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The Cost of Hating Pakistan

The Template of Fixed Narrative

When you think of Pakistan, what are the words, images and thoughts that come to your mind?

Terrorism! Corruption! ISI! Anti-India! Hate! Proxy War! Orthodox Islam! Military rule! Dictatorship! Poverty! Friend of Taliban etc.

How did you come to decide and use these words for Pakistan? What are the sources of your information about Pakistan? Politicians and media!

Illustration — Laila Milevski

Have you not heard our politicians talk about how they intend to defeat Pakistan and what misery Pakistan has brought on Indians? Our politicians, most of who have never been to Pakistan, shape our opinion about Pakistan.

Ask yourself: Do our political parties not thrive on hyper-nationalism and a sect-specific identity to keep us caged in our delusional senses and remain weary of the artificial enemy? We have created our own SATAN.

It is the same case of perpetual animosity in Pakistan and Pakistani politicians are no different from Indian politicians in creating an environment of hostility between two nations.

How paradoxical and astonishing it is to know that two nations born out of the same cloth, out of shared history, culture and languages; have fought 4 wars coupled with endless proxy wars which are always a ‘Work in Progress’!

But are Pakistan and India not reminiscent of our shared freedom struggle?

We hear too much but know too little

It’s too risky for people in both countries to think kindly and friendly of each-other’s country because you can be branded as anti-national and a traitor with no reasonable thoughts in consideration.

It’s mainly because our people hear so much about Pakistan in India and about India in Pakistan but know very little about both nations.

Hearing is not always rationale. We’re tempted to pay attention to what is loud and aggressive because aggression appeals to us and politicians know this better. Since, peace is viewed as soft and mild and does not generate aggression and violence and therefore, peace is not appealing enough to score politically. But know that soft is not weak and hence, peace is not weak.

The Obsession of Muscular Nationalism

In both of our countries, the test of your patriotism is taken basis of the scale of your hatred towards each-other's countries. The more you hate Pakistan, greater is your weight of patriotism. But how would you have measured our patriotism if there were no Pakistan?

Nationalism works better when its foundation consists of fear and hate. No doubt why our idea of nationalism is being driven by an obsession with Pakistan. We dwell on the misfortune of the Pakistan with malignant pleasure.

Military Competition Produces Madness

India and Pakistan both seek to attain military parity with other. While India spent 63.9 million USD on its defence budget in 2017, Pakistan spent 9.6 million USD on its defense in 2018-19. Now, look at the Human Development Index (HDI) data of both countries. India ranked 130 in the HDI in 2017 and Pakistan ranked 150 in HDI the same year.

What does this data tell us? Can both the countries afford to spend their scarce resources on weaponizing, developing and maintaining huge military and creating nuclear weapons? Given that both the countries have nuclear arsenals, is military resolution of differences between India and Pakistan ever possible? Simply not.

The Holy Sacrifice

According to India's Defense Ministry data, India spends around 6 crore everyday on its military installation in Siachen. Until 2016, India lost 800 soldiers in its quest to secure the Siachen Glacier which is world's highest battle terrain and also the most inhospitable. In 2001-02 alone, India suffered 798 soldier deaths and a cost of 3 billion USD without fighting a war.

Can you imagine the economic, material and human cost of fighting four wars with Pakistan?

Can you ask questions on these spending? Nobody would, because nationalism would not let you raise questions.

Our hyper-nationalism has cost us too much. We have closed our eyes to the killings of around 50,000 Kashmiri civilians, 6,500 security personnel and an enormous un-estimated and un-reported number of missing Kashmiris in last 30 years. Kashmir, today, accounts for the greatest presence of our armed forces which is nearly 5 lakhs in numbers.

This cost of our human lives is self-defeating. Both countries feel constantly threatened by each other and that is how, we have found our justification for the military madness.

Competition with Pakistan

Compared to Pakistan, India is six and half times larger in population and eight and a half times bigger economy. The question here is: Why should India compete with Pakistan or Pakistan compete with India, given that their demographic and economic situations are vastly different? Would it not be true to say that this un-reasonable competition has turned out to be very regressive for both countries and prevented them from becoming world powers? To give you context for these pertinent questions, look at the year 1980. In 1980, India had the same GDP as China. But today, China's GDP is almost five times greater than that of India.

The Lost Opportunity

We could have used our resources to universalize health care facilities, ensure social securities such as old age care program, pensions, health insurance, provide basic universal income, creating better education system, building institutions and advancing our infrastructural development for greater human development. Of course, my reason here is not to discount the external threat but to help us notice what we could have achieved in the absence of our obsession with Pakistan.

Political difference and not people difference

Most of the differences between two nations are highly political. The common man on either side of the boarder wants nothing but peace and end to the senseless war and hostility.

Both of our people’s trauma and triumphs are not different. Our people seem to be different only because we have drawn boundaries and created a perception but our societies, our struggle, our geography, our day-to-day problems and most importantly, our way of life are just the same.

Think People, not politics

The only solution that can help us harmonize and bring long lasting peace is the people to people contact and channelizing our human and economic resources to advance human development. This is how we will know more about each other and hear less propaganda. When people will know each other, when they will be educated and socially ensured, they will know what petty politics has done to them and their experience, wisdom and will for peace can set the right course of politics- a politics which is truly about resolving conflicts and not monetizing conflict.


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