My Report Debate II: India-Pak Need to Bond Over Common Culture
(Chinmayi Sarma’s essay is among the Top 10 of the The Quint’s My Report Debate II contest. Participants were asked the question: How to fix the India-Pakistan relationship – Jaadu ki jhappi or surgical strike?)
Ricocheting between war and peace is India and Pakistan. Today, the precarious balance of sovereign self-determination is muddled in strategic discourses. This hatred is an illustration of how we continue to be colonial puppets.
I am convinced that people of the two nations share one cultural lineage; be it language, food or class-based hierarchy. We are somewhat parochial, which is why the West categorically calls us Oriental. Sitting in the confines of Radcliffe line, the two nations are cynical of one another. But why do such boundaries melt in high-societies of London or the metro stations of Dubai?
Foreign-returned people often talk of universal brotherhood, illustrating the many ways in which Indians are similar to their Pakistani counterparts. Probably, the two nations need to overcome psychological imperialism and bond over a common platform of culture.
When Vajpayee embarked on a peace process with our neighbour, I was young. When Modi took a detour to wish Sharif on his birthday, I had grown up. But my mind began racing only when Imran Khan started issuing videos post-Pulwama.
Despite India adopting parliamentary democracy and Pakistan a presidential form of governance, the rationale governing the leadership is basically the same; “keep the vote-bank ajar.”
National security, strategic alliance and peace-building are mere jargon words for an average citizen who the leadership exploits for political gain because it will keep the people in awe. Political opinion of an ordinary man is shaped by statements made by his elected representatives and brought to his doorstep by social media or television. He does not realise that he is being duped into false consciousness on surgical strikes or even diplomatic stand-offs.
Thus, if the glass ceiling between the two nations must fall, average citizens must understand the dynamics of democracy, be it the manufactured necessity of another Indo-Pak War or threats to national security. He must learn to make political opinions for himself with free, fair and independent media as his sole guide.
Bangladesh of today agreed to become East Pakistan despite being different in every way from West Pakistan. Then, religion was the point of familiarity. But today, it has become a polarising device with Islamic Republic of Pakistan being positioned against a Hindu India as a “Rashtra.”
Like yesterday, failure is inevitable because religion is a social institution inessential to political life of a nation. UN or SAARC must act in this regard to deescalate religious tensions in the region. Pangs of Partition and more than 70 years of hatred needs to be overcome by acknowledging common descent, geography and culture because the two nations that are not mere neighbours but sisters sharing one umbilical cord, to resolve the dilemma of Toba Tek Singh.
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