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The insanity of resuming cricket ties with Pakistan

Last updated on: July 20, 2012 08:41 IST

The insanity of resuming cricket ties with Pakistan

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Colonel (retd) Anil Athale in Pune

India has been trying cricket diplomacy since the 1980s. In one memorable occasion, the Chennai crowd even cheered a Pakistani Test victory. But unfortunately, every such attempt has generally been followed by a terrorist attack to get the Indo-Pakistan relations back to square one, says Colonel (retd) Anil Athale.

Albert Einstein is said to have defined insanity as doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results! He possibly had Indian policy towards Pakistan in mind! What else can explain the bizarre decision to resume cricketing ties with Pakistan, broken after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. Not one benchmark set by India on this issue has been achieved. In some sense the situation is even worse as confessions by terrorist Abu Jundal have revealed that many jihadis carried out reconnaissance of the likely targets when they came to India under the garb of cricket spectators!

Time and again the peace lobby in India and Pakistan press for lifting the travel curbs and easing the visa regime etc. Some ingenious arguments were also advanced that the Mumbai attackers did not come with a visa! The funniest part is that virtually ALL countries (including even Saudi Arabia) are chary in issuing visas to Pakistani citizens, India that has been victim of cross border terror attacks is thinking of easing visa and travel curbs! It is difficult to find more irrational and bizarre behaviour in the international arena.

India has been trying cricket diplomacy since the 1980s. In one memorable occasion, the Chennai crowd even cheered a Pakistani Test victory. But unfortunately, every such attempt has generally been followed by a terrorist attack to get the Indo-Pakistan relations back to square one!

There is no doubt that there exists a small but sincere lobby of civic activists in Pakistan who genuinely desire peace and good relations with India. But sadly that lobby is too tiny and has no influence either over the government or even the civil society.

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Image: India has been trying cricket diplomacy since the 1980s
Photographs: Reuters

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Gandhari's children and Kunti's curse!

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Terrorism emanating from Pakistan is the 'symptom' of a disease, the root lies deeper in the social fabric of that unfortunate country. Contrary to the naive assertion of the Indian media, there are no terror masterminds. Terrorism inspired, planned, supported and sometimes even executed by Pakistan has roots in the ideology, demography and educational system of Pakistan. The mere arrest of one Hafiz Sayeed or Zaki ur Rehman Lakhavi or Jundal is going to make no difference. Let me explain it.

Pakistan was demanded and created (of course with fatherly love of British MI-5) as 'homeland' for the subcontinent's Muslims. Pakistan sincerely believes in this and therefore interference into internal affairs of India is inherent. Questioning Pakistani ideology, incidentally, is a punishable offence. As an offshoot of this, Pakistan since 1979 has created an educational system to brainwash young kids into hating India and Hindus. These schools function as jihadi factories 24x7 and 365 days of the year.

This author after studying Pak textbooks had raised this issue in 1988. In December 1988 under Rajiv Gandhi-Benazir Bhutto declaration these biases and offending parts were to be removed from school curriculum. Another attempt has been made since 2006, when the Americans also woke up to this menace. But to date, the required revision has not been done. With ever younger men and women joining the ranks of the jihadis, there is no hope of terrorism from Pakistani sources coming to an end, cricket ties or no cricket ties.  

Contrary to the hallucinations of the 'peace lobby' and some mentally-retarded ex-diplomats, Pakistan does not accept any historical linkage with India other than the legacy of Mughals who ruled north India for 200 years. Pakistanis assert that they have no common ancestry, culture or history to share with India. To this end they have repudiated their own Hindu and Buddhist past by erasing all symbols of past association.

With this as foundation, is it possible to build any peace? Pakistan sees itself as the 'defender of Islam' in the Indian subcontinent. Ever since it became the only Islamic state possessing nuclear weapons, Pakistan has now taken on the role of 'global defender of the faith'. Is it any wonder that the world accepts it to be the epicentre of Islamist terror and virtually every single terrorist incident has a Pakistani connection from Chechnya to Xinjiang!

Pakistan's export of terror also has a demographic angle. The average fertility per women in Pakistan stands at an astounding 5.2 children! Pakistan's population is thus galloping away and by 2050 it will be world's third most populous country after India and China -- overtaking much larger USA or Russia. We in India are familiar with what happens when this kind of population growth takes place in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh (per woman fertility of 3.4).

But the rest of India that has reached stable population serves as an outlet for this surplus and socio-economic problems in these 'fertile' states are mitigated. The booming Gulf areas served that function in case of Pakistan. But with Gulf boom is over, this surplus population of young unemployed and unemployable youth, full of fanatic zeal are jobless, restless and violent. The Pakistani Taliban killing spree within the country and the Lashkar-e-Tayiba's export of terror to India is part and parcel of this demographic crisis. Time is not too far when the flood of this population begins to engulf India.  

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Image: LeT founder Hafiz Saeed


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Indian 'Stockholm Syndrome'

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This analyst has been grappling with the issue of trying to understand what makes some Indians behave so irrationally when it comes to Pakistan! The answer seems that a large part of our society is victim of the Stockholm Syndrome and the more Pakistan torments us, more we pine for peace and contacts with that failed country. Bangladesh, once part of Pakistan, on the other hand has been making overtures for peace and friendship for last several years. Neither our diplomats nor politicians have any time for them!

Could we learn from what Americans think? The Washington Post commenting editorially on July 17 says that the problem with Pakistan is not drone attacks or harbouring of Osama bin Laden but, and I quote, 'the political dysfunction of Pakistan, a country divided between a feuding, corrupt and insular civilian political elite and a military establishment dependent on terrorist allies and obsessed with unacceptable and unattainable geopolitical ambitions.'

The Post continues to conclude that 'with the military, which appears locked into backing a militant Taliban faction as its proxy in Afghanistan and is equally relentless in its attempt to challenge India through the use of terrorist proxies. Until Pakistan develops a democratic civilian government capable of purging that belligerence, the United States will have to settle for a pragmatic combination of buying off Pakistan when it is possible -- and containing it when it is not.'

Does India think that it can 'buy off' Pak military/jihadis through cricket?

Just as our inane news channels have been 'celebrating' the restoration of cricketing ties comes the news that an anti-terrorism court in Pakistan trying the 26/11 case has rejected the report of Pakistan inquiry commission on the grounds that India did not permit them to cross examine Ajaml Kasab! With the case falling through, in a matter of days the few terrorists in detention in Pakistan are also likely to be released! Pakistan will as usual claim judicial independence.

Colonel (retd) Anil Athale is coordinator Pune-based think tank Indian Initiative for Peace, Arms-control & Disarmament.




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