Tuesday, May 24, 2011

INDIA AND PAKISTAN - MY PERCEPTION

India and Pakistan were both born on the midnight of 14/ 15th August, 1947 - carved out of one. They chose to travel different paths. Nearly 64 years later both are experiencing great turmoil, but the content and the context of the turmoil is different.

India is in turmoil - with its focus on itself; it is trying to strengthen its systems of governance so that its democracy can be made more transparent, vibrant, 'for the people' centric, while progressing economically so as to create a more equitable and just society, for all its citizens. The civil society in India is demanding more accountability from its elected representatives, and the elected representatives are getting this message 'loud and clear' through the ballot box. I find this turmoil to be a good sign - a sign that indicates that the people, and their elected representatives, are slowly realising that democracy is not only about 'of the people, by the people' but also has to be 'for the people'. In recent times we have seen the RTI functioning; we have also seen an active media that has led to a number of scams being unearthed; ministers in jail; Jan lok pal bill being enacted - these are all signs that change is in the air, and a change in the right direction - to ensure a better future for all of its citizens, for sure.

On the other hand, Pakistan is in turmoil while trying to foment trouble in Afghanistan, and in trying to bleed India through a thousand cuts, by nurturing a 'strategic asset' in the form of support for extremism and terrorism. What is not realised is that a terrorist is a terrorist, and would not eventually differentiate between nationalities. This fact is borne out by the latest audacious attack on the Karachi naval base; the terrorist outfits now turning their bag of tricks on their patrons. The leadership of Pakistan is still in denial mode, and is claiming to be 'victims of terror'. This is a statement of fact -  that Pakistan has become a victim of its own home grown terror, and Pakistan is reaping what it had sown, in the form of a strategic asset. The only way forward for Pakistan is to 'introspect' - no amount of outside advise/ criticism or actions would amount to any thing if Pakistan continues to be in denial mode. The whole world is holding the mirror to Pakistan, but to no avail, and would be of no consequence; Pakistan would have to look in to the mirror of its own accord for any change to begin.

A stable and democratic Pakistan would be in India's interest, as well as in Pakistan's interest, as also in the interest of the rest of the world. No individual, or nation from outside Pakistan can make the change happen in Pakistan - only the PAKISTANIS themselves can make that choice, and change. Use of force would be counter productive, knowing the Pakistani psyche, and would make the Pakistani nation more belligerent. On the other hand India's democracy, secularism and development should start to resonate in Pakistan, because the ordinary Pakistani citizen is also fed up of the mayhem that is happening there as a consequence of the power games that are being played by the 'powerful elite' of Pakistan.

India is not the greatest model country in the world, but a comparison between the two nations that share a common past, history, geography, and more importantly, a common starting point would help put things in perspective for any sensible person. I do believe that the ordinary Pakistanis are sensible people.

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