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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Attack on Pakistan: How should India respond?

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Whether it is politicians, media or the even the common people on both sides of the border, we all take more pleasure in enjoying the pain of the other than the welfare of our own. For the last two decades, Pakistan and its citizens have ridiculed India's claim that Pakistan was the epicenter of the terrorism. Several Pakistani newspapers and websites have ridiculed many times about India's ambition of becoming a superpower. Surprisingly, very few of them have actually criticized their own Govt. and its achievements of the last 60 years. Even now if you visit the homepage of the The Dawn, it has a link to an article titled India - not Shinning, which ridicules the achievement of Slumdog Millionaire at the Oscars. Surely, even one of the most respected newspapers of the country feels it necessary to hit out at India rather than talk about the turmoil of their own country.

Economist rightly puts it, "IF PAKISTAN’S leaders had ever united against Islamist militancy as they have against India over the past three weeks, their country would not be the violent mess that it is. They are united against India because fulminating against India is more fun"

In such a scenario of extreme hatred and mistrust, it wasn't surprising at all when some sections in Pakistan blamed Indian agency RAW for these attacks. A minister in Pakistani Govt. claimed that this was India's response for Mumbai Attacks. Some Pakistani channel played Sonia Gandhi's recent election speech where she said that "Hum muhtodd jawaab denge". But how should India respond to these attacks in Pakistan. Do we also celebrate in the same manner as our neighbor has been doing for the last two decades or do we behave differently?

If 26/11 was termed as an attack on the very idea of India by P. Chidambaram, the latest attack on the Sri Lankan Cricketers is surely an attack on the whole of Pakistan. Pakistan, a country which has faced an identity crisis right from the very beginning. Pakistan neither has any history or any distinct culture of its own that unites its citizens as a nation. There are only two things that unites its people together - religion and cricket. Imran Khan once famously said that terrorist would never dare to target Cricketers. But even he has been proved wrong.

Pakistan may provide ideal fodder for our politicians to use it during their election speeches. But ideally, politicians should resist such temptations. History of Pakistan suggests it is hatred for India that unites Pakistan. The only entity that has benefited from 26/11 attacks is the Pakistani military. Now they could become even stronger and perhaps the stage is set for another coup. At such a time when the civilian govt is struggling to manage the economy, containing extremists in SWAT and also facing the ire of lawyers and opposition, India just cannot allow democracy to fail. Lahore is just 30 minutes from Amritsar.

Its not just Pakistan that is the problem. India's other neighbors such as Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are also facing internal troubles and Nepal although stable for the moment is undergoing change. With such a trouble in our neighborhood, we cannot turn a blind eye towards it. The Islamic Fundamentalism is on the rise even in India particularly in certain districts of UP like Azamgarh. Though it is still restricted to small pockets, incidents like Babri Mosque and Godhra riots don't help the Indian democracy.

In the hindsight, the UPA govts. decision to resist war mongering and using coercive diplomacy to great effect is commendable. Going forward, India should strongly dismiss all suggestions that point to a foreign hand in the Lahore attacks. At the same time it should not make matters worse for the weak civilian govt. If possible, confidence should be built along the border so that Pakistan's armed forces can be deployed in larger number in the troubled areas of SWAT and NWFP and Pakistan cannot blame tensions with India for not deploying enough troops.

India should not forget that the latest attacks are not just going to affect cricket in Pakistan, but the entire sub-continent. Jacob Orab has already expressed his reservations on the IPL. The Asian Block is known to have been united for a long time now. It should be recalled that in 1996, when several teams refused to visit Sri Lanka due to security concerns, a joint Indo-Pak cricket team led by Azhar play a match with the Sri Lankans. Therefore it is in our own interests that the Asian block pushes for the return of cricket to Pakistan as soon as conditions return back to normal.

Perhaps. the IPL would have to bear the immediate impact of these attacks. It will be nearly impossible to provide continuous security to eight teams each of almost 25 member plus the coaching and supports staff and umpires over a period of one month, at a time when the General Elections will be taking place. The Indian Government won't be willing to take any chances in an election time. Any attack on IPL would be raised by the opposition as a failure of the Govt. This is particularly the case after Mumbai attacks and was visible when tour to Pakistan was canceled. The problem is that postponing IPL is not an option because then then the IPL might interfere with the Future Tours Program and the foreign players might not be available.

India is going to host the Commonwealth Games next year. The security of the Games village and the visiting athletes and officials. This will be an important milestone for India as a successful hosting might give India future opportunity to host Olympics. The games are also important because it offers India a great opportunity to showcase itself as a tourist destination with its heritage and culture. But without adequate security, this will not materialize.

Without ensuring a regional stability, we cannot hope to remain as an attractive destination for FDI as India would continue to be labeled along with rest of the troubled South Asia. It is therefore in India's own interest to take the lead and ensure stability in the region.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderfully written. So professional!!

    I enjoyed reading it.

    I have checked out Pakistan e-media before, and have noticed the same point that you made here, they keep on ridiculing India's growth story and then strangely they compare themselves with us,they also have a lot of IFS and BUTS about everything.The articles are so unprofessionally written and I pity the masses in Pakistan that they don't even get to read their own reality and are probably in a state of hallucination