Let’s talk about our neighbourhood. In a fast shrinking world that would include Pakistan. Psychologically also, Pakistan is a kind of gloomy backdrop looming over us since birth and will likely be so in perpetuity, unless it ceases to exist. In which case, one can trust the residue to haunt us from then on. Any which way you look at it, India’s fate looks fixed vis-a-vis its, well, Pak-fixation, which straddles several layers, from politics, diplomacy, intelligence, military to Bollywood and cricket. So, let me take the layman’s view for that’s what most of you and I are.
And we are in elite company. None less than the foreign minister of our country turned out to be more naive than a layman when he was laid out flat and bare by a brute of a counterpart in Islamabad recently. Shocking and insulting though the treatment meted out were, it also fitted perfectly into the genetic pattern that has marked Indo-Pak dealings: Jinnah did pretty much the same to Gandhiji and Nehru and that legacy of the Bully vs the Gullible has endured. With the exception of Indira, the political leadership of India over the decades down to MSingh has singularly shivered to their bones and steadfastly succumbed to Pak intransigence. The political layer, for all its pompous pretensions, is but a flimsy cover that can be blown off in a jiffy.
India’s diplomacy is another thin plaster over our week knees. Behind the camouflage of high-sounding jargon and lofty rhetoric lie raw fear and helplessness, qualities imbibed from the political bosses. But strangely somehow, diplomats rediscover all courage and wisdom only post retirement and then hold forth on prime-time, print or in memoirs with remarkable hindsight. Had they only awakened while still in service, many fatal gaffes and goof-ups could have been averted! But to their defence, it must also be said that secretaries and ambassadors can do very little besides partying and parleying when the more vital political will had gone grazing. Ditto with military and the Intelligence.
Having thus been thrown to the wolves across the border by those drafted to protect, the layman is left to his own devices. The only saving grace is that he is not inhibited by the cultivated ignorance, criminal innocence and coy impotence that mark the ‘powerful’: An ordinary Indian, away from the blinding passion of peace-talks and sundry other official red-herrings, is quite aware that Pak will be Pak, come what may and that’s never going to be to his good. In sustaining this conviction, he does not need the aid of wikileaks or the ratification of Uncle Sam. It is a birth’fight’, conceived in the pre-independence womb, delivered in the turbulent climes of partition and nourished by years of cross-border Pak aggression in the form of four formal wars and endless proxy wars through infiltration, destabilisation and raw terror. But most of all, most Indians, that is, other than those sedated by secularism, know that despite disputes over territory and resources, Pak motives and madness stem from a core religious obsession, which is unlikely to abate. A Western newspaper report says that it is very difficult to persuade the Pak population to turn against Islamic militancy.
To the rest of the world, however, the leak of sensitive security information on Afghanistan and Pakistan, has come as a wave of enlightenment this week. Though, once again, most knew of the fruitless war in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s duplicitous double-dealings, the leaks have put regimes on open alert and under more scrutiny. The US particularly will be hardput to explain its bankrolling of Pakistan’s dubious war on terror when it is now clear that much of those funds has actully been used to kill Americans! Less money to Pak would mean less money to kill Indians also with, and that’s good news. Of course, the bottomless coffers of faith can fill that deficit too. Again, India can never align its interests with the US’s and will have to fight its battle alone, long after the US vanishes from the region. Yet the current receptive milieu offers an avenue for articulation and possibly action!
And that brings us to a very elementary query: Pakistan has now been openly declared the terror capital of the world. Fine. Now, what is the terror capital inside Pakistan? An average Westerner would doubtless put his finger on the lawless Af-Pak border areas in Pak where Osama is reportedly hiding. But we Indians should know better because the most potent terror outlet in the world actually resides very much inside India! It is the area that we, from the rajas to the prajas, routinely and rather glibly refer to as Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) despite our Constitution, several Parliamentary resolutions and numerous public pronouncements holding it as an integral part of India. The UN describes it as Pakistan-administered-Kashmir even though the 1948 UN resolution says that Pakistan should vacate ‘all of Jammu and Kashmir’. Obviously, India’s writ does not run here and Pak too is on a weak wicket owing to Independence demands. The Shia population has shrunk from 90% to around 50% owing to Pak’s efforts to infiltrate the place with Sunnis to retain control. But the real nomenclature should be ToK, Terrorists Occupied Kashmir,for, this is a true Jihadi paradise with every known and unknown terror outfit, from al-quaeda to Taliban to JeM, to Let having huge infrastructure here!
Let us stick to layman’s basics. The map of India that we see in our school Atlas shows our crown, J&K, as a beautiful, symmetric double crest. Well, in reality one of them stands amputated by the LoC, to provide for PoK, a picture that the rest of the world depict in their maps of India. Indeed by frequently talking of that area as PoK we ourselves are bestowing some kind of sanctity on an illegal occupation. If India does not respect its own integrity and constitutional obligation, how will the rest of the world? What’s the fun in fuming over misrepresented maps when we have conceded de-facto control to Pak? The bigger joke is the ‘begging’ we do with Pak to not lend its soil for terrorism against India, when they are actually using ours!
Such crucial history and geography may be lost on our future generations attuned to gadgets, money and pleasure. It will be sad and suicidal if they start believing that Pak is just another rival cricketing nation; more so when such notions find no place across the border. An enemy State has to be declared so, whatever the consequences. Otherwise, the rest of the crest and more will be gone too, with no ‘Indian’ even noticing it!
It is now or never. Retaking terror-prone ‘PoK’ is India’s duty to itself and the world too. And in these times when missiles and drones can be operated from thousands of miles away, that will make ours, Chennai, a lot safer neighbourhood too.
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