Why ‘Aman Ki Asha’ was Doomed from the Start

February 2, 2011

Zaheer Bhatti

Aman ki Asha, a desire for peace, was pre-empted even before it took off, and only laid bare secular India’s hypocrisy and double talk in encouraging such initiatives.

The Indian civil society this time led by the Times of India, co-sponsored a peace initiative at the people’s level with their Pakistani counterpart. But its religious fanatic and violent outfit Shiv Sena, threatened to burn down any cinema screening Shah Rukh Khan’s films because he supported the T20 World Cricket Champions (Pakistani cricketer) to feature in the Indian Premier League in the interest of the sport. Aamir Khan, another Indian Matinee Idol, supported Shahrukh’s stance, but Amitabh Bachan avoided lending his voice for the glory of the game, and betrayed the inherent Hinduvta bias against neighbouring Muslim Pakistan, which was amply displayed in bringing down the centuries old Babri Mosque and vowing to raise the Ram Temple, and then the Gujarat carnage against the Indian Muslims’ lives and properties, to name just a few.

Not resting at that, the Indian government stood fully exposed as it humiliated the Pakistani cricketers by denying them the opportunity to play in the Indian Premier League for two consecutive years, much against the overwhelming desire of the Indian fans to see the Pakistani stars in action. It was capped by the government first entertaining an FIR against former Pakistan Cricket Captain Shoaib Malik, impounding his passport and embarrassing him in full media view, while protecting his suitor, who publicly gloated about carrying out an abortion. This was done in reaction to Shoaib marrying Indian Tennis Star Sania Mirza, whose plot of land in West Bengal was cancelled on the flimsy pretext of non-payment. So much for the bigotry and bias of the Indian government, while the people’s desire on both sides for peace through initiatives like Aman ki Asha, received a telling blow.

The Indians added a third dimension to the relations with Pakistan by threatening to carry out surgical strikes inside Pakistan, hallucinating about another Mumbai-like attack from the neighbouring country, which it could easily stage-manage through its agencies as in the past, and deliberately escalating tension by committing violations of international boundaries. Its political leadership offers to restart the suspended dialogue process, only to make another somersault soon after, by reneging and saying it would only talk about terrorism of which it was itself guilty, and virtually pre-empts any headway in talks asserting that Occupied Kashmir is a part of India in total disregard of the UN Resolutions or the spirit of bilateralism entailed in the Simla Agreement.

Pakistan has always said ‘yes’ to any peace initiative, despite bitter experiences in the past, including the long drawn so-called CBMs that India had proposed between the two neighbours, ostensibly to help meeting of minds before attempting solution to the core issue of Kashmir – the unfinished agenda of partition and independence. It actually turned out to be a ploy to divert world attention and buy more time to consolidate the Indian hold over the occupied territory by targeted persecution of the Kashmiri Muslims, raising the fence along the Line of Control and slyly building dams on Pakistan’s share of waters flowing out of Kashmir.

The US, which professes to be Pakistan’s ally, found nothing wrong in all this and termed Pakistani apprehensions about Indian designs as baseless. It clearly points either to its total lack of knowledge, or deliberate sidetracking of ground realities and history of the subcontinent in pursuance of its own grand designs in the region. It is only recently though, that the US appears to have somewhat realised and discretely cautioned the Indian side. The British, who have been the reason for sowing the ire and distrust, ought to know better. However, it was gracious of the then British Foreign Secretary David Miliband to have recognised and called upon the world community to help alley Pakistan’s concerns over India’s intransigence against it.

But what does one say to the skeletons in one’s own cupboard, which readily become their master’s mouthpiece whenever need be? Preposterous hypothesis of some of our armchair experts, a few academicians and embedded journalists, that Pakistanis harbour ideas about destroying India, is quite the opposite of Indian track record. What India has actually done, besides its already stated manoeuvres, is no secret and includes its strategy to silence the voice in Occupied Kashmir for self-determination, severing Pakistan’s Eastern Wing about which it gloats rather than be sorry, its direct involvement in Balochistan and FATA, and now courtesy RAM, RAW, CIA and MOSSAD, right across the length and breadth of Pakistan, of which conclusive evidence has surfaced.

At home, one witnessed among enlightened moderates and architects of the Indo-Pak amity through CBMs, and by some luminaries of the same ilk on both sides, a focus only on cosmetics rather than substance, which calls for a genuine introspection and change of heart. It was amusing to listen to former Indian Minister Yashwant Singh some time back, stating to a Pakistani channel, that anti-India statements by people, like Hafiz Saeed and Maulana Masud Azhar, were proof of their involvement in terror attacks in India. If one were to go by such analogy, more than half of the Indian and Pakistani civil society, which does not see eye-to-eye with each other on various issues, should be termed as terrorists. Sorry folks! You have to come up with something concrete and a lot better to convince the world.

In order to divert from its own covert and overt acts against Pakistan, New Delhi has lost no opportunity to cause embarrassment to it – be it sponsoring attack on the Sri Lankan cricketers, trying to stir up ethnic and sectarian confrontation in Karachi, and blaming Pakistan’s government for the Mumbai attacks, although no one other than the Indian Home Minister in admitting involvement of an Indian (pseudonym Abu Jindal), and later statement of the main accused Ajmal Kasab, unwittingly told a different story, as did Kasab’s lawyer declaring him an innocent victim of the Indian Intelligence, holding hostage and using an ordinary tourist from Pakistan in the staged act. Even in an apparently innocent initiative like a TV Musical Contest titled Chotey Ustad featuring kids from the two countries, the Indians could not resist muddying the waters by naming a Hindu lad to represent the disputed territory of Muslim majority Occupied Kashmir, which ought to have been avoided.

All this does not seem to hurt the sensibilities of such detractors in our midst, who go to the extent of blaming the country’s agencies for training militants for insurgency in India and Afghanistan, despite the US admitting its own principal role in recruiting, training, using and then abandoning volunteers brought together from across the globe to fight the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, and leaving Pakistan to bear the brunt of frustrations of the betrayed and deserted Muslim fraternity. It takes two hands to clap, and calls for sincere reciprocation for efforts like Aman ki Asha, to turn a real page, and alleviate the sufferings of teaming millions on both sides and not hypocritical cosmetics.

The writer is a freelance columnist.



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