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Partners? Rivals? BBC, you must be kidding!

Partners? Rivals? BBC, you must be kidding!

Author: Jay Jina
Publication: Asian Voice, London
Date: August 30, 2003

As part of their coverage of India and Pakistan's independence, BBC Four ran a programme "India and Pakistan - Partners or Rivals". To give it a semblance of authority, they invited dignitaries on the panel.

It is not a little ironic that the colonial mentality of the BBC was at the forefront. Why, for heaven's sake, place an obscure American diplomat in the middle of the panel? A case of BBC deluding itself that such a ploy is enough to "bridge" the gulf between India and Pak?

But that is not the main point of contention. The very premise of the programme was laughable.

Briefly, the programme was an anorexic, tabloid, whitewash of three topics: the IT revolution, the threat of nuclear conflict (couched in "the Kashmir issue"), and Bollywood. With some honourable exceptions, the gullible and manipulative audience (specially invited, we were told!) played the peace pipe orchestrated by the BBC.

The usual nonsense came out: That the people are really the same, that it is the nasty politicians who keep them separated. That the rivalry is politically motivated by "white colonialism" which lives off arms sales. That underneath it all, they share the same culture and cuisine and love the same music. That Pakistan and India can become partners in the fields of economic development, arts and culture if only those politicians let go.

The truth is rather different:

India is a transparent democracy. An independent judiciary, a multi-party parliamentary system and a free press form the backbone of a secular state.

Pakistan is a tin pot, theocratic, dictatorship run for the personal benefit of a select cabal of landowners and military brass. Everyone waxes lyrical about Jinnah's promise to Pakistanis of freedom "to go to their mosques, temples, churches.", and yet forget that this was the man who said that Muslims could not live with Hindus. The result was Pakistan: the fulfilment of the Two-Nation theory.

How many even know that Pakistani laws expressly persecute Ahamdiays? And, what of the systematic ethnic cleansing of Hindus? Intra-Islamic rivalries spill over into gun battles such as to sully the sanctity of mosques. Of course, the BBC chose to plead ignorance of these facts. After all, why cloud a romantic rendezvous of  "artistes" playing to the BBC's tune?

Even in the brief periods when Pakistan has had democracy, the Army has ruled the roost. Only last week, Bhutto told a rediff.com reporter how when she was PM, Musharraf presented his crazed plans to capture Srinagar.

The simple fact is that India is not and cannot be either a partner or a rival of Pakistan.

To be partners, requires more than a few words of Urdu poetry, a liking for tikka, a love of music, and sharing a few jokes . Sorry, Asma Jehangir, we all admire your work as a human rights lawyer, but you are mistaken in thinking that the jokes in Amritsar are the same as those in Lahore. You need to get out of the circle of Wagah watchers and meet the common person in the street.

Yes, Indians will listen to Junoon and have adopted Adnan Sami as their own, but when was the last time a Pakistani in Rawalpindi or Sialkot was able to visit the cinema to see a film starring Saira Banu or Sharukh? Why have the Pakistani authorities consistently denied Lata and Asha to perform there? Before blaming it all on those nasty politicians, the dewy eyed within BBC's invited audience should ask what Pakistan is so afraid of!

True partnership demands common values, shared goals and aspirations, equal contribution from all parties, an empathy for each others problems and above all, an unconditional yet open friendship where hugs and kisses go with the occasional tantrum.

True rivalry demands that all rival parties aim for the same targets, have the same goals, and want to compete to be better than the other parties. It is a constructive engagement.

Some facts (more of which can be found in Arun Shourie's articles in the Indian Express) which illustrate India's values, goals and aspirations:

* India is a technology leader - being one of three countries to have developed it own super-computer, PARAM;

* India is one of only six nations that has its own satellite launch capabilities through which it generates substantial export revenues;

* India has some of the leading technology education and research institutes in the world - scientists from these provide much of the intellectual power to many of the world's leading companies in IT, Manufacturing and Banking

* India's pharmaceutical industry is the fourth largest in the world and exports now amount to $2 Billion

* Despite much adverse comparison with China, India's manufacturing sector also contributes substantially to the growth of the economy. Whereas China has focused on low tech, India has chosen the "intellect as capital" route - many global players including Honda, Monsanto, GE, Whirlpool have set up their R&D facilities in India.

* India's foreign exchange reserves stand at $85 Billion!

* Combined with Hi-Tech export centred development, there is a coherent drive towards literacy, sanitation, agriculture and water - witness the Narmada project, the advances on primary education for girls in rural India, primary health care, etc.

* India is a global leader in IT. Despite the slump in the global economy, the Indian IT industry has grown by 26% this year and contributes over $10 Billion, In India, IT stands for India Today and India Tomorrow.

And, Pakistan? Oh Yes, a leader in IT - International Terrorism: the promotion, protection and export thereof. Period.

India and Pakistan, economic partners or rivals? Naah!  Does anyone see any semblance of shared values or goals?

Nuclear Conflict and Kashmir? Another of those Pakistani fabrications that neither the BBC presenter nor the invited audience had much of meaning to say about. Bhutto and others need to open their eyes to the facts before pontificating on the right to "self determination" of Kashmiris. A good start would be to read and understand:

* The Instrument of Accession and its accepted international legality

* The various UN resolutions which place obligations upon Pakistan to vacate the territory it occupies illegally - a ruling that it has singularly failed to abide by;

* The constitution of J&K, which was framed and passed by the properly elected state assembly, Section 3 of which clearly states: "The State of J&K is and shall be an integral part of the Union of India".

* The Simla agreement of 1972

* The constitution of "Azad" (a pathetic joke) Kashmir which invests all power in Islamabad and the plight of the 1.5 million stateless people in the so-called "Northern Areas" who are neither Pakistani nor "Kashmiri". A classic case of colonialism.

Arvind Lavakare at rediff.com has summarised the facts very well, but the sceptics who would not trust an Indian can seek out these documents and check for themselves.

Finally, even Pakistan's staunchest allies see that  "self  determination" is simply a ruse for land grabbing. The whole world knows where the murderous Jihadis wrecking havoc in J&K come from. Why, in the very week that Baby Noor, a sweet little Pakistani girl, got a life saving operation in Bangalore, Pak sponsored Jihadis killed five little Indian girls in cold blood in J&K. A sad and pathetic example of partnership indeed!

Political partnerships would be a boon - after all, there are areas of regional interest to take care of: protecting the environment, conserving precious resources like water, campaigning for fairer trade and so on. These cannot be normalised unless there is trust.

And then there's the matter of the finger on the nuclear button. In India, there's an elected executive which debates and decides, and instructs the military. In Pakistan, there is the military.

That leaves Bollywood and the Arts. Apart from Sami and Junoon who are undoubtedly good musicians, can anyone name any other well-known Pakistani artiste, a world class Pakistani writer, a painter, a sculptor, a composer?

Where then does the question of partnership arise? What does Bollywood gain out of collaboration? Yes, if someone like Sami can contribute, they are always made welcome. But one singer does not constitute a partnership. Neither does the occasional visit of a few poets across borders.

The sad truth is that Art, Music and classical dance are all but dead in Pakistan - religious dogma is seeing to it. In contrast, India can boast of MF Hussain, AR Rehman, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Pandit Jasraj, Kishori Amonkar, not to mention a huge assortment of Ustads going by the name, Khan.

Today it is sad to note that, if it were possible to take an image of the Values and Vision of the two nations with some wonderful machine, the fissures would be as clear as a cancerous tumour is through a scan. At the moment, there are few signs of constructive rivalry and certainly none of partnership on the horizon.

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