By Aziz A. Mubaraki,
Some Sixty-five years ago, an undivided nation was carved out into two indistinguishable nations, India and Pakistan. This was indeed a winding up gesture by an indolent empire, in its period of decline. As Apart from many other reasons World War II had broken the pecuniary standing of British Empire making it almost obligatory for the British policy makers to let go of India, for their own good. But this division on the map led to mass exodus across the newly formed border. Families were set-apart, precious land was left behind. Strenuous journey to the new countries began with zilch, but with a hope for a better prospect, and the Mephistophelean bloodshed between all sides made it a tart memory for most that still live on.
Movement across the border was comparatively easy in the initial years till the war of 1965, which was a result of the botched attempt by Pakistan’s “Operation Gibraltar”, launched in August 1965, according to which Pakistan Army’s 50th Airborne paratroopers and Pakistan Army’s guerrillas, infiltrated into Jammu and Kashmir (yes, don’t be surprised Kargil was not the first goof up), disguised as locals with the intention of fomenting an insurgency among Kashmiri’s. However, the strategy went wonky from the beginning as it was not well-synchronized and the infiltrators were soon found that led to the first war between neighbours. After 1971, the trust insufficiency plunged even lower. Due to seclusion from each other and misinformation vending by hawks on either side, generations of Pakistanis and Indians have hated each other.
Despite it all, the sane population on both sides are favoring the meeting between Mr. Singh and Mr. Shareef that is tipped to happen in the U S soon. It is undisputable that nothing significant has come out in the past and I am not sure what else is going to come, if the meeting goes ahead. But as Mr. Nawaz Shareef made some token gesture that he means peace, and we should be exploiting it to our advantage.
Whatever the outcome we must give peace a chance and engage in dialogues with the same neighbor we fought wars with, the same neighbor that media likes to label as our adversary, the same neighbor who has these days again taken prime seat as our enemy number one, while the “land grabbing” China and “Tamil killers” Sri Lankans shuffle along on second and third place. And for this accomplishment, along with giving credit to some of the politicians on both sides and their blemished policies, we must also pay tribute to the media on both sides. For nothing impacts people’s feelings faster than a clip on television showing the evil Pakistani shelling and how it is out to get us – vulnerable Indians.
In fact there are two ways to easily gather a crowd and a following in this country- one way is to promote uniting for someone or something, the other way is to unite against someone or something – unfortunately, the latter strategy seems to work improved than the former when it comes to our masses. Unite against some corruption, unite against rapes, unite against the mafia, unite against human Right Violations, against a politician – against America, against China and most importantly, against Pakistan.
Unfortunately, the discourse on Pakistan-India relations has been held hostage, since Independence, by military and militants from there and fundamentalists and hawks in India. It’s time we figure out which direction we want to walk towards. We cannot be advocating dialogue between the two nations during the evening bulletin and then preachify hate later at night during talk shows. If our media has collectively decided to be the more responsible one in this clash, then it should remain determined instead of joining the war-mongering bandwagon. When pointing fingers across the television screens at our neighbor, we must remain alert about our own response as well. Where a large chunk of our media outlets have been praised for their mature reaction compared to their counterpart, some of our “news” channels couldn’t help flare up the issue further either? And this recipe could turn more disastrous than profitable in the long run. A tit for tat with the counterpart is no reason to brainwash millions into believing that all their troubles begin and end with Pakistan. Both nations are nuclear powers – one hopes any media, person, institution or group that calls for war or even casually mentions it’s possibility, also realizes the consequences of one in this day and era.
I firmly believe that the only way for normalization in relations between the two countries is through continuation of dialogues and people-to-people contacts. It is time that we move on, towards a pleasurable future and learn to cohabitate with our neighbors. It is also essential that the budget we have been spending on our defence purposes for the last 65 years should be diverted towards public developmental strategies. The common man won’t gain from petty politics or hostilities; hence why fill his mind with those notions when instead we could be uniting for some semblance of peace.
The author is Member, Advisory Committee, Airport Authority of India (NSC), Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India.