Today the foreign ministers of Pakistan and India will meet. This major development should be welcomed. Sceptical noises of distrust in both countries have been heard and the Kashmiri leaders have issued rejectionist statements.
Subcontinental leaderships have time and again floundered peace. Sometimes it is the recklessness on the Pakistani side and at other times the Indian officialdom chants the trust-deficit mantra. But this must end. Media wisdom about the BJP and the Pakistan military making a durable peace deal has not withstood the test of history. Democracy and peace are interlinked despite the compulsions of playing to the jingoists for electoral gains. In Pakistan, martial rule is over and a BJP government is unlikely in the medium term.
It is time for the two governments to take stock of their fast changing societies and economies. Unlike the mediatised versions, Pakistan is a transformational society. The old governance structures are decaying and power is now distributed among multiple centres, not unlike India. This is why the foreign ministers should negotiate the lifting of media restrictions and let the two countries and their people understand each other. Continue reading
In four years, standby to greet Prime Minister Narendra Modi
By Jawed Naqvi | Crosspost from Dawn, 29 Mar, 2010
A big race, probably the biggest that India is mandated to hold, was kicked off last week. It could usher Narendra Modi or Rahul Gandhi as prime minister in 2014 when elections are due, if not before. And since Modi has the unqualified support of major industrialists who know the art, shall we say, of financing parties, lobbying for MPs, and influencing key policies, there is little reason to doubt who the corporate media would be backing when push comes to shove.
Gandhi, with his limited experience of NGOs in Amethi and Rae Bareli might find himself as the back-up. He is untested. Modi, on the other hand, has shown his worth to those who run democracy in India.
By Yasser Latif Hamdani
There are some fundamental truths that both Pakistanis and Americans need to understand about our mutual relationship especially in Afghanistan :
1. Pakistan and US are natural allies. I know the fashionable in India and the US like to talk of a “natural alliance” between their two countries but both India and the US must realize that theirs can be at best a mercantile relationship. Natural alliances are not necessarily based on hollow idealism and grandiose but ridiculous propositions like the “arcs of democracy”. If this was true, Pakistan and Russia would be natural allies but they are not. Natural alliances are based on convergence of geo-strategic objectives and in the case of Pakistan the long term interests of Pakistan and US will always coincide in this region. Continue reading
The Indian national song, Vande (or Bande) Mataram, has officially been accorded, at least since the time of independece, the same status in terms of reverence as the official national anthem ”Jana Gana Mana”. The song has a history of controversy surrounding it, surfacing from time to time, stretching back to much before Partition. What makes history relevant if not the present? Continue reading
By Jawed Naqvi
The expulsion of former Indian foreign minister Jaswant Singh from the Bharatiya Janata Party could not have come as a surprise to him. He had said last week that having written an adulatory account of Mohammad Ali Jinnah in his seminal book on the Quaid-i-Azam, he was ‘prepared for the noose.’ Continue reading
Jaswant Singh’s right-wing worldview can be partially pardoned for he has made an attempt to set the record straight. The vilification of Jinnah to the extent of presenting him as a demon in mainstream Indian discourse has received a severe blow. Singh also blames the stalwarts of Congress for Partition and this has been the independent view held by many historians. It is shameful that a right winger had to condone Jinnah but then someone had to take the first step in the popular domain. The earlier voice of H M Seervai was drowned in the cacophony of nation-state jingoism and because he was from a fringe community, his dispassionate views did not receive much attention. In fact many in India and Pakistan have no clue about Seervai.
So much for historiography and history in the bitterly divided and acrimonious South Asia. But things will change. As we move away from the horrors and traumas of Partition, many more voices will emerge that will look at the way history should be recorded – with evidence, dispassionate analysis and sobriety. Continue reading
The more I think about it, the more Jaswant Singh looks, sounds and acts like Colin Powell of India. Like Powell, Singh is a liberal in a right wing party and like Powell, Singh is a patriotic, military-man-turned-diplomat. And like Powell, Singh is now the target of the extreme right wing of his own party. RSS and BJP’s disgraceful action shows the narrowmindedness of these two parties. YLH
Aug. 19 (Bloomberg) — India’s main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party expelled Jaswant Singh, former finance and foreign minister, party chief Rajnath Singh said today from the northern town of Shimla.
The move by the Hindu-nationalist party comes after Singh praised Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of neighboring Pakistan, in his recent book on the leader, “Jinnah — India, Partition, Independence.” Continue reading