An open letter to peace-loving Pakistanis
Dear Friends across the border,
I am an ordinary Indian, fed-up with the daily news of bomb blasts, calls for jihad, breaking-up of my country and the support for all this, from across the border in your country. What riles me the most is being told that Pakistan, the perpetrator, hosts to so many terror organizations, is actually the victim.
Statistics of terror incidents and the dead is reeled off and they are heart-rending but as Hillary Clinton said “You can’t keep snakes in your backyard and expect them to only bite your neighbours. You know, eventually, those snakes are going to turn on whoever has them in their backyard”.
Trust does not come easily when one is dealing with a repeat offender, individually or as a country. At some stage of their lives, every generation of Indians has experienced a violation of their trust by Pakistan.
Starting from 1947, Pakistan first violated its own Standstill Agreement with the princely state of Jammu & Kashmir by sending troops.
Then came the UN resolutions, where the first step is for Pakistan to withdraw, handover Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (or Azad Kashmir, as you like to call it) before we reduce troop levels and conduct a plebiscite.
The Tashkent Agreement, the Shimla Accord, the Lahore Declaration over the next decades, each specifically state that we will sort all our problems bilaterally but Pakistan then raises Kashmir at every international forum. You repeatedly violate these agreements and then you expect us to trust you for peace? Kargil happened because Vajpayee trusted Pakistan.
It is not a coincidence that Pakistan has so many UN-proscribed terror organisations, keeps hovering between grey and blacklists of FATF, so many of India’s most-wanted, gangsters, hijackers, drug-dealers find a safe haven in your country.
As per the Global Passport Index, the Pakistani passport is third from the bottom of the pile of passports, above the Afghan and Iraqi passport but below the Syrian, Iranian, Yemeni passports. Even the North Korean passport opens more doors. Have you ever introspected about these aspects?
The average Pakistani citizen is all for peace, we are told. It’s all the Pakistani Army’s fault, they control the country. The Pakistani deep-state, the ISI who cause these problems; that the Pakistani citizen wants peace but has no choice. Give peace a chance, we are told. “Non-state actors” are to be blamed, we are told. Well, a state that cannot act against “non-state actors” is a dysfunctional state. Only a nation-state that does not have investigative talent or self-respect would depend on other countries for evidence.
I would trust the average Pakistani citizen and believe them to be sincerely peace-loving if they could change these first four things:
1. Celebrate Pakistan’s Independence Day on 15th Aug instead of 14th Aug:
“As from the fifteenth day of August, nineteen hundred and forty-seven, two independent Dominions shall be set up in India, to be known respectively as India and Pakistan.” These are the exact words of the India Independence Act 1947, by which India and Pakistan got their independence. This came into effect on the midnight of 14th to 15th August.
Mountbatten administered the oath of office to Jinnah on the 14th as he needed to be in New Delhi on the midnight hour to administer the oath to Nehru. It was an administrative convenience, as he couldn’t be at two places at the same time and so for the next few hours, Jinnah was a Prime Minister without a country, till the midnight hours.
Till 15th Sept 1951, the entire sub-continent was on a single time-zone, so India and Pakistan got their independence from the British at the exact same moment. Celebrating independence on the 14th is chicanery to ensure that Pakistan does not share an independence day with India, even if that meant celebrating it on a day when you were still a colony. I can understand jealous, immature teenagers doing such a thing out of spite, but an entire nation? For generations? Forget India, be true to the facts of your own independence and celebrate it on the 15th of August every year.
2. Celebrate Pakistan Day on 24th March instead of 23rd March:
Celebrated on 23rd March, Pakistan Day commemorates the passing of the resolution for a separate homeland for the sub-continent Muslims at the Muslim League’s annual convention at Lahore. The session was conducted between 22nd and 24th March 1940. The resolution was tabled on the 23rd and approved the next day, on the 24th.
Pakistan’s 1956 constitution was adopted on the 23rd March but it was abrogated in 1958 and the 1962 constitution, the Legal Framework Order 1970 and the 1973 constitutions were adopted on different days. This raises the question: What is being celebrated on 23rd March, a draft resolution or an abrogated constitution? If you want to celebrate the passing of the Lahore Resolution (the resolution that states that Hindus and Muslims can never live peacefully together should actually be junked to the dustbin of history but that’s a different argument), please be true to the facts of history and celebrate it on the 24th March.
3. Honour your heroes:
The word Pakistan was coined by Choudhary Rahmat Ali who, in 1948, moved from England to live in the country whose name he coined. Due to differences with the then Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, his assets were seized and he moved back to Cambridge where he died in 1951, “destitute, forlorn and lonely”. His funeral was paid for by Emmanuel College, Cambridge and it took repeated follow-up for 2 years with the Pakistani High Commissioner for them to be reimbursed.
Similarly, injustice was meted out to 1979 Nobel prize winner for Physics, Dr Abdus Salam because he was an Ahmadi. His tombstone remains a joke to the bigotry he had to face. During the Kargil conflict, your country refused to take back your dead soldiers. It was left to the Indian Army to bury those who attacked them. There are many more but nothing can be more shameful that these three examples. Serving ignominy to your heroes seems to be a continuing Pakistani tradition. After all, the family of Shahaz Ud Din, the missing F16 pilot, is yet to get closure. Change this, talk about these heroes and celebrate them.
4. Make your consumer Rupees count:
The military complex in your country runs all manner of businesses, being present in shipping, bakery, cement, construction, travel, apparels, bus services and what not. You seriously don’t need military precision or discipline to run a bakery or a bus service. Every time you eat a croissant, you silently endorse the status quo.
Before the start of the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, a footbridge collapsed and was rebuilt by the Army is six days. Just six days! In Bangalore, the army cleaned up a lake in 8 hours and achieved what the civic authorities couldn’t in years. While we were appreciative of the efficiency and dedication of our men in uniform, both these examples were a stinging indictment of the ineptness and corruption of our civil society which is for us, citizens, to correct.
The man behind the corruption of the Commonwealth Games, a former IAF pilot, a three-term Parliamentarian, an international sports administrator, is serving jail time. It is possible to make civil authorities answerable for their actions, but not military men. Interacting with your army may certainly inspire patriotism, a sense of pride. We understand that, but an Army confined to the barracks and under civilian control means the country is safe, strong and stable. Such a civilian administration is respected across the world. Want peace with India? Boycott Army-run businesses.
Building confidence is a two-way street and an ongoing process. This is a new India, we are not going to get this process restarted. The above four things by a sincere, peace-loving Pakistani citizen are a good first step that would win my support. If you can’t, then you are as complicit as the military-mullah nexus and carry no credibility in my eyes.
Elections have been announced in our country and we have better things to do than pick a quarrel with you guys.
As we say in India, Satyamev Jayate!
From a common Indian citizen.
An social entrepreneur with a keen interest in current affairs, policy and strategy. Proud Indian, proud Hindu.