February 25, 2010

Conversations, #1

Beena Sarwar is one of Pakistan's most thoughtful and diligent journalists. She has recently joined the Jang newspaper group in that country on the Aman ki Asha initiative they are pursuing with the Times of India. As part of Aman ki Asha, she and I have started a weekly exchange of email messages, trying to talk about the issues that divide our countries.

The first installment was published in Pakistan last Saturday. (I'm not sure when it will appear in India). You can find it here.

Your comments, suggestions and thoughts, as always, welcome.

29 comments:

Surya said...

I could not help but LOL at "I believe "our" extremists and "your" extremists are two sides of the same coin. They feed off each other. They share worldviews about ‘nationalism’, women, religious minorities and the superiority of "their" own religious beliefs, and aspire to establish control over the "other" (in their rants, just substitute ‘Pakistan’ for ‘India’ and ‘Hindu’ for ‘Muslim’ — no difference)."

Superiority of religion? When have so called Hindus extermists told that? If what this lady has an truth.Indis should have been like a Pakistan...
Sick man..once again repeated lies to establsih that as the Fact. How clever of the Pakistan lady and how dumb to not realize and counter.

Anonymous said...

>> Superiority of religion? When
>> have so called Hindus extermists
>> told that?

Speaking as a Hindu, I think there is no difference between these three cases -

1. a Muslem saying "there is only one true God, Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet".

2. A Christian saying "Jesus is the only way to God"

3 A Hindu saying "Ours is the only and most tolerant religion in the world".

Each of these cases, the speaker is promoting the superiourity of his religion.

I am comfortable in my Hindu beliefs. I dont feel I have to point out they are superiour to others beliefs. I wish other Moslims, Christians and Hindus would feel the same, then we would have much less tension in the world at large.

-rk

Surya said...

If ever Hindus wanted to establish vontrol over the otehr. we would never have had a moghul rule neither allowed Brits and in present age, Congress..India is not bound by religion but by the various caste identities...there is no consolidation based on hindu religion, hence BJP or other H parties come to power or have aforce unlike say the MIM in Hyderabad where voting is purely on Religious line by he muslims and hindus tend to spread their votes.

Jai_C said...

I hope this develops into a good disc. Inviting globalB, Suresh etc.

I sympathize with the average Pakistani and do believe they have a 26/11 every other other week. But I no longer support the "talks for talks sake" approach.

It took a while, from rapturous welcomes to released convicts in a Kandahar swap...through Kargil, parliament attacks....and yes even at and after the 26/11 attacks proper

I believed we should talk. I liked Ansar Burney's blood donation drive here and seriously appreciated Mr.Zardari's "terrorism is a cancer we shall uproot at any cost".

I believed we had turned a page here. They would get cracking and go after the assorted Saeeds and Azhars. They would perhaps even handover Indian citizen Dawood Ibrahim.

It was genuinely painful to have them backslide to a point where dossiers are called literature and they will talk:
only if primarily about Kashmir
only if we talk about water
only if China is involved
only if...well quite a few ifs.

We apparently cannot have a talk thats focused on terrorism, what they are doing about it and what we can do to help (remember JATM, intelligence sharing etc.)

Our chances of winning at a lottery are about the same whether we buy a ticket or NOT. Talking with Pakistan is about the same. So why talk?

Thanks,
Jai

Dilip D'Souza said...

Don't know about China, but let's be brave here and ask: why NOT talk about Kashmir? why NOT talk about water? why NOT talk about PoK? why NOT talk about the UN resolution whose first condition is that Pakistan should withdraw its forces (which condition that country has never fulfilled)?

In other words, why NOT talk, openly, frankly, honestly, about all that is of concern to both countries? (After all, any talk about Kashmir, for example, will lead directly to that UN resolution and the failure of Pakistan to withdraw forces).

Surya said...

Let me tell you the differences that you may share with your Pak Counterpart -
Sachin scores a century, dedicates the win to India.
Shoaib Malik loses T20 to India, appologizes to the Muslims of the World.
The problem talk will not make any progress is you are talking to Dead People. People who from childhood are ingrained with hatred to Hindus? When they are the ones who seperated the land. I suggest you get some 6th to 8th grade History text books from your Pakistan counterpart and read them. On the contrary to whats written in the text books, for 400 years it was the people of this land who had been tortured raped, jazia extracted, convereted by muslim invaders/moghals.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Thanks Surya for underlining so well why I started on this exchange in the first place.

Suresh said...

Shoaib Malik loses T20 to India, appologizes to the Muslims of the World.

Yes, also the same Shoaib Malik who as Pakistan's captain on a tour of India went all the way to Sehwag's home in Najafgarh (along with the then Pakistan coach) to express his condolences on the death of Sehwag's mother. People are not one-dimensional cartoon characters as you seem to believe.

I suggest you get some 6th to 8th grade History text books from your Pakistan counterpart and read them.

The effects of education are quite elusive. Our opinions are the result of not only the education we receive but also the information (in many cases, misinformation) that we receive from our parents, friends, the media and so on. If Indian children can learn to ignore the "Hindu-Muslim-Sikh-Isaai bhai bhai" of our school textbooks (and many of them do ignore it, if the postings on internet forums -- including this one -- are anything to go by) why can't the same be true of Pakistani children? Don't you think many of them are smart enough to recognize the bullshit that their textbooks feed them? It is surely desirable (and Pakistanis themselves recognize it) that history textbooks in Pakistan be corrected but to imagine that that will lead to a great "love" for India is surely stupid.

At any rate, Pakistanis are much more than the caricatures that some of us have of them. I guess though that you (and others of your ilk -- Chandru, Nikhil etc.) are happy with your caricatures.

I am surprised that Dilip still has the energy to engage you guys. As for me, I'll say no more. I've had enough.

Chandru K said...

Useless stuff. Are we supposed to conclude because of people like Beena Sarwar, Pakistan is great or exactly the same as India? What garbage.
Get the military out of power, declare Pakistan a secular country, let them openly, from both official and non-official sources, declare Hinduism a valid path to salvation. And declare atheism a legitimate position, and do it openly.

Chandru K said...

"3 A Hindu saying "Ours is the only and most tolerant religion in the world".

Each of these cases, the speaker is promoting the superiourity of his religion."

A clever case of misdirection and misrepresentation.

The real issue is believing and accepting that the divine comes in many forms, and believing this openly without fear of violence. And a belief, at least a non-opposition to, secularism.

Even the most aggressive, obnoxious Hindu group, namely the Bajrang Dal, never makes statements like "Secularism is against the Hindu religion" or "Any representation of the divine other than a Hindu one should be punished by fine, imprisonment or death" or "A total non-belief in God, atheism, should be illegal and subject to punishment"
And these guys are the *worst* of the bunch.
Also, there's the tiny little matter of Pakistan as a country being born in, and sustained by, anti-Indian, anti-Hindu and anti-secular hatred. India was not born in, nor is it sustained by, any such neurosis. Nor has the military in India ever been a determining factor in the country's politics.

Surya said...

Yes, keep dreaming, write the prose. You might get an award for relentless pursuit of peace with Pakistan. Already the delegates who went there have received pie on their face with no shame.

Chandru K said...

"hoaib Malik loses T20 to India, appologizes to the Muslims of the World.

Yes, also the same Shoaib Malik who as Pakistan's captain on a tour of India went all the way to Sehwag's home in Najafgarh"

Yes, but that doesn't explain why he had to issue an 'apology' to all the Moslems of the world, unless it's because he sees cricket as a simulated war, with Moslems up against non-believers. Just putrid.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Suresh, I need to paraphrase what I wrote earlier on this page: what's appearing here underlines so well why I started on this exchange in the first place.

At least in that sense it is good to be vindicated.

Incidentally, speaking of textbooks, I suppose it is too much to expect that the folks here might have heard (much less celebrate) of the Pakistani historian KK Aziz (sadly, he died last year). One of his major efforts was to expose the biases and egregious errors in Pakistani school textbooks. I have one of his books on my shelves, a treasured possession. (And to go with it, I have one of those texts that he exposed).

Some tributes to this great man here.

It's my dream that our relationship with Pakistan might come to be defined, at least partly, by such men instead of by some of those whose comments grace this page. Well, I can at least dream.

Chandru K said...

"at least partly, by such men instead of by some of those whose comments grace this page"

But not by the Pakistani military, Lashkar-E-Toiba, Harkat-Ul-Ansar, Jaish-E-Mohammed and the Taliban?

Instead it's the people "whose comments grace this page" that are really holding up full, friendly ties between India and Pakistan. And nobody and nothing else.

Anonymous said...

> But not by the Pakistani military, Lashkar-E-Toiba, Harkat-Ul-Ansar, Jaish-E-Mohammed and the Taliban?

no surprise chandru k mentions these groups. he recognizes them in the mirror.

(yes, im anon 533)

Chandru K said...

Very clever Anon 533. But where go do we go from here? How effective will this civic engagement be? For almost 60 years India has tried this 'people to people' approach, and all it leads to are arguments among Indians about what Pakistan is all about, with some Indians like D'Souza and Suresh using the evidence of a few people to score points against other Indians. To put it bluntly, just because the odd Pakistani admits that textbooks contain gross distortions, or a chai-wallah in Karachi is friendly to visiting Indians, means absolutely zilch as far as the ideology and structure of Pakistan go.

Jai_C said...

Hi Suresh,

Great to have you on-thread. Pls ignore the Chandrus.

Re. the caricatures:
"because we thought we'd kick your a$$"

A Pakistani socialite's response when Khushwant Singh asked why there was a lot of support and cheer for Kargil war in Pakistan. This was no rabble; elite or near-elite and IIRC seemingly onboard, at least until then, for various peace initiatives.

Do you think there is some duplicity here? Maybe because of Bangladesh, they feel they are "owed" one. Any 'victory' they can claim even by fighters they cannot claim as their own needed to be celebrated.

thanks,
Jai

Jai_C said...

Dilip,
"Why not talk etc."

There needs to be a point, some point, beyond which we tie these talks to some concrete results *on terrorism*

For me that point was crossed, incrementally post 26/11-
- maybe after the 4th or 5th huff from Pakistan
- or the 2nd or 3rd time they went ring-a-ring on "will or will not prosecute Lakhvi"
- or even the 2nd or 3rd time they pulled back militants from the dead and presented them as captured.

They have been moving against those militants that are active in Pakistan, and even here their kill or capture reports cannot be trusted.

We're now faced with demand notes from HM Saeed. "Talk, or there will be war with Pakistan"

thanks,
Jai

Chandru K said...

"Do you think there is some duplicity here? Maybe because of Bangladesh, they feel they are "owed" one"

That's garbage, if it is true. It's just an excuse to keep the military in Pakistan centre-stage, and to keep things going on as they are, with Pakistan's repulsive ideology and power structure.

Anonymous said...

D'souza ko Nishaan-e-pakistan aur noble prize de do.. tabhi yeh chup baithega.

Aur PadamShree dene ki galti na karna.. na kewal yeh use lega nahi, balki aur zor se chillane lagega.

Boss, agar India itna bura hei aur pakistan ke log itne achche hein to yahan kyo rah raha hai.. Pakistan ki citizenship le le.

4 din mein agar tere ghar mein un logo ne tod-fod na kari toh mera naam annoym se badal kar Dilip kar dena!!

hari said...

Quoting you
"I have to see hope in dialogue, or I’ll lose my hope in humanity itself."

I sincerely hope the same too.

And quoting from Beena's article.

"I believe "our" extremists and "your" extremists are two sides of the same coin. They feed off each other. They share worldviews about ‘nationalism’, women, religious minorities and the superiority of "their" own religious beliefs, and aspire to establish control over the "other" (in their rants, just substitute ‘Pakistan’ for ‘India’ and ‘Hindu’ for ‘Muslim’ — no difference).

Just as many Indians believe that Pakistan is behind violence in India, many Pakistanis believe that Indians are instigating violence in Pakistan. Why can’t we recognise that ‘taali donon hath se bajti hai’ (it takes two hands to clap). Our countries leave no opportunity pass to hurt each other. In the process, they hurt millions of innocents."

I have to ask that whether the beliefs that Indians are in the same category as the beliefs that the Pakistani populace have? meaning are they both true? if they are not and one is true and one is not, how can they be treated the same?

There is proof that Dawood lives in Karachi, there is proof for 26/11 there is proof for the parliamentary bombings.

So this goes beyond beliefs and enters the realm of facts.

Does the author differentiate between beliefs and facts such as these?

So how can this become a blame game?

Anonymous said...

The masterful divisions engineered by the British fester on all over the world. Sibling rivalry between India and Pakistan, while western nations look down their noses. It is galling to read that India and Pakistan are "arch-rivals". BS is correct -- the evil forces tend to reinforce others who are like them.

Chandru K, it is good that you have so many doubts and come to this forum regularly to attempt to clear them for yourself, but in your heart you have a deep and abiding love for your Moslem fellows. Anon-2020.

Chandru K said...

Yes, there's no doubt that the British( and Americans, and Chinese) have all played duplicitous roles in propping up Pakistan, and either encouraging or turning a blind eye to its (mis)adventures. And they would all own criminal culpability if the 'worst case scenario' would ever come to pass i.e a nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan.

But, without the presence of a venal, unscrupulous, mendacious, irresponsible, brutal entity in the form of the Pakistani military and the Islamic fundamentalists, none of those countries' policies would mean very much as far as India is concerned. It is Pakistan's hysterical obsession with India/Kashmir and with propagating its control over Afghanistan, that is the root of the problem in the subcontinent. Or let's frame the issue a little differently: If Pakistan's goal were to spread democracy, secularism, pluralism, openness and tolerance, there would hardly be any issues between the two countries. Actually, there would not even be a Pakistan, if you think about it. And that's the beauty of it.

Anonymous said...

Chandru K: You are now very close to the winning strategy: "Hate the sin, not the sinner". I agree completely that elements of the Pakistani army as well as the religious fundamentalists have created a no-win situation. Add on the one-track Kashmir obsession (a political lever) and you have the situation today.

In India too certain such sins bubble up and are emerging. Luckily the army is still relatively clean. Obsessions are not hard to find and neither are certain religious fundamentalists. Can we count on you to work collectively in keeping these sins at bay? Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Isah-i does not come into it at all. Anon-2020

Anonymous said...

Jai_C

I understand your concern about duplicity. It may well be that all such formal talks are merely a pose and there is no will to do anything concrete.
It would take leaders of a different mettle to accomplish that.
Still one cannot discount the importance of talks even if it is merely for talks. It may be the last communication line left to people who care...

Anonymous said...

http://www.intelligencesquared.com/iq2-video/2010/europe-muslims

I found this discussion interesting. Can we even speak of such issues in India? -- Anon 2020

Nikhil said...

Amazing how Suresh manages to display his idiocy every time he posts here:

People are not one-dimensional cartoon characters as you seem to believe.

So in Suresha book, Shoaib Malik and Sachin are to be viewed through the same prism. The same Sachin who at great risk from Shiv Sena goons declared that Mumbai belonged to all Indians versus a Shoaib who panders to a regressive constituency. I am sure if Sachin had made a similar stupid comment, Suresh and his like would have made sure his career ended there and then.
Do not bother about personal equations. Imran Khan during his tour of India 3 decades back had visited Gavaskar's house in Dadar for his son's birthday. But he had no qualms in supporting the Kashmir jihad and even taliban rule in the Swat valley

Nikhil said...

At any rate, Pakistanis are much more than the caricatures that some of us have of them. I guess though that you (and others of your ilk -- Chandru, Nikhil etc.) are happy with your caricatures.

Be happy with your opinions on Pakistan Sureshbhai and see what more we can get - hijackings, bombings, Kargil, Attack on parliament 26/11, flooding by fake currencies, more rude rebukes to any tlaks offer.
But i guess for you guys it pays for bending over and getting more kicks. Maybe some awards etc.
In any case, before commenting on Conversations I want to see where Dilip's exchange goes and what 'fearless' discussions take place.

Ketan said...

When we say, "just because a terrorist happens to be of one religion/country, does not mean everyone from that religion/country is a terrorist", applying same standards of objectivity we should not generalize a few people's occasional good behavior to the entire population, don't you think?

And why give Imran Khan's example? I am sure even Dawood Ibrahim, Laden and Hitler must have attended b'days/weddings or gone to console people of other religions, what conclusions do we draw from such examples?

With regard to Pakistan, one thing I would like to know is despite being "freed" from foreign rule from the Britishers on almost the same day, and despite having comparable (in fact, even better) resources, what is it fundamentally different about the common man of Pakistan v/s India that makes both the nations so different in terms of their track record at maintaining peace, economic development, degree of civilian liberties enjoyed?

What gave rise to that difference (if one acknowledges firstly that some differences indeed exist)?