Over the past few months an ongoing debate about opening the borders to our next door neighbor has engulfed drawing room discussions, economics and politics lectures, the industrialist, the Mazdoor (wage laborer), and of course the talk shows. Those in favor of this upgrade in India’s status have brought to notice a need for better ties. It is now more obvious than ever that on all fronts, economic, social, political and security; India has left Pakistan far behind. While India has been labeled the World’s largest and most multicultural democracy, proud liberals quote Mother India as the torch bearer, pride of the democratic legacy, a success story; Pakistan is equally known for the opposite reasons: Terrorism, conflict, unstable governance, and sectarian and religious strife.
Yes, we agree media has portrayed the dark contours of our reality in exceptionally negative light; that despite breaks in democratization the military decades have been the more economically prosperous; that the 21st century terrorism is man (CIA) made, while we were fighting a war in the name of friendship, not selfish interest. Perhaps we all support a different future in the upcoming election, yet we expect to be united on the past? The positives and the negatives of any government are only seen in retrospect. Each decade has achieved milestones and made blunders, then how so we expect one political party right now to provide with all the right solutions?
As a teenager with exposure to anti-Zia (for banning Kathak classes and making actresses cover their heads) rhetoric in passing, I was a die-hard Ayub fan because of the Green Revolution and escalated economic growth till I learned that non-alignment would have been a more promising posture. I heard Bhutto stood for us, his speeches left millions mesmerized, and outspokenness on the UN platform extraordinary, a leader, a nationalist. But he ravaged the economy, did nothing for the labor class, his legacy ordains the very feudal mindset he set out to fight. These men were revolutionaries of their time.
While we can frown upon military dictators for breaking the constitution, disrespecting the ‘Quaid’, whatever argument resonates; has civilian leadership not disrespected the constitution? The biggest democrat, who moved the most with his charismatic leadership, disrespected it to the point of 1971 partition. Blame lies with Mujeeb’s 6 points as well. But it takes some depth of knowledge to understand that individuals have negative and positive impacts on outcomes. There is no solution that won’t generate an opposition, to economic, social, political, security problems. Those who stood by PPP in 1971 and those who opposed him were equally right and wrong.
As the election in 2013 approaches it is crucial for us to evaluate the tiers that make a society. It is crucial to understand that ‘token’ gestures are necessary, but not at the expense of personal interest. The war against the Soviets was a token gesture, led to aid and popularity of the Pakistan army, but created a militia that would soon turn the trigger towards its provider. For us to partake in the war against Soviets was foolish for diplomatic reasons. A bipolar world feeds more open mouths as the poles compete with one another; like perfect competition in microeconomics.
As a country we have made mistakes that seemed both right and wrong then and in retrospect. But we have learned a few valuable lessons. That lip service to diplomacy and solidarity must be given only as much importance as it is beneficial. They say we are friends with India and on good terms we shall stay, proving we have come a long way from the bitterness of the past. Granting an MFN status as a goodwill gesture to bear witness to the genuine warmth, as a way to move forward. But the bitter reality is that India does not need us. Free trade at this point, with unfavorable policies, high production costs owing to an energy dilemma, the most immediate outcome would be the demise of our industrial sprouts: More unemployment, stagnation, stagflation, and even more loans.
Most Favored Nation is not just a good-will gesture ladies and gentlemen. Aman ki Aasha, intellectual discourse like the Literary Festival, the TAPI happening up-North, dialogue between the two over the Operation Endgame all qualify for good will gestures that do not threaten our delicate being. Opening free trade will not bring us more at par with Mother India. It is time we realized we don’t pose a threat to a massive nation that made the right choices. That closed her economy when we went on the Green Revolution; that grew her wings before spreading them. We must now start a new chapter, where policies are discussed and not individuals or parties. Welcome aboard the Realpolitik.
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