- And how Pakistan and India need to shed the burden of the past
Amidst the deafening silence, we await its death by the hands of jets flying, bullets fired, casualty count and hope to reign again. People from both Pakistan and India wait for the final judgment. It hasn’t come yet. It never does.
For many, the march of time continues along a straight, linear line clearly divided in tidy compartments of past, present and future. That is, however, not the case for the people of Pakistan and India. Time, for those who live in these two countries, moves in a vicious cycle where escalations, de-escalations and normalcy comes and goes repeatedly in quick succession. As they say, where nothing is certain or predictable, everything is shrouded in a pall of doubt and blame.
The two septuagenarian nations have a loaded, loathsome past where barely an opportunity was/is missed to teach each other ‘lessons’. Oblivious of consequences and hell-bent to repeat the same old mistakes, both neighbours seek refuge in a mindset dominated by schadenfreude and hostility. Resultantly, many of the Pakistanis and Indians are incapable to think of each other as regular human beings having real life frustrations to fight, anxieties to battle, and an endless struggle for survival. This paucity of feeling basic human emotions towards each other made things direr.
Although past is a foreign land, the long-drawn attempts undertaken to loathe and condemn each other have resulted in both countries dehumanising each other. What is direly needed is to teach and practice the lost art of empathy. Rather than jingoism and war-mongering what is needed is to provide opportunities for ordinary people to come in contact with each other, do business, converse and share thoughts.
Resultantly, many of the Pakistanis and Indians are incapable to think of each other as regular human beings having real life frustrations to fight, anxieties to battle, and an endless struggle for survival
The economic integration and economic connectivity is the way forward now. Examples of sworn enemies becoming best friends are aplenty. The animosity between France and England stretched over centuries, Japan and Germany rose from the ashes after the World Wars. If history has seen it before, why can’t it repeat itself? India and Pakistan have the potential to rise and rise again and get their blighted people out of poverty, want and need.
Our neighbour China has lifted around 800 million people out of poverty in past forty years. Primarily because it focused on human development and industrialisation coupled with modernising its society and economy while pursuing a pacifist agenda. We on the other hand have failed our people on multiple counts.
While economic monitors the world over are pitching us as emerging economies having huge potential to reach zenith, we are seeking refuge in short-sighted, short-termed gains that if blown out of proportion may lead to deaths of millions of innocents on both sides in a possible atomic war.
It is said that to mean the land and things they don’t possess look more desirable than the ones they do. Grass, it is rightly said, always looks greener on the other side of the fence. And on both sides of the LoC fences, border security forces, rangers and barbed wires have only played their role in turning the grass bloodier and messier. Be it any terrorist attack or suicide bomber, the temperatures run high and the whole peace process gets back to square one.
Familiarity breeds contempt yet it also gives us an opportunity to know each other better and resolve irritants and issues that bedevil both countries.
Since inception, both Pakistan and India-the midnight’s children-have tried every trick up their sleeve and every sleazy tactic in their armoury ranging from fighting two full-scale wars and many low intensity battles, pulled each other’s leg on international forums, acquired nuclear capability to level things out and still spend billions of dollars acquiring weapons from various merchants of death and chaos to keep each other in awe and terror.
We can change our friends not our neighbours. So, it is about time to make peace, lasting peace with each other by rising above the level we currently occupy. Let us resolve all outstanding issues including Kashmir and move forward on path of economic progress and self-sufficiency.
The midnight’s children can and must undertake a course correction as the present path of jingoism and rabid nationalism will lead to a certain perdition.