The Idea of Enemy
His personal experience with Pak Army aside Nawaz Sharief has a point
INKSIGHT BY MEHMOOD UR RASHID
Indo-Pak is a case of chronic animosity. This animosity raised permanent structures of hate on either side. And from these structures destruction flows out perennially. Politics, society and military of each country are raised on this idea of enemy. More than living for themselves, the two countries seem to live as enemy to other. So no wonder the world looks at them as “implacable enemies.” Every time a crisis strikes one the other derives a pleasure of sorts.
In the recent times we have some vivid memories of India hooting her way through in hatred towards Pakistan. One, when 9/11 happened. India went way ahead in offering herself as a base in case US wished to attack Pakistan. Forgetting, when a greater power comes into the vicinity it only mounts problems; the then government didn’t want to miss the thrill of believing for a while that the enemy was decimated for ever. Almost similar is the approach after Osama Bin Laden was killed in a US conducted operation at Abatabad, Pakistan. Forgetting that a crises ridden neighbour is always a problem, Indian media and political establishment don’t want to miss even a miniscule chance of seeing the enemy humiliated and finally pushed to the wall.
Same is Pakistan. Knowing full well how devastating it proved to unleash radical packs in its Afghan experiment, Pakistan continues to give India a fright by sending out signals that the same radicalization can take on India would time come. Having tasted the bitter of getting the world powers into regional matters, Pakistan persists in the error of rushing to US and China to keep India at bay.
Has this animosity given anything to the two countries that could add to the life of a common man on either side of the divide! What it produced is only ugly and pernicious. It started with the horror of Partition, and went on with war after war, insurgency after insurgency, and sabotage after sabotage. It tore Pakistan into two. It drew Indian into a bloody encounter with its own people in Punjab. It killed thousands in the cities and suburbs of Pakistan and India. And then it goes into making Kashmir a place where blood sells at a price very cheap. It gave this region two huge armies, armed with ruthless apparatus of intelligence, always ready to inflict a cut on other. Of course it gave the two Bombs that they so proudly tested at Pokhran and Chagai! The two are happy that if time demanded it would take just minutes to kill millions. Jai Hind. Pakistan Payindabad.
This is the atmosphere that looms large and Nawaz Sharief, former primer minister of Pakistan, produces some sweet sounds on a visit to Sindh. Saying that Pakistan should stop calling New Delhi as the “biggest enemy.” Sharief wants to probe into the military complex of his country by way of Kargil misadventure, Karachi carnage, and Nawab Akbar Bukhti’s killing. Nawaz Sharief’s uncomfortable relations with the Army ever since Genersl Musharraf did to him what he did to him, is known to all. His dislike for the things that are openly associated with Pak Army has a strong personal dimension. Otherwise it was the mother of all evils – General Zia’s reign – that threw Nawaz into limelight and finally into the position of power. Put all this aside, what Sharief said is not just valid, but an inescapable imperative. And if he has directed his word towards Islamabad, same applies to New Delhi. India too runs on the idea of enemy. Political administration in India, and the military complex of India are no different than Pakistan. I remember, in a conference held at Delhi in the wake of summer 2010 Kashmir agitation, one of the retired army officers very acerbically almost yelled out: “Pakistan is an existential threat to us.” I could get a first hand observation of how India has internalized this animosity.
So the task is to expunge this animosity from the person before expecting a change in the politics. How can that happen! Here is what Eqbal Ahmed wrote way back in 1997. A lengthy quote for a newspaper column, yet, worth having it here all, verbatim.
“Like the South Asian subcontinent, our sentiments remain divided. Like the traditionally undivided family which separates when brothers and cousins quarrel and build walls along the family courtyard, Indians and Pakistanis make awkward, complimentary enemies. While opposing nationalisms, which for us is a recent ideology, pits us against each other, history and nature are against the rivalry between us. So we feel and act in contrary ways as people do when they harbor mixed animosities and divided feelings. In this dialectic of feelings, there is an element of hope: the most creative among South Asians have not surrendered to the instincts that divide the sub continent into hostile entities.”
This journey to animosity is not a thing of yesterday. There is the dust of decades, rather centuries that has settled on the path back to the times when the lines of division has not happened to the imagination. So it is a painstaking task that demands the patience of a prophet to undertake. It never means that Pakistan should hem into India so that the event of partition was undone. Partition was a bloody thing that happened to this region, nevertheless, it was real. Sure, there could have been other ways of engaging with the reality that manifested in the shape of Partition, but saying that the two communities can express themselves to a similar degree in the same kind of power structure is a certain folly. If Brother Gandhi has two votes and Brother Jinnah has one, staying together is not a likelihood. Staying with the differences there are other ways of connecting to each other. If the histories of Subcontinent are read with honesty and the concepts of Muslims being alien to the land or Hindus being an infidel presence in the land are dispelled, a beginning towards a changed relationship can be made. Iqbal, to whom we attribute the idea of Pakistan responded to the realities of his times, but never could he have imagined the abrupt, bloody disruption of relations between the two communities giving birth to permanent hostilities. Syed Maududi, such a strong proponent of the individuality of being Muslim, engaged himself in a kind of reconciliatory effort between the Hindus, particularly Sikhs, and the Muslims, when he went deep into the dwellings and talked to the non Muslim population about the non communal character of Islam. This was the time when partition was happening and he finally, with his associates had to leave Pathankot.
So we need “texts of love” and “translations of hope” to restore the sub continent its natural and historical continuity. The day it happens, Kashmir will refuse to stay as a problem. That day we would realize that the solution was as near as us and not as far as US.
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Lastupdate on : Wed, 18 May 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 18 May 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 19 May 2011 00:00:00 IST
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