March 20, 2010

Conversations, #4

Here's the 4th installment in my ongoing email exchange with the Pakistani journalist Beena Sarwar: It's about time.

Your thoughts welcome.

Earlier installments: #1, #2, #3.


Pareshaan said...

Great idea boss - this conversation. Trouble with it is that the Indian and Pakistani side both seem to be represented by fundamentally decent and intelligent beings.
This makes the entire exercise take on the hues of a fairy tale. If Indians and Pakistanis were like Beena and you, we wouldn't have many problems.
Narendra Modi and Hafeez Sayeed - now that's a conversation I want yo hear.

Chandru K said...

"Narendra Modi and Hafeez Sayeed - now that's a conversation I want yo hear."

Oh, stop the equal-equal nonsense. What Narendra Modi does has no direct impact whatsoever on Pakistan; there are no terrorists sent by Modi into Pakistan to stage events comparable to 11/26 in Mumbai. Hafeez Sayeed is the head of an organisation that not only wants to Islamise Kashmir, but all of India. And it has already been shown guilty of terrorist attacks in Mumbai, in July 2006(the suburban train bombing) and Nov 2008. If Sayeed were a chief minister who was in office when a serious conflagration erupted, then you could possibly make a comparison.
You are guilty of committing what many deluded Indians do- equating India with Pakistan, without a basis in reality.

Kunal said...

chandru's real objection is any attempt to equate ind to pak. thats what gets his striped knickers in a twist. thats all the better reason, dcubed, for continueing with this series you've got going with ms sarwar. please keep it up.

Jai_C said...


1. Your starter for this particular exchange, reiterating Indian superiority seemed rather unhelpful, almost *rude*.

I hope you didnt in any way feel pressured to make that statement and are happy owning it in an aman-asha exchange.

2. Sadly you maybe right abt Kashmir. From Nirupama Subramanian's sign-off article in the Hindu, Khuda Hafiz Pakistan:

"...(even) Pakistanis who consider themselves modern, enlightened, liberal and secular but would suddenly go all Islamic and religious when it came to an issue such as Kashmir, seeming no different from their ultra-conservative compatriots..."

This quote is off-context, the overall piece is positive:

3. "...India should support the process in Pakistan, instead of undermining it by refusing to talk..."

Deeply and truly sorry. Ms.Sarwar does seem too genuine to be attempting a "we tried. India wont talk. what to do?" approach here and I respect that.

Sorry Ms.Sarwar. Lets see whats the best you guys can do without a crutch of Indo-Pak peace talks, in going after terrorists on *your home ground* for the next year or two.

Not even the nuttiest rightwinger in India blames Pakistan for our failures in getting justice for 1984, 1992 or 2002 'riots'. We need to and will do the right thing here even if HM Saeed is celebrated at town-halls in Pakistan.


Chandru K said...

"chandru's real objection is any attempt to equate ind to pak. thats what gets his striped knickers in a twist"

But why should they be equated? They are not equivalent. There are Indians/PIO like Kunal who lazily try to equate the two, because that is the 'safe' option. More difficult and potentially dangerous to actually call a spade a spade, and declare the Lashkar-E-Toiba and other Islamic terrorists the real problem and threat. It's easier to toss the fundamentalist label at Modi, Thackeray etc because there is no real danger involved in that. Equating the two also impresses both the fellow 'secularists' or 'equal-equal' advocates, and Western observers, who then favourably write about how Hindus are opposing their own 'fundamentalists'. A little sophistication can see through this game.

Kunal said...

Oh can it, Chandru. I dont see them as equal, in fact i agree with dcubed's characterization in this exchange -- we chose the superior path in 47.

The difference between you and me is that my knickers dont get twisted when someone mentions I and P in the same breadth. Yours do. Which tells the old story, that your innermost fear is that the India you represent - the attitudes you represent - the thinking you represent - is really no different from the maniacs in Pakistan.

So Chandru, Let me make it clear. Youre innermost fear is right. Your attitudes are identical to Hafeez Saeed and co in Pakistan.

Chandru K said...

"So Chandru, Let me make it clear. Youre innermost fear is right. Your attitudes are identical to Hafeez Saeed and co in Pakistan."

You are so right. I want to Hinduise the whole of Asia, and enforce laws enshrined in the Manusmriti at the point of a gun. I want to send terrorists to help Hindus who are oppressed in Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines and Bangladesh. And most of all, I want to stage events that will make 11/26 look like a tea party.

Do you know what you are talking about? Again, you are choosing the safe option. If you really, sincerely think there's an equivalence between Indians and the Lashkar, why don't you have these discussions with them, that too in their own lair? See how far you get. Again, with your stance, you are only impressing a few so called secularists, and some non-Indians who will say "Oooooh, those Indians can stand up to their own Hindu fundamentalists".

Kunal said...

I know what I am talking about, Chandru. It is this - I see zero difference between the thinking of the Hafeez-types maniacs in Pak and the thinking you exhibit every time you start typing. Zero, can you understand zero??

to repeat what I said earlier - dcubed this kind of zero difference is the best reason for your conversation - please keep this exchange going.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Your starter for this particular exchange, reiterating Indian superiority seemed rather unhelpful, almost *rude*.

Sorry you felt that way. Luckily, Beena Sarwar did not.

I read Nirupama S's piece too (in fact it was Beena who first sent it to me). I wonder if the line you quoted might serve as a mirror of sorts for us in India.

Chandru K said...

From Beena Sarwar:

"The man who brought Pakistan into being (pushed by the intransigence of the Congress leadership..."

What a bunch of rubbish. Trying to excuse or conceal the demagogic, egomaniacal, rabidly jealous Jinnah, by blaming the Congress leadership. Jinnah and the League were a bunch of demagogic, reactionary, gangsterish scumbags who just wanted power at all costs. The Moslem League never came up with an alternative secular, democratic, pluralistic ideology or programme; it's sole activity was to demand weightages, guarantees and reservations for Moslems from the Congress, failing which, the Moslems would start rioting, rampaging and killing. And in fact, this is exactly what took place.The Moslem League never advocated secularism or pluralism, did not embrace the 5000 year heritage of the subcontinent, were non-oppositional to British colonialism, did not condemn any violence committed by its followers. These are good reasons why the Congress and other nationalists and patriots of that era did not want much to do with them.

Chandru K said...

"I see zero difference between the thinking of the Hafeez-types maniacs in Pak and the thinking you exhibit every time you start typing. Zero, can you understand zero??"

If ignorance is bliss, you are the most blissful person in the world. But you are also extremely cowardly, because this equal-equal show you are putting on is just that- a show. Deep down, in your heart of hearts, you know there is no equivalence. But carry on. Meanwhile, the world waits with bated breath for the next Hindu fundamentalist terrorist strike in Manila, Bangkok, Seoul, Sao Paulo and Paris.

Kunal said...

Deep down, in my hearts of hearts, Chandru? you wanna know what's there? Ex-effing-actly what I said earlier. The hatred in your every comment is identical to the hatred I hear from LET, etc.

Put them side by side, Chandru. Your comments, their vitriol. See for yourself. ... IDENTICAL!

But Im not getting into this anymore with you.

Chandru K said...

Could you elaborate just a little, Kunal? In what way are my views exactly like Hafeez Saeed of the Lashkar? The Lashkar are essentially Punjabi Mohammedans, and I'll bet you have more in common with them than I could ever have. I'm not originally even from anywhere near Punjab. For the record, I do believe in democracy, secularism, pluralism and modernity. The Lashkar, as you should know, want to establish a theocratic, fascist state run by ancient Islamic laws. Do you have info that suggests I want laws based on the Manusmriti, and that I want to enforce such laws. Merely gassing and belching stuff about equivalence isn't good enough.

Anonymous said...

He elaborated enuf, Chandru. To quote him:- "The hatred in your every comment is identical to the hatred I hear from LET, etc."

I completely agree.

But I beleive you are best left to rave'n'rant.

On another note, dilip, can you help start more of these conversations?? e.g I'd like to start one with a willing person in Pakistan. I have plenty to ask.

Jai_C said...

"[Kashmir quote]...mirror for us in India..."

Yes and no Dilip.
Yes in the inflexibility, integral part of India, maangoge-toh-cheer-denge attitude but by that last point we've dipped into considerably less 'secular, modern, liberal' territory.

No in the sense that even many Indians who are considerably unsecular, non-modern, non-liberal dont support or speak in favor of training and sending armed goons to attack Pakistanis, in Pak-held-Kashmir or elsewhere.


Chandru K said...

"He elaborated enuf, Chandru. To quote him:- "The hatred in your every comment is identical to the hatred I hear from LET, etc.""

You can hate an ideology and behaviour, without in any way being equated to it. This is so obvious that it sounds silly having to mention it. Let me repeat: for equivalence to exist, there should be some evidence that an individual or group wants to indulge in trans-national terror, enforce archaic laws at the point of a gun, de-recognize other religions/languages, and believe in relentless violence. It's not enough to say "Your dislike of the Lashkar/Hitler/Stalin/Joe Blow" resembles the ideology and behaviour of those people" Say, what?

Dilip D'Souza said...

Anon 951am: it shouldn't be difficult for you to find someone in Pakistan to exchange email with. Why don't you visit and take part in some of the discussions there, as a start?

Ketan said...

It should not be difficult to see that scale and severity of problems afflicting Pakistan and India are extremely different, and acknowledging this fact in entirety should not be associated with guilt pangs. If someone living in Sweden points out that in India many people die of starvation, which is unheard of in their country, then be it. Yes, it is true, people in India are dying of starvation. It would be ridiculous if that Swede tries to equate India's food problem with someone suffering from anorexia nervosa in Sweden (comparing Gujarat riots and Thackeray with Saeed and the entire terror machinery that is threatening to overtake Pakistan). In India, Modi is on the defensive and is being systematically framed by the unbelievably shameless media (as illustrated by The Hindu shamelessly inventing "dates of Summons by SIT" and the entire media going ballistic over it). Contrast (and not equate) that with Saeed, who is making all those anti-India statements, appearing in videos with an army-in-training equipped with sophisticated weapons and Pakistan government saying it does not have enough evidence to nab him!

There is no harm in Dilip's talking with Beena, but what in my opinion is misplaced is the belief that it will help solve any problems. As rightly pointed out by Pareshaan, first, because the cause of problems are not people like Beena (or Dilip). Second and more important, the terrorists are interested not merely in Kashmir; they want to Islamize the entire world (and not just India). Why would those terrorists stop merely at the accession of Kashmir (if they were to accomplish it someday)? The problem is whatever solutions that the exchange between Dilip and Beena throw up, if not already known, cannot be effected. Again reasons are not difficult to see. First, just like India theirs is a representative democracy, wherein for people's will to transform into policy changes, is not directly possible. Second is the almost total control of their administration by the ISI and the military. And their bosses do not want conflicts to stop. Because, it is those conflicts that allow them to place large orders with arms manufacturers and get "kickbacks". They are not stupid to dream of domination of India and annexe of Kashmir, etc. The fact is they are ruling from gun points and people like Beena can do nothing about it....

Ketan said...

...Even in India (with representative democracy), nothing can be done if the government starts using coercive measures. When caste based reservations were increased to 50%, over 700 doctors and interns were arrested in a single day in Mumbai alone. Some were also beaten up. Similarly, if people like Beena raise their voice to the intolerable discomfort of the generals and terror masters, they will be shot down.

I have had the opportunity to interact with a few urban Pakistani people in the past over Yahoo! Messenger, and now using twitter and email. Yes, their day-to-day concerns and aspirations are identical with ours. And I could and have been able to relate extremely well with them. But at no point despite developing great warmth, did we develop sufficient optimism that these conversations, which we greatly enjoyed, would solve our problems! We conversed not with a sense of duty, but out of common mundane interests, and the driving force behind those conversations was the value of emotional fulfillment and entertainment. The terror problem in Pakistan is greatly rooted in prevalent lack of education, unemployment, subjugation of civilian liberties, and excessive emphasis on religion in all walks of life (murdering someone for blasphemy may not be punished, as told to me, for example). All these problems are self-perpetuating, and more severe than in India. However, I do not see a mechanism, by which my conversing with common Pakistani people with little say in governance and over terrorists will solve those problems for them, but I would be glad if someone explains to me what precisely could be those mechanisms. Thanks!

Chandru K said...

Good postings, Ketan. Unfortunately, many Indians get taken in by the friendly, pleasant or congenial, even effusive, individuals they encounter among the Pakistanis. Hey, even I :-) am guilty of it, though fleetingly.

You'll hear an Indian say "I met a Pakistani who likes/admires Indian democracy/Bollywood, who dislikes their military, denounces Islamic terrorists, opposes highly distorted textbooks etc. As if the problems between the two countries are a question of individual-to-individual.

The real issues are the Pakistani military, the use of Islamic terrorists as a political weapon against India, and the essential ideology of Pakistan, which emphasises devotion to and political mobilisation around, Islam, and not in any benign way.

Jai_C said...


almost completely off-topic:

Had previously only sampled your brainwash conflusions? blog so wondered why Dilip was so aggro in replying to you. From your post here, and a quick scope of your other blog I kinda understand.

I'm torn, really.

Part of me is happy that you guys are championing Modi around- if he campaigns all-India, it will be easier for the BJP to lose in places they could otherwise have won :-)

And yet I'm also sad. I wish you guys could dump Hindutva/Moditva and be a credible opposition threatening to win- that would have kept our guys on their toes like nothing else would.

I *seriously* hope, for the future of our country, at least another defeat at the polls will do that!

If you dont, and after ~15yrs anti-incumbency some kind of BJP coalition makes it to power, however narrowly, it will be trumpeted as a triumphant "return of Hindutva" :-(

I do share a few of your concerns.


Chandru K said...

Posted in another website, definitely relevant to the subject at hand:

"Pakistan is fighting its own ghosts in Afghanistan, not India. Pakistan is fighting what it wishes it was. It wishes it was Afghanistan, it wishes it had that history, it wishes it had that grand and virile identity. Instead, what it has to show after, what, 60 years of "independence" as a rented state is that it is "not India". The real problem is that these issues are particular and peculiar to the Pakistani Punjabi community, which for all intents and purposes rules the country through the military/bureaucratic nexus - with some vested interests from the other provinces slapped on. The Balochs have their own identity. The people of NWFP have their own identity, and the Sindhis have theirs too...

But what of the Punjabis? Can they claim to be Punjabi in the face of the Sikhs and others of Indian Punjab and not be laughed out of town? They will always be second-rate pretenders to the Punjabi identity too... and will be subsumed by Indian Punjab, let alone India - and they know it. So they stick to the only formulation that can give them any relevance, and that is Pakistan. And so they create and perpetrate every sort of evil in order to hang on."

Dilip D'Souza said...

Modi is on the defensive and is being systematically framed by the unbelievably shameless media (as illustrated by The Hindu shamelessly inventing "dates of Summons by SIT" and the entire media going ballistic over it).

Not that this has much to do with this post, but since it came up ...

You'd think the truly shameless thing (even the truly unbelievably shameless thing) is that nine years later, pretty much nobody has been punished for the slaughter of 2002.

1000 or more people burned, slashed, chopped to death in Ahmedabad, Godhra, Dehlol, Baroda, etc, no serious effort to bring the killers or their instigators to any kind of justice -- and what do people find "shameless"? That Modi wasn't called before the SIT on Mar 21.

Frankly, I couldn't really give a damn when Modi was or is really called before the SIT. I would like a measure of justice, that's all.

Suresh said...

However, I do not see a mechanism, by which my conversing with common Pakistani people with little say in governance and over terrorists will solve those problems for them...

There is no mechanism of the type you want. Furthermore, isn't it arrogant to even think that somehow your conversing with Pakistanis will help them solve their problems?

One converses, I presume, because one wants to *understand.* Such a conversation can help if at all only indirectly. But without some understanding of the "other", a solution to the problems that involve our two countries is all but impossible.

One significant problem in India/Pakistan relations is that many people on either side seem to think they know what the other side is all about. Now if you know what the other side is all about, then there is no need to talk. What is there to gain by talking? It is in that context that the conversation between Dilip and Beena is important. It signifies a willingness to accept that, perhaps, we don't know the "other" the way we think we do. And that we may learn something by talking.

It is true that nothing earth-shattering will come from this conversation and I think both Beena and Dilip know that. It's the willingness to talk, and more importantly, listen, that's important.

Ketan said...


Yes that portion of my comment had nothing to do with the post as it was not in response to it but certain previous comments.

Where have I stated that, that virtually nobody has been punished for Gujarat riots is not a matter of shame? In fact, I gave an analogy of food problem only to show that we must acknowledge problems that afflict our country without shying away. However, I would find it much more shameful if there were to be an Indian openly declaring that he wants, say Sind, acceded to India, and that if that demand were not met, he would start killing innocent Pakistani people. Even further shameful would be if India's government would say it does not have sufficient evidence to nab him despite videos showing him to be training an army of terrorists. However, on a different level, I would not feel ashamed personally because "state = me" is a fallacy that makes us blind.

But what is surprising is some people's implication that the nature of evidence present against Saeed and rioters in Gujarat is the same! Rioters in Gujarat did their ugly thing and got scattered away, a lot of evidence got burned in fires. There are witness accounts that are to be corroborated with evidence available to a reasonable degree possible, and those accounts are to be compared with correspondinly conflicting ones, which our dear media is seemingly not presenting, but does not mean they do not exist (of course, except for if someone proposes lottery-based public lynching, etc. as a form of justice delivery). And some of the commentators are trying to equate this procedure that is underway, albeit at a much slower pace than desired with not restraining Saeed who openly states on camera and in public speeches that he will wage war against India if Kashmir is not gifted to him? And not to forget, there are video clips featuring him and terrorists getting trained (see, you're making me repeat the whole thing)? Please tell me what evidence against anyone connected with Gujarat riots that you know of is as convincing as that available against Saeed?

And yes, I would find it shameful for my country if Modi, or for that matter any other person were to be called for questioning without sufficient grounds to do so, and especially, if merely being questioned would be equated with establishment of guilt (as was done by the media). That would be the low point of arbitrariness in justice dispensation....

Ketan said...

...I do not know if you expect the media to try to be balanced and meticulous in their news reporting or not, though it is your choice, but I do expect, and they managed to touch a new low as far as their reliability is concerned (which was just a minor point to illustrate how a significant section of India is antagonistic to Modi despite no evidence against him v/s Saeed a proven criminal, who is being interviewed for inspiring public - all this because we were comparing which of the two countries lends greater support to their terrorists with cases in point being Modi and Thackeray [who are not even remotely terrorists] v/s Saeed). Indian justice system is slow, many times unfair, but that does not mean media can relinquish its duty to be reliable. I expect justice system to be efficient (in India as well as elsewhere), and I also expect the media to provide me with information in nonpartisan fashion as I draw inferences from that (for instance, who is guilty of what to what degree), and on which in turn I might base certain decisions. And fulfillment of none of these expectations is dependent on fulfillment of the other. I expect all of them to be fulfilled.

If you could and wish to, please address my question in last paragraph of the previous comment as that was the major thrust of my comment here.

Thank you!

Dilip D'Souza said...

"Not even remotely terrorists"? Plenty of people would disagree. And that's just the point. Just as you don't see certain figures are "even remotely terrorists", there are those who don't see certain other figures as "even remotely terrorists". You hold to your refusal, they will hold to theirs. And so we go.

What would you call the sting tapes that Tehelka has collected in which various people have spoken openly about their involvement in the '02 killings? That's not at least a pointer to guilt?

What would you call, in a different case, the Srikrishna inquiry report into the 1992-93 Bombay killings? He prepares a report based on the evidence all sides placed before him, and he makes conclusions that damn certain people. That's not a pointer to guilt?

Thing is, if you don't want to see guilt, you won't. That applies to the supporters of figures in Pakistan as much as it does to the supporters of figures here.

Ketan said...


I was very young in '92-93 to understand much that happened back then. So, I take you on faith if you imply that Sri Krishna commission report was accepted by courts and they are not punishing Thackeray only because they are afraid of him or condone his proven crimes. I also take you on faith that the evidence compiled by the commission was as convincing as a video clip showing certain people holding guns in their hands - illegally so.

But fortunately, tehelka "expose" is recent, and I need not take you on faith there. :)

Let me present you with a sample (click) of what one of the "implicators" of Modi had to say about Modi's sway with the judiciary. And I hope I don't have to point out that chief ministers cannot "decide" which judge should sit on which case.

"Bajrangi: Narendrabhai got me out of jail... He kept on changing judges... He set it up so as to ensure my release, otherwise I wouldn't have been out yet...The first judge was one Dholakiaji... He said Babu Bajrangi should be hanged - not once, but four-five times - and he flung the file aside... Then came another who stopped just short of saying I should be hanged...Then there was a third one By then, four-anda- half months had elapsed in jail. Then Narendrabhai sent me a message...saying he would find a way out... Next he posted a judge named Akshay Mehta...He never even looked at the file or anything. He just said [bail was] granted...And we were all out... We were free..."

Please read with special care statements like "he posted a judge". No, no, I am not all saying that our implicator was tutored or was drugged, just that these people were brainstorming... You know for an Ekta Kapoor soap. Now you might know why such visual "evidence" will not be presented before the court. Modi may or may not be apprehended on the basis of this piece of evidence, but tehelka would create quite a, well, tehelka. ;) It would be interesting to know if the Justice Dholakia threw the papers in slow motion or ultra-motion! And why was he confused between 4 and 5?

So, of course, I now know how noble-intentioned people at tehelka and other news channels are. They literally want to "change justice(s)"?

Thanks for bringing this up! Made for interesting revision. :)

Dilip D'Souza said...

Ketan: it's why I used the word "pointer". It points to, at least, the possibility of guilt to be investigated. There are serious enough allegations in there that they can be at least followed up.

But you don't want that, there are a thousand or so dead bodies. They also point, I would imagine, to at least the possibility of guilt to be investigated. After all, somebody killed those people. Somebody instigated them.

The problem is, there is no political will to bring justice to bear on this terrorism (yes I know you object to the term, and one day I'll have a response to that). Evidence for *that* is everywhere.

Since this discussion has little to do with the post, I won't say more here.

Anonymous said...


A friend of mine had a property under litigation - had a 'small-shot' lawyer and refused the services of a very expensive bigger shot who was very confident of winning.

In a discussion we had it turned up multiple times that there was some (underhand) way some people could get cases re-docketed or re-assigned to other judges who could look at the case, well, differently.

He didnt go that route and I dont have legally admissible evidence how that would have worked, but I believe there was something there.

Okay. One thing we can all agree on is we are all way off-topic. Enough from me on this thread.


Dilip D'Souza said...

Incidentally, Ketan, I meant to add: please don't take me on "faith", please go look at Justice Srikrishna's report yourself.

But the connection to all this is in your "not even remotely terrorists" remark. How is it different from those in Pak who say the same about various guys in their country?

It is not my case that those guys in Pak are innocent. (It gets my goat that they successfully evade punishment).

It is my case that on both sides, there are folks who say "these people are not remotely terrorists" which helps them evade justice; and it's that attitude that helps ensure that we will continue to be afflicted with terrorism.

Which is why I'd like to thank Suresh for touching on the spirit of this effort: that we don't know the "other" side's views and there's something to be gained from finding out. (Even if it is annoying to find out).

Chandru K said...

"all this is in your "not even remotely terrorists" remark. How is it different from those in Pak who say the same about various guys in their country?"

Why make one issue dependent on the other? No country does that. When the US( or UK, France et al) punish, sanction or ostracise a certain country, hardly anyone there raises the question "what about our own criminals, mafia, Ku-Klux Klan, Nazis,ex-imperial oppressors, wife beaters, child abusers, drunk drivers, rip-off artists and other disreputable characters? Or even if a few voices raise the matter, it doesn't prevent the punitive action, whatever that is, from taking place.

Prashanth said...

We learn from our Elders. Modi is as Guilty as a former PM whose action cost more life's. Both went onto win massive majority (Modi twice while the other guy just could not capitalize the first).

While Modi is blasted, the other guy was awarded the highest award, the Bharat Ratna. Heck, he even has a lot of govt funded schemes named after him.

What Modi seems to forget is that unless you have that special family name, your actions are not equal to those. So, there it is, the reason for all the tamasha in the Media.