Friday, December 05, 2008

Viewpoint - Pakistan After Bombay 26/11

Pakistan After Bombay 26/11

Policy shift needed, not war.

[By Raza Rumi]

The dastardly attacks in Mumbai have irritated the old wounds and replayed the familiar, jingoistic tunes across the Indo-Pak borders. The Pakistanis, clamouring for friendship with their larger and problematic neighbour, have condemned these attacks in no uncertain terms.

Who could be a worse victim of terrorism than Pakistan in these extraordinary times? Yet, the Indian media and sections of its establishment are quick to involve 'Pakistan' as the key perpetrator of the terror regime. This has obviously angered some and allowed a few Cold-War practitioners to call for self-defence and fighting with India till the last.

The truth is that much of Pakistan does not want war. Hopefully, the Indian citizens are also not looking at war as a solution, or so it seems.

It is almost a cliché to state that war is not a solution to the current imbroglio despite the hysterical calls by the Hindu right to 'neutralise' Pakistan. The saner elements in India have already pointed to the implicit and deep-seated issues of misgovernance, short-termism and the mess of Partition that were neither carefully deliberated nor rectified during all these decades.

The non-state actors in both India and Pakistan have gained ascendancy due to the power distance of the Raj induced steel-frame structures of governance. If there are dozens of districts in India that operate beyond the writ of the formal state, there are areas in Pakistan that are not just outside the scope of the formal state but in a state of rebellion due to the war on terror.

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, an ignored persona in Pakistan, termed the partition of India as a partition of Indian Muslims. Whether we like it or not, this tragedy has happened in actual terms, leaving scars and wounds that will take years to heal. As if the 1947 bloodshed was not enough, the 1971 war of liberation fought by the Bengalis against the Pakistani state further divided the mass of Muslims into three distinct categories under tottering, imagined nation states.

Kashmiris are up in arms once again in India – this time Pakistan cannot be blamed for the excesses of the Indian state noted by the international groups and the bold sections of Indian intelligentsia.

The inimitable Arundhati Roy has already called for India's 'azadi' from Kashmir. The rise of the Hindu dominance movements allegedly to correct the wrongs of one thousand years of misdoings by the Muslims; and the concurrent branding of Muslims as terrorists have further fuelled the alienation of Indian Muslims. This is not just a Pakistani position but a fact recognized by many Indian thinkers themselves.

In Pakistan, years of misguided policies using Jihad as a policy instrument have also brutalized the society with a dogmatic interpretation of the lofty Islamic notions of struggle, change and self-improvement. Thus we have bigoted and political jihad factories that appear to be drifting away from the central hold and assuming a life of their own.

So we have a self-fulfilling cycle of violence, hate and war-mongering. Acts of violence in India are blamed on Pakistan, and groups of Indian Muslims thereby adding to further profiling of a beleaguered community that is huge in numbers despite being a minority.

Pakistan plays up this trend and attracts the criticism of the Indian extremists for sponsoring terror by misleading the minority youth. And, any insurgency in Pakistan is immediately traced to Indian intervention, real or fabricated. The wound festers and bleeds unabated.

Things have come to such a pass that we have jihadist state officials, especially a few retired ones who use war as a road to Pakistani (read Islamic) glory, TV presenters who predict that India will be ruled by Muslims once again and madressahs that preach stuff that can put most of us to shame.

On the Indian side, the involvement of serving and retired army officers in communal, barbaric violence is also a matter of public record. In addition, you have serving chief ministers and leaders of political parties who preach hatred and talk of 'fixing' the Muslims within India and beyond through regional and global coalitions that would make Gandhi and Nehru turn in their graves.

Religion and communalism sell where economic opportunity is short supply and where the modes of governance reinforce exploitation and alienation. This is the crux of the problem that is faced by India and Pakistan and to some extent by Bangladesh as well where abuse of religious sentiment has gained currency much to the horror of the secular Bengalis.

Therefore, the need of the hour is for India and Pakistan to acknowledge that they have to cooperate and address the menace of poverty, social and cultural exclusion and rethink their eagerness to espouse the neo-liberal mantra of growth at any cost and identifying consumerism with general prosperity.

This requires fundamental policy shifts within these states. Calls for war and revenge are mere ruses to avoid taking the hard route to reform and social transformation. The entrenched civil and military bureaucracies would need to take a backseat in the policy-setting process.

Pakistan's current and former presidents have presented India with some unprecedented proposals that include shift from the traditional positions of Kashmir, trade-facilitation and responsible agreements on the use of nuclear warheads, among others. The recent Mumbai attacks have occurred right after President Zardari articulated bold and fearless proposals on a long-lasting peace.

This is why the Indian establishment needs to review its current spell of belligerence aimed at the domestic, pre-election milieu and understand that this is what the miscreants are aiming for: a breach and reversal of what was optimistically named as an irreversible peace process.

The Pakistani state needs to ensure that it provides full cooperation in future investigations to allay the fears of Indian public. This is how the cycle of violence, hostility and war-mongering will start to break. Any kind of war – surgical, targeted, small-scale or large scale – is not the answer.

The sub-continental states have to reinvent themselves after six decades of independence and re-examine how the colonial legacies of social and economic exclusion, the great games and communalism have to be done away with.

If we as a region fail to act, history shall be brutally candid about our collective illusions, suicidal streaks and the shared contempt for history.


chira said...

A very well written article, acknowledging the truth on both sides. Is this the true opinion among Pakistanis, or is it just one sane voice. Of course, even this is a shared circumstance - how many sane voices do I hear in India?

It would be very nice, if such articles were available to larger numbers of Indians. Why don't you contact or and publish the articles here in a coloumn from Pakistan?

Raza Rumi said...

Thanks Mayank for publishing this and I am also grateful to Chithrupa for the comment here
Very encouraging

cheers and let's hope that there is no war of any kind!

Anonymous said...

Nice thoughts. Let's wait and see what the military of Pakistan has to say.

Ravi said...

Very well written. Any sane Indian knows its wrong to blame entire Pakistan for what happened in Mumbai. Jihadi's, on either side of the border need to be weeded out and both countries need to strongly oppose their sinister ideas. Particularly some sections of the media which tends to glorify them.

Anonymous said...

India is a problematic state? No wonder it was thinking of providing Pakistan a most favored nation status!
The hand that rocked the cradle is now being cut off - thats pakistan's state.
The truth of the matter is Pakistan does want a showdown! Its itching for it.. oh yes.. ITS ON!
Not only Hindu right wingers want a war with Pakistan - 99% of Indians want a war with you - BRING IT ON MATE!
Arundhati Roy as we know is complete crack head; by just writing a book and trying to hog the limelight after supporting a cause or two doesnt actually make her "A VOICE"! Screw her!
Non - State? Non State people are only found in the Mid East. And they are far far far away from terror! The terrorists who attacked my beloved country are very much Pakistani- keep living in a state of denial causing further self embarassment!
Maulana Saheb or who ever he was / is - down right emotional. If 1946/47 didnt happen back then, it would have surely happened some other day!
Misguided Policy is Pakistan its own internal screw up! We arent concerned about it!
Profiling a comminity: Thats just plain old rhetoric... are you so deep in denial that you cant judge the shit the world has been in, whether it was Beirut, Philippines, Thailand, US, UK, India etc... was done by none other than Islamic Militants??
Our serving Army officers were atleast arrested and send to judicial custody - what does Pakistan do? A PAT ON THE BACK AND FORCES A PLEDGE THAT THESE ACTS OF TERROR SHOULD CONTINUE! Gandhi and Nehru would be turning in thier graves - RIGHTLY SAID! Want to know why: The are shocked that this is the result of thier decisions taken long long long ago!
Need of the hour is to anhillate Pakistan... no two ways about that!

Anonymous said...

BRUISED INDIAN - a very well said truth and I support that from the depths of my heart. I still remember the saying " All muslims are not terriorist but all terriorists are muslims. Wake up you coward cheaters. every one here wants a final answer enough of your brituality on this world GO HANG YOUR SELF for UR LIBERTY so called Jihad.

Ray Lightning said...


The problem is not Pakistani people, but the Pakistani army (which is not yet accountable to the people).

There is a significant section of the Pak Army officers who subscribe to fundamentalist Islam. Their world-view is surprisingly close to that of Lashkar-e-Toiba. In this view, there is a constant tension with India because it is an infidel nation (its 150 million Muslims notwithstanding). Pak Army needs to "defend" Pakistan against this enemy. Nobody seems to remember that all the 4 major wars that we have fought have been initiated by Pakistan.

India needs no war with Pakistan. Not even the most rabid fundamentalist Hindutva organizations want to initiate war with Pakistan. It is against the interest of India to have a punctured border and volatile neighbors. The situation is very different from the days of Bangladesh war. If you look at the Indian response in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, it has been extremely calm and composed.

There is a huge pile of evidence that the attackers are of Pakistani origin, no one in the world except Mr. Zardari states the contrary. The father of the lone captured terrorist has recognized his son, for God's sake. Still India maintains its composure, because any destabilization of Pakistan is strongly against its strategic interests.

The Pakistani civilian government is weak . There is no assurance that the army will not pull a military coup out of its sleeve. There will always be an excuse of internal militancy and external threat (from India) that can be used as justification.

Since the Government of Zardari knows how weak its position is, it has no choice but to listen to the army dictates. This explains why Mr.Zardari still refuses to acknowledge the Pakistani nationality of the terrorists, and why the village of Faridkot is under army canopy - all evidence is being botched up. The Pak army has a history of using lies as a strategy : the Kargil invasion is one good example. Under these circumstances, India cannot offer to share all the evidence with Pakistan. Surely, there are some good guys in the government, but they are not sufficiently strong.

It is sad, but utterly true that Pakistani nationalism has always been interlinked with fundamentalist Islamic parties. All the parties that stood for a united Pakistan in the face of a crisis are far-right religious parties (the Jamat-e-Islami party in Bangladesh, the Muttahida-majlis-e-amal in NWFP). The secular parties (awami national parties in Bangladesh/NWFP) have a history of separatism. Due to this history, the Pak army has invariably become a stronghold of far-right Islamic thinking. Many such generals are still influential in the army, and particularly in the ISI. The Pak army has been maintaining an enormous charade (first through Musharaff, and now through Kayani) that it is fighing with the USA against the Taliban. But, nobody knows how long this charade is going to last.

It is first in the interest of Pakistani people to discipline its army, weed far-right elements out of it, and then make the army totally answerable to the parliament. Unless this is done, the Pakistani government will not have any credibility in the international community.

Kashmiris are up in arms once again in India – this time Pakistan cannot be blamed for the excesses of the Indian state noted by the international groups and the bold sections of Indian intelligentsia.

Atleast the Indian army is disciplined and accountable for the parliament. The Pakistani army (with 90% Punjabi membership) is neither. It massacres separatist elements with impunity : the mass graves in Bangladesh speak for themselves. Can somebody contemplate Indian army murdering politicians from a party who has only recently got the majority and formed the provincial government. But Pakistan did this in NWFP (Awami National party & khudai khid-matgars) Bangladesh (awami-league) and in Baluchistan (Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti).

None of this is in the interest of Pakistani people, and we Indians should remember that confronting the Pak Army (especially the ISI) is not the same as confronting the Pakistani people.

Anonymous said...

Well written article, but about the non state actors I have something to say. The militants in Pakistan are surely a non state actors but when it comes to RSS/Bajrang Dal of India its a bit different they work under the laws of India, they may go rampage some times but by doing that they face the legal consequences; meaning they are not any "non state actors".

Anonymous said...

What the hell!! Someone remarked Jihadis on both sides! Are you pointing to Pakistan and Afghanistan? Please say "yes"! I really need to categorise you as Dumb, Non Challant and extremely terror proof (though no such phrase exists)! For the love of God; there are no Jihadis on the Indian side, they come in from Pakistan, execute their nefarious, gut wrenching activities and carry on back to Pakistan! The blogger continues his rhetoric "both countries should need to strongly oppose 'sinister' ideas". Whoa - hold on a fuckin minute - you got me all aggressive and agitated! Sinister Idea - India?? Are you sure?? Get a reality check mate! You need to either switch sides and get a green passport or visit your nearest shrink! Please resist from passing such frivolous remarks! Any nubile mind child of India who followed the Mumbai attack on TV will tell you who the sinister one is! You my friend need to keep shut! I couldnt agree more with the blogger who wrote that the media needs to be responsible to not glorify these inhumane, low lying scum bags! Right said - PTV, and the channel which keeps blaring out Zaid Hamid's barking off should be restrained and kept in check!
On an emotional note: Let me ask those Indians who are trying to project themselves as "sane" - Have you lost a dear friend in an act of terrorism? Have you lost an Uncle who was declared a PoW and hasnt returned home since '71? Have you ever been sent an sms / test message saying "they are in the bathroom"? Have you ever been visited by the Army to say "am sorry but your brother has been killed in action"! God damn you, for your voice of sanity holds no bearing for me! Am better off being labelled insane than to be holding an Olive branch and singing hymns of peace!

Anonymous said...

Breaking News: Pak NSA sacked for speaking the TRUTH about Kasab too soon, before the government could spin the news!

Although, the Indians know the average sons of the soil in Pak are good people. But I fail to understand why are they ignorant about the propaganda! I feel pity on you guys for attempting to turn a horrible crime into a joke, and in fact Pak tried to drum the war rhetoric. But there is a reason for it - in each of the wars (65, 71, 99) Pak has convinced its people that it won the war and that they are militarily superior, and the reality is that after each of these wars the people in power were sacked, whereas in India, the leaders became heroes. Doesn't an average Pakistani think which version is more credible? And why do people think we would go to war, we know that although Pakistan is bankrupt, and nothing to lose, we have a lot on stake.

India has been fortunate this time that it got the hijacked boat as well as satellite phones, along with a terrorist alive. I wonder what would be the Pak government's next move on the evidences provided.

Pak has egg on its people's face all over, by screwing up the investigation, and is turned into a laughing stock.

Anonymous said...

mr. raza,
you have tried a lot to balance indian and pakistan with the same scale but let whatever you try ,you cannot compare india with pakistan even a fraction.if india is mount everest pakistan is termite mound and this is reality. i'm not comparing india only by its shear size but in every aspects be it in technological advances, financial power, intelectual capital and military might or democracy and secular tradition. you can blame some right wingers in our country for some troubles but you cannot compare the big hearts of our hindu people and its secular beliefs who are the first in blaming any atrocities on muslims here. you can give example of hindu- muslim riots in india but you cannot give any example in pakistan where muslims carry hindu gods on their head and shoulders and this is not due to fear of hindus but only love.i belong to orissa where muslims participate in majority of our festivals ,not just in cities but also in villages. i can give you an example of a festival of orissa where a muslim gentle man is organising lord shiva and goddess parvati's marriage ceremony . he also enacts as the father of one of the deity by keeping fasts and performing all the required activities, a father had to do during his son or daughters marriage.this is india and its muslims , you cannot compare anything like this in your country where muslims kills fellow muslims in the name of bledy sharia law and fatwas.though india is yet to achieve many things but its still very rich in humanity and courtesy.
our muslim brothers and sisters have such liberty that they can roam, sing ,dance, watch movies and do whatever they like on their own without fearing any talibani regime's orders because they live in india not in pakistan.
i feel pity on pakistani citizens who suffer on the hands of few uneducated, barbaric people who even don't know earth is revolving around the sun. this is their reality and this is their destiny because the demon which your leaders had created way back in times to destabilize india has turned itself toward its own master.pakistani's are not the victims of terror rather the victims of gods rage and curse due to their own misdoings..............

Anonymous said...

every one knws pak is facing terror from its own wrong doings,,they made the terrorist to fight jehad against india and r fighting against them under us pressure,,wat u expect from bachelor soldiers in kashmir,,they r humsn beings,,seen lot of bloodshed and killin of their friends,,sexual harrasment is bound to happen in so much stress,,it happens in delhi mumbai all the time,,still in kashmir its less than indian wants war,,only solution is to divide pakistan into baluchistan,waziristan,punjab and sindhu desh.