The Wild Frontier

By Sunil Kumar

Could be a misnomer; but yesterday’s conversation between Shekhar Gupta(famous in India for “Walk The Talk”) and Abdul Basit(Pakistani High Commissioner To Our Country) reminded me of the “Wild Frontier”.

English: Shekhar Gupta at 2009 WEF Annual Meet...

Visit English: Shekhar Gupta at 2009 WEF Annual Meeting in Davos. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mr. Basit very eloquently answered everybody; and chose to cover Pakistani complicity with suave diplomatic responses. I have more than a passing interest in the country next door; and as most Indians know; stability in our neighborhood will augur well for our collective destiny at large.

The history of these two nations is intertwined; a gadzillion movies(masala and otherwise); innumerable articles also testify to this fact. So, as Shekhar Gupta reminded the audience; if India has the 4th largest army in the world; Pakistan is just one step behind. The wild frontier; Pakistan has reformed in the last year; as Basit tried to reassure the audience; urging them to move ahead in a spirit of trust and bonhomie. Pakistan has been sending more women to parliament; and is empowering the judiciary; two of his statements.

When I quizzed him on Hamid Mir; the journalist who was attacked recently in the most dangerous city of the world; Karachi and Salman Taseer; the erstwhile governor of the Pakistani Punjab apart from his take on Robert Gates(Former US Secy of Defence)(pls read my earlier article on Gates book) opinion that the ISI is involved in everything in Pakistan; his answer was classic and expectedly wily.

At first; he immediately agreed with the assertion that the agency is involved in all aspects of Pakistani Life as is common knowledge. But; then he came back with the classical Pakistani response that the case is similar in countries such as the United States and India. Although I believe the case could be more stringent in the United States; Manmohan Singh’s domestic compulsions and bitter bickering within the country may not have a similar effect in India’s PMO(Direct boss of the RAW).

Abdul Basit also asserted that Pakistanis were more critical of their government and advocated a moderate line; which is slightly hard to believe given my interactions with our single-minded neighbors; but Shekhar Gupta also pointed out that the recent elections in Pakistan for once were not focused primarily on India and Kashmir.

India should actually be focused on the wolf within the fold; the shameful politicking emanating from within the country; the duplicity and opportunism displayed by everybody from Omar Abdullah’s National Conference to Mayawati, Ram Vilas Paswan, the Congress; the Aam Aadmi Party and the BJP. Serious issues are actually trivialized and used merely as pawns in a political game; that seeks to benefit only the concerned parties themselves.

English: Hamid Mir, a Pakistani journalist

Visit English: Hamid Mir, a Pakistani journalist (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pakistan has lost 60,000 civilians and $100 billion due to terrorism; Basit asserted. However; as India and the rest of the world knows; the monster in the woodwork is their own creation; and the export of terror a reality due to the self-centred and vacuous nature of global geo-politics. Merely shrugging off obvious involvement is another example of the sad state of reality.

It is like our home minister champions who seek to mock lives lost in Mumbai and around the country; due to their own narrow interests.(party diktats of stuffy surprise; interrupted my next foreign trip) The “so-called” champion of liberty; the United States is admired and reviled for its hypocrisy and interference; but the world is reconciled to the global good cop-bad cop routine espoused by policy mandarins in Foggy Bottom. Among the audience; a survivor of the 26/11 massacre; a trekker and writer on the Siachen glacier; and Ajit Ranade(maybe curiosity brought him there). Although I expected a little anguish from the 26/11 survivor; he overtly displayed nothing of the sort.

Apart from the usual discussions; is there a concrete way to bring permanent and lasting peace to the Indian subcontinent? Can we even think that one day; there could be reunification? Very difficult to imagine at this stage; but no harm in using a cyber-pen.

English: Indus Priest/King Statue. The statue ...

Visit English: Indus Priest/King Statue. The statue is 17.5 cm high and carved from steatite a.k.a. soapstone. It was found in Mohenjo-daro in 1927. It is on display in the National Museum, Karachi, Pakistan. Deutsch: „Priesterkönig“ gedeutete Steinfigur der Indus-Kultur aus Mohenjo-daro (Pakistan) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The country next door is a strange mix of the modern and the muezzin; a case of exploding mangoes. Ethnic cleansing is an accepted fact; practically achieved. Bangladesh moving along the same lines. India; forever mired in existential debate; has a more difficult path to tread; but has to actively attempt to ensure peace and stability in its neighborhood; for its own way in the world. My blog post for the day!\

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