India and Pakistan should shift the centre of gravity
IMPRESSIONS BY UDAY SHANKER
There is a need for rethink. The world is changing, India and Pakistan will have to acknowledge it and fine tune themselves to the new ground realities emerging on the global landscape. It is time to shed the baggage of the past, and move forward.
This time , it is not the talk about who is talking to whom in Islamabad from Delhi’s side. The individuals don’t matter, thoughts do, actions do and results do. The two sides have traveled some distance, baby steps though, even after 63 years of their status as independent nations. But they need to move fast, with sincerity and determination.
Given the situation the two countries are faced with, a crisis of food security for a huge population, water shortage of an unprecedented magnitude and tens of thousands of people suffering from displacement, they cannot afford to live in a permanent state of hostility, direct or by proxy. It’s because they cannot change their locations. Neither the US nor China can help them do that.
Doomsayers are making many predictions about the existence of Pakistan. They foresee its fragmentation sooner than later. They also point out to conflicts in Baluchistan, North-Western Frontier Province and the ethnic unrest in Sindh province as well.
In the similar manner, India is having its own problems from North-East to Jammu and Kashmir. There is hardly a province in India which is not having its issue with the federal government or the centre. These problems are common in all countries, and if there are no ethnic problems, economic recession has cast its shadow over them. A look at the United States and the European countries would be worth to grasp the way things are moving or not moving there.
Both India and Pakistan will and Pakistan will have to effect a shift the Centre of the gravity. They need to go from adaptational reform to transformational reform, which is not to adapt to the way things are, but to propose applied ethics to change them for the better. It’s with the contribution of best minds, with a political will in both the countries that they can come to a better understanding of the very meaning of a new relationship.
There are best and well intentioned minds on both sides of border, who can show a right kind of way forward. There is no need, and it should not be, to rely on the historians of the past whose only contribution has been to bring fore the attitudes of conflict, war and hostility in perpetuity. They know it better than any one else that their theories and actions only have worsened the situation between the two neighbouring countries, which sometimes saw themselves in one block or the other. There is a little to explain for Pakistan how could it be a friend to the new imperialist power, the US and also seek comfort in the company of Communist China.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sent a right kind of signal to Islamabad from the soil of Kashmir that borders cannot be changed, those can be made irrelevant. He promised to carry forward the process of peace talks in an atmosphere suitable for that. Terrorism and talks table are anti-thesis.
A recent survey of global attitudes by Pew Research Center, an American think tank that appeared in Pakistani media, should be an eye opener for both India and Pakistan. Although the survey is of Pakistan and its people and their attitudes toward their own issues, internally, yet it also touches upon , how they feel about India and China. In this context, they have pronouncedly spoken of Kashmir issue.
A look at the survey shows that 86 per cent per cent Pakistanis believe the military is having a good influence on the country. Only 10 ten per cent like Taliban and only 9 per cent support Al Qaeda., and 70 percent of them have unfavourable views of the Taliban and 61 per cent reject Al Qaeda openly.
As reported in The Dawn newspaper, almost all Pakistanis see their country in crisis. They give their national government lower ratings than at any time in this decade, and almost no one is satisfied with national conditions. Crime and terrorism are seen as major problems by virtually everyone. And huge percentages of Pakistanis also see their country struggling mightily with corruption and a deteriorating economy. A long-standing concern about religious extremism has grown even greater over the past year. No fewer than 69 per cent of the Pakistanis questioned worry that extremists could take control of the country. The dispute over Kashmir is cited as a major problem facing Pakistan by no fewer than eighty-eight per cent vis-à-vis India And growing worries about extremism notwithstanding, more Pakistanis judge India as a very serious threat to the nation (sixty-nine per cent) than regard the Taliban (fifty-seven per cent) or Al Qaeda (forty-one per cent) as very serious threats. Most Pakistanis see the US as on the wrong side of this issue: by a margin of fifty-four per cent to 4 per cent the US is seen as favouring India over Pakistan. Pakistanis express overwhelmingly positive opinions about another Asian giant — eighty-four per cent have a favourable view of China and eighty per cent consider China a partner to their country.
If this survey has to be taken seriously, which it should be, then India too has to work for better people to people contact and shed its image of an adversary. It has to, it should, translate its words of friendship with Pakistan and its people. That is more important as living with hostile perceptions about each other is suicidal for the development of the two countries and their status at the global level. They can ill afford to undermine each other. The shift must come, and that can happen only when the issues confronting the two nations from water to Kashmir are addressed in an air of mutual confidence.
Lastupdate on : Mon, 21 Jun 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 21 Jun 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 22 Jun 2010 00:00:00 IST
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