Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Indo-Pak Attitudes, 60 Years Later

by Adnan Gill

On August 14 and August 15, in an unprecedented collaborative effort of Pakistan’s GeoTV and India’s NDTV, a political talk show ‘Hamaray Mutabiq’ was broadcasted. The show hosted some of the most respected cultural and political icons from both Indian and Pakistani sides. It presented an excellent opportunity to reflect on what had been changed in the last 60 years: physically, economically, ideologically, and more importantly philosophically. It also provided an interesting sample of attitudes and moods of the citizens of the two countries.

In the decades following the partition both countries went at each other's throats, at least four times. By any standard, these conflicts physically changed the maps, i.e. out of the British India now we have Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and the disputed Kashmir.

Materially, in last decade or so, India improved quite a bit in technologically and economically whereas Pakistan showed intermittent spurts of improvement, but not enough. Overall, both countries lag far behind the developed nations in the social uplift of their citizens. The majority of Indians and Pakistanis are still barely surviving on less than $2 per day. To put this in perspective, according to UNDP’s 2006 Human Development Index (HDI), out of 177 countries, India was ranked at a shameful 126th place and Pakistan took an even worst 134th place. Even the so-called banana-republics like Honduras and Guatemala were ranked higher than India and Pakistan.

On philosophical and ideological levels, while much has changed on Pakistani side, unfortunately, hardly anything changed on the Indian side of the divide.

Pakistani side has repeatedly gone through political evolutions and devolutions which has over time softened the attitudes of its citizens towards their neighbors in the East. Pakistanis have matured philosophically, and are mentally exhausted from decades of political instability, ultra-conservatism, and the fruitless struggle of fighting for the rights of the Kashmiris. They have realized that decades of political instability and leading Jihads, one after other, for the liberty of others has only left them socially exhausted, diplomatically isolated, and financially drained. With the decent of umpteen political talk-shows of new and independent TV channels, this exhaustion was filled by the heightened social and political awareness, and to some extent, by the religious extremists who played the role of catalyst for even newer mini-Jihads.

As highlighted in the Hamaray Mutabiq show, the attitudes of majority of Pakistanis from all walks of life have transformed from individualist to righteous, into compromising and conciliatory. Yes, even in the case of disputed Kashmir too. Ironically, at the same time, the attitudes on Indian side have become even more self-righteous, arrogant, and condescending as displayed by the Indian Gen. (Retd) Shanker Roy Choudhary.

In last six decades, the attitudes of the general populace on the Indian side have regrettably only hardened. Just like 60 years ago when most of the Hindu extremists were pursuing the creed of Hindutva, today a growing number of even mainstream Indians are pursuing this intolerant theological dream, only with even hardened resolve. Hindutva is an intolerant and fascist ideology that negates the teachings and ideals of Mahatma Gandhi and is closer to the teachings of Bal Thackeray.

Throughout his life, Mahatma Gandhi remained committed to non-violence and truth even in the face of most extreme circumstances. But on January 30, 1948, his messages of nonviolence and truth were deemed unpatriotic and unbecoming of a Hindu, so he was shot and killed in New Delhi by a Hindu extremist. In their mad pursuits, the forces of Hindutva didn't spare even the most cherished and beloved Indian leader. Gandhi’s assassin, Nathuram Godse, was a Hindu radical with links to the Hindu Mahasabha (a Hindu extremist organization). If you think, Gandhi’s assassination gave a backlash to the Hindu extremists, think again! Even a higher percentage of Indians elect and support the Hindu extremist parties now.

Ironically, even though Pakistan is viewed as the country in the clutches of religious extremists, but in reality, to this day, its citizens have never elected any religious party in the center. While in the stark contrast, India has twice sent a Hindu nationalist party to the center, the BJP which twice formed a coalition government with the other Hindu extremist parties. In fact, it was the BJP Chief Minister ‘Narendra Modi’ who sat over the massacre of 2,000 Muslims.

Sadly, today there are more followers of Mahatma Gandhi’s nemeses, Bal Thackeray. Thackeray is an admirer of Adolf Hitler and Nazism. He is a Hindu fundamentalist and a poster boy of the Hindutva believers. He formed the Shiv Sena (widely known to be a Fascist party), an ally of the BJP. He holds the most extreme views against non-Hindus (especially Muslims), and the Pakistanis.

Unfortunately, the Indian news media and entertainment industry are also hammering the ultra-conservative pro-Hindutva beliefs into the impressionable minds of younger Indians, already high on ‘Shining India’ mantra. With increasing frequency, Bollywood is churning out movies in which villains are either Muslims or Pakistanis. Not to be beaten by Bollywood, the Indian news media bolsters its rating by hyping the government’s favorite bogyman, the infamous Pakistani ISI. Every time a violent act takes place in India, immediately, without even any circumstantial evidence, the media joins the government’s favorite chorus of Muslim or Pakistan bashing.

In last 60 years, barring notable exceptions, while Pakistani attitudes have transformed into humbleness and conciliation; regrettably, the same cannot be said about the Indian attitudes which have only hardened in their yearning for the extremist philosophy of Hindutva whose cardinal objective is establish ‘Akhand Bharat’.

PakTribune http://paktribune.com/news/index.shtml?189339
Attock News http://www.attocknews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=344&Itemid=168
The Statesman http://statesman.com.pk/opinion/op7.htm
The Frontier Post http://www.thefrontierpost.com/News.aspx?ncat=le&nid=554
The Defence Journal (October)

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