Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Saving A Neighbour

(1) Barkha Dutt and Mani Shankar Aiyyar want to save Pakistan. And they are accepting help from Professor Pervez Hoodbhoy. See it here. She called Dr Hoodbhoy the foremost voice of public opinion in Pakistan. Now this is strange. He does not represent the official government view because of obvious reasons - leftist ideology has spent most of its time in anti-establishment mindset. He also does not represent Islamic opinion again because of his leanings. Now superficially the socialist ideology is the ideology of the masses but only superficially. there is too much evidence in front of us that it is all about using the masses for a purpose that might have begun with a fresh idea of distributing the wealth amongst all, or amongst none at all, a sort of logical conclusion of Robin Hoodism, but the end product of socialism is complete dis-functioning of society and at the end of the day it, we mean socialism, it has reduced to a new elite activity of the privileged. Now that is not public voice. Even in the beginning it was elite voice imposed on the public and now it has reduced to elite voice which has burned out. Let us call it Residual Marxism. Tehelka, the media venture, is one example of this phenomena and so is Dr Hoodbhoy. No diminishing of his scientific contributions and his commitments intended but to call him foremost voice of public opinion in Pakistan is not very complementary to him too. Public can be considered genuine but not sophisticated and by any stretch of imagination Dr Hoodbhoy is not the spokes person of public opinion in our neighbouring country. His is an audible voice and there is no doubt about it. If one can hazard a guess then one would be inclined to believe that he belongs to the same class in which Muslim elite decided to adopt the new Marxist ideology to maintain their position of privilege. This is not what is public opinions is sourced from.

(2) Coming to brass tacks.(Summary only and not the actual transcript.)

BD : Before talk of saving Pakistan let us ask whether it needs saving.

PH :  Possibility of exaggeration is always there but situation is bad in itself. Bad public security. Religious radicalism permeating society steadily. Deep trouble in Pakistan. Nature of problem different in different places. People in Baluchistan feeling oppressed by Punjabis. Killer of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer is a criminal but the majority of the people in Pakistan feel that he has done the right thing.

BD : And the judge who delivered the death sentence on him had to leave the country.

PH : To saudi Arabia.

BD : Mani Indian imagination on Pakistan has not gone very far. (It is knee jerk.) Even in case of Pakistan flood the PM (Dr Manmohan Singh) could not assert his view to have peace with Pakistan.

MSA : We Indians have to get our thoughts cleared about Pakistan. It is a historical fact and irreversible geographical fact. Fear our neighbour? Grimace in anger at it? Or take seven steps to save Pakistan? Pakistan is not a failed state or a failing state, it is a nuclear state with terrorists of conventional kind and potentially nuclear kind and hence we are really saving ourselves. The hostility towards India in Pakistan is nowhere near to the hostility in India for Pakistan.

BD : Before seven steps is it India's problem to save Pakistan?

MSA : Yes because you do not want a failed state next to you. Pakistan is like Belgium - they quarrel among themselves in peace time but when faced with external threat they forget their internal differences. Friendly attitude to neighbour will have positive ripple effect across the northern sub-continent.

BD :  Pervez is there a love-hate relationship between us?

PH : Yes. When some goes to the other side the there is bonhomie and they go to restaurant together and the restaurant does not charge!

Regarding India's responsibility for stabilization of Pakistan - India is responsible for some things. Like nuclear explosions of 1974 and 1998. And then Kargil followed immediately.

BD : And what about secret nuclear peddlers like A.Q.Khan?

PH : A.Q.Khan is a product of 1974 action. And then nuclear weapons are equalizers. Nuclear weapons make conventional Indian superiority meaningless and Pakistan can harbour terrorists. Everybody has lost out - you and we.

BD : The best achievement of first UPA government in India was the secret nuclear deal on which the government nearly fell. Do you think there is going back on nuclearization of South Asia?

MSA : Oh yes. The deal proposed by UPA one and continued by UPA to is far reaching idea - idea of border less Kashmir proposed by Pervez Musharraf and Manmohan Singh. And then why not border less India-Pakistan?

BD : And, God forbid, if there is another terrorist attack?

MSA : Before that there should be an interrupted and uninterruptable dialogue between India and Pakistan just like the US and Vietnam communists at the time of worst period of their relationship. Put the talking table at Wagah border. (Audience applause on the consequences.)

BD : Are brave and outspoken people like you are increasingly isolated in Pakistan? Are liberal voices in Pakistan finding themselves at the periphery?

PH : True. Marginalization taking place because of relentless Islamization ever since Zia-ul-Haq. School text books changed. There has been a change towards a Islamic state from a Muslim state - the two are completely different. Muslim State - where majority of the people are Muslims, Islamic State - state where there is Islamic rule. Zia-ul-Haq took steps towards that. Chairman of university departments were expected to lead prayers. People started praying on side walks. As a reaction people wanting pluralistic society turned towards liberalization. Two nation theory has worked it course and a an inclusive idea of nation is required.

BD : As a teacher you spoke against burqa because you wanted to connected to your class. Is is a difficult stand to take?

PH : As a teacher I need to see little bit more then just two eyes.

BD : Mani have we gotten over partition - I think in India we have.

MSA : I as a Tamil refugee from Pakistan have gotten over with but we as country have not. To add to Pervez's observation - the efforts by the government in past seventy years to foster hatred for the other people have failed - as seen from personal relationships between the people.