By Vikram Sood
Benazir Bhutto made five pilgrimages to the Dargah Sharif of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti, the last being in 2005. She wanted to visit one more time in 2007 but this did not materialise. Instead, she went home to Pakistan to a tumultuous welcome but ultimately to become yet another Bhutto martyr. Her friends had cautioned her that her return to Pakistan could be dangerous for her but Benazir insisted that the country needed her. Quite apparently, there were powerful figures in her country who did not want her alive. So she became the fourth Bhutto to die a violent unnatural death.
Four days after the 32nd death anniversary of her father, Zulfiqar’s hanging, Benazir’s son Bilawal and husband Asif Ali Zardari will be in Ajmer paying homage at the Shrine that Benazir could not do in 2007. This is a private and poignant moment for husband and son but the euphoria in India is misplaced and intrusive. Hospitality is a well accepted part of our culture in the subcontinent. One could even say that no one can match the Pakistanis for their hospitality. Hospitality is a tradition; it is not in lieu of policy and national interests.
There is the usual sense of euphoria and the urge to concede something to look good. We
are conjuring visions of eternal peace, breakthroughs and settling old issues. Peace is of course desirable, after all nations have fought bloody wars and killed innocents to impose peace. But peace will endure only if it is not seen to have been attained by surrendering vital interests. Jammu and Kashmir and Siachen/Saltoro Ridge included are some of our vital interests. In that sense it is a relief that the Pakistanis have announced that this visit does not mean
that Pakistan has given up on the ‘core’ issue of Kashmir. This only means that there will be no deal on this.
Surely the Pakistan President is not coming here to strike a deal; we all know he cannot. We also know that there is political turmoil in the country with various instruments and institutions grappling with each other for supremacy. If the visitor wants to discuss issues with his Indian hosts, that’s fine. We should also not hesitate to discuss current events in Pakistan which although their internal affair, do impinge on us and we need to be concerned. The fate of the Mohajirs, who are migrants from India, in Karachi; the fate of the Sindhis and the Balochi are similar humanitarian issues which concern us.
We should never ever forget that there is a powerful multi-group radical right movement called the Difa e Pakistan led by persons like Hafiz Saeed and Sami ul Haq who stand for everything that Indians do not and even many Pakistanis do not. So long as these groups have official patronage even when they talk of eternal jehad against India, a rational approach to issues is not just difficult but impossible. The core issue is not Kashmir but the mindset of such groups and the Pakistan Army who have the same slogan – Jehad Fisabilillah
– Jehad in the name of Allah.
Pakistan’s ‘establishment’ has tried this threat – of jehad and annihilation – for far too long. This may fool the Americans but this does not work on India. Terrorism is a nuisance, it is costly in terms of human lives, but the Indian State will not wither away. Pakistan’s warped policies remain a clear and present nuisance but they are not the ultimate threat. Pakistan has to travel considerable distance within to be able to convince its neighbours that it really wants to live in peace. Granting concessions to Pakistan despite its policies or because of these policies is similar to giving concessions to those who take innocents hostage. Both are called appeasement and this never works.
We need to remember this when we are warm and pleasant to our guests.
Wrote this for ANI, New Delhi
Courtesy: Wikram Sood’s blog