, don’t let anybody stop you!

    Regards

  52. Hayyer

    What the other Raj is saying is that India is what it is because it is Hindu and Pakistan is in trouble because it is Muslim. He is the kind of Indian spammer most unlikely to learn anything new because he knows it all.

  53. androidguy

    I have to agree with NAS and Hayyer here. Other Raj seems to imply that there is something special being Hindu and Indian. Well, its as special as it is being Christian and Moldavian or being Buddhist and Mongolian. It doesn’t become “magical” like Steve Job’s iPhone just because he says it so.

  54. androidguy

    Edit: I meant to say “the iPhone doesn’t become magical just because Steve Jobs says it so”.

    Couldn’t help making that snide remark on Apple hehe!

  55. Gorki

    “Kashmir remains part of India because the Indian nation owes it to the memory of the Indic ancestors of present-day Kashmiris, as well as the offspring of present-day Kashmiris, whatever their faith may be, who would want one day to enjoy some music once in a while and not want to carry beards, like in the country next door….”

    I guess the consent of the present day Kashmiris has nothing to do with it….;-)

  56. Raj (the other one)

    Androidguy wrote:

    Other Raj seems to imply that there is something special being Hindu and Indian. Well, its as special as it is being Christian and Moldavian or being Buddhist and Mongolian.

    I guess Moldavia and Mongolia also face similar challenges like India. having to integrate over 1.1 billion people speaking more than 122 languages, 7-8 major religions, tens of thousands of castes/tribes and a people, coming right out of poverty, all in a secular democratic system providing a vigorous economic growth.

    If not, then I guess we are special.

  57. androidguy

    By that logic, most countries in the world are special, except the most homogenous ones. I still don’t know what you are trying to say here. Indians are as much good or bad as the next country, and the country next to it. There is nothing special about it. Its a different matter that you are proud of India, just as I am too. But had I been Mongolian or Moldovan, I would have been just as proud of my country as I am as an Indian. No special powers need be ascribed to India as you are trying to imply, if I have understood you correctly.

  58. Gorki

    Dear NSA

    Now we are getting into the ‘historic homeland’ argument. The present day mess in erstwhile Palestine should give one pause in this regard. I will stay away from it.

    Coming back specifically to your question though, I think we all know that the present day Kashmir was messed up by politicians several times starting in 1947-48 and (later in 1989). All of us; Kashmiris and the non Kashmiri alike are living with its consequences.

    It goes without saying that under the ideal circumstances everyone should have a say about all parts of India; not only people considering themselves Kashmiris living in Karnataka but also Punjabis living in Patna or the Biharis living in Mumbai. That it is not always so and people get into parochial arguments over such issues goes on to show how much of a nation building task we still have before us, Raj Sahib’s fantasy world notwithstanding.

    The Tamils and the Punjabis of today have much less in common than the French and the German descendants of the Frankish clans of Raj Sahib’s native Europe. These Europeans fought bloody nationalistic wars over little pieces of territory their common bonds of history, culture, kinship etc. (all that Raj thinks made up India in the past) notwithstanding.

    Kashmir today has become an explosive and an emotional issue for all Indian; Kashmiri and non Kashmiri. In this we are now seeing an additional factor of a malignant ideology that is more of an international phenomenon.

    The job before us (at least those who feel they owe it to India, having received a decent and often subsidized education at its expense) is to address these issues calmly and legally while appealing to everyone’s sense of reason and fair play. We should be able to explain to all our countrymen why we should be one nation and the benefits that come of it to us individually as well as collectively rather than harking back to an imagined reality which never was.

    Regards.

  59. NAS

    Minor diversion – there is an article on Pakistan Railways in Huffington Post by Saad Khan, which reminds one of the collapsing railways in the Ayn Rand novel “Atlas Shrugged”.

  60. lal

    @ gorki

    for the young audience ,can u please explain why kashmir is a special case.all of us understand kashmiris are alienated,no doubt about it..but why is it so….

    as i ve asked hayyer b4,taking over a state guarenteeing its autonomy and den gradually swallowing it has been ‘india’s policy towards most princely states.chief ministers being dismissed,economic mismanagement or human right violations by state has taken place in virtually all the states of india.i need not tell u how invalid the culture argument is as there is no homogenous pan-india culture for kashmir to differ frm…from north east to south each state has its own language,caste structure,festivals….so other than being a muslim majority state,what is particular about kashmir.but then lakshadweep is muslim majority.there are many districts in up,assam,kerala,west bengal,andhra and bihar that are muslim majority.there is a sikh majority in punjab.there are significant percentage as well as districts with xian majority in kerala and north east.and we in india,have never accepted that india is a hindu state.

    again i am in no way denying that a good number of kashmiris believe that they are not a part of india.but my ignorance often fails me to understand the exact reasons.forget the present murders on the streets,but why are the aspirations for independance that the kashmiris have is different from that of a tamilian or a punjabi.

  61. Gorki

    Dear Lal

    You ask a good question but from the wrong person; I have never made a case for Kashmiri exceptionalism either as individuals or as a sub-nationality. However Kashmir stands out as a test case for our Union for reasons not the least of which has to do with the circumstances of its somewhat messy accession into it. Hayyer wrote an exceptionally thorough account covering the historical peculiarities and the complexities of that issue earlier so I will not cover the historical aspect. (Besides I can’t even begin to have a fraction of his encyclopedic knowledge in this regard.)

    Therefore a short answer to your question is that there is nothing special about Kashmir or the Kashmiris that does not applies to the Punjabis, the Nagas the Assamese or other separatist aspirations elsewhere. However I believe how we handle the Kashmir issue will decide what kind of a Republic we will become in the coming years. As Hayyer also mentioned, India can no more afford to give it up merely to buy peace with a belligerent neighbor than it can Kerala.

    However we cannot afford to keep it the way we have tried so far; by subterfuge and rigging elections as the congress did under Mrs. Gandhi and her son before or by brute force under Jagmohan later.
    Nor can we afford to subdue the ruthless militancy by a greater ruthlessness of the state as we did in Punjab in the 1990s. (The circumstances were very different there and we got lucky that once but luck can not be made a state policy).
    If we continue on that path we may or may not keep Kashmir for ever but we certainly will not become the Repulic that the founding fathers envisioned in 1950.

    Something has to change. There is no question that the current unrest has to be dealt firmly and people attacking public property or those inducing others to do so will have to be isolated, arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law; even in special courts if necessary; in the long run an average Kashmiri has to believe in the Indian Union. The laws on the books have to come out and protect the innocent even as the guilty will have to be punished, very severely if they must be; but in full public glare.

    Though it is often tempting or even satisfying at a visceral level to eliminate the obvious criminals quickly in ‘encounters’ and forced disappearances; at the end of the day such tactics weaken the very state they claim to protect. One invaluable casualty of such short term tactics is the state’s credibility.

    It is a sad legacy of such inept measures exercised as a state policy over the years that we are seeing a situation where even an accidental drowning of a couple of young women can cause the rumor mongers to incite an uprising as happened last year.
    We took decades to slide into such a sorry state and it will take years of patient and brutally honest yet firm handling to get out of it.
    That Pakistani army or the ISI found an opening in Kashmir is our own fault; they are a symptom of our callousness; once we fix what we need to then they will have no role to play even if they liked.

    If we do it right this time, the rewards are enormous. It would be a big step towards making India a truly representative democracy of equals; bound into a Union by shared belief in the integrity of the state based on just laws and secular values.

    Regards.

  62. karun1

    Pakistan has been lying about the role of the ISI in fomenting terror in the region
    Vir Sanghvi

    ************************************************
    There is an increasing disconnect between the government of India’s attitude to Pakistan and the view of most educated Indians. The disconnect has been most apparent in the recriminations that have followed the failure of the Indo-Pak foreign minister’s summit. And each day brings new evidence – such as the Wikileaks documents – that seems to undermine the government’s approach.

    To be fair, the official Indian approach sounds reasonable. The government says that India cannot hope to be one of the great powers of the 21st century if it continues to engage in pointless hostility with a small neighbour. It is, therefore, important to improve relations with Pakistan. Obviously, this will not happen overnight. But it is vital to continue with a process of engagement that results in confidence-building measures, in such symbolic gestures as the release of fishermen and in tiny incremental steps that improve the overall atmosphere. When both sides narrow what Manmohan Singh calls the ‘trust deficit’, then perhaps some real progress will be possible.

    Educated Indians take a different view. They argue that there is only one compelling reason to talk to Pakistan: to put an end to cross-border terrorism. If Pakistan is serious about improving relations with India, then there is only one confidence-building measure that matters: a crackdown on those who murder and maim innocent Indian civilians.

    What’s worse, say many Indians, is that the Pakistan government is not only unwilling to stop terrorists from coming across the border but that elements within the regime are actually master-minding the terrorist operations. It makes no sense to talk of people-to-people contacts and cultural exchanges when Pakistani interests are already waging a proxy war against India. Any talks that do not result in an end to terror are worthless.

    This position is the exact opposite of the government’s. For instance, the foreign ministry now suggests that the collapse of the last round of talks had something to do with the home secretary’s statement that the 26/11 Bombay attacks were – at least, according to David Headley – an ISI operation. The foreign ministry says that the home secretary’s assertion was ‘hundred per cent correct’ but that he should not have said anything about Pakistani-inspired terrorism on the eve of the talks.

    That view demonstrates the distance between the two positions. The Indian public will only support the talks if we tackle the issue of terrorism head-on. The government of India, on the other hand, believes that we should not even mention terrorism for fear of upsetting the Pakistanis and damaging the dialogue process.

    The government’s position would have more credibility if the foreign ministry could offer us any assurances that an incremental approach to improving relations will lead to a reduction in terror. In fact, the government is in no position to offer any such assurances. There have been so many confidence-building measures over the last two decades that by now both sides should be brimming with confidence. But the terrorism continues to get worse.

    The response of the Pakistanis to India’s overtures this time around also suggests that Islamabad has no real interest in tackling the terror problem. The Pakistan foreign minister spoke insultingly about his Indian counterpart and – most revealingly – compared the Indian home secretary to Hafiz Sayeed. When a politician can no longer tell the difference between a bureaucrat and a terrorist, you know that his country is in serious trouble.

    But even if we were to accept that the Pakistanis are serious about improving relations, there are practical problems. First of all, the official position of the government of Pakistan is that it is also a victim of terror and is, therefore, unable to stamp out the terrorist threat to India, largely because it lacks the ability to do so. Secondly, it is not clear that the civilian government – the people we speak to – counts for very much. Real power appears to reside with the army whose chief was given an extension shortly after the summit collapsed. Thirdly, there is evidence to suggest that many of the terror groups are led and financed by retired Generals who pursue their own private foreign policies. They do not consider themselves bound by their foreign minister’s commitments.

    And fourthly, there is the most obvious problem: the Pakistanis have a history of lying about their support to terrorist groups within the region.

    Last week, a huge cache of 90,000 records of incidents and intelligence reports from the Afghan conflict was leaked to the Internet site, Wikileaks. While this is raw intelligence that has not been fully processed, some revelations are worrying. The documents suggest that Pakistan has been secretly supporting the Taliban and sheltering such leaders as Osama Bin Laden while simultaneously lying to the Americans about its activities. These intelligence reports also indicate that the ISI has been using the Haqqani network to launch terror attacks on Indians in Afghanistan. One such attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul resulted in the death of 54 people, including our defence attaché.

    Moreover, the documents record the movements of such figures as General Hamid Gul, an India-hating former head of ISI, who appears to be pursuing his own agenda while liaising with terrorist groups.

    The consensus in the US is that while every bit of intelligence in the raw files cannot be treated as gospel truth, the sheer mass of evidence that Pakistan is financing and arming terrorists to attack Indians (and Americans, for that matter) is too strong to be dismissed.

    These revelations will confirm the worst fears of most Indians. Every doubt we had is justified: the military does call the shots; retired Generals pursue their own agendas with private armies and Pakistan has been lying to both India and America about the role of the ISI in fomenting terror in the region.

    In the light of all this, the government’s approach makes less and less sense. Why bother with a polite step-by-step engagement with Pakistan when the situation is so grave? Pakistan is busy sending terrorists to kill Indians while cheerfully lying to the world about the activities of the ISI and its army?

    It is not necessary to be a Hindu communalist or a Pakistan hater to recognise that India is wasting its time. The government needs to listen to the views of its own people. We do not want war. We do not believe in needless hostility.

    But equally, we simply do not see the point of this pointless charade. Peace with Pakistan is a laudable aim. But one country cannot make peace by itself. And as long as the other continues to kill our people, all attempts at a high-level dialogue come across less as peaceful initiatives and more as signs of weakness.

    If not outright stupidity.

  63. Dastagir

    RSS will destroy India – and the Mullah will destroy Pakistan.

    That is the destiny of SE Asia. No amount of intellectual input / capital / corrective-measures will help… why ? Because the people have been fed .. (brought up) on manufactured hatred for “the other”. This cyanide-injection 24×7 over the years will extract a price.

    And what will the price be ? Total Destruction or Sarva-Naash.

  64. Sadia Hussain

    Our supreme national interest lies in fighting religious extremism which has plagued our society. Unless we transform Pakistan into a vibrant, tolerant progressive society the current turmoil is unlikely to end.

  65. Tilsim

    @ Sadia

    Well said. It would be good to come up with a practical list of things to do on a day to day individual level. Here is a start:

    1) Educate yourself about Islam – at least enough that you don’t need a mullah to teach your kids.

    2) Challenge everything that one hears that sounds literalist or unethical in the name of Islam.

    3) Don’t vote for extremist parties.

    4) Treat religious gatherings with an open mind; don’t leave your critical faculties at the door. Listen carefully to what is being said, what is the motivation. Does it make sense and enhance you?

    5) Challenge bigotry everywhere whether it’s against other muslims or non-muslims.

    6) Don’t fund charities without asking questions.

    7) Protest against extremism at every opportunity -even if it’s in blogs/newspapers

    8) Know what the extremist ideologies say. Identify their suited merchants. Point them out to others.

    9) Try to develop a community of like-minded people.

    10) Take a poor child (or more) out of madrassah and pay his fees in a proper school.

  66. Good one Raza. Caught my eye only today.

    @Vijay Goel, I agree and disagree with your contention that “religion now plays no role in Indian Society whatever effort RSS may try to rope in the NRI IT professionals.”

    On one hand, yes we have indeed managed to steer clear of the saffron brigade at the political level, I am sorry to note that this neo-rich IT crowd is right behind the sangh, and what’s more, pumping in funds from all over the world!

    I see it as a serious threat in the long-term, although we could afford to laugh them off in the short-term!

  67. @Gorki

    “However I believe how we handle the Kashmir issue will decide what kind of a Republic we will become in the coming years.”

    It’s not only applicable to Kashmir. I have recently written an article on my blog. You can find it here. http://www.indianliberals.org/?p=253

    The question I ask there is what’s in it for the Kashmiris or any other state or separatist movements for that matter, the remain with India? And I believe the answer is in autonomy – a governance structure similar to the USA or the EU.

    It is a vast issue and I don’t know whether I have articulated my argument well but it sure tries to address your question.