You cannot discuss and solve a relational issue if there is no relation at all or one that is at best acromonious. I have long believed that the issue between India and Pakistan is not Kashmir. But trust. And comfort and being together. India surely does not want Pakistan to go into chaos. But India still harbours the burns of the decades of cross border terrorism. To be fair – despite its own master-slave mentality to Bengalis – Pakistanis still point to India as the villain of Bangladesh split.
The seeds that Zia ul Haq had sowed are blossoming now in his own country. He had used fanatical religious mentality to create “strategic depth” against India. The depth became so deep that the big hole started devouring Pakistan itself!
Last few months have been the most depressing in Pakistan’s short life span. There seemed no hope. Political opportunism writ large and strong as mathematical alignments were being worked out. In such an atmosphere, you would expect every politican to be opportunistic and short term oriented. That was what I expected. So, reading this article by Karan Thappar on Asif Zardari was a like a whiff of fresh air.
Like I said, Kashmir is NOT the issue. Trust is. Trust cannot be brought about by “saying” or speaking about it. It is brought about by years of engagement. Just as years of disengagement helps in losing trust. Never has Pakistani leadership thought on those lines. Until I read this piece. Zardari has a different – and I believe – the correct way to look at things!
When I asked about Kashmir and the role it has played separating India and Pakistan, Asif, in a simple heartfelt reply, reversed Pakistan’s stand. Let’s put Kashmir aside for a wiser generation to sort out, he said. Let’s not be hostage to the UN resolutions, he added. Let’s get on with the rest of the relationship and once we’ve learnt to live and love each other then tackle Kashmir.
Stunned, I made Asif repeat this three times. Not once did he use the opportunity to resile. Each time he re-affirmed what he’d said. Finally, I asked: “Can you carry your countrymen? Can you handle the backlash this would provoke?”
The answer to Karan’s last question was a very simple one “That’s the test of leadership”. Indeed. Specially for a person whose wife has just been slain – in most probability – by people with that same fanatical mentality who are surely going to gun for him for his stance.
Only time will tell if this is just a flourish or a harbinger of change in long term. I wish its the latter.
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