My Report Debate II: With Pak, Persistence, Patience, Pragmatism
(Kalyan Kumar Banerjee’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?)
We need to be clear on our vision with Pakistan, and our policy must only follow the vision. Jaadu ki jhappi or surgical strikes cannot achieve desirable outcomes unless we demonstrate consistency.
“Kabhi Sharif ka saath, Kabhi surgical ki raat” only reveals our confusion. We must choose our ideal outcomes first.
1. Pakistan co-exists with India as a friendly neighbour. 2. We demonstrate our capability to strike and keep them scared. We can agree on many other possible outcomes, only two are shown above.
The path we choose must depend on the outcomes we desire. And pursue our strategic intent with conviction, consistency and courage. We need to be patient, too; we cannot wipe out prejudices cultivated over generations through a few years of good intentions.
Apart from lives lost and constant threat of terrorism, the price involves resources and focus diverted away from agriculture, education, healthcare, jobs – Can we learn from history? Vidyasagar, Vivekananda, Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela have stood up to injustices and brought irreversible change more effectively than George Bush, Charu Majumdar or Hitler.
Have we wondered why we loathe instability in the US? Almost anyone is tied with an interest in that country. Someone’s relative works in Wall Street or Valley, someone else is studying in Austin or Princeton. And most businesses find it easier to sell in US than in China or Russia.
Can we take this cue, and nurture the ordinary Pakistani’s interest in India? My dream is to see Indian Universities teeming with international students (including Pakistanis) proudly sending selfies back home, young Pakistanis aspiring for a job in Maruti or Mindtree, Pakistani ministers approaching Premji or Patanjali to set up units in Pakistan, Indian artists and culture thriving in Karachi as in Kolkata.
When the Pakistanis return for vacation, they tell their friends good things about India and question why Pakistan cannot follow suit. India becomes a land of opportunity. Just to check out the other option – we have “won” every war with Pakistan, and particularly humiliated them in 1971, where has that led us?
Pakistan continues to be an irritant, and currently dominates our national discourse more than agriculture, jobs, or AI startups. The proposed path isn’t easy. We must delve into issues, Kashmir included, and have the will to address those. Persistently, with patience! We need to build aspirational institutions, respect diversity and other perspectives, and work towards amity among all sections of our country. Let us gather the courage to choose!
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