July 13, 2010

Pakistan vs. India

The Indian defense sector’s decision to go ahead and spend Rs. 50,000 crores ($ 10.7 billion) on the purchase of 6 new diesel-electric powered submarines is a significant development in the South Asian region. Not only is this big news for the top brass of the Pakistani military, but it is also worrisome news for the warriors of China. Ironically, the amount India is willing to spend on 6 submarines is also the same as the amount Pakistan is begging from the IMF.

While we claim India is arch enemy and it is imperative that we must match our defense spending to that of our considerably bigger neighbor, I thought it would be pertinent to draw up some comparisons. These comparisons are in no way meant to undermine the sanctity of Pakistan or belittle it anyway. Let me start with the development budget that India has in place today. India spends Rs. 11,000 crore annually on education. Doesn’t sound like much? Well it is very, very and I mean exceedingly high when compared to Pakistan’s education budget which is peanuts. This shows in the IQ levels of the Indians and their overall literacy rates. Indians have ensured that they are considered trendsetters in their classes and despite the economic slump, and the extreme poverty levels, the world never calls India a failed state. There are several reasons for that. Every Indian is proud to be an Indian, quite unlike us Pakistanis who are well, pretty much ashamed of being Pakistanis. And I don’t blame those people who are ashamed of calling themselves Pakistanis when we have people like Riaz Peerzada, Jamshed Dasti, Fauzia Wahab etc sitting in the Parliament and the Houses of Legislation. But the honest fact is that we Pakistanis have never considered ourselves to be Pakistanis. We are first and foremost Punjabis, Sindhis, Balochis, Pashtuns, Maliks, Awans, Afridis, Sardars etc and then we are the Jiyalas of PPP, and the workers of PML, and so on and so forth. In this entire tirade, we forgot we are Pakistanis, and Pakistan is from us.

And this is what bothers me about my country and what I find marvelous about India. The education system might not be top-notch, but the one thing that is inculcated into every man, woman and child is that they are Indians, and India is a great nation. The message of Hindustan-iat. On the other hand, the message of Pakistaniyat has never been important to any of us, neither have we tried inculcating that spirit of unity in our nation. Which circles back to the primary notion: the education system has never been strengthened enough in this poor country to get it off the track and into line. When I look around me, I find that despite such hardships, or maybe because of such hardships, this country is brimming full of talent. All this talent needs is an opportunity and we can change the world, and our destiny. We see flashes of this brilliance every now and then, but that’s just it, they’re just flashes.

While our rulers cringe every time defense and India is mentioned in the same sentence, and take that to mean massive increases in defense expenditure to “keep India in check”, I find it disgusting. We cannot “check” India if you please. Our only deterrent is our nuclear arsenal and that is a pretty strong deterrent if I may say so. The only difference between us and them is that while they continue to spend on defense, they do NOT neglect development. Whereas in this Land of Pure, we only either spend on defense, or we spend some more on defense.

That ladies and gents is the simple story of why India is where it is, and we are nowhere near it. Muslims in India are far happier in India than the Muslims in Pakistan are. Maybe because unlike us, they are educated and do not mix religion with politics of governance. This our two pence for thought; we need to educate ourselves to achieve the peace and stability that is desired by the Pakistanis, and the world in this region.