Wednesday, 6 January 2016

FOR THE SAKE OF SHARED HISTORY

FOR THE SAKE OF SHARED HISTORY

By Biswadip Mitra

The hawks in India are crying hoarse. After the terror attack on the Pathankot Air Force base, the hardliners want India to scrap all talks with Pakistan. And not just the likes of Shiv Sena or some self-proclaimed pundits who shout on top of their voices at television studios, even the Congress wants the Narendra Modi government to take a hard look at Pakistan. The government seems to be “mulling options”, but hopefully it won’t buckle under pressure.

The Congress, being in the opposition, has alleged that whenever any BJP-led government tries to mend fence with Pakistan, the neigbouring country responds by exporting terrorists. Be it after Atal Bihar Vajpayee’s Lahore bus trip or Narendra Modi’s friendly overtures. Simply put, the Congress says that the NDA government’s Pakistan policy has been inconsistent and its foreign policy a failure.

The Congress may oppose the Modi government for the sake of opposing, but sane people would know that it is never wise to shut all doors of communication between neighbours. When it comes to Pakistan, one must never expect that all the outstanding issues will be solved at one go. With the Pakistani Army and the Inter-Services Intelligence in firm control, it’s not going to happen easily. Even then, it won’t be wise for India to stop engaging with Pakistan: we cannot afford to push that country into the trap laid by terrorists who want to write this subcontinent’s history with blood.

It’s true that every time India extended the hand of friendship to Pakistan, terrorists have struck. It’s also a fact that Pakistan needs to take effective steps to deal with these terrorists. So far, it has failed on that count. There is no ‘good terrorist’ and ‘bad terrorist’ --- all of them are equally sinister. So if Pakistan (read the Pakistan Army) is really willing to get rid of terrorism, it must also act against those who are plotting against India. We want to know why Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi hasn’t been punished yet. We in India would like to know why the likes of Masood Azhar can operate from Pakistan, if the establishment there is sincere about its counter-terrorism measures. We would like to see stringent action by the Pakistan establishment against regressive people like Hafiz Saeed who vitiates the atmosphere by preaching hatred. If Pakistan wants India to invest in trust then peace must be the dividend. 

I believe in both the countries there are those fanatical elements that are hostile to the idea of peace. In case of Pakistan, these nefarious elements will be out in full force to scuttle the peace process, which in turn will sully Pakistan’s image in the eyes of Indians and the world in general. It would appear that Pakistan is a backstabber which suffers from a myopic vision of the subcontinent, with the Kashmir issue at its centre. I hope that’s not the reality.

It’s the same case when it comes to ordinary Pakistanis who may feel that every Indian subscribes to the jingoistic ideas of the Shiv Sena or some such extreme right-wing outfit. But that’s not really the case: the rants of the Shiv Sena have appeal in certain pockets and that’s all. Indians love their country but they also want to live in peace, alongside Pakistan. We don’t need to have an “Akhand Bharat” as some are suggesting. We can be good neighbours, as part of the SAARC, as history has made us to be. So, to assure the Pakistanis and peace-loving Indians, the Indian Government must act with boldness to counter these rogue ‘nationalist’ gangs that want to keep the pot boiling with their menacing posture against Pakistan. There should be no place for such people on both sides of the border.

I would like to believe that just the way most Indians wish for a peaceful South Asia, there are millions in Pakistan who want to live peacefully, without war, terrorism and the suffocating rule of violent mullahs. Pakistan needs to progress and become a modern nation, far removed from the negative perception people have about that country. People of Pakistan, therefore, must hold their government, the Army and the ISI plotters accountable. They have a responsibility towards the future generations.