Tuesday, August 13, 2013

“Aman Ki Asha” Gone with the Wind

Editor’s Note for Esteemed Readers

The ongoing intense friction between India and Pakistan is ominous for both the countries in terms of having friendly or even normal relations. Ever since Pakistan’s prime minister Mian Nawaz Sharif, signed 8 landmark bilateral agreements with China, India seems to have gone berserk upon the promising phase of China-Pakistan strategic relationship. One of the agreements is the development of Gawadar Port and its linkage with China by a 2000 kilometers long motorway. This project when completed would enormously boost economic potential of both the traditional allies: China and Pakistan.
Simultaneously the incidence of sabotage, terrorism and bomb blasts in Karachi and Balochistan have soared. Although there are several other groups involved in these orgies of blood and mayhem, yet Indian hand cannot be ruled out for supporting BLA (Balochistan Liberation army) that is spawning a bloody separatist movement. There are strong indications that India is aiding and abetting these seditious activities to further truncate Pakistan like it did in 1971.
Pakistan’s advancement, prosperity or security is a highly poisonous pill very hard for India to swallow. The latest ongoing anti- Pakistan outrage being furiously demonstrated by Indian public seems to be sponsored by the Indian politicians both in power or opposition.
The criminals and killers such as current chief minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi and others are spitting venom against Pakistan in their public rallies. They are instigating the Indian people to frustrate the expected forthcoming meeting between Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in September in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
The death of five Indian soldiers is being trumped up as a handy ploy to punish Pakistan by military action. Pakistani high commission in New Delhi was raided and encircled by enraged Indian goons. Besides, the “Dosti Bus” was waylaid by rowdy protesters in New Delhi and Amritsar posing grave danger to the Pakistan bound passengers.
 When “Aman Ki Asha” mission was launched in 2010 by GEO and certain other Pakistani media czars, I had written an article on that subject predicting that such a mission was doomed to fail and flop. My argument was that while such perfunctory and superficial steps to normalize relations between the two neighbors may be laudable, these cannot fructify because of the lack of sincere intentions on the part of India and the festering anti- Pakistan Hindu mentality.
I am reproducing the same article for my readers. Its contents are still relevant although there might be some variations because of the passage of time.
Saeed Qureshi

“Aman Ki Asha” Gone with the Wind

“Aman Ki Asha” (hope or aspiration for peace) indeed is an august and a lofty initiative undertaken by the media giants of both India and Pakistan. I wish it fructifies and it ought to. But the ground realities suggest that such a patently well intentioned move may falter and abort as the time passes.
The skepticism or lack of hope with regard to the success of this otherwise landmark mission is grounded on two fundamental arguments. Let us first of all not be swayed by the very sublimity of this unique effort that aims at paving peace between the two overly hostile and bellicose neighbors. The predominant desire is that such a lofty endeavor must see the light of the day and there must be a decisive breakthrough to bring peace and tranquility between the age-old inveterate adversaries.
Firstly, it's the siege mentality on both sides of the divide that has been nurtured ever since both the states became independent from the British colonial rule in 1947.  The very partition of the colonized Indian subcontinent into two distinct states was based on the perception that the Hindus and Muslims cannot live together because of a sea of mutual contradictions, predominantly based upon religion, and religious based culture. During partition, the genocide of the countless human beings for their identities as Hindus and Muslims or Sikhs is a tragic and traumatic memory that instead of being forgotten or cast away has remained fresh all these years.
There is always a lurking lust on both the sides, even on people’s level, to tear each other into pieces and commit orgies of blood if similar occasions come by. This has happened several times after independence mostly in India and to a lesser degree in Pakistan. The genocidal thrust, beastly revenge and the wild urge to cannibalize each other has remained dormant but never vanished from the minds of the people especially among the extremist religious and ethnic segments of the society.
This mindset of deep seated hatred and undiminished hostility is a vile hang-up of the past but undeniably it is there. No amount of efforts how sincere and humane these might be, can erase the mutual suspicion and distrust and a wild penchant to destroy each other for being Muslim, Hindus or Sikhs. It is precisely these gory realities or sordid facts that do not give much credence to the hope for peace between India and Pakistan.
The process of dialogue has remained in vogue for six decades now. Where has it landed: on further complicating the mutual relationship? The ambition or hope for peace should remain alive and this is manifest in the latest media blitz launched with profuse fanfare by the outstanding media groups, the Jang group in Pakistan and the Times of India group in India.
However, even an imbecile knows that the substantive and cardinal issue that keeps the two nations in a state of perpetual mode of sabre rattling and that led to three major and two minor wars between them, is the settlement of the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan has, all along, been wishing that once this festering issue was seriously addressed and resolved, the climate of hostility could drastically subside and the visible peace and veritable amiability could surface.
It is, therefore, not possible to even imagine that any breakthrough towards permanent peace can be worked out between the two traditional rivals simply by the initiatives taken by the media channels no matter how widely read, watched or circulated they are.
The statement of the India Army chief General Deepak Kapoor flies in the face of these earnest drives and cordial enterprises in that he claims of the Indian forces’ capability to counter both China and Pakistan. He warned and hurled challenges both at China and Pakistan to be prepared when the time comes for two pronged military miracle produced by the Indian armed forces.
My argument may look plausible and even convincing when read along with the response of the Pakistan’s COAS General Ashfaq Kiani and Pakistan’s Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani to General Deepak’s unusual daring outburst. General Kiani expressed his resolve to defend Pakistan and mildly berated his Indian counterpart for issuing such irresponsible and irrational statements.
Only yesterday, Prime Minister Gilani stated on the floor of the National Assembly that Pakistan would not hesitate even to use the nuclear option if it was inevitable to save the country. Such strong sparring from the military and political leadership leaves very little room to be optimistic about any awesome breakthrough as is being drummed by the overzealous proponents of this exceptional goal.
Actually what is most pivotally needed is the unwavering political will and the real change of hearts to hammer out a meaningful thaw between India and Pakistan. That political will or initiative, unfortunately, has remained lacking between the countries in all the parleys on Kashmir dispute since they attained independence.
The political will must demonstrate itself in addressing the most volatile Kashmir issue which once resolved to the satisfaction of all the three parties involved, namely Kashmiris, Indian and Pakistan, would generate a self propelling momentum and evolve an effective  modus operandi towards speedy normalization of relations between the two mutually suspicious neighbours. Any initiative or effort without the resolution of thus far intractable Kashmir dispute would remain a no-starter and any statement to normalize relations between India and Pakistan would look farcical, subjective and mere pious platitude.
Interestingly, much to the liking of India, the first step towards “Aman Ki Asha” is to hold a major trade and industry conference in Karachi in February this year, in which the largest business houses of India and Pakistan would participate. The trade ministries from both the countries will also attend the conference.
India plans to conduct a weeklong literary and cultural activity in January with artists participating from Pakistan also. Now such steps are perfunctory and are far-removed from the resolution of the grave issues of Kashmir, border disputes, Siachen, Kargil and water.
Actually in the past, India has been emphasising solely on such measures that more than Pakistan benefit her. In the trade agreement earlier brokered with India, Pakistan was dumped with substandard industrial and agricultural exports. India looks at Pakistan as an easy, accessible market because of less hassle for being a neighbour. The common demonstration of cultural affinity can only flourish if the backlog of other serious problems is also lifted.
The culture of harmony and togetherness would pave way for the Indian movies and other facets of Indian bustling showbiz to overwhelm Pakistani society which in plain words can be called cultural invasion. So the underlying objective, which the leading media outlets are trying to attain, is going to be a ham-handed affair and would fizzle out if not beefed up and followed by tackling other ticklish and serious issues that have ever kept the relations between these two major states of the subcontinent, on tenterhooks for so long.
For this the political leadership from both the sides must come together and resolve the long standing contentious matters as speedily and earnestly as possible. All other benefits would follow automatically. Thereafter, no deliberate initiatives by the private catalysts such as the current one would be needed for capturing the hitherto elusive “Aman Ki Asha”.

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