A recipe for peace
It was indeed gracious on the part of Musharraf and Vajpayee to restrain their itching fingers from pressing the red buttons during the tense summer months of 2002. But they have not entirely packed up and gone home. They have only made a temporary truce and taken a brief respite, so that they could come back with renewed accusations, greater hatred and larger bombs to fulfil their masochistic desire for undoing the subcontinent. We therefore live in precious times, for we have yet one more opportunity to discover newer approaches to peace, before we are caught up again with the obsessive compulsive disorders of the world’s two most irrational neighbours. It is time to reflect yet again as to what could be done to help the South Asian states from ridding themselves of the baggage of hatred and rivalries and in forging unity among themselves?
India continues to remain deeply deployed in a state of Hindu chauvinism at home and anti Pakistan propaganda abroad. It suits the US to keep India locally engaged, while the US itself assumes greater control of the more remunerative regions of the middle east. India seems to have fallen for the trap. It is so bogged down in its 24/7 activity of creating hate and hegemony that it has failed to focus on the issues that would have meant much more in the long run – building peace in the region, developing friendly neighbours, and working towards a common Union of South Asian countries.
Pakistan has the potential of becoming a perfectly normal, civilised and prosperous country. Why then, does it continue to stay frozen in medieval times? Why has it increasingly volunteered to hand over its sovereignty to a decadent clergy, tribal warlords and the state militia? Why has it developed such a lop-sided militant world-view, and assumed the role of a self-sponsored flag bearer for an illusionary Ummah? By preferring to behave like a tribal belt instead of a responsible sovereign state, it has created a turf where every one else can score runs except its own self. Its shots are now called by an unholy triangular league of medieval Mullahs, military and the intelligence agencies. The trio succeeded in creating circumstances that led to dismemberment and destruction of Afghanistan. Frozen in an imaginary past, with little realisation of today’s reality and no appreciation for tomorrow’s possibilities it is now hell bent to repeat exactly the same sequence this side of the Durand line. Just as Mullah Omar and Osama Bin Laden conveniently disappeared after doing Tora Bora to Afghanistan, their Pakistani counterparts would wish to perform a similar disappearance act near at home.
The otherwise perfectly sane looking leaders of India and Pakistan find it difficult to catch a good night’s sleep unless they have performed their daily ritual of dispensing a totally deranged statement such as “we shall wipe out Pakistan” or “we shall teach India a historic lesson that it will not forget”. The level of venom seems to have become the new yardstick of leadership maturity and popularity in the subcontinent. As a first step
Pakistan needs to undertake a fair amount of re-engineering, if it wishes to change the course of history for itself. Many of these initiatives must come from no one but the Army itself. The military must voluntarily step aside from the main stream, and go back to perform its originally designed function. The majors and colonels of the Intelligence agencies must stop determining the supreme national interests of Pakistan. Our perennial desire to own and rule Kashmir must be completely set aside as we have no right to make the same mess in Kashmir that we have made in our own country. The best we can do is to leave Kashmir to Kashmiris and refrain from exporting our infamous home grown product – the one that we exported so unsuccessfully to Afghanistan. Countries that can not govern their existing boundaries should have little reason to look for more. As it is, the state has little writ any where in Pakistan and certainly none in most of NWFP and Baluchistan. The state must be willing to exert its writ at least across its existing boundaries, and do away with all extra-constitutional law making bodies, “Jirgas”, and “Panchayats” that operate all over the country. A Punjab “punchayat” ordering the gang rape of Mukhtaran Mai, the Orakzai tribe enacting a law to demolish the house of any one taking a photograph and a FATA MNA ordering burning of television sets are just a few samples from the laws passed in the year 2002. It is also time for Pakistan to once for all put an end to the religious fanatics and the militant elements with in its ranks. Pakistan needs to separate religion from the functioning of the state. Its founding father explicitly wanted a non-theocratic state, and certainly not a state in which the blind and ignorant Mullah decides issues from foreign policy to the sighting of moon. The state and Mullah are a also a party to the hundreds of jail sentences awarded each year under the pretext of blasphemy or Hudood laws. All such laws must be expunged from the list if there is to be a tolerant, civil and rational society in Pakistan.
It is time for India and Pakistan to make peace, reduce their conventional armies and work together to reduce poverty and deprivation amongst their teeming millions. The path to progress and prosperity can not be treaded while the two great subcontinent neighbours continue to remain hostile. The people of the two countries have been taken for a ride for the past fifty years. They need and deserve a break. They and their children are entitled to a better tomorrow. In a century where many countries would have most families with two cars, the people of the subcontinent could look forward to at least a pair of slippers for each person, and a class room for each child.