November 13, 2010

Why so India-centric?

The question is potent and hits right at the hearts of a gazillion Pakistanis who have grown up listening to India’s nefarious designs against the Citadel of Islam (Pakistan) and have indulged in rampant India-bashing. I was a part of this group too, until one day I woke up and decided to use my common sense. Our obsession with India has reached new levels of paranoia. We want to compete with them in every detail but we keep losing miserably. The thing is, instead of making everything a case of “the grapes are sour”, maybe we should spend time trying to remedy our own shortcomings and failings.

We need to get over our India-phobia. (Photo:
Only recently, an article on talked about the increasing Indian influence on the Obama administration to delink India from Pakistan ergo to do away with the term “Indo-Pak”. The reasons why the Indians can afford to demand this is because they have made themselves independent; they do not depend on us to be noticed. We Pakistanis on the other hand have to involve India in every alternate matter to be heard or noticed, be it the Taliban, Afghanistan, North Waziristan, Baluchistan etc. We keep hearing the Pakistani state has a lot of proof of Indian involvement but somehow that proof has never seen the light of the day. Why can’t our government behave like a mature democratic regime and present that proof for all and sundry to see and read? That would put a stopper to the expansionist Indian statements proclaiming innocence.

What we need to do is to stop making India the focal point of everything that we say or do. India might have wanted us to bleed once upon a time, but I very much doubt that in the current scenario it would do anything to harm its interests in the region. We are an independent and sovereign country but we have always been indoctrinated with the ideology of a defensive state. That’s why we’re so unwilling to root out militancy from within our borders because we have this idea that with a friendly government (no matter how vile it is) in power in Afghanistan, we can somehow check India’s aggressive stances against us. What we fail to realize is that the world is much wider than just Afghanistan and India and our inherent obsession with India and our lack of willingness to set our own house in order is making the world run out of patience.

We consider Afghanistan to be a prize trophy but we will fail to realize that in the process of “winning” Afghanistan, there is a very real possibility of us losing the world. Whenever the Afghan war is over, be it 10 years or a 100, the US will always come back to look for India because it offers them mutual economic benefits, something that we lack and haven’t really focused on projecting. We have never focused on making ourselves stronger; rather we have focused on defining policies, strategies and guiding principles on how to keep a check on the Indian influence in the region. Wouldn’t it have been more prudent if we had spared a thought or two on educating our population, giving them better healthcare facilities, solving our internal conflicts, promoting our culture and our diversity to the world?

The underlying point behind this discourse is to explain that our inherent India-centrism has caused us to overlook some basic rights that we owe to the citizens of Pakistan such as education and healthcare. This has caused our progress and technological advancement to be extremely slow, hindered and stunted. On the other hand, India despite suffering from the same if not worse problems than we have here has established itself as one of the rising global powers. If nothing else, we ought to take a leaf out of its book and start putting our own house in order before pointing fingers at everyone else.