Friday, February 5, 2010

Aman ki Asha

Today after one year of maintaining a stance of no engagement with Pakistan, India offered to hold talks. A lot of recent developments happened in the environment concerning the two countries. The case of not a single Pakistani player being auctioned. Personally I feel, IPL is a business preposition and whatever the franchises do with the money they have is their prerogative and nobody's else. Having said that, it was simply poor business for not taking a single player from the side winning the 2009 T20 world cup. If there was any form of pressure from anybody ( Outlook alleges it was IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi ) it is downright shameful. If anything, it robbed Indian fans of some quality cricket. There was however another initiative which marked the new change in the mindset of Indo - Pak relations. It was Aman ki Asha- a peace initiative taken by two largest media houses - The Times of India and Jang on the either side of the border.

Today I was going through the Aman ki Asha section in the Times of India. I had a smile on my face while reading the articles. It somehow felt like, sitting in the drawing room of my grandparents house. Listening to stories of Lahore and phrases like " Jineh Lahore nahi vikheya, ao jamiya nahi " (The person who hasn't seen Lahore hasn't been born yet!). The food, the culture, the language, the festivals. The talk about how women's fashion originates in Lahore, travels to London and then comes to Delhi and Amritsar. And then amongst all this my eyes fell on a picture of Mumbai 26/11. And the thought which came to my mind was - Till when?

We neighbors suffer from a love- hate relationship with each other. We leave no oppurtunity to humiliate the other. And in competition of hospitality, we leave no stone unturned. The dosti series of 2004, the bonhomie surrounding corresponding 2005 PAK tour of India. But as has always been, we are always 1 attack away from war. I dread to think, that while the initiatives are going on somebody is planning the next Kargil, next parliament attack, the next Mumbai.

I had always been hopeful, everytime a peace initiative was taken by the two countries. The iconic Lahore Bus ride ended in Kargil. The 2001 agra summit ended in Parliament attack and operation Pakraman which bought two largest armies in the world eye ball to eye ball. Therewas dosti series of 2004 which changed things, but well one Mumbai finished all that. Its not that I blame the population of the certain country for all that happened. I believe in "non state actors " argument. We had our own for Samjautha express blasts. But considering that these non state actors were ( probably still are) in illicit relationship with ISI. That Jihadi's are meeting openly in POK after all this. That even after facing an increased threat on its western borders, an army general still defines his army as India centric. That here in India, right wing extremists are doubting credibility of one of our finest actors for making statements which were in no way wrong. That we still scoff and feel pride at " teaching Paki's a lesson" after IPL auction. That history books in both the countries paint each other as the enemy.

So I guess, this is what will happen. There will be summits, people to people contacts, editorials written on how this is the best time in the history for the two countries, we will play bilateral series with each other, trade agreements will be signed, there would be a high level delegation where leader of one country will visit another and then, and then there will be one attack. One attack and everything will roll back. The bonhomie, The praises, the love it will evaporate. There will be comparisons of back stabbing by one country to another in both the countries. References will be made about 1971 and 1965 and 1947. The Hippocratic mask which everybody wore for the " Aman Ki Asha " period will be washed away in seconds and in no time we will again have our armies standing eye ball to eye ball. Not saying that everybody does it, thinking about the moment to get even. But as my case, I supported 2004 series and consequent steps. But on 26/11 I wanted to do something, we all wanted to do something and the progress made over the years was held hostage to 1 attack.

So this time, I want to be a cynic who is proved wrong. I won't be too optimistic about this initiative. I would like to be a cautious optimist, because one more attack will take my faith out of the system ( probably its already gone). I really do want to be proved wrong. I really do want someday in the future a person who is reading the blog right now to come to me and say - " I told you so". I really do want a shot at peace. I really do want to visit the land which my ancestors left.

Till then let me view all this through a prism of cynisism and suspicion.

picture courtesy:
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