May 2003 News

Is Kashmir Our Jugular Vein?

27 May 2003
The Daily Times
Khaled Ahmed`s TV Review

Islamabad: If Kashmir is 'sheh-rag' (jugular vein) of Pakistan then what is Karachi, the most important city of the country? If human anatomy is chosen as simile then the answer is quite obscene. Is Kashmir the reason for our neglect of Karachi? The hardline Pakistani position is that war with India is the only condition that can prevail in South Asia. Making peace with India means capitulating on the dispute of Kashmir. The assumption that India and Pakistan will have no other condition between them but war stiffens the hawkish position even more. Pakistan's rivers originate in India or Indian-held territory, and if Pakistan doesn't make India surrender these areas to Pakistan, there cannot be any peace. This is a very stiff obligation to place on the state of Pakistan. GEO TV (11 May 2003) discussed Indo-Pak relations in its Foreign Affairs segment with General (Retd) Ghulam Umar, well-known Urdu columnist Zahida Hina, historian Dr Mubarak Ali, Indian journalist Murli Dharan of 'Hindu' and Air Commodore (Retd) Jamal Hussain. Host Nasir Beg Chughtai laid down the framework which included an inquiry about spreading 'foreign' influence in the region, which no one answered. Zahida Hina was of the opinion that after such statesmen of Indian politics as V P Singh, Inder Kumar Gujral and Nirmala Deshpande were gone, there would be no one to bring sanity to the madness that was Indo-Pak relations. General Umar on the other hand believed that the new generations in India and Pakistan were less concerned with conflict and would think of normalisation. Air Commodore Jamal Hussain said that one should listen to the rhetoric of the hawks. In 1972 if Pakistan had agreed the LoC would have become border. Now Pakistan's real position was that it wanted to get only the Valley while India wanted the LoC made international border. He said talks would be impossible today but five years hence they might be possible. He believed that America had a role to play especially with regard to getting India to accept Pakistan's position on cross-border infiltration. Hina added that Japan and China had both asked Pakistan to stop cross-border infiltration. Murli Dharan said why hadn't Vajpayee told the Indian people that he was willing to talk to Pakistan two months ago? He said he was in Pakistan for the past three years but had never heard a Pakistani say he hated India. Dr Mubarak Ali said the two countries were in the grip of extremists. Indians said Kashmir was 'atoot-ang' (inseparable part) of India; Pakistanis said that Kashmir was the 'sheh-rag' (jugular vein) of Pakistan. No solution was possible with these two opposed positions. He was for opening the borders of the two Kashmirs. Jamal Hussain said he had no hopes attached to the Indo- Pak talks because of the high expectations aroused by politicians on both sides; but for the time being Pakistan should ensure non- violation of the LoC. Host Chughtai wanted the guests to interpret his opening remark as a rebuke to Pakistan for being under foreign (read American) influence. He was certainly not referring to the 'influence' of the foreign terrorists taking shelter in Pakistan and in many cases sheltering in the big cities with the knowledge of the state authority that was divided. The reference was to the 'coalition' that was imposing certain conditions on Pakistan through the UN Security Council Resolution 1373 against terrorism which was also signed by China. While Chughtai held a very primitive view of the nation-state, naval officer Jamal Hussain appeared to be more sophisticated. He was aware of the hawks dictating an unrealistic anti-economy policy to Pakistan and clearly implied that if Pakistan did not accept the LoC as border it had to respect it under the Simla Agreement. Zahida Hina was more to the point about the growing extremism in India than General Umar who thought the younger generations in India and Pakistan would seek peace simply because the trauma of 1947 would have faded from their memories. This view used to be expressed in the early 1990s and was probably an accurate reading of the post-cold war South Asia, but since then it has been belied by events. Pakistan has given birth to jihad and spread its lethal sting across the globe while indoctrinating its younger generations with anti-India hatred. In India the hatred of Pakistan is on an all-time high and it is the young Indian who wants Pakistan destroyed. The older Indian generation that caused the Indo-Pak equation to become negative now looks dovish. Dr Mubarak pointed to the absurdity of the equation of Kashmir by both sides to human body parts. If Kashmir in the north is the jugular vein, then what body part would represent Karachi in the south, the real economic hub of the country? Pre-Kosovo Serbs used to say that the Balkans were the anus of Europe from where it expelled its human refuse. ARY TV (12 May 2003) discussed trade with India with four businessmen from Karachi. Host Dr Shahid Masood conducted the proceedings as if he was disgusted with the idea of 'trading with the enemy'. He cut people short in the middle and was asked again and again to let the discussants finish their arguments. One gentleman made the point about the size of the markets. There were 300 million prospective buyers of Pakistani goods while there were only 50 million buyers of Indian goods. He said that after 2005 when the WTO rules began to bite, the ISO regimes set up by the West will become non-tariff barriers and Pakistan will have to reconsider the regional market of SAARC. One businessman argued that Pakistan was not competitive with India otherwise it would not have allowed India to dominate in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Dr Masood at once said if trade with India was not beneficial to Pakistan then there was no question of considering it. Another businessman said that sitting in Karachi he had to compete with manufacturers in Faisalabad; why couldn't he compete similarly with Indian counterparts? It was decided that Pakistan had only cotton-related products to sell. One gentleman said that in bed- linen and other textiles Pakistan would easily capture the Indian market. One complained that Pakistan signed the WTO agreements without consulting the business community; the treaties were unfair to Pakistan. For the first time, not a single article about Indo-Pak trade published in the fortnight of 'thaw' between the two countries has been negative. The assumption that India will always remain an enemy is untenable. There are very strong psychological persuaders working on both sides for normalisation of relations even if the disputes persist in some areas. Pakistan has no logical argument against trade with India after 2005 when the Chinese goods will enter the market officially. India has to come to grips with the reality created by the bilateral nuclear deterrence. The war paradigm simply stops the mind from working. Trade and everything else fades away if advocates of war with India explain that Pakistan had to fight and win a war against India simply because Pakistan's rivers came down from territories occupied by India. The rivers are not an argument for war with India but an argument for peace with India. Trade with India is similarly an argument for peace with India, and those who want to fight yet another war with India will not hear of it.


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