Love not thy neighbour!

The tale of two nations runs thus: Not very long ago, in mid-August, 1947 were born twins from the womb of history. Conjoined at the head, the twins were surgically separated and went their own ways, but the wounds continue to bleed profusely to this day. And, while India’s much touted tryst with destiny has unfolded in varying hues over the last six decades, Pakistan’s has been an inexorable march in only one direction: A tryst with terror.

In many ways it can be said that the destinies of the Gemini-like duo have only followed their respective dispositions which are as different as chalk and cheese, Gandhi and Jinnah, Hinduism and Islam, Democracy and Dictatorship … take your pick. And sometimes there is this inescapable thought that one could actually imbibe some of the characters of the other: While Pakistan can do with some doses of tranquilisers like democracy, debate and religious tolerance, endemic here, India can display a bit more of guts and aggression a la Pak. But such wishful dreams and talk of cooperation and coexistence apart, the cold reality is this: India should ever be wary and watchful of its warring sibling residing nextdoor.

Violence and strife have always been a way of life in Pakistan. It is not just an individual trait or a generational trend, but a far potent genetic disorder that has its roots in its formative history. The seeds, of course, lie even deeper in medieval mid-East, but ferretting them out is beyond the scope of this space, nay, the bounds of modern humans themselves far removed as they are from the fanatical world of fatwas and mullahs. Getting back to Pak’s story, its birth after Jinnah successfully purveyed the two-nation theory to a pliable British, was only the consummation of a religious hatred against what it had always regarded as Hindu Bharat. In time, such hatred made greater strides and grew faster than anything else in that cursed country, causing four external wars and countless internal upheavals, eventually culminating in an unstable society, at war with itself: For, such hatred is now fast consuming its own citizens. Even the dumb would not doubt that Pak is what it is because of its State sponsored religious bigotry, seeded and rooted in its psyche and looming like a large tree over it now.

The bomb was bound to blowup on the bomb maker’s face some day or the other. Now this is not meant as an insensitive I-told-you-so refrain on Benazir’s cold-blooded killing, but to point out a painful reality that India’s leadership has wantonly side-stepped. Indeed, PM Manmohan Singh committed the biggest diplomatic blunder, unleashed a boomerang rather, when he stated a few months back that India and Pakistan were both victims of terror. But equating the aggressor and the aggrieved has always been the keystone of India’s self-defeating secular politics. The aggressor however has no such qualms. For Pakistan, the tiff with India that is Bharat was Jihad from day one. Kashmir happens to be the most visible flashpoint, but clearly the motives which go beyond mere territorial designs, are a throwback to the Khilafat years. To their Talibanised Islamic mind, India simply cannot continue as a Dar-ul-harb, meaning, kafir land. And that is the mindset that is most manifest. For instance, those who murdered Benazir did so not just because she was a liberal democrat but also because she shed the purdah and dared to rule in a man’s world. Period!

India may boast of having won all the four wars, but the fact is that Pakistan has consistently got the better of us in the un-ending proxy war. Every terror strike in India, or for that matter in any part of the world, could unfailingly be traced back to Pak. Newsweek says that our twin-brother is the most dangerous land in the world, a breeding ground of die-hard religious zealots, armed to the teeth and gums too. We also learn that a good part of the money that Bush gave Mush to fight Taliban and Quaida terror has actually been used against India. And Pak has already got that diverted money’s worth too, if Indian intelligence sources are to be believed. It does not really matter even if Pak ceases to exist; the local jihadi network is now so well entrenched and embedded in the nooks and crannies of our country that they can do without cross-border imports. There is absolute self-sufficiency on that count. But of course, that does not mean Pak has stopped exporting. Really peace with Pak is as much a mirage as peace in Pak.

Needless to say, Pak will likely slip into greater chaos now, endangering India even more. There is presently a futile debate on what would be beneficial to India: a peaceful Pak or one in distress. But military or civilian, Pak regimes have consistently been inimical to India: Bhutto or Zia, Pak is Pak. Again, there is much talk in the western media and here too about the yearning of the Paki people for a liberal democracy. But a closer study would reveal that the debate is still only within the confines of Islam. Really, the antagonists are ‘moderate’ extremists and ‘extreme’ extremists. And till the time of going to press, the latter are winning. And if that’s Pak’s own problem, then it is no bother to us. But alas, that’s not so. The plight of Taslima and Sania Mirza, both targets of fatwa-happy fanatics, proves that many mini Paks thrive right in our midst, in flesh and spirit. And here too, they seem to be prevailing.

India has to ruthlessly reckon with these realities, within and without and seek to insulate itself resolutely. Secularism is a blunt weapon; appeasement is a bottomless pit; the hands-off PoK policy is criminal negligence for that is the jihadi hotbed. All these should change. But more important, a lasting solution lies in discovering potent deterrents that would not only keep a restive Pak at bay but would also exorcise the Paki ghosts here. And talking of deterrents, it would be worthwhile to ponder why there has not been even a single hour of curfew, let alone terror attacks, in Gujarat, despite what secularists term as ‘dire provocations’. Clearly, there seems to be some disincentive for terrorism there! Now, let me not utter that four letter M-word!

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Jawahar T R