Whose demons should we fight?May 6th, 2011
Our part of the world is quite similar to a classroom where US is the aging class teacher who is desperately trying to control it’s students. Pakistan is one of it’s students who is obviously the bad boy of the class and India is like a self appointed monitor of this class who can only tell the class teacher of all the wrong doings of Pakistan but can’t do anything beyond that. The class teacher also knows all this very well but has not been able to reign in the bad boy so far.
The bad boy listens to the teacher although only when he feels like but gives two hoots to the monitor since the monitor himself is basically a weakling. So much so, that despite the fact that monitor is much bigger to the bad boy in size he goes and punches the monitor when he’s not looking. Now, instead of doing something about it the monitor in turn goes and complains to the teacher hoping that he’d do something. The teacher sermons the bad boy but feels that he cannot punish him beyond a point because he’s scared that the bad boy may become a complete rebel. So the teacher tries to talk/coerce/explain to the bad boy about what all this might lead to. He even tries to lure him with candies, chocolates, ice creams and stuff. The bad boy, in return, promises to behave himself, but just about, till he’s caught doing something nasty again by the class teacher or the self appointed monitor or someone else in the class or from other sources in the school, after which the entire routine is repeated all over again.
Though the way things were, it was not exactly a happy situation but everyone found it to be an acceptable one, basically because they were scared of going too far. But things have changed now. And quite drastically at that. The bad boy has been caught red handed by the class teacher hiding a known criminal in his closet. Though the criminal has been taken care of it is the bad boy who is in deep trouble now. He doesn’t know how to explain to the class teacher as to how the criminal got into his closet. He tries to give some vague excuses that the criminal sneaked into his closet on his own and he didn’t know that the criminal was hiding there but no one is impressed, least of all the class teacher. The monitor, on his part, is less happy about the criminal being taken care of since it was not of any direct consequence to him, but more than happy about the bad boy being caught with the criminal. He again goes to the teacher and says- I told you so. Please do something about it. The bad boy has more criminals in his closet.
What India, as the self appointed weak monitor, does not realize is that it is not the job of the class teacher (US) to ensure that the weak monitor shares a good relationship with the bad boy (Pakistan). His primary job is to ensure that there is discipline in his class even if two of his students don’t like each other. And therefore, if India wants to improve relations with Pakistan or wants to make the Pakis mend their ways the onus is on India itself and not on the US. But here too there’s a catch. The monitor fails to appreciate the fact that the bad boy is beyond reproach, as of now at least.
The roots of extremism sponsored by Pakistan have got so deeply intertwined with the very fabric of the state that it now affects their society as a whole. This dangerous fact of life was amply demonstrated by the hardliners when they killed Punjab governor Salman Taseer and minority affairs Christian minister Shahbaz Bhatti quite recently over the proposed amendments to the blasphemy law. Not to forget that hatred towards India is one all pervasive feeling which is used by successive flailing powers that be in Pakistan to effectively deflect attention from it’s own crimes and shortcomings. And therefore, given the internal compulsions and contradictions within the country, it is absolutely ridiculous to expect Pakis to come out clean and shake our ever so outstretched hand of friendship. Also, it is not India’s job to try and resolve internal contradictions within Pakistan.
It is therefore high time India realized that we cannot keep oscillating between our two contradictory approaches to the problem, the first one being the ever complaining, ever whining “I told you so” approach and the second being “I’ll try and talk it out with the bad boy even as I keep saying ‘I told you so’ “. Mind you, as any class teacher would, US too is sick of our whining and complaining. They want us to take care of own problems on our own. Just that that they do not want us to upset the whole applecart and disturb the complete decorum of the classroom.
After the killing of Osama Bin Laden in plush and secure surroundings of Abottabad just next door to a huge military establishment, whatever little doubts anyone on this planet may have had about Pak army’s and ISI’s involvement with terrorists have now been completely removed. Pak’s claim of they themselves being engaged in fighting terrorism is quite hollow because they’re only fighting those who are out to strike terror inside Pakistan only, primarily Tehreek-e-Taliban which comprises of Pakistani Pashtuns. The others, who are engaged in terrorist activities in India or anywhere else in the world are their friends, guides and instruments to further their own political agendas.
As I mentioned in my previous post Did Pakistan know about American plans? it is an absolutely no-brainer that if these terrorist organizations are flourishing in Pakistan they surely enjoy the confidence of their chief of army staff Gen Ashfaq Kayani because if they don’t, then he’s either the biggest nincompoop on this side of pacific or is a complete fool. And I’d like to believe that he’s neither of the two. Actually, he’s pretty smart. Smart enough to have fooled the Americans in particular and the world in general about his real intentions and modus operandi. Well, the Americans have become much saner now after this killing. We, on the other hand, may take a while to come to our senses and realize that talking to this gentleman or his successor or anyone else from the security apparatus of Pakistan is absolutely foolhardy. If we still want to court these people it’ll only prove to the world that we’re not only weak in our resolve but also pretty stupid as well.
Not just this, we even need to stop all other efforts of so called bilateral talks and Aman ki Asha etc which have no meaning whatsoever, especially after this episode. We’ve to realize that there’s no point trying to talk to the bad boy till such time he continues to keep company of or work with criminals. I mean, is it too difficult for us to appreciate a simple fact that if Pakis won’t give up the world’s most wanted man even to a power like US, it surely won’t give up lesser mortals like Hafiz Saeed, Dawood Ibrahim, Tiger Memon, Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi etc to it’s arch rival India? They just won’t. Period. So what the hell are we talking to them about? Importing onions or what?
As you guys would appreciate, neither the monitor nor the class teacher can change the basic character of a bad boy. They can only help the boy to a certain extent. In fact, the monitor can only make the bad boy behave and that too by using a stick or words to that effect. The monitor also needs to understand that since the class teacher is not around all the time he’ll have to learn to take matters in his own hand. It is for this reason that I say that instead of taking troops out of Kashmir, we need to move a couple of brigades into Kashmir, primarily on the borders, which’ll force them to undertake a complete redeployment of security forces within Pakistan. Or we can also undertake covert operations like the Americans did, as all news channels are talking about. That is what will shake the Pakis up while it won’t really upset the complete applecart.
Everyone has to deal with his or her own demons on their own. No one can do it for them. America also has to and is indeed fighting it’s demons, somewhat successfully. Pakistan is only putting up a facade of fighting it’s demons whereas they’re not. India, sadly, is neither fighting it’s demons nor putting up a facade of trying to. Instead, we’re trying to fight Pak’s demons to try and resolve their internal contradictions by efforts like Aman Ki Asha or reaching out to Kayani, efforts which are doomed to fail. We don’t understand that Pakis in general will not start loving India because some of us want them to. If anyone has the right and the capability to do that, it’s the Pak govt not us. If anything, it’s their job not ours. And that’s the most ridiculous irony of it all? We Indians want to fight Pak’s demons while we want the Americans to fight ours. Stupid, to say the least.
It is therefore quite surprising to see people like Dileep Padgaonkar of Times of India and Mihir Sharma of Indian Express say that we need to continue engaging Pak, may be even more than what we were doing till now. In his column Pak Discomfiture No Solace For India Dileep Padgaonkar says
“There is no alternative for us but to engage with that country with due regard for it’s own nationalist sentiment”
Sorry, Mr Padgaonkar but there are other alternatives. There always are. And why should we worry about Pak’s nationalistic sentiment if it involves undying love for hardliners? That’s their own demon, not ours, remember?
Mr Mihir Sharma too echoes the same sentiment in his column The House Next Door. He even goes on to say we should increase economic relations with Pak and accord each other Most Favoured Nation status. Though technically, it doesn’t mean much but saying that Pakistan is our Most Favoured Nation is repulsive to say the very least. And what impact will increased trade have in the immediate future? Will Pakistan stop exporting terror just because we buy their onions and spices? Crazy for anyone to believe that.
Before I sign off let me just say that given the way the bad boy is fast embracing doom, we may not need to go to war with Pakistan at all. Pakistan may well soon be at a full scale war with itself. That’s the way the cookie crumbles..