My Report Debate II: India-Pak & Multiple Congruent Faultlines
(Shaoni Sarkar’s essay is among the Top 10 of the My Report Debate II. Participants were asked the question: How to fix the India-Pakistan relationship – Jaadu ki jhappi or surgical strike?)
The relationship between India and Pakistan has become, at the ground level, disenfranchised of its complex history – so blown up that cricket can seem like a battleground instead of a site for socio-cultural exchange. India’s relationship with Pakistan is not to be fixed by our Prime Minister’s machismo. All that the championing of a hyper-masculine, aggressive state can do is engender such emotive force as can serve specific domestic political agendas, especially if it occurs at a time when elections are near and anti-incumbency is strong.
India, at the ground level, is led to believe in jingoistic nationalism as the answer to the India-Pakistan problem. Peace, too, can thus happen through emotional reconstitution.
Now, the entire political leadership of India tries to establish its allegiance with the people of India by demonstrating how harsh they can be on “terror”, a term they use interchangeably with “Pakistan”. Even though India and Pakistan have repeatedly been at the brink of nuclear war, reducing their relationship to pure enmity is absolute oversimplification, done only to reap domestic political benefits. Pushing for international isolation and placing of bans can only push the subject further away from the ambit of traditional morality.
The United States Institute of Peace Special Report clearly delineates the benefits of dialogue and engagement as opposed to isolation or aggression, wherever the prospect of finding common grounds with proscribed groups exists.
While Pakistan is popularly believed to be in political and social shambles such that sustaining insurgency and backing terror outfits seems to be their only option to accost India, India’s supposed peace efforts stand undermined by the chest-thumping of its hyper-nationalist, larger-than-life war heroes at this juncture.
Peace between India and Pakistan involves, inextricably, peace within Kashmir. While either nation continues its selfish pursuits in Kashmir, absolution of suspicions should remain impossible. India’s aggressive policy is no less a contributor to the insurgency in Kashmir than Pakistan which buttresses it.
Even as the popular notion persists that the prerogative for peace lies with India with its pluralist democracy as opposed to Pakistan as a state governed by religious fundamentalism, it appears today that India’s fundamentalism is only a little more furtive. In fact, in the unfolding of the Pulwama incident, Imran Khan seems to have acted with more grace than Narendra Modi has, releasing captured pilot Abhinandan as a goodwill gesture.
While the Composite Dialogue Process between the two nations, initiated in May 1997, has often yielded ceasefire, if not peace, it is only an elite process, from which the stone-pelters thronging the roads of Kashmir have remained perpetually excluded. Perhaps, if given a standing chance, no civil society from these riddled lands would choose war.
(All 'My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)