Pakistan is burning. Perhaps democracy is at test and so is the dynastic rule that started after the death of Benazir. Can Pakistan be saved? Many political thinkers across the world agree that the Kashmir situation is the single greatest threat to the world today – both India and Pakistan being nuclear armed. The nightmarish scenario for the world is Pakistan going the Afghanistan way and ending up as a dangerously splintered Talibanised state.
Before discussing solution, let’s understand Pakistan first. Broadly speaking, there are three distinct kinds of forces in Pakistan. First, the jehadi groups, which has grown considerably large and strong with time. They survive on communal/racial hatred the same way some hard-liner hindutva groups do in India, hamas does in Palestine, or KKK did in the US not very long ago. Second, the military establishment, which unfortunately, has often supported the jehadis, and for years, have waged proxy wars through them, but are now under pressure to withdraw this support. And third, the civil society, the commoners, who want what people everywhere want – peace, prosperity and a good future for themselves and their children. This, is the most of Pakistan.
Unfortunately, what I see going on, is a war against the civilians of Pakistan. What we end up doing is prevent their musicians or cricketers from coming to India. Seldom do we understand, that the stronger civil society gets, the weaker will be the support for extremism, and the military and terrorists will loose importance. The Indian government should work towards increasing cultural exchanges with Pakistan. A supportive neighbour will only lead to greater unity among the fighting factions within Pakistan and usher an era of peace both within Pakistan and on the borders. I don’t think this should inhibit us from taking strict actions against Pakistan’s terrorist infrastructure. Of-course, this should happen with mutual consent.
It is unfortunate how many people in India wish doom for Pakistan. Some hard-liner political factions within India survive on this hatred. I pity them. India, Pakistan and Bangladesh can only be divided by political lines, but geographically, we are made as one. The rivers will continue to flow, neither can the winds be stopped to cross these man made borders. It is the geographical divide, with Himalayas in the north, Hindukush in west and the seas on three sides, that bind us together. We have rains in the same season, we grow similar crops and hence, have festivals together – irrespective of religion. The subcontinent will crumble if Pakistan falls. The only way out for both India and Pakistan is together. And through mutual co-operation.
A stable and strong democratic Pakistan will be a boon for India. Europe took two great wars to learn its lesson. Today, the continent is collaborating as a single unit and has forgotten all early differences. The rise of European Union and a single currency to help trade and freedom of movement across borders is a testament to this. Collectively, the subcontinent can become peaceful and help each other. Indian government should do everything to help Pakistan and its people; and stop working towards widening this gap.