Saturday, October 1, 2016

Khaled Ahmed - Pakistan does not know what it has lost. India doesn’t recognise where it is winning // Alizay Jaffer's moving Facebook post on India-Pakistan relationship

India doesn’t know where it is winning. It is in “soft power” where it has emerged as the most influential state with three SAARC states walking in lock-step with it against Pakistan. For the past decade, Pakistan too has been “softened” by what the jingoists in Pakistan have dubbed “cultural invasion” by India. Indian films have “conquered” an increasingly jihadi Pakistan. Far more important than the money earned by Indian film-makers is the disarming of the textbook-poisoned Pakistani mind. Indians back home can’t visualise the kind of positive emotion visiting actors like Punjabi-speaking Om Puri arouse in Pakistan. 

Responding to national war hysteria, Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave the go-ahead for a “surgical strike” inside the Pakistani side of the Line of Control (LoC), and it took place in the early hours of September 29. Director general military operations, Lt. General Ranbir Singh, told the nation: “Based on receiving specific and credible inputs that some terrorist teams had positioned themselves at launch pads along the LoC to carry out infiltration and conduct terrorist strikes inside Jammu and Kashmir and in various metros in other states, the Indian army conducted surgical strikes at several of these launch pads to pre-empt infiltration by terrorists.” A meeting with journalists was a “details later” session and no one asked for more.

It was supposed to be a ground strike with special forces, assisted by helicopter gunships. On the Pakistani side, the attack was declared routine with ground troops crossing the LoC and killing a havildar and a naik of the Pakistan army whose parents immediately declared joy at their martyrdom swearing that more boys in the family could have been available for this ecstasy if they had them. 

Pakistan declared that it was a ground trespass in which India lost eight soldiers. The low point reached in the Indo-Pak media war went further through the floor. Cheap sarcasm was hurled at each other by the two sides, pretending to have become “internally” united against an “external” foe. The farce of being “united” was revealed by the ongoing campaign unleashed by the opposition to unseat the PMLN government whose leader Nawaz Sharif “sucks up” to India and “made a bad speech at the UN”.

A “surgical strike”, it seems, has performed no surgery of the South Asian mind gone off the rails. India declared victory; Pakistan denied it and it sounded like Pakistani victory. Analysts said it was not a surgical strike because it was not done by the air force. But the term is so loose you can define it whichever way you like, it could be an artillery battle with precision-guided rockets. Pakistan is making “armpit sounds”, as they say in Urdu, declaring victory. Religious parties thought jihad was finally on and offered militant manpower to the army. No one cared about the escalation such an incident on the LoC could provoke leading to a nuclear alert.

Prime Minister Modi didn’t get much out of the surgical strike. The outside world got worried, America telling India to cool it, letting Pakistan off the hook. But Pakistan didn’t have the mind to take advantage of it at the international level. Defence Minister Khwaja Asif was careless in his bluster, promising “every kind of support” to the Kashmiri “freedom fighters”, giving the lie to the old diplomatic pledge to only offer “political support”. Everybody and his uncle in the world outside knew that Pakistan was nursing non-state actors that struck across the LoC, at times without the permission of Islamabad, and at other times did so to punish the army chief who they thought was “calling off jihad” with India. The world, led by America, repeats the mantra of “get rid of your terrorist organisations” while determined to not let Pakistan’s Kashmir policy bear any fruit.

Pakistan’s real state power is at a low ebb, having seeped into empowered madrasas and a military mind that clings to the non-intellectual exercise of “irregular warfare” which the Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu called “noise before self-defeat”. The Indian mind is into a low swoop to match Pakistan’s non-cerebral rhetoric. What India needs to do next is develop some “non-state actors” to start its own asymmetrical warfare, paying for it by losing its writ just like Pakistan has with terrorists on the UN’s head-money list.

India doesn’t know where it is winning. It is in “soft power” where it has emerged as the most influential state with three SAARC states walking in lock-step with it against Pakistan. For the past decade, Pakistan too has been “softened” by what the jingoists in Pakistan have dubbed “cultural invasion” by India. Indian films have “conquered” an increasingly jihadi Pakistan. Far more important than the money earned by Indian film-makers is the disarming of the textbook-poisoned Pakistani mind. Indians back home can’t visualise the kind of positive emotion visiting actors like Punjabi-speaking Om Puri arouse in Pakistan. 

Now, both countries have become unhinged. Pakistani singers and actors have been sent home amid curses no one in the world outside can comprehend. On the Pakistani side, a similar surge is in evidence: Punish the blokes who travel to India to shamelessly suck up to the enemy. Ban Indian movies, which will automatically lead to the revival of a collapsed Pakistani film industry, under Islam. Like the clerics in Pakistan, BJP hoods on the roads can rough up anyone they like, the glint in the eye resembling that of their blasphemy-aroused counterparts in Pakistan.

A day before October 1, which was Annie Besant’s birth anniversary, the newspaper Dawn celebrated the Diyaram Gidumal National College in Hyderabad Sindh — now simply Government College — which she had founded in 1917 with the help of Hindu well-wishers like Deewan Bolchand Shahani “because the nearest college was in Bombay”. Once we were not so bad.
http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/surgical-strikes-indian-army-india-pakistan-narensra-modi-uri-attack-saarc-summit-once-3058801/

Moving Facebook post by a Pakistani girl on India-Pakistan relationship
... Islamabad-based girl Alizay Jaffer penned down a moving post on India-Pakistan relations that has garnered massive support on social media.

“To the world, most of the time, we are siblings; constantly at loggerheads, trying to get into daddy’s good books so that he may buy us a toy, or take us for a drive, or better yet, increase our allowance. Other times, we are like a divorced couple, sharing space, constantly bickering over who lost out in the settlement, unable to finally come to terms with the fact that we are no longer together. It seems the scars of our separation are still so ripe, so painful, that they can’t accept that we left, and we can’t accept that they let us leave. In an event like this, we only find solace in making sure the other is just as hurt as we are, so we put in our all our resources, our best efforts, to do exactly that,” she wrote... Read her full post here.

It’s strange, this affinity with India. I find myself getting increasingly upset at the abuse and hatred tossed from one border to another, with little rationale apart from the 69 year old chips on our shoulders. These chips have, over time, turned into boulders, and who doesn’t crumble under the weight of those?

It’s very strange, this affinity with India. When Amitabh Bachchan is in the hospital, we pray for his good health; when Ranbir Kapoor’s film is a hit, we’re prouder than Neetu and Rishi; we never deny that no one brings romance to life like the voices of Kishore and Rafi; they are in unanimous agreement that their local music scene is not a patch on ours; if we happen to interact abroad, they’re the only pardesis we include in the ‘desi’ category; their monuments carry our history; our language carries their roots.

It’s far too strange, this affinity with India. Like siblings, we retaliate to each other’s provocations. Ultimately, we both share the label of being impulsive and emotional in our responses to one another – ‘Look at what you’re doing in Kashmir’ ‘Hah, look at what you’re doing in Balochistan’; ‘You attacked us first in Uri’ ‘Have you forgotten about Kargil’?; ‘You started it!’ ‘No! You started it!’
Like orphaned trust fund babies, we feel entitled yet have no idea how to cope. They neither acknowledge nor respond to Muslims being massacred for eating beef in Gujrat, for instance, and we? We turn a blind eye to Christians and Hindus being physically assaulted for eating before Iftar in Ramzan. They’re destroying Kashmir, we say, Kashmiris have a right to be independent (or choose us, of course), but we forget how we throttled Bangladesh – why should a Bengali speaking majority not accept Urdu as its national language? We never speak about that, do we? Too soon, perhaps.

When I think about some of my best days and nights in the last ten years, more than 50% of them were spent with my brothers and sisters from across the border; sharing a meal, listening to music, discussing politics, or anything but; laughing, dancing, singing; but most importantly, completely aware yet in vehement passive rebellion against the lines that keep us apart.

Come to think of it now, it isn’t strange at all, this affinity with India. Our proverbial Lord and
Master, the gargantuan power that rules us, ‘The West’, is an absentee parent; one we’re constantly trying to please but one who never really loved us anyway. If there is anyone for us, it’s each other. What’s strange is our reluctance to acknowledge this.

What’s strange is the burden we carry of decisions made in our pasts, based on an entirely different socio-political context, when a common, exploitative antagonist made sure we saw each other as the aggressor, and boy, did we fall for it. What’s strange is our prolonged blindness to the immense opportunities that lie before us as a unit, and the vast desolation that lies before us as enemies.

The strangest thing about our relationship, in fact, is our propensity to change roles. To the world, most of the time, we are siblings; constantly at loggerheads, trying to get into daddy’s good books so that he may buy us a toy, or take us for a drive, or better yet, increase our allowance. Other times, we are like a divorced couple, sharing space, constantly bickering over who lost out in the settlement, unable to finally come to terms with the fact that we are no longer together. It seems the scars of our separation are still so ripe, so painful, that they can’t accept that we left, and we can’t accept that they let us leave. In an event like this, we only find solace in making sure the other is just as hurt as we are, so we put in our all our resources, our best efforts, to do exactly that.

I read today that India claimed they carried out a surgical attack in Uri. Ridiculous. I immediately read several, equally ridiculous Pakistani reactions; some hitting below the belt, others claiming that one shouldn’t expect more from mass murdering politicians, like the ones we have across the border. Somehow, suddenly, we are all too forgiving of our own ‘glorious’ politicians. It’s strange how quick we are to forget how much trouble governance is in, on both sides, when we jump up to point fingers.

I’m sure this news will leave me in a month’s time. What hasn’t left me is the news about a Pakistani Head of State’s arrival in Delhi for a test match, ultimately averting the threat of war; or an Indian politician putting his hand forward to greet his Pakistani counterpart, to curb tensions; or that time when Ganguly acknowledged that there’s no one greater than Wasim; or when Shoaib Malik married Sania Mirza; or that image of the guards in the most beautiful fraternal embrace I have ever seen, on Holi at Wagah Border. I suppose it’s because some of us look for peace, we hanker for it, while others, they look for war.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is, in 20 years’ time, Uri will be just another event in the text books. It will be labeled as yet another period in our collective histories when our ‘cold war’ with India almost turned into ‘hot war’. It will be just another opportunity for me to pick on my Indian friends or vice versa. It will be just another event our older uncles will discuss when they try to feel better about Pakistan’s failures and convince themselves that partition was the best thing that could’ve happened for us and that, without India, ‘we’re better off’.

What will never be ‘just another event’ is one we never address. The fact that we are now divorced; the fact that our separation is painful for both of us; the fact that where there is now hate, there was once unity and a common pride; the fact that we allowed an external power to come in and manipulate us, and we fell prey; the fact that no one will know us like we know each other, because after all, we were once but one.

It is comforting somehow, that when I messaged one of my closest friends across the border, expressing concern over the destructive megalomaniac tendencies of our governments, he responded and said, ‘It doesn’t matter what they do, you know I will always love you’. It is comforting somehow, that in 20 years’ time, if you look away from the textbooks, and turn to your ancient scriptures or your holy books, it won’t take you long to see that since time immemorial, there is only one message they are trying to convey, only one message we should be paying attention to; and that message is Love.

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