For a while now, I have been trying to follow views of the Pakistani media about current affairs in general. I think, it was predicated to a large extent, by a resurgent interest in India about Pakistan – going beyond just the usual rhetoric we would get from good old Doordarshan in our formative years.
In that spirit of mutual understanding, I started reading Irfan Hussain from Dawn. I find his analysis of current political issues – both domestic, international and also with respect to India – well thought out and pragmatic. For e.g. in talking about the recent blasts on Mumbai local trains he says “The ISI and sundry intelligence organisations have also been harbouring violent militias to further their agenda in Kashmir. For years now, they have been fighting a proxy war in the disputed valley, using freedom fighters to force concessions from India. Although these tactics have not gone according to plan, our spooks and sundry hawks feel they have been instrumental in tying down hundreds of thousands of Indian troops.
When Maulana Azhar Mahmood, the fire-breathing cleric freed in the Kandahar hijacking in 2000, openly recruits for the Kashmir jihad, what kind of signal does this send? And when Dawood Ibrahim, the Mumbai mafia boss, widely believed to be behind the bombing of the Mumbai stock exchange a few years ago, is reported by a respected Pakistani magazine to be living comfortably in Karachi, how do we distance ourselves from charges of harbouring a criminal?
So while I doubt very much that anybody in authority in Islamabad sanctioned the recent attacks on the trains in Mumbai, the fact is that we have not cracked down hard enough on the individuals and the organisations that are engaging in violence in our region. Indeed, over the years, Pakistan has come to be seen as a haven for violent terrorists from all over the world. And if we have been successful in killing and arresting many of them, it is because they are living right here.”
Bold words coming from a Pakistani journalist whose main readership, is afterall, in Pakistan. And it is heartening to see that in the mainstream Pakistani media, there are people who are willing to talk reason and sense and express an urgency to normalize relations with India.
And I think, we need to respond in kind. For long enough, we have talked about how we have been the victim of Pakistani strategic initiatives like proxy wars though terrorism. Yes, we have. And continue to be. But if the Middle East ( or for that matter, anywhere else in the world, anytime in history) is a judge – violence begets only more violence. At some point, Pakistan has to stop its support for insurgents and terrorists coming into India. And India has to respond in kind.
The view from across the border is encouraging. Lets give a reason for these thoughts to grow.