Friday, July 8, 2011



( To be read in continuation of my earlier article of June 27,2011, titled “Introspection in Pakistan: Will it Endure?” at )

After 64 years of hating, distrusting and wishing ill of each other, have India and Pakistan started learning to like each other?

Things seem to be changing.

Glacially, bien sur. But changing all the same.

If you concentrate intensely, you can feel the change under your feet.

We are still harsh to each other, but not as harsh as before.

We still distrust each other, but not as intensely as before.

We still talk ill of each other, but not with as much venom as before.

We still hail the discomfiture of each other, but not with as much glee as before.

We still demonise each other, but not with as much pleasure as before.

The lingo is changing for the better, though one is not certain how long this would last.

Read the recent remarks of Smt.Nirupama Rao, our outgoing Foreign Secretary, on Pakistan and terrorism.

As forthright as always, but not as rudely condemnatory as in the past. There is a willingness to look at terrorism in a broader sub-continental perspective than in a purely national perspective.

Read the recent remarks of Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani of Pakistan at a seminar. “India is our most important neighbour.”

No Pakistani leader would have had the courage to say so in public in the past, even if he felt so in his heart of hearts. The fear that one might stir up the hornet’s nest of anti-India fundamentalists would have inhibited the open expression of any such feeling.

One could now sense a feeling of confidence in the Pakistani political leadership that less negative statements about India might have greater public support than in the past.

Pakistan post-Abbottabad is not the same as Pakistan pre Abbottabad. There is an intense introspection regarding Pakistan’s relations with the US. India has been a conceptual beneficiary of this introspection

Questions not asked in the past are being asked now. Is the US a dependable friend?

Is it wise to develop a dependence on the US?

Has the time come to have a re-look at Pakistan’s relations with India in order to reduce its dependence on the US?

Is it possible for India and Pakistan to get along with each other? Should one allow persisting differences over individual issues such as Kashmir and terrorism come in the way of a greater comfort level in the over-all bilateral relations?

Keep discussing the differences over individual issues, but do not allow the persisting differences to continue to add venom to the over-all relations.

There is a willingness to project the bilateral relations in benign than in compulsively malign terms as in the past.

Is it for real or is it chimerical?

Is it durable or will it end like past rays of hope leading to even greater bitterness than earlier?

These are valid questions. One should not hesitate to pose them, but one should not allow these questions to continue to make us prisoners of the past.

It is time to think in terms of getting out of the clutches of the past and moving into the welcoming arms of the future.

Is this possible? Yes, if we continue to travel on the road of learning to like each other.

There are incipient signs of new thinking in both India and Pakistan. These signs must not be allowed to wither away. ( 10-7-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: . Twitter: @SORBONNE75)


Paresh said...

Exactly this behavior has been India's bane for the last 1000 years. We can never capitalize on our enemies weakness to finally finish him off. We are too gullible and naive. Our guilty conscience is larger than our population. We are too eager to forgive and forget.

Sir, how do you expect a mumbaikar to "learn to like" Pakistan until the masterminds of the massacre in Mumbai still roam free and spew hate upon India every day?

Why are we soooooo eager for peace that we are ready to forget justice in the process? What is this obsession with Pakistan? Why is the Indian psyche so weak? We blame our leaders for being too soft and timid, but we the citizens are no different. After defeating Pakistan in the World cup millions of people poured out onto the streets, But after the mumbai attacks hardly a few tens of people demonstrated...and that too with candles. How shameful for a nuclear armed nation of 1 billion! Why is our anger so ephemeral? A small gesture is all it takes for India to forget the most horrendous act of butchery on Indian soil?????

Shameful! Just shameful!!

Krishna Kacker said...

I am not sure how to react.My mind is wary and distrustful of Pakistan but my heart is willing to be friendly. Pakistan today consists of two different set of peoples, one the elite and the other the common man.My reaction to the first group is of distrust despite all the sweet talk;I am more confident of the common man there, who has gained nothing by all these years of enmity with India and has seen India taking massive strides in progress while Pakistan has been regressing into a medieval feudal society.It is difficult to believe that the vested interests that control the military-industrial complex will willingly give up their position of importance which they owe entirely to the chasm created between India and Pakistan. The common man has always been friendly towards Indians at individual level as has repeatedly been proved.The change if it ever comes is only possible if and when this common man is able to uproot the "elite" as had happened in East Germany and led to its assimilation into a modern united Germany that is today an economic powerhouse.

ambi said...

there is no derth of idiots in india. no wonder chinese rightly call us Indiots. very true. in short as always we r f@%#ed.

god help us.

Esoteric said...

Too early to say..Well,as they say..lets see how the cookie crumbles.

What They don't Want You to Know said...

I have felt for some time that the 'civil society' in Pakistan is coming to realise the futility of unfriendly relations with India. Not only that but it actually DESIRES friendly relations with India. There is a complex of reasons for this rethink:

1 India is making economic progress despite everything thrown by Pakistan to undermine India.

2 Pakistan is not making economic progress and its economy at best is stagnant in developmental terms.

3 Especially because of Abbottabad, Pakistanis are questionning whether the Pakistan army is as professional and capable as they have believed and have been led to believe.

4 It's then easy to go one further and question the enormous percentage of their GDP which is expended on the armed services.

But what Pakistanis may now be feeling is irrelevant: in a democracy the government will reflect the will of the people but Pakistan is governed by the will of the army.

Peace broke out in Europe in 1945 because the German army was defeated. Peace cannot break out in the subcontinent until the Pakistan army is defeated. India's hope must be that this happens peaceably in a Tahrir Square type revolution by the people against the army. Or the economy is broken to the extent that Pakistan can't arm herself adequately. This cannot happen while America bankrolls Pakistan. The only other alternative is for the Indian army to defeat the Pakistan army on the battlefield!

Paresh said...

@What They don't Want You to Know

I agree with your analysis. I will just add that in addition to defeating the Pakistan Army, what is necessary is the de-Jihadification of Pakistan. After WWII Europe achieved peace not just after defeating German Army, but after complete de-Nazification of Germany. Extensive war crimes trials were arranged to punish the remaining guilty, the Nazi party was disbanded, the German constitution was completely re-written and Germany was divided among the allies with demands for war reparations. Compare this with what India did (or did not do) after Kargil war forced upon us by a mischievous Paki army. We won the war but did not hold anyone accountable. We allowed the prisoners to go back without written commitments about Kashmir, we allowed the remaining Pak army to retreat without punishing them. And how did Pak army return our goodwill - by mining the area vacated by it so that incoming Indian soldiers would be harmed!!

We are too eager for peace with Pakistan. Frankly, I believe the best way is to tear open that country. Separate Punjab, Sindh, Baloch, NW tribal areas and retake POK. Only then will India have peace. But we are so 'holier than thou' that we instead aim for a strong and stable Pakistan. Never in history has a country dug its own grave as India always has!

Wiki said...


I understand your frustration and share it too. But there is a silver lining to all this Pakistan mess. India is a functioning democracy. That is why the goodwill of the common man towards the ordinary Pakistani reflects in our foreign policy towards Pakistan. I would take this as a positive sign of caliberating our stance towards pakistan and not being positively or negatively obsessed with it. On the outside it may seem as if our outlook towards Pakistan is all confused between goodwill and anger, between support and destruction etc but underneath it has the support of the will of the Indian citizenry. Otherwise take the case of pakistan. The Army rules the country and cares a hoot for the sentiments of its general public. It has followed a single minded obsession of destruction of India. On the outside it looks as if Pakistan is clear in its goals and is confident on how to handle India but underneath it is a brocken shatterred country on the brink of social, financial and demographic disaster.

India is defintely asngry with Pakistan. We will surely teach them a lesson, but let us not be obsessed with either peace or enmity towards them. Pakistan is a stupid country hurtling towards self-destruction. Let it die a natural death!

What They don't Want You to Know said...

Can't disagree, Paresh, with what you have said about India's perennial weakness to stand up for its own interests - I wish India were like Israel!

But the theme of Mr Raman's article was that the Pakistani people may now be re-assessing their traditional support to their army and their traditional anti India agenda. My point was that this is all very well but nothing changes until the will of the people is reflected in their government.

I omitted to say that in 1945 not only was the German army defeated but the German people too. You may reflect that any change in heart of the Pakistani people to India is a 'defeat' for them of sorts. But the Paki army is yet to be defeated.

I am not so worried as you about jihadism in Pakistan which I still believe to be a minority sport. If the Pak people establish their agenda for their governance (and so defeat the Pak army) then I think that jihadism will decline.

Wiki said...

Over 70 people killed in two train accidents in two days and not a single word of explanation from either the Prime Minister, Maharani Sonia Gandhi, Yuvraj Rahul Gandhi or Rail Mantri Mamata Bannerji. Let alone resigning from their post out of sheer shame!

ambi said...

dear sarang upa IIs hands r full fighting these rogue hindus. they dont ve a time for all this nonsense.

kuldeep singh chauhan said...

Mr Raman after gaining independence pakistan looked towards arabisation of it's culture to justify it's secession from India and to give credence of muslims being a seperate nation. It has succeded in evolving into one and has nothing in common with India now after so many years. Their language , culture, dressing and thinking is all radicalised and different from indians. The proponents of akhand bharat or undivided India should look in to that and stop dreaming about unification except for the areas of pakistan occupied and gifted to china territories of India. when generations have been taught in madarssas and schools distorted hateful history and they learn to hate india as young as 5 years old how can these people be incorporated in to indian society?

kuldeep singh chauhan said...

Carlos said...

Kuldeep Singh Chauhan has it RIGHT about Pakistan and Jehadism and their hatred for India.

Paresh has it right about India's cowardice and lack of killer instinct.

Thinking that he does not have much time left to live, Raman has gone SOFT on Porkistan in the Gujral-Nayar-Dutt fashion.

India has to learn from Israel how to handle threats from China, Pakistan and elsewhere. Or perish.