.Dr. Umar Khan
Dr. Khan belongs to a Lahore based Think Tank.
Is India our eternal enemy?
Four things, even a little of which is still a lot, pain, poverty, fire and enmity. Hazrat Ali RA
In the last few weeks we celebrated two national days instilling patriotism in our people, particularly youth. 14th August was our Independence Day and we enumerated its blessings at all fora while 6th September we celebrated defense day remembering sacrifices of our heroes. In addition to celebrations, Pakistan’s enmity with India and its Hindu majority was also mentioned and emphasized. Our print and electronic media repeatedly used the word “enemy” for India adding the prefix of eternal making it worse. It has been going on for decades and from my generation brought up on “Crush India” slogans it has become even more noxious. We are forcefully instilling a feeling of hostility towards a neighbor in the minds of our young ones which can have serious repercussions later in their and Pakistan’s lives.
An enemy is a person or nation who hates, opposes or means harm to another. We have very serious differences with India, no doubt about it. Occupying a Muslim majority state of Kashmir against the will of people is against the UN resolutions and human decency the 21sr century expects. Denying an entire people their right of self-determination is the root cause of host of problems we have in the Indian subcontinent including serious human rights abuses and torture. Then Indians are not fair with the Pakistani share of water, their lifeline, these are the basic problems with a host of smaller issues but do these make us eternal incorrigible enemies? Certainly not.
Diplomacy has established after centuries of experience that every nation in this world should be viewed as a friend, or a potential friend. It was this philosophy which turned eternal enemies into friends in modern Europe converting immense sufferings inflicted on each other into prosperity and progress. Enormous pain and anguish was evaded by burying small and at times not so small differences and historical baggage. In the last century alone 40 million Russians were killed in wars with Germany and had the enmity been allowed to stay, this count could have been much higher. History cannot be changed but certainly learnt from.
Historians are unanimous in considering harboring and nurturing of hostilities and enmity as the world’s most expensive luxury, hardly anyone can afford. It’s a mindset that breeds problems and complications. India-Pakistan has indulged in this unhealthy practice and suffered as a result. All this happened due to the negative mindset animosity created.
This feeling of animosity breeds many other problems too. Let’s face it India is home to 180 million Muslims we didn’t absorb like a few lac Bihari’s. Hostilities make life tough for these by making their patriotism doubtful. Every act of hostility generates a reaction worsening the situation. Finally, it has come to the point when a secular PM like Nehru has been succeeded by a Hindu fanatic (I can’t understand the meaning of Hindu nationalist) like Modi. Every effort we are making is turning the wheel backwards for both our nations. If we continue with our policies, it shouldn’t take too much intuition to guess where the 2 nuclear armed nations might be heading.
This manufactured mutual enmity has seriously harmed lives of over a billion people. From being the most developed and educated after Europe and Americas in 1947 now we have world’s largest population of illiterate and desperately poor, a dubious distinction. We still have people dying of communicable and treatable disease. We still suffer from superstitions and social backwardness enhancing the misery. Our subcontinent despite being quarter of the mankind isn’t represented in the UN security council. These are some of the natural consequences of our mind set.
In short we lag behind the world as investments aren’t coming in our area worsening the poverty. Despite being able to travel visa free around the world not very long ago now our passports have become a kind of pariah. Any Pakistani forced to travel is routinely insulted at different airports at his own expense.
Every kind of relationship needs encouragement from both parties. Be it marriage, dating, friendship, enmity etc. Both India and Pakistan have played their part in fostering this feeling of mutual enmity wasting their resources on purchasing tools of war instead of spending them on people. Quantifying the blame is immaterial and a serious detraction so we won’t get into it, both are guilty and both have suffered. Many psychologists consider excessive hostility and paranoia a form of neurosis and we have exposed our future generations to it. We must be kind to our children and protect them from such negative, self destructory attributes.
Pakistan and India born at the same time are Siamese twins weather they like it or not. They share a lot of their history and future too. We can change our friends and enemies but not our neighbors who breathe the same air and drink water from same rivers. Anything good for one is in others enlightened self-interest and not otherwise. We will have to come out of the feeling that India’s failure is my win or otherwise.
Let’s be kind to our children and future generations and make them free from hatreds and prejudices we were brought up with. Let’s not make them a handicapped generation where they won’t be able to compete in the world and live in a strange paranoia. Our children are the smartest in the world and deserve an opportunity to prove their talents. For this we must revise our policy of labelling our neighbor as an eternal enemy. This will make future amends possible giving a bit of hope. The beauty of enmity is insecurity and the beauty of friendship is in security, let’s make them more secure. Let’s give them a life better than ours.
After this we should counter our real enemies, the deadliest ones with no potential of being friends; yes, I am talking of fighting poverty, illiteracy, disease, superstitions and many more. These have caused more pain and sufferings and all others combined. Once we realize it and divert our attention and resources towards them within a generation we can overcome all those and include ourselves in the top nations of the world.
In the end I would like to quote a line from x British PM John Major’s interview. When asked despite being from a modest background and education how he could achieve so exceptionally well? He replied after a moment’s thought, “I didn’t make enemies”. A lesson for over a billion South Asians.