30 November 2009

"Mumbai's winners and losers" by Irfan Husain

"I do not like getting old.  However, given the alternative, I do not mind" said Scot Adams.

"India may not like to initiate peace with Pakistan.  However, what are its alternatives?" says Irfan Husain (in his article in The Dawn).

According to him the true winners of Mumbai were the terrorists and the security establishments; the true losers were the victims and the larger population of both the countries.  Irfan Husain argues that peace is the cleverer thing to do.

Pakistan's army gets its importance, power and money from one source: maintaining an adversarial tension with India.  The army would not, normally, encourage peace with India.

Pakistan's religious extremists would never encourage peace with India.

However, there is a silent and intelligent majority of moderates in Pakistan.

India has an excellent opportunity now:

1.  At the moment, Pakistan's army does not depend on India for its importance, power and budget.  The fight against terrorism is now perceived to be a bigger cause.  Pakistan's army would actually be relieved if India were to take a few steps to ease the tension in the India Pakistan border.

2.  At the moment, Pakistan society is getting alarmed at religious extremism.  They are still at a point where it is possible for a majority to reject religious extremism (if army would contain the radicals) than succumb to it (out of fear).

3.  At the moment, India has a stable government with sufficient majority (that is not based on a co-alition).  Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has enough respect in India to bring a solution that is fair (even if it is not acceptable to everyone in India).

4.  At the moment, Pakistan has a stable government with a leadership that has the toughest task any elected government can be expected to handle.

5.  India is looking to grow.  India cannot afford to let its politics come in the way of economics.

6.  A Pakistan that loses to the Taliban is the worst scenario for India.

India and Pakistan made significant progress in resolving Kashmir in the recent past.  This got stalled because of terrorism incidents.

India has to take the initiative to make peace with Pakistan.  Now.  That is the cleverer thing to do.
Pakistan has to make peace with India.  Now.  That is the wiser thing to do.

How I wish Irfan Hussain's thoughts are echoed by thought leaders in India too.

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