Tuesday, August 26, 2014

An all-weather friend

.....Pakistanis will not countenance infringement by India of their sovereignty....imposition of conditionalities....exactly the kind of whimsicality and bullying that led to the Austro-Hungarian Empire attacking Serbia a hundred years ago.....
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Pakistanis have a long running complaint about India....the Indian Press is unreasonably jingoistic. The expectation is that (just like in the West) Indian journalists should be speaking in multiple voices and be open to a broad range of viewpoints.

Thus, for example, while Israel has formidable champions amongst neocons, the denizens of Gaza draw a lot of sympathy from the left-liberal side. There are even opinion makers who back the regimes in Iran and Syria, urging accommodation from a realist standpoint (they may not be our bastards, but we need them on our team to fight other bastards).

Given that there is so much unfinished business from Partition I and Partition II, we feel that it is unrealistic to expect much in the way of fair and balanced journalism when it comes to coverage of South Asian politics. This can be traced back to the (massively influential) two nation theory: for every Hindu truth, there exists an equal and opposite Muslim truth. For Partition II and the events leading up to the 1971war, there is a further tweak- a Hindu truth, a Bangladeshi Muslim truth, and a Pakistani Muslim truth!!!
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Sandipan Deb (link below) makes this pertinent observation from a meeting between Indian journalists and General Musharraf in 2001:
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Thirty years later, at the breakfast meeting with Indian editors during the Agra summit, Pervez Musharraf brought up 1971.  

He accused India of being a wanton aggressor—an utterly delusional and repulsive statement that denied the shameful rejection of national election results; an inhuman genocide (codenamed Operation Searchlight) that left three million people dead—including all doctors, engineers, teachers, intellectuals the Pakistani army could find—and hundreds of thousands of women raped (perhaps the first time in the 20th century that rape was used systematically as war strategy); and India overwhelmed with 10 million helpless refugees from what would soon be Bangladesh.
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This is the Hindu truth which (in its full form) claims that 1971 was primarily an ideological war waged by the Pakistani Army against Hindus in Bangladesh. 

The target #1 was Hindu intellectuals: the teachers, the doctors, the professors (referred to as buddhi-jibi in Bong). Target #2 was the Bengali Hindu peasants. People used to be killed upon inspection of the male organ (circumcised or not).

Of the ten million refugees were driven out from their land, the overwhelming majority was Hindu. They were never invited back and (shamefully) many remain as refugees scattered across India, even after 40 years have gone by.  

The truly interesting claim is this: the genocide of Bangla Hindus was suppressed by the "secular" Mujib-Indira team.....because they wanted to portray a national struggle to the world, not another Hindu vs. Muslim fight.
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The Pakistani Muslim truth is what General Musharraf alludes to in part - India as a wanton aggressor - but for the full flavor one should refer to school text books of Punjab (link below):
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The Punjab Textbook Board published the following text on the causes for the separation of East Pakistan in 1993 for secondary classes —  
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“There were a large number of Hindus in East Pakistan. They had never truly accepted Pakistan. A large number of them were teachers in schools and colleges. 
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They continued creating a negative impression among students. No importance was attached to explaining the ideology of Pakistan to the younger generation.

The Hindus sent a substantial part of their earnings to Bharat, thus adversely affecting the economy of the province. 

Some political leaders encouraged provincialism for selfish gains. They went around depicting the central Government and (the then) West Pakistan as enemy and exploiter. Political aims were thus achieved at the cost of national unity.”
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To this one can add Sharmila Bose's thesis (which gains credibility because a Hindu Bengali is on record supporting the Pakistani Muslim Truth).

As she tells it (and we paraphrase) Pakistani Army Officers (as well as foot-soldiers) being highly noble in disposition, extremely disciplined through training, and unimaginably chivalrous by heart, could not possibly have carried out many (any?) attacks. Some bad things may have happened in the fog of war, nothing more.

Bose concludes that actually it was the Mukti Bahini who killed huge numbers of innocent Biharis and further suppressed the fact by inventing fictional genocides and rape-fests.
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Finally you have the Bangladeshi Muslim Truth. To put it briefly (and simplify), we (Bangla Muslims) were under the boot of the Hindus (and the British) for centuries. We got rid of both of them in 1947. Next, we were oppressed by the Punjabis (who stole our jute money). We got rid of them in 1971.

India was (as usual) up to some mischief but we gave a fitting reply to all that in 1975. Some Hindus may have left voluntarily for India. A few Bihari traitors got what they deserved, nothing more.

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All that said there is that familiar observation of India being a land of contradictions- whatever you think of India as true, the opposite is also true.

As long as Mani Shankar Aiyer - born in Lahore (10 April, 1941) and presently, Congress MP from Rajya Sabha - is around, Pakistan is assured of an all-weather friend. He has always been an Aman ki Asha type, and he has now openly accused the Modi govt of being a bully (and being whimsical).

Not only that. MSA has issued a most dramatic (melodramatic, in our opinion) warning that just like World War I was ignited through the Austrian empire making unreasonable demands of Serbia, there is a prospect of World War III breaking out in the sub-continent unless India under Modi stops being unreasonable. What more does a friend have to say?
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Working out a viable relationship with Pakistan is in India’s vital national interest. But the wholly bogus nature of the Narendra Modi-Nawaz Sharif bonhomie on the occasion of Modi’s republican coronation now stands revealed in all its nakedness. 
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In a childish display of extreme petulance, the India-Pakistan foreign secretary-level talks have been called off. The excuse proffered is that the Pakistan envoy had met with, and was scheduled to meet again with, Kashmiri “separatist” leaders on the eve of the talks. He had been warned after Round I of his interaction with them that if Round II took place, India would spurn dialogue and revert to the two-year-long stand-off.
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The excuse is wholly misplaced. The Simla Agreement of 1972 removed Jammu and Kashmir from the international agenda and effectively placed it in the ambit of bilateral discussion and resolution: “a final settlement of Jammu and Kashmir”. The trade-off was simple. India recognised that there were issues relating to J&K that needed to be resolved and Pakistan agreed to secure the resolution of these issues bilaterally instead of in an international forum. 
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In actual fact, India, much more than Pakistan, especially in recent decades, has shied away from bilateral dialogue, while Pakistan has attempted from time to time, but without success, to revert to the UN. But the basic position today continues as it was four decades ago at Simla — India accepts that there is an external dimension to J&K, and Pakistan that dealing with these issues is strictly remitted to the bilateral, not multilateral, sphere of diplomatic interaction.
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On the domestic front in India, the principle of “the sky is the limit” has long been instituted for determining the parameters of “autonomy” for J&K; autonomy that must, however, fall short of challenging the integrity of India or the finality of J&K’s accession to India. All else is negotiable. 
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On the external front, it is recognised as legitimate for Pakistan to raise issues relating to “a final settlement of Jammu and Kashmir”. It was in pursuance of this legitimacy granted to Pakistan by the Simla Agreement of 1972 that, just under two decades ago, the P.V. Narasimha Rao government recognised the legitimacy of Pakistani envoys and political leaders including Kashmiri “separatists” (under the umbrella of the Hurriyat) in their consultations in preparation for successive phases of the ongoing dialogue process. 
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There has thus been a bipartisan, indeed, multipartisan understanding within India (at least till now) that such interaction falls in a class by itself and so does not constitute a casus belli or even a casus diplomati to break off the bilateral dialogue to which both are pledged.
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Had Modi any new objection to this, he was duty-bound to make it clear to Nawaz Sharif when he met him in New Delhi and they discussed the resumption of the dialogue. The Pakistan desk of the ministry of external affairs knows full well that Nawaz Sharif was attacked on his return to Pakistan from New Delhi for his failure to meet with the Hurriyat, as his predecessors had done. 
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This became such a big issue that when I was in Pakistan days later (in the august company of Ved Pratap Vaidik), both formally and informally, this was stressed. Thus, the consequences of warning High Commissioner Abdul Basit against maintaining his scheduled meeting with the “separatists” should have been clear to the meanest intelligence in the MEA. If the meeting with the Hurriyat leaders were called off, the howls of protest in Pakistan would have drowned all attempts at dialogue. There was nothing to be gained from making an issue of such a trivial matter.
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I say “trivial” because nothing earth-shattering, either for us or the Pakistanis, has resulted from earlier meetings of the Hurriyat with the Pakistanis, including visits of Hurriyat leaders to Pakistan that we ourselves had permitted. From a Pakistani point of view, meeting the Hurriyat is an excellent way of selling to the Pakistani public the explanation that “Kashmiri” wishes are not being ignored or bypassed in the dialogue process. 
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From the Indian point of view, the “separatists”, who are Indian citizens, whatever their view, are of such significance as to have warranted our “interlocutors” talking to them. What harm, then, can come of Geelani et al letting off steam in Pakistan House — the same steam they let off on a daily basis in the Valley?
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Then there is the question of sovereignty. Pakistan may be weaker than India in every respect but there is at least one in which Pakistan is our equal and will remain so, and that is in the dimension of sovereignty. If India as a sovereign country refuses to buckle under Pakistani pressure, it is only natural that Pakistanis will not countenance infringement by India of their sovereignty. That is why the imposition of new conditionalities, flying in the face of precedents, will be seen as infringing on Pakistan’s sovereignty. 
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The parallel being drawn in some quarters with India snubbing Pakistan by talking to Baloch separatists is as misbegotten as it is misplaced, for Balochistan is not an issue between India and Pakistan. We have neither had nor sustain any claims on Balochistan. On Kashmir, the Pakistanis do — and that has been acknowledged by India, even if India is (rightly) adamant that there can be no compromise on its sovereignty over the whole of J&K, as a result of the Instrument of Accession and Article I of the J&K constitution.
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Such are the subtleties of diplomacy. They go ill with foreign policy strutting on a 56-inch chest. I am sure the MEA as an institution knows all this but is helpless because all power is being increasingly concentrated in one authoritarian. 
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We stand warned that whimsicality and bullying are going to characterise our relations with Pakistan over the next five years; exactly the kind of whimsicality and bullying that led to the Austro-Hungarian Empire attacking Serbia a hundred years ago, leading to the devastation of the two world wars.

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Link (1): indianexpress.com/being-a-bully

Link (2):  livemint.com/hard-truths-about-Pakistan

Link (3): dawn.com/pakistan-textbooks
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regards