A comment was made by one reader on the link for the article by Vir Sanghvi here at Drishtikone. The article was about how different India was from Pakistan and how it is not useful to compare both. The commenter, Vinod Dhall, however, suggested that Pakistan is like an “estranged cousin” and India should “help” Pakistan out at this moment of their crisis instead of feeling great looking from this side of the border.
Some Indians have been obsessed with Pakistan and our relationship with the country on the Western border. There are a lot of links:
- Speak the same or similar languages: Gujarati, Hindi/Urdu, Punjabi, Sindhi
- Have very similar rituals, eating habits and wedding procedures.
- Have cross-over families amongst the Muslims.
- Are very similar in outlook in certain areas.
These similarities and the historical relation have fawned two types of “Pakistan Lovers” in India:
1. Akhand Bharat proponents: These are the Hindutva folks who keep thinking of an Akhand Bharat from Afghanistan to Assam. Little do they realize that land is not just land. But people as well. And substantial number of people in those areas to the West of our border and specifically in anyplace west of Islamabad are brainwashed Jehadis. To integrate such people into your own country is DISASTROUS, to say the least. Pakistan wanted and fought for an Islamic Republic.. and irrespective whether they thought of such a bunch of people would be gaining strength or not…. it was a certainty given the intolerant streak in Wahabi Islam throughout history.
The only Islamic – theology – based countries that have had a modicum of civilized existence have been those who have vowed to remain Secular! So, intolerance is part and parcel of most theology based Governments in general, and Islamic theology based societies in particular.
So as far as aggregating such a society into ours is concerned? Thanks but no thanks.
2. Indo-Paki bhai bhai: After all these years that the animosity has been occuring, this ‘cousin’ and ‘family’ logic doesn’t hold good anymore. There are elements on both sides that have moved far away from each other despite the similarities.
There is a very strong reason why India has only worked with democracy and Pakistan has never had a full term of democratic government. That remains the main difference. Not the friendship should not be pursued. That is a must. In fact, a prosperous Pakistan is in India’s best interest. For, those who are prosperous are generally not so much into fighting over religion (although its not always a verity). But the more stable Pakistan is, the better environment it helps create in the region.
However, having said that, if some country’s top leadership intentionally takes a turn that is negative and destructive – which the Pakistani Army and ISI combine took with Zia ul Haq, Gen Aslam Beg, and Hamid Gul in the 1980s and 90s and that destructive ideology is aimed at you directly, then there is little room for a “brotherly” relationship – the kind that may be existing between say, Switzerland and Germany of today. At best, both the countries will have to co-exist in a pragmatic relationship. A relationship that understands the undercurrents and the limitations of both the sides.
We have had one leader who went on this “brotherly love” path – ex Prime Minister IK Gujral – and virtually helped anihilate the Indian intelligence structure in Pakistan, which has hurt us in being prepared for the attacks like Mumbai ones on 26/11.
Running a country and government is serious stuff. It cannot be and should not be run on emotions.
I think friendship between two – any two – countries should be pursued, but we cannot hold our own morality or lives responsible for the rift if it happens. For example, Pakistanis have a contant grievance against India on Kashmir and swear by “Independence of Kashmir”. I not only find it hypocritical but downright stupid to even indulge in such a discussion. Kashmir WAS independent in 1947 even AFTER the Partition. Until, of course, the Pakistanis thought that it was their chance to just grab it because the “majority was Muslim”. THAT is when the Indian Army descended on Srinagar to push the Pakistani Army back to where it is today. If we had had a better leader than Nehru – who would have listened to his Indian commander rather than get sucked (pun intended!) by Lady Mountbatten and her hubby into going to the UN, Kashmir would NOT have been a problem!
Well, in the normal parlance, the word “Freedom” and Independence means AS THEY ARE! The problem with Pakistani version of the word “Freedom” is that it means “Freedom to live under and ONLY under a Muslim rule”. Other than that the word Freedom loses its meaning altogether. THAT is why in my eyes, the Pakistani stand on Kashmir is PRIMA FACIE and inherently flawed and hypocritical to begin with.
I would like to acknowledge Pakistan as a separate country – something that Pakistanis have always wanted from Indians and held a long grievance against those who don’t acknowledge it so – and in no way look at it as an “extension” or “something to be merged into India” kind of a place. I think they have smart people to take care of their country and they should be able to deal with their destiny. I wish that country and its citizens well.
But at the same time, we have to make sure that the mess in that society and country does not create unnecessary issues and problems in our own country.
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