Friday, January 8, 2010

NO PRICE IS TOO HIGH, JUST 'LOVE PAKISTAN'

Should anyone be surprised that after sweet-talking gullible Indian intellectuals and media stars into believing that he genuinely wanted friendship with India, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has bared his real Pakistani fangs? Reiterating his father-in-law's famous words that Pakistan would wage "a thousand-year war" over Kashmir which is "Pakistan's jugular vein", Zardari has warned India that this was a war of ideologies that would last for generations.

Is this mere rhetoric? Is Zardari making a noise just to please a constituency? Or is it, as by now should have been clear to even the most dumb-headed, a plain reiteration of a core reality that India has refused to recognise and deal with conclusively?

Zardari's statement comes a few days after the Prime Minister's Working Group on Kashmir - it hadn't met for over two years - submitted a report recommending greater autonomy for the state, and amidst reports that the government was talking quietly to separatist Kashmiri leaders to come up with some half-baked, surrender-based solution to bring peace back to the Valley.

In TV studio discussions following the submission of the report, mainstream Kashmiri politicians made it very clear, for the millionth time, that no real solution is possible unless Pakistan is made party to it. While some of them were airing the 'ideological', read communal, line that defines Pakistan's claim on Kashmir, others clearly had the reality of the situation on ground in mind, a reality that has taken deep roots, thanks to a confused and paralysed Indian leadership that reacts mechanically after every terror attack but has never given serious thought to putting Pakistan out of business in Kashmir.

A couple of days back, terrorists struck in the heart of Srinagar and engaged the security forces in a 20-hour gun battle. These two gunmen, like those of Mumbai 26/11, were in contact with their handlers in Pakistan. As per reports, this was not an isolated fidayeen attack. It was a part of a larger plan supported by the military to step up terror attacks in Kashmir. As many as 700 trained terrorists are waiting to stage more such and worse attacks. This may be to pressurise the US to pressurise India into giving fatal concessions on Kashmir. But, more fundamentally and enduringly, it is to warn India and Kashmiris that Pakistan will not let Kashmir slip away from its fingers, no matter what. Zardari was not shooting his mouth off.

Unfortunately, India's intellectuals and media lights have been hell-bent on leading India and Indians up just the path that Pakistan would want them to take. And it seems that they are not likely to give up their efforts anytime soon, no matter what Pakistan does or says to provoke India.

The latest in this manifestly carefully coordinated and well orchestrated strategy is what The Times of India unleashed on its unsuspecting readers on the first day of the new decade. On January 01, 2010, I was jolted when I looked at the Times of India. "Love Pakistan" were the two bold words in black that the management of the newspaper forced lakhs of Indians to stare at on its front page. A few pigeons flying above the explanatory print made the picture almost morbid.

Ostensibly, this was to tell India that the TOI and Pakistan's Jang Group were re-launching that completely worn-out 'people-to-people' -which people? - contact program in the form of "cross-border cultural interactions, business seminars, music and literary festivals and citizens meets" that would once again do little more than fill newspaper columns and entertain the well-heeled and well-protected in both countries. But TOI wanted all Indians to "Love Pakistan" already, barely a little more than a year after 26/11 and with no evidence whatsoever to show that the state of Pakistan had shed even a trace of its congenital hatred for India. Even then, well before Zardari's reality-check, to me those pigeons looked like innocent Indians being brought down by terrorists indoctrinated and trained by Pakistan, shouting 'Love Pakistan'.

This enervating disease of pretending that the DNA of the state of Pakistan will change if a few Indians and Pakistanis hug each other and enjoy a musical evening together, and that there is little more that India needs to do to protect itself and its citizens, had already cost India dear. This reality-defying belief is not limited to the TOI alone. It is endemic to the media that has got obsessed with creating emotional images padded with words that should find place in only mediocre works of fiction.

Karan Thapar, the otherwise terrorising interviewer, loses his fangs and even elementary commonsense when it comes to Pakistan. Last year, when he interviewed Pervez Musharraf, so fascinated was he by the latter's sartorial elegance that he completely failed to read the very dangerous statements that he made about more Kargils, Indian Muslims and the continuing role of the LeT, not just in Kashmir but in the rest of India. The same thing happened at the HT summit when he literally hand-held Zardari to make dove-like statements, and then asked India, in gushing-schoolboy fashion, to trust him.

Shekhar Gupta wants Indians to believe that helping Pakistan win its internal war on terror is in "India's supreme national interest". He also wants India to buy the preposterous argument that a strong Pakistan, the state that is waging an ideological war against that with the sole aim of winning it even of it takes generations, is in India's interest and that India must make whatever concessions are needed to strengthen the democratic government in that country.

It is beyond belief that India's so-called intellectuals keep finding absolutely non-existent grounds for beating Pakistan's drum and preventing India from doing anything that can put a decisive end to this existential threat that it has been confronting for decades now. Despite the fact that Pakistan has joined all the dots and left not no space for doubt about its intentions by its numerous acts, some of us want to keep pretending that Pakistan is the poor victim of terror and that once India gives in to its demands on Kashmir in a manner that is visible to ordinary Pakistanis, all will be well and TOI's campaign will then define the relationship between the two nations.

I may be wrong, but the more I see the manner in which India is refusing to take any logical steps to protect itself as it should and terminate this religious war-of-generations in this generation itself, the more I am convinced that this has less to do with Pakistan and more to do with harmful-to-India and potentially inflammatory manipulation of the dynamics of India's democracy, and the unbridled lust of its politicians to get to power in Delhi, no matter what the cost and damage to the nation.

In 1971, Indira Gandhi dismembered Pakistan. That should have, and to an extent did, put an end to this war that virtually defines Pakistan. But she lost in Shimla on trust what India's sons had won on the battlefield with blood. And now, nearly three decades later, a heavy price is still being paid for that lapse.

Surely, no one can disagree that such an ideological war can only be won by defeating the very ideology that is sustaining it. The Americans may not be going about the task in the best manner but they have understood that elementary truth. In India, on the other hand, what we are seeing is exactly the opposite; we are being told that this war can actually be won by trusting and strengthening the one who is fighting it against us.

Manifestly, there are powerful elements in India's political landscape who do not want Pakistan and, thereby, the idea behind it, to be defeated. These can only be those elements whose own strength and bargaining power is derived from the strength of Pakistan, not India. If there is no Pakistan, those who created it out of thin air will begin to look like small, obdurate men who were unable to stop living in the past, in another century and world. Even worse, those who are now trying to sustain it with the garb of jihad will show up for what they really are: uncivilised men fit to rule in an ignorant 15th century, not in an aware 21st. That will be a body blow from which recovery will be almost impossible and further decline precipitous.

It is evidently this group that has the ears of the present leadership of the Congress that has virtually no connect with India. It seems to have successfully managed to sell to it the story that if it does anything to weaken Pakistan, it will lose the votes of Indian Muslims. Conversely, Muslim votes - and electoral victory - can be its for the asking only if it props and helps hold together a Pakistan on the brink of collapse, no matter that it will mean shedding even more Indian blood to the ideology that is programmed to keep drawing it till its last breath. This group has also apparently convinced the leadership that Hindu votes and sentiments are irrelevant if they can be kept divided, that Hindu right is poisonous and that the only antidote to it is Muslim votes that can be delivered to it en bloc. For a 'small' price, of course.

That famous "maut ke saudagar" remark of Sonia Gandhi during the Gujarat elections of 2007, the Sachar and Ranganath Commissions, and the systematic media campaign that is attempting to psyche Indians into believing that no price is too high for gaining Pakistan's 'friendship', all appear to be a part of well-thought out election strategy prepared by the Congress think tank to ensure that it is well poised, with the help of Muslim votes, to thwart any challenge to it in the elections that are due to be held in 2014.

Had Indira Gandhi been alive today, would the TOI have dared to brazenly ask India to "Love Pakistan"? Would she have allowed Pakistan to regain its strength and will to mount and sustain the most serious and as yet unanswered challenge to India after Partition? Would she have let things come to this sorry pass where some individuals could gather the courage to even suggest that votes of some Indians could be ensured only if they were routed via Pakistan?

Something has gone seriously wrong somewhere. India's leaders after Indira have paid scant attention to an increasingly dangerous Pakistan and harmless-looking insects who are actually termites furiously at work below the surface. India has paid and is paying the price for this failure. And, as things stand now, it looks as if the scenario will get far worse before it begins to get any better. Be prepared for much bigger shocks in the build-up to elections 2014. A wave has to be generated. No matter what it takes.

Picture source: The Times of India
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Related reading:
1. A year after 26/11, calls for a strong Pakistan
2. Don't " beggar-my-buggering-neighbour"; strengthen him
3. Akbar turns Jinnah, asks for a Muslim state
4. Musharraf's shockers on terror, Kashmir and Indian Muslims