Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Pakistan and terror

Reading a respected Pakistani daily for a couple of weeks, starting with the Mumbai bomb blast, has giving me a much wider perspective about the nation and its citizens. Pakistanis are much more disadvantaged than us Indians. They do not have a functional democracy, their society is still constrained by feudal setup, politicians are even more shameless than ours and are even more corrupt. Inflation is raging high, economy in shambles and people are worried. This Bakri-id was not a good one for many of them, in fact lot many people toned down their celebrations because they could not afford to buy the animal for sacrifice. (I wonder if this is the festival for which Camels are brought down to South India from the northern parts of India and there will be routine articles in the paper about cruelty on animals and stuff..)
More from the captured terrorist, Like most of them he has very little education, hails from a very poor family and the easiest option for him to earn respect in society is to join these killer-organisations and pretend to be saving a religion, kill some people and gain entry into ‘paradise’. No wonder Pakistan is a hotbed of terror. One thing it has managed to export despite the global slowdown is –terrorists! The problem of the nation is so much akin to the underdeveloped tribal regions in our own backyard that is a Naxalite hotbed. So much for Jinna’s dream and so much for Iqbal’s “Sare Jahan Se Accha”; every thing ultimately remained on papers.
What ever the historical reasons are, for me, the whole problem of terror is due to underdevelopment, more economic than it appears. If people had opportunities to lead a decent live, ensure that their children went to school and were promised better things in life, why would they want to die a violent death? If things are just depressing, if meeting ends is tough and there are no other option but to become a foot soldier of terror earning so much more than ever possible on the right path to livelihood, why not? If only Pakistani rulers has a little more sense than their India-phobia, nipped the Frankenstein’s monster of terror in the bud, and spent the money they eventually did on public expenditure, they would have been a lot better. They have the geographical advantage. They were in the land of five rivers, the breadbasket of the sub continent. They were a smaller nation so should have been far easier to manage. They did not have as much diversity as we have. But where did they end up? And where are we today? We are in a position to inject a stimulus package and they are going around beseeching for aid. I should say it is just the misfortune of the Pakistani people.
I was reading Pervez Musharraf’s autobiography. One thing, like all dictators, he is an egomaniac. The book was full of I, me, me and more me. A good autobiography should never been an overdoes of Is and me’s.. All that came out of the book was the dubious glorification of Pakistani armed forces, a claim of the force being far more superior to Indian forces and of course the assertion that Mujahiddin were behind the Kargil war, even after India proved that the Mujahiddin were none other than Pakistani army regulars, with identity cards and badges. The army was indeed so great that they had to thing twice to accept the remains of their fallen soldiers. So how great can be an army that does not honour the remains of its fallen soldiers? The book was evidently an eye wash intended to keep the Pakistani people in a state of ‘imposed’ suspension of disbelief, just a continuation of school text book that speaks of Indian atrocity but does not mention the number of Prisoners of War released unconditionally by India in the aftermath of second Indo-Pak war. This is where the problem begins and may be ends- the power of Pakistani army and its generals have over Pakistani people and society. It appears Pakistani army can go a better job at governance than securing its citizens, after all they are used to it. Even if these dubious claims are discounted, why is that Pakistani army occupying such a big space in the policy-public-media domain? Army should do what it should, protect the citizens from external aggression and secure its borders. This army is more interested in creating disturbance in neighbouring countries, is unable to secure its western borders and has willingly supported extremist factions and pulls the strings ultimately. So it is like the Army deciding what to do the money with the exchequer? Buy food for the poor, build schools or buy arm and ammunitions? What could be the tendency of an institution like army? Naturally buy arms and ammunitions. Where will that lead to? Into the quagmire of underdevelopment and associated frustration, the frustration can be expressed in many ways, farmer suicides (as in the case of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh), the Naxalite movement (as in Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand) and religious extremism and related violence. Where will it lead to but here, a bloody, society marred by violence?
At this juncture, the role of CIA and USA is conspicuous. Back during the Zia-ul-haq days the Americans had the ability of persuade Pakistani rulers, they could have used their power to act more responsibly. All they managed to do was create another fear psychosis that Russians wanted Pakistani warm waters and that India being Russian ally wanted the same. They funded these Jehadis to fight against the Northern Alliance, but could not for see what the monster – a Bhasmasura they create would do after they had attained their goal of winning the cold war? They woke up only after their ego was hurt right in their own back yard. Suddenly all their friends became their enemies. What Pakistan has started in Punjab and Kashmir never assumed importance till 9/11. So what is the price we pay for the selfish American game of promoting Jehadis and strengthening Pakistani ISI and Army? Die like flies when a young man just out of his teens sprays bullets in a crowded railway station.
If only people both in India and Pakistan were at the centre stage, allocating national budget to high priority issues like education and health care rather than on embarking on an arm’s race. If only we common people had our ways, and we could see things more clearly that things would have been better for both countries and for the larger world. For, common people on both sides of the Radcliff line life is but a struggle, (of different proportion though), in all its sense- economy, national security and social.Till that happen, peace and stability is just a pipe dream.

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