I had posted a short version of this post on my personal website which quite unexpectedly drew the attention of several Indian internet warriors on their cyber-raths. It is a message that needs to be shared here. I have therefore decided to expand this and say what needs to be said. I have always supported India-Pakistan dialogue and the peace process and the purpose of this post is not to demean India or Indians but to express the shock that many of us – peaceniks – have experienced in the recent days. I have been accused of being ‘soft’ on India and constantly under attack by jingoists in Pakistan. Therefore it pains us to see such displays of insularity, indifference and isolates us with the remarks: “see we told you so….”
Manmohan Singh whom I have always held in high regard, disappointed millions in South Asia with his distastefully ill-timed hard talk during his Independence day address. As if Pakistan’s current misery was a time to blow India’s power-trumpet.
In fact the blackout in Indian media about Pakistan’s dire floods’ situation is amazing. Major newsmagazines such as India Today and Outlook are silent and the national newspapers have not covered much except the same old hackneyed stuff on terror, terrorism and what a major threat Pakistan is to shining India. In times of Pakistan’s crisis, the least Mr Singh could have done was not to indulge in jingoism. But he had to appease the arsenal of a nation-state (similar to what we have to do here at such occasions).
I have been getting several emails from Indian media persons and friends who have expressed their shock and sympathy for Pakistan. Many across the border have also complained how the TV channels have hardly reported on the mass-scale misery and potential instability. They have learnt stuff from foreign media or the internet.
But the Indian state remains insular and fixated on the Mumbai mantra. In fact, Pakistan’s instability will have repercussions for the entire region. It is time that Indians realised that Pakistan is suffering and beating it when it is down is not a very gracious thing to do. This is why one did not expect such conduct from the soft-spoken, astute Mr Singh.
The offer of USD 5 million is a gesture marked by its lack of appreciation of the calamity we are facing. The losses are now estimated at over 20 billion, with 77 districts submerged or devastated and over twenty million people out in the open sky. What stopped the doves within the Indian establishment to send trains or planes of relief goods? The ‘offer’ politics and knowing that Pakistani establishment may just reject it (proving the ex-RAW analysts and RSS wallas right) is hardly a ‘humanitarian’ act. It is still time to rectify this conduct in times of our crisis rather than point scoring.
While rejecting peace talks until Pakistan did more, Mr Singh surely was also unaware of what the patriotic Indian poet, Ali Sardar Jafri had written years ago –Dialogue Souldn’t Cease. Here is an Urdu version with a full translation. Perhaps, someone should pass a copy of this poem to the exalted Prime Minister of India.
GUFTGOO BAnD NA HO
BAAT SE BAAT CHALEY
SUBH TAK SHAAM-E-MULAAQAAT CHALEY
HUM PE HAnSTI HUEE
YE TAAROn BHARI RAAT CHALEY
WO JO ALFAAZ KE HAATOn MEIn HAI SAnG-E-DUSHNAAM
TanZ CHALKAAYE TO CHALKAAYAA KAREIn ZAHR KE JAAM
TEEKHI NAZREIn HOOn
TURSH ABROO-E-KHAMDAAR RAHEY
BAN PADEY JAISEY BHI DIL SEENOn MEIn BE-DAAR RAHEY
BE-BASI HARF KO ZANJEER BA-PAA KAR NA SAKEY
KOI QAATIL HO MAGAR QATL-E-NAWAA KAR NA SAKEY
SUBH TAK DHAL KE KOI HARF-E-WAFAA AAYEGAA
ISHQ AAYEGAA BA-SAD LAGHZISH-E-PAA AAYEGAA
NAZREIn JHUK JAAYEInGI
KHAMUSHI BOSA-E-LUB BAN KE BAHAK JAAYEGI
SIRF GHUNCHOn KE CHATAKNEY KI SADAA AAYEGI
AUR PHIR HARF-O-NAWAA KI NA ZAROORAT HOOGI
CHASHM-O-ABROO KE ISHAAROn MEIn MOHABBAT HOGI
NAFRAT UTH JAAYEGI, MEHMAAN MURAWWAT HOGI
HAATH MEIn HAARH LIYE, SAARAA JAHAAn SAATH LIYE
TUM………………………………PYAAR KI SAUGHAAT LIYE
REGZAAROn SE ADAAWAT KE GUZAR JAAYEInGEY
KHOOn KE DARYAA SE HUM PAAR UTAR JAAYEIn
GEGUFTGOO BAnD NA HO
Dialogue shouldn’t cease;
let the talk go on,
let the evening of [our] meet persist till the arrival of morn,
let this starry night pass on joyfully.
Let the stone of abuse be in the hands of words;
let the cups of poison spill ridicule;
let the sights be irate;
let the eyebrows be raised;
[yet, we must see] that our hearts, somehow, keep beating.
The helplessness shouldn’t be allowed to chain the words;
no killer but he should be permitted to murder the voice.
Some vow of loyalty, fully moulded, will arrive by the morn;
the love will arrive, albeit limping, yet it certainly will;
the sights will elude meeting sights [out of modesty],
the heart beats will increase,
the lips will tremble;
the silence will turn into a kiss and go astray;
only the sound of the blooming of buds will linger;
and the need of words and voice won’t remain
[for] the liaison of love will be carried on with [the help of] the signs of eyes and eyebrows;
the hatred will vanish, the kindness will arrive.
Holding hands in hands;
in the company of the entire world,
we’ll go across the deserts of repugnance;
we’ll cross over the river of blood.
Dialogue shouldn’t cease.