Mohammed Hanif’s Ten Myths About Pakistan

Posted on January 11, 2009
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Books, Foreign Relations, Politics, Society
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Adil Najam

Mohammed Hanif, the brilliant author of the engrossing book “The Case of Exploding Mangoes” (I have been planning to write about it ever since I first read it many months ago; and I will) – known to many for his stint at Herald before he joined BBC’s Urdu Service – has just written a most cogent and readable op-ed in The Times of India which is wroth reading; whether you agree with it or not. It is a good argument as well as a good read. And I say that even thought there are more than one points here that I might quibble with. But before we quibble, lets give Mohammed Hanif the floor – and a full and proper hearing. Here is the op-ed he wrote in The Times of India, in full:

Ten Myths About Pakistan

By Mohammed Hanif

Living in Pakistan and reading about it in the Indian press can sometimes be quite a disorienting experience: one wonders what place on earth they’re talking about? I wouldn’t be surprised if an Indian reader going through Pakistani papers has asked the same question in recent days. Here are some common assumptions about Pakistan and its citizens that I have come across in the Indian media.

1. Pakistan controls the jihadis: Or Pakistan’s government controls the jihadis.  Or Pakistan Army controls the jihadis. Or ISI controls the jihadis. Or some rogue elements from the ISI control the Jihadis.  Nobody knows the whole truth but increasingly it’s the tail that wags the dog.  We must remember that the ISI-Jihadi alliance was a marriage of convenience, which has broken down irrevocably. Pakistan army has lost more soldiers at the hands of these jihadis than it ever did fighting India.

2. Musharraf was in control, Zardari is not: Let’s not forget that General Musharraf seized power after he was fired from his job as the army chief by an elected prime minister. Musharraf first appeased jihadis, then bombed them, and then appeased them again. The country he left behind has become a very dangerous place, above all for its own citizens.  There is a latent hankering in sections of the Indian middle class for a strongman. Give Manmohan Singh a military uniform, put all the armed forces under his direct command, make his word the law of the land, and he too will go around thumping his chest saying that it’s his destiny to save India from Indians.  Zardari will never have the kind of control that Musharraf had. But Pakistanis do not want another Musharraf.

3. Pakistan, which Pakistan? For a small country, Pakistan is very diverse, not only ethnically but politically as well. General Musharraf’s government bombed Pashtuns in the north for being Islamists and close to the Taliban and at the same time it bombed Balochs in the South for NOT being Islamists and for subscribing to some kind of retro-socialist, anti Taliban ethos. You have probably heard the joke about other countries having armies but Pakistan’s army having a country. Nobody in Pakistan finds it funny.

4. Pakistan and its loose nukes: Pakistan’s nuclear programme is under a sophisticated command and control system, no more under threat than India or Israel’s nuclear assets are threatened by Hindu or Jewish extremists.  For a long time Pakistan’s security establishment’s other strategic asset was jihadi organisations, which in the last couple of years have become its biggest liability.

5. Pakistan is a failed state: If it is, then Pakistanis have not noticed. Or they have lived in it for such a long time that they have become used to its dysfunctional aspects. Trains are late but they turn up, there are more VJs, DJs, theatre festivals, melas, and fashion models than a failed state can accommodate. To borrow a phrase from President Zardari, there are lots of non-state actors like Abdul Sattar Edhi who provide emergency health services, orphanages and shelters for sick animals.

6. It is a deeply religious country: Every half-decent election in this country has proved otherwise.  Religious parties have never won more than a fraction of popular vote. Last year Pakistan witnessed the largest civil rights movements in the history of this region. It was spontaneous, secular and entirely peaceful. But since people weren’t raising anti-India or anti-America slogans, nobody outside Pakistan took much notice.

7. All Pakistanis hate India: Three out of four provinces in Pakistan – Sindh, Baluchistan, NWFP – have never had any popular anti-India sentiment ever. Punjabis who did impose India as enemy-in-chief on Pakistan are now more interested in selling potatoes to India than destroying it. There is a new breed of al-Qaida inspired jihadis who hate a woman walking on the streets of Karachi as much as they hate a woman driving a car on the streets of Delhi. In fact there is not much that they do not hate: they hate America, Denmark, China CDs, barbers, DVDs , television, even football.  Imran Khan recently said that these jihadis will never attack a cricket match but nobody takes him seriously.

8. Training camps: There are militant sanctuaries in the tribal areas of Pakistan but definitely not in Muzaffarabad or Muridke, two favourite targets for Indian journalists, probably because those are the cities they have ever been allowed to visit. After all how much training do you need if you are going to shoot at random civilians or blow yourself up in a crowded bazaar? So if anyone thinks a few missiles targeted at Muzaffarabad will teach anyone a lesson, they should switch off their TV and try to locate it on the map.

9. RAW would never do what ISI does: Both the agencies have had a brilliant record of creating mayhem in the neighbouring countries. Both have a dismal record when it comes to protecting their own people. There is a simple reason that ISI is a bigger, more notorious brand name: It was CIA’s franchise during the jihad against the Soviets. And now it’s busy doing jihad against those very jihadis.

10. Pakistan is poor, India is rich: Pakistanis visiting India till the mid-eighties came back very smug. They told us about India’s slums, and that there was nothing to buy except handicrafts and saris. Then Pakistanis could say with justifiable pride that nobody slept hungry in their country.  But now, not only do people sleep hungry in both the countries, they also commit suicide because they see nothing but a lifetime of hunger ahead. A debt-ridden farmer contemplating suicide in Maharashtra and a mother who abandons her children in Karachi because she can’t feed them: this is what we have achieved in our mutual desire to teach each other a lesson.

So, quibble if you will. But do tell us what you think about the argument that Hanif is making.

163 Comments on “Mohammed Hanif’s Ten Myths About Pakistan”

  1. Arsalan Ali says:
    January 11th, 2009 6:04 am

    Bravo. Excellent Analysis. Bold, not defensive, and also no sugar-coating. Now if only we had a government and military leadership that could also speak like this rather than chest-beating.

  2. Brasstacks says:
    January 11th, 2009 6:22 am

    M. Hanif is clearly an Indian agent. Otherwise why would he write in Indian newsaper. Case closed.

  3. HAMZA says:
    January 11th, 2009 8:24 am

    Great article by Mohammad Hanif. Stupid comment by Brasstack guy. The real enemies of Pakistan are these super-patriot types who just want to spew hatred and are ‘against’ everyone and everything that is sensible, rational and decent.

  4. HAMZA says:
    January 11th, 2009 8:28 am

    More important, I think Hanif raises lots of good points even for us Pakistanis to think about. For example, this point that the jihadis have now killed more Pakistani soldiers than India ever did.

    Maybe we should start realizing who threal enemies of Pakistan are.

    And maybe the Indians can learn a little sense themselves and not fall for the propaganda of their media and war-mongerers.

  5. Indian says:
    January 11th, 2009 8:53 am

    The article is gud. But tell me one simple thing, Why can’t Pakistan handover some1 like Masood Azhar to India? Why is he under house arrest? Any normal criminal is kept in jail.

    Do u think Pakistan is serious in co-operating with India. It is this attitude that makes people on this to raise to war cry, to finish it once in for all.

  6. Anwar says:
    January 11th, 2009 8:54 am

    Very level-headed op-ed…
    Both countries have lost opportunities to better the lives of their underprivileged citizen.. Calcutta used to have the world’s largest slum in Asia- Karachi has now caught up. This is not progress!

  7. Zafar says:
    January 11th, 2009 11:34 am

    I believe all the points make sense except I have problem with one response about Pakistan being religious country.

    I believe the response should be “What is the problem if it is?”

    History only acknowledges the victorious, if the current so called jihadis are able to win their small fights here and there and carry on with it then the historians tomorrow will right about them as the factor which changed the world for better. Unfortunately these jihadis are not winning hence the history is being written by the victorious.

  8. Ahmer says:
    January 11th, 2009 11:44 am

    Well thought out article.

    Although I think there is no point in trying to explain things to Indian hawks. There is no point ion explaining things to Pakistani hawks either. Both are equally idiotic and will find every excuse to spur hate or give nonsense arguments like this Brasstacks person. These people are best just ignored.

  9. Coldrain says:
    January 11th, 2009 12:44 pm

    A very concise, to the point article by Mr. Hanif. He has a brilliant and creative mind, and his book is highly recommended to everyone who has an interest in Pakistan’s politics.

    Coming to his article, he has made ten very good points. All of them are very close to the truth. It is tragic that both Pakistan and India have allowed their leaderships to place socioeconomic progress on the back burner for the better part of their history. Only recently, has India started making good progress in a few sectors. There is hope for this to change, and we should invest in a new generation of youth, that will hopefully be much more sensible than the last.

    For us Pakistanis, it is imperative that we learn to take criticism in good faith, and respond by addressing legitimate concerns. Realizing that there are flaws in certain aspects of our country, is not to be unpatriotic. One such flaw is that of religious extremism. Although being religious is great, forcing others to adhere to your perception of religion is a menace. It must be removed, if we are to become a prosperous country in the future.

  10. Raza says:
    January 11th, 2009 12:58 pm

    Brasstacks, you are funny. Ignore him.

    Good article btw.

  11. January 11th, 2009 1:13 pm

    loved the book & have read some articles by MH. I am glad MH is back in Pakistan and look forward to his upcoming projects, understand he is working on the second novel. The only problem I have with “a case of exploding mangoes” is the cover, the version that is available in Pakistan has the late dictator’s picture on it.

  12. Arjun says:
    January 11th, 2009 1:23 pm

    The problem is that neither side has a Vision of what they want the subcontinent to look like, since most people are operating at a mundane level. No one has envisioned a 2020 where India and Pakistan are moderate progressive countries having relations on the line of Canada and the US, with free trade and cultural exchange. India and Iran have such relations today, so why not India and Pakistan? The subcontinent is truly blessed in terms of fertility, climate and human ingenuity, not to mention cultural heritage going back thousands of years. It’s a real shame that religious beliefs are keeping people apart. Fortunately, India in the majority at least celebrates its plurality in being a hospitable home to every one of the world’s major religions since time immemorial.

  13. Dawood says:
    January 11th, 2009 1:47 pm

    Very good selection. Yes excellent op-ed and with good lessons for Pakistanis as well as Indians.

    I guess idiots like brasstacks can be found in every country!

  14. Dawood says:
    January 11th, 2009 1:53 pm

    As I said, excellent article.

    My qibble is with no. 7. I think in both countries the majority has been TRAINED to distrust their neighbor.I think the recent crisis shows that Indians are trained to hate Pakistan much more than Pakistanis hate Indians.

  15. Waqas says:
    January 11th, 2009 1:53 pm

    I think Muhammad Hanif is just an other an other guy who can only present the problem but not the solution. I think we all know what the problems are; now we need some one with solutions and some one who can implement these solutions.

    For Mr. Arjun with all due respect to him and India, saying that “Fortunately, India in the majority at least celebrates its plurality in being a hospitable home to every one of the world

  16. Waqas says:
    January 11th, 2009 1:55 pm

    Video like for Mr.Arjun “″

  17. Faisal says:
    January 11th, 2009 2:52 pm

    You can always quibble with any article but I like MF’s perspective… always a bit different… very nice.

  18. Arjun says:
    January 11th, 2009 3:36 pm

    Waqas, what do you think reaction in Pakistan would be if Hindus had attacked Lahore? Do you think a single Hindu would have been spared?

    The extremists in India and Pakistan differ in a huge respect – Pakistani extremists want to kill or convert all Hindus in India while Hindu extremists want India to be a Hindu-exclusive religious state like Pakistan is for Muslims. Do you see the difference?

  19. Arjun says:
    January 11th, 2009 3:43 pm

  20. MK says:
    January 11th, 2009 4:31 pm

    We can live together only on the condition that BOTH parties learn to respect each other. kaput.

  21. MK says:
    January 11th, 2009 4:48 pm

    Arjun, I never wanted to comment but you agree to stuff that you think is agreeable from your point of view.
    First, don’t jump to conclusions about who did mumbai. Dont forget you train bombings and you response then and subsequent investigations.
    Second, if you are so quick to agree with the conclusion that those students would not have been killed had mumbai not happened what do you have to say the genocide of muslims in gujrat? What did the Pakistanis do then so that your countrymen butchered 2000 muslims with the help of the state Govt.?
    Third, you assume that Pakistani extremists want to convert every non muslim or kill him/her while on the other hand “while Hindu extremists want India to be a Hindu-exclusive religious state like Pakistan is for Muslims”. I find your statement really funny and naive. How do you suppose these hindu extremists plan to do that? I presume by requesting all the non hindus to convert or be driven to the arabian sea.
    Things can be looked at from different angles. It doesnt mean that every angle needs to be trusted though. We can live together within our borders if we learn to respect and consider each other’s rights atleast as human beings.

  22. Josh says:
    January 11th, 2009 5:55 pm

    That youtube video link provided by Waqas and referred to by others in some of the comments, actually shows a clash between two student groups at the chennai law college – a notorious incident that led to the resignation of the chennai police chief. However, those events do not involve any muslims, and the clash is also completely unrelated to the mumbai terrorist attacks and in fact precedes it by a few weeks.

    Clearly this sort of disinformation in the comments detract considerably from Hanif’s excellent article, which provides an interesting take on the stereotypes of pakistan and pakistani society that are found in the indian media.

  23. Waqas says:
    January 11th, 2009 11:10 pm

    Mr. Arjun First of all India did not provide any prove that this attack was done by Pakistan, read the Interpol report for confirmation. I agree with Mr.MK. at least in our country the extremist never got to rule unlike in India where the last government was by extremist and yes what do you have to say about Gujarat incident, and train blast, name one such incident in Pakistan.

  24. yaseen ch says:
    January 11th, 2009 11:26 pm

    i did not find any thing interesting in it,people talk and let them talk ,its as simple as that.

  25. A. Qureshi says:
    January 12th, 2009 12:15 am

    No point in reading or taking these appeasers like Hanif seriously. Why should we have to explain anything to Indians. Brasstacks is right.

  26. D_a_n says:
    January 12th, 2009 12:35 am

    @ Arjun…

    a couple of issues with what you wrote here:

    1. The extremists in India and Pakistan differ in a huge respect – Pakistani extremists want to kill or convert all Hindus in India while Hindu extremists want India to be a Hindu-exclusive religious state like Pakistan is for Muslims. Do you see the difference?

    Who told you this? I’ll bet it was one of those ridiculous reporters on star ‘news’ …..and pray tell good sir just how will your extermists make your neck of the woods a Hindu exclusive state?…The answer doesnt need much imagination…

    2. Fortunately, India in the majority at least celebrates its plurality in being a hospitable home to every one of the world

  27. Gorki says:
    January 12th, 2009 12:38 am

    Good Article by MH and mostly good and constructive comments. We need more people writing in the same spirit from both sides. I have a few comments of my own:
    1. Regardless of labels (India|Pakistan) we South Asians share a common heritage and a common civilization. We also share extremely large and poor populations. We share a common destiny. The sooner we get out of a zero sum game mode, the better off we shall be.
    2. Both India and Pakistan are now a battle ground between moderate and extreme viewpoints and the moderates on both sides need to confront the extremists forcefully if we want civilized and modern societies. Whether the extremists want to kill the other side or only drive it out, makes no difference. Such views are despicable and always harmful to all sides in the long run. They can not and should not be tolerated or defended.
    3. Both India and Pakistan have many pending problems but should be justly proud of their achievements too. Especially Pakistan which started with next to nothing in 1947 (read previous article in Pakistaniat) and yet became a nuclear power in 60 odd years. Such an achievement suggests that Pakistan is a dynamic society and can overcome great odds if it sets its mind to it. Pakistanis (and Indians) should not fear a little self criticism but should welcome it as a means for selfimprovment.
    4. Finally (people may disagree with me here) I believe the Indian constitution is superior (and gives India an advantage) in that it is secular and treats all its citizens as equal in principal as compared to that of Pakistan that intitutionalizes discrimination (against Ahmediyas etc.). Pakistan can never fully become a civilized and a modern nation until it addressess its stand on this important human rights issue.

  28. Janeeta says:
    January 12th, 2009 1:29 am

    Excellent article by Mr. Hanif, very thought provoking analysis and the comments are equally interesting

    @ A. Qureshi and Brasstacks

    The idea of writing an op-ed in an Indian Newspaper completely makes sense … these myths as discussed by Mr. hanif are about Pakistan and are held by Indians not Pakistanis so explaining it to them is the logical thing to do

    @ Arjun

    ” The extremists in India and Pakistan differ in a huge respect – Pakistani extremists want to kill or convert all Hindus in India while Hindu extremists want India to be a Hindu-exclusive religious state like Pakistan is for Muslims. Do you see the difference?”

    Just like D_a_n i too want to know who told you this? Do you even know that Pakistan too has a population of Hindus and Christians? And if we Pakistanis want to kill or convert every Hindu in India i think we should better start it from our own country…. i agree Pakistan was created as a land where Muslims can practice there religion freely but it was never a Muslim exclusive state … forcing someone to accept Islam is very much against the teachings of Islam, it is a religion of peace not brutality ….

    Arjun is a common citizen and what he said is the thought of many other indians as well i think Mr. Hanif should add a 11 myth to his article that “Pakistanis want to convert all Hindus to Muslims”

  29. Aadesh says:
    January 12th, 2009 1:36 am

    Hanif’s book, The Case of Exploding Mangoes, is an excellent book. Highly reccomended to anyone who has not read it yet.

  30. Gorki says:
    January 12th, 2009 1:46 am

    @ Zaneeta. I don’t agree with Arjun but do notice that he did not say Pakistan wants to converts all Hindus. I believe he means extremists in Pakistan wants to convert Hindus. The context is extremely important. I personally believe Pakistan has a silent majority of moderates too (just like India). This majority needs to speak up and stand up to the extremists.

  31. faisal says:
    January 12th, 2009 1:47 am

    “Imran Khan recently said that these jihadis will never attack a cricket match but nobody takes him seriously.”


    I just could not agree more.

  32. Humaira says:
    January 12th, 2009 1:49 am

    Gorki, Yes, the silent majority in both India and Pakistan needs to speak out against there extremists. The good news is that in Pakistan we see this majority constantly speaking out, even at their own peril (as in this website, by Hanif, and elsewhere). Unfortunately, in India the majority either remains too silent or just mimics the rhetoric of the extremists and the hate mongers, as we clearly see in this crisis. I hope that will also change soon.

  33. faisal says:
    January 12th, 2009 2:12 am

    One thing that I noticed in Indian attitude, despite their overwhelming literacy rate, and the fact that the country has been a functioning democracy since independence, I have never seen anyone disagreeing. None. Zero. I have an American friend who went to Calcutta a few years back, he told me that he went through a dozen newspapers, and they all seemed to read the same. All rosy, all feel good news.

    Look at our media, even when President Musharaf was in power and was a _dictator_ every Tom, Dick and Harry would come on the TV and scream for his blood. Now that we have a democratic govt. nothing has changed. People still love to rip the govt. officials to shreds, be it the matters of national security, economy or whatever.. Even the President and the Prime Minister with their high offices have difficult time coping up. People in Pakistan genuinely distrust the govt., that keeps the officials honest. That is what keep someone like me optimistic in better Pakistan in the long run.

    I have to say that for a nation that takes pride calling itself the largest democracy of the world, it seldom if ever exercises the very right of a free nation, THE RIGHT TO DISAGREE WITH THE OFFICIAL VERSION even just for the sake of disagreement.

  34. Janeeta says:
    January 12th, 2009 2:15 am

    @ Gorki

    I know Arjun has used the word Pakistani extremist but as potrayed by Indian media every Pakistani is an extremist …. i know many of you wont agree with me but the extremists in Pakistan are not forcing people to convert to Islam … these extremist want moderate muslims like many of us to follow the strict code but i do not remember or witnessed anything like forcing a hindu or christian to convert … there might be a few exceptions but had this been the main motive than there wont be a single non muslim in Pakistan … unlike the hindu religious extremist i think the extremist in Pakistan do understand the idea of co-existance of different religions in a same region.

  35. Aamir Ali says:
    January 12th, 2009 2:48 am

    Indians, by their nature have an ugly and selfish attitude towards the rest of the countries in South Asia. It is never going to change. Pakistan must be strong in order to maintain peace.

  36. Humaira says:
    January 12th, 2009 2:59 am

    @ Aamir Ali

    What a stupid statement- go please join Brasstacks and A. Qureshi in some cave.

    What do you mean by “nature”? And you really mean that all 1.2 Billion of them? You are exactly like the bigots who believe that all Muslims are terrorists “by nature”. What nonsense!

    There are good and bad people everywhere. Those who want peace and those who wish to spread hatred. The job of Indians is to stop their extremists and the job of us Pakistanis is to stop people like you!

  37. Aamir Ali says:
    January 12th, 2009 3:24 am


    People like me have seen Indian media, looked at their govt statements, read their newspapers and met many Indians. The vast majority of them have no comprehension that countries other than them exist in South Asia, and that the people there are normal.

    One example is how shocked the Indians were in their cricket tour of Pakistan in 2004, and how they have now reverted to their same twisted and ugly views of Pakistan as we have recently seen.

  38. G.A. Aslam says:
    January 12th, 2009 5:17 am

    @ Aamir Ali.
    “People like me have seen Indian media, looked at their govt statements, read their newspapers and met many Indian”

    So, what are you saying: that now one else has? Everyone has. So what?

    Or do you really mean to suggest that anyone who has done so and comes to a different opinion is an idiot. What arrogance.

    There are plenty of people like you in both India and in Pakistan, who are so consumed by false patriotism and hate for the other country that they cannot see straight.

    You and brasstacks and A. Qureshi, actually, sound exactly like the type of people we see on Indian TV right now spewing war talk. I am sure they and you will get along fabulously, because your “nature” is the same.

  39. Charakan says:
    January 12th, 2009 7:36 am

    Great article Wish each and every indian read this. I will link this in my blog

  40. Charakan says:
    January 12th, 2009 7:53 am

    We Indians and Pakistanis should have more person to person interaction may be thru internet.

  41. Aamir Ali says:
    January 12th, 2009 8:01 am

    @G.A. Aslam

    Well you may see Indian media, look at Indian govt, study Indian history, meet Indians and then say “So what!!”. I prefer to make other conclusions.

  42. P Gill says:
    January 12th, 2009 8:44 am

    Full disclosure first. I am an Indian. I feel after living in west for many years I do not view all the problems in Indo/Pak prism, though my view is colored by my bringing up in India.
    Many of the 10 myths mentioned are at best half truths.
    1. There are 3 types of Jihadi elements in Pakistan. Those who work against US , those who work against Pakistan, and thirdly those who work against India.
    Feeling in India is that Pakistan is at best uninterested to work against anti-India Jihadi elements. And chances are very good that some elements in power (ISI, Army ) support these groups as a good weapon to bleed India.
    Indians do not say that ISI can or does control all the Jihadi elements in Pakistan. If this were true then they there will be no attacks within Pakistan.
    I may add that we know there are home grown Jihadi elements in India.
    However, even if there were 100 local trouble makers in Bloachistan, I am sure Pakistan will not like even one extra import from RAW. We feel the same way about Jihadi cross over from Pakistan into India.

    2. Indians would very much prefer a democratic Pakistan. There was an overwhelming support for your lawyer

  43. Indrajit Gupta says:
    January 12th, 2009 8:59 am

    Brilliant, absolutely! I hope Hanif’s next article is on “10 myths about India in the Pakistani press”; OK, I’m joking, kind of.

    Can we make a deal? If Indian readers agree to ignore Brasstacks, A. Qureshi and Aamir Ali, will Pakistani readers agree to ignore Arjun?

  44. Khuram says:
    January 12th, 2009 9:23 am

    Our past has shaped our present and we will shape our future. It all started with Nehru’s immoral usurpation of territories like Kashmir and Nehru family’s obsession to destroy Pakistan, that our relations are so fragile whenever congress is in power in India.Statement of Rahul Gandhi is on record.
    Then there is this fallacy of being a super power in making which makes it adopt an attitude which to put it politely is wacky. There is also this element of misplaced arrogance that overtakes their better judgment. I remember Advani was making a speech in Indian Parliament after their nuclear blasts and while he was in the middle of warning Pakistan to know its place some one rushed in to inform that Pakistan has tested nuclear devices.The panic that spread in the house was embarrassing.Bajpai then realized the foolishness of this all and came to Minar e Pakistan which was the mark of a statesman.Remember Kargil would not have been there if Kashmir problem was not there even ’65 war would not have taken place.BUT East Pakistan would not have separated if Congress was not in power.Now once again congress is in power and Manmohan Singh has a blade in his hands.He can use it the way he likes or his Italian boss likes.
    Now it is up to us to shape our future.

  45. dilnawaz says:
    January 12th, 2009 9:48 am
  46. Usman Khan says:
    January 12th, 2009 12:14 pm

    I am a Pakistani from Lahore.. from Mr Hanif’s generation.

    1. Pakistan controls the jihadis:

    there most certainly is the distinction: alqaeda, bad taliban and good taliban. the taliban leadership virtually rules half of quetta. there are no-go areas where they live. none of this would be possible without the ISI and approval all the way from GHQ Rawalpindi. of course, the monster that has grown too big for the ISI – bad taliban, and the blowback – alqaeda, are killing our soldiers… as is our low morale and mistaken policy of appeasement. also, on top of the army’s incompetence and mere propaganda of professionalism, the pak army was never trained for any thing other than facing another conventional army, namely, india’s.

    2. Musharraf was in control, Zardari is not:

    now doesn’t this just contradict the claim in no.1 above!!

    3. Pakistan, which Pakistan?

    mr hanif, of course, conveniently forgets to mention that the baloch are by far more anti-pakistan than they are anti-taliban or anti-capitalism. burning the pak flag in baloch towns. they don’t bother with taliban.. or waving the hammer and sickle (that was the 70′s).

    the fact that the pak army has a country, alone should be enough to alarm indians and the rest of the world at least as much (if not more) as it alarms or annoys pakistanis.

    4. Pakistan and its loose nukes:

    excuse me? A Q Khan? out of control. Sultan Bashiruddin Mehmood? out of his mind AND out of control. Jewish extremists? the only israeli who let the nuclear cat out of the bag was a leftist liberal who spent most of his life behind bars and now lives under virtual house arrest.

    contradiction: how can our nukes be safe when we have a liability as big as the jihadists (who have killed SSG commandos in tarbela, ISI bus within a km of GHQ and chaklala, the army’s surgeon gen not far away etc., not to mention Wah Ordnance Factory). If our jihadi, strategic assets can become liabilities like that, why not our nuclear, strategic assets?

    5. Pakistan is a failed state:

    what is the definition of a failed state? pakistan became a failed state on 16 december 1971. the new state that was rather unceremoniously born that day, is fast heading in the same direction. vj’s, dj’s theatre festivals – if they could be called that, and whatever they represent in terms of a ‘successful’ state.. each and every one of them attracting bomb attacks in ‘peaceful’ lahore! when you cannot even have a cd shop in quetta (in ‘anti-taliban, retro-socialist balochistan’), peshawar or swat, d.i.khan and more than half the country. hundreds of girls’ schools are no more. many boys schools too. polio is resurgent. what, again, is the definition of a failed state?

    6. It is a deeply religious country:

    the thing about the so-called lawyers’ movement is very true. pakistan can be proud of such a popular and selfless movement for nothing more or less than supremacy and rule of law. people like khosa and kaira who used and then bamboozled the movement – shame on you!

    the islamists who hold a gun to the nation’s head do not bother with participating in elections. if they did, there would be no problem! our problems are not and never have been a result of mullahs participating in the democratic process, but them negating and bypassing it and using violence and terror instead. acid and stone throwing lynch mobs and vigilantes. i’ve already mentioned about schools, cd shops and so-called theatre etc.

    can a public figure in pakistan say that while he/she respects every religion he himself does not believe in any? or can a declared qadiani hold public office? mani shankar ayer, having held several cabinet portfolios, was proud to say that he loved india where he could be an atheist and his mother a devout hindu and nobody bothered either of them! while india has a looong way to go, we’re not facing in the right direction!

    yes, we’re no saudi arabia. but we’re not all that different either. How many of us obediently bowed to the Khadim al Harmain al Sharifain (i.e. the Saudi King) having Nawaz Sharif kidnapped from Islamabad airport in Sep 2007!

    7. All Pakistanis hate India:

    really? just see the reaction to mumbai 26/11 on not just ptv but all the private channels.. with the exception of probably 2 anchors out of 3 dozen or so, and less than 10 ‘analysts’ out of a 100 or more on tv alone! sadly, the myopic jingoism within Indian media has been no better, if not worse.

    so what were the lashkaris from nwfp doing in kashmir in 1948? although the general comment about bach khan’s (the pashtun gandhi) nwfp, sindh and balochistan is true. and encouraging. punjab’s problem stems from the fact that the army that needs india to be hated is punjabi.

    8. Training camps:

    there might not be any physical training taking place in muridke, but ideological training certainly does. As far funding, that takes place all over pakistan: chanda boxes on every counter and qurbani ki khaalein banners hanging from every lamp post! as for muzafarabad, either mr hanif has never been to azad kashmir.. or he went there with an ISPR escort!

    9. RAW would never do what ISI does:

    hence, the reason for the world to fear the ISI and for pakistanis to fear it even more than they need to fear RAW! ISI mindlessly created the menace of afghanistan (forgetting that America can walk away from the country, but we shall forever have it as our neighbour), taliban.. let alone their constant sabotaging of democracy in pakistan… not to speak of the damage done to secularism and secularists in pakistan by the ISI blindly following and serving the dictators rather than giving a damn about its duty to law, constitution and country (same is true of the army, of course). an institution that considers itself to be above law is infintiely more dangerous than one (like RAW) that takes its orders from the civilian govt (even if it is not too discriminating about whether the orders are lawful or not).

    10. Pakistan is poor, India is rich:

    true, for now. and the image of the situation in 1980′s is true too. but the indian economy is ready to take off, indeed, take-off has commenced. pakistan, on the other hand, is busy driving its economy in to the ground. revisit this comparison in 5 to 10 years time.

  47. Qadir says:
    January 12th, 2009 12:27 pm

    Don’t worry Indrajit, no half-serious Pakistani ever takes the chest-beating of the brasstacks. A. Qureshis and Aamir Alis seriously ;-)

    And, frankly, we also do not take all the Arjuns on Indian TV very seriously either!

  48. Gorki says:
    January 12th, 2009 1:00 pm

    As I continue to read all the posts, I personally feel very encouraged since it confirms my belief that most South Asians are decent people barring a few exceptions and want to live and let live. Recently I read an article by Kuldip Nayar in Indian Tribune. He among others has been holding candle light vigils in the border every Aug 14-15 along with like minded Indians and hoped people from accross the border would join too.
    May be some of us should meet once in a while to discuss peace and progress. Imagine if India and Pakistan were to send out a joint space mission. (The technology is avaiable on both sides, except we are building missles for sabre rattling). This would capture the imagination of our next generations to work towards a positive goal (A Nehru-Jinnah space station, Maybe?).

    Let me know if any one wants to meet once in a while for tea and samosas in Northern California. write to

  49. Khurram Farooqui says:
    January 12th, 2009 1:08 pm

    While I agree with most of what Mr. Hanif has to say, P Gill and Gorki raise some important points.

    There are two things that we need to worry about as Pakistanis.

    The first and most important one is that we need to face up to our problems. They are serious enough to potentially tear our nation apart. Forget about what the Americans say or do, or what the Indians say or do. Think about the direction that our nation is going in. Is that what we really want for ourselves? Owning up to our problems is the first step towards resolving them. That is why I am amused when anyone says that all we do is talk about problems, never solutions. The reason why we talk about the problem is because we can never agree upon what the problem really is. Look at the comments posted by Pakistanis in this thread. Some of them range from denial (e.g. the extremists only want to make us moderate muslims more muslim) to insanity (e.g. Hanif is an Indian agent).

    The second problem is that of how others perceive us as a nation. This is a “brand” problem. It needs to be worried about because in this day and age Pakistan does not exist in isolation from other nations. We are dependent on other nations for trade, tourism, security, energy, food, etc. Yet the more isolated we become, the more severe the first problem will become.

    Unfortunately it seems to me that we are focused on the second problem (as this entire thread, including the original article by Mr. Hanif illustrates), but not enough on the first problem. Our nation is being hijacked by a bunch of thugs who believe or claim that they are acting in the name of Islam, when in reality (at least in my opinion) their actions go against everything that Islam teaches. This is a problem that we allowed to be created, and we allowed to get out of hand. Before we decide how we tackle it, we need to accept that.

  50. Laeeq says:
    January 12th, 2009 1:10 pm

    Great article and very good comments. We all need to do some soul searching and Hanif and ATP helps us do so.

  51. Kamal Obaid says:
    January 12th, 2009 1:22 pm

    Sadly there are too many brasstacks and A. Qureshis in Pakistan, but they are still not the majority. Our main priority should be to make sure that sanity prevails in both India and Pakistan

  52. Sridhar says:
    January 12th, 2009 1:32 pm

    I have just put in a request for Hanif’s book – A case of exploding mangoes. Looking forward to reading it.

    Meanwhile, I would recommend a book that I just read – Tales of Two Cities. The authors are Kuldip Nayar and Asif Noorani. Both are veteran journalists. Kuldip Nayar migrated from Sialkot to Delhi in 1947. Asif Noorani’s family migrated from Bombay to Karachi in 1950. The book is in two parts – one part written by Nayar and the other by Noorani. Both write about their lives in the cities of their birth, the migration and the rebuilding of new lives in a new, unfamiliar city and country. The book puts the great upheaval on both sides of the border in 1947 in human context and helps us go beyond the official narratives on the events.

  53. Aqil Mushtaque says:
    January 12th, 2009 2:08 pm

    When L K Advani cannot be assured as the successor to Vajpayee until the RSS says so.. the following becomes quite frightening for any peace loving person:

    excerpts from interview with RSS leader K S Sudarshan

    Q. Should India go for a full-fledged war?

    Ans: If there is no other way left. Whenever the demons (Aasuri powers) start dominating this planet, there is no way other than the war. Tell me Chetan if there is any other way out. But war should be the last resort. Before that Bharat should consider other options.

    Q. Don’t you think that warfare will not stop at guns, bombs and grenades?

    Ans: Yes, I know it will not stop there. It will be nuclear war and a large number of people will be perished. In fact, not me but many people around the world have expressed their apprehension that this terrorism may ultimately result into III world war. And this will be a nuclear war in which many of us are going to be finished. But according to me, as of now, it is very necessary to defeat the demons and there is no other way. And let me say with confidence that after this destruction, a new world will emerge which will be very good, free from evil and terrorism. (Is vinaash ke baad jo sansaar aayega, waha bahut hi sundar hoga. Vahan par kuch bhee bura nahin rahega aur aatankawad bhi gayab ho jayega ).

    fuller interview @

  54. Zaheer says:
    January 12th, 2009 2:12 pm

    Very well written article. I will get the book and read it now.

  55. libertarian says:
    January 12th, 2009 2:31 pm

    Seven Myths About Hanif’s Ten Myths

    1. Pakistan controls the jihadis. Not a myth. Pakistan lost control over some of the jihadis (e.g. Jaish-e-Muhammad). Pakistan does not want to lose control over the remaining “paramilitary” (Lashkar-e-Taiba being the biggest).

    2. Musharraf was in control, Zardari is not. Not a myth – author does not refute assertion – just bumbles on.

    3. Pakistan, which Pakistan? Pakistan is hardly a study in diversity. And is making a valiant attempt at reducing what little it has left. Just ask the stream of Hindus, Sikhs, Christians who left or who were systematically driven out. Not enough? OK, how about the Shias and Ahmadis? And thank heavens Urdu does not have to complete with Bengali eh?

    4. Pakistan and its loose nukes One hit for the author.

    5. Pakistan is a failed state A thriving social scene is hardly an argument against a failed state. If the elite comprising 1% are still having fun doesn’t mean the state has not failed. Just remove the US, Saudi, IMF, and Chinese props …

    6. It is a deeply religious country Defeating religious parties does not imply a non-religious country. It just means the religious dudes suck at administration. Bad enough that those clowns actually have political space.

    7. All Pakistanis hate India 3 out of 4 provinces that have no negative feelings for India comprise only 40% of the population.

    8. Training camps It does require significant training to carry out Mumbai-style operations. Not every nutjob jihadi can do what was done there. Not to mention significant command and control. And RAW is just fabricating all those camps anyway :-)

    9. RAW would never do what ISI does Another hit for the author.

    10. Pakistan is poor, India is rich Another hit for the author.

  56. gorki says:
    January 12th, 2009 2:43 pm

    I also read the interview that Aqil Mushtaque is referring to and indeed it is alarming. Fortunately RSS is seen as fascist organisation by a majority of Indians and by no means speaks for all of them.
    Democracies by definition are untidy mix of all sorts of voices and this interview represents a lunatic fringe. India also has its Khalistanis and I am sure there are a few Taliban and Al Quaeda sympathisers as well. Fortunately for each Sudarshan, they have several hundred Nayars as well. When the kar sevaks of the BJP-RSS got out of hand during Babri Masjid crisis, a polititian named Mulayam Singh opened fire on them to control the rioting.
    We hope Indians do not have to resort to such measures often but the fact that it has a constitution that grantees equality for all is citizens and leaders who are willing to enforce it (with force if necessary) should give us hope. The Sudarshans of this world will always be there and tolerating them is the price we pay for the freedom of speech.
    I am sure Pakistan would be a better place too once it re-aligns its constitution with the vison of its founder Mr. Jinnah. As I mentioned in an earlier post, India and Pakistan share a common culture and share a common destiny and all this talk of invoking a nuclear war is nothing but rubbish of a sick mind. Please don’t take it as a voice of Indians. Sudasharan does not speak for me.

  57. Aqil Mushtaque says:
    January 12th, 2009 3:08 pm

    From Pakistani from Lahore:

    1. Pakistan controls the jihadis:

    there most certainly is the distinction: alqaeda, bad taliban and good taliban. of course, the monster that has grown too big for the ISI – bad taliban, and the blowback – alqaeda, are killing our soldiers… as is our low morale and mistaken policy of appeasement. also, the pak army was never trained for any thing other than facing another conventional army, namely, india’s.

    2. Musharraf was in control, Zardari is not:

    Paraphrased from Mr Zaradri’s interview with Nusrat Javed on 01 Dec, 2008:

    NJ. ‘Are the civilian and military leaderships on the same page’?

    AAZ. ‘Yes they are. Were they not, you would not be interviewing me but someone else sitting in my chair”

    3. Pakistan, which Pakistan?

    mr hanif, of course, conveniently forgets to mention that many baloch are more anti-pakistan than anti-taliban or anti-capitalism. burning the pak flag in baloch towns. they don’t bother with taliban.. or waving the hammer and sickle (that was the 70′s).

    the fact that the pak army has a country, alone should be enough to alarm indians and the rest of the world at least as much (if not more) as it alarms or annoys most pakistanis.

    4. Pakistan and its loose nukes:

    excuse me? A Q Khan? out of control. Sultan Bashiruddin Mehmood? out of his mind AND out of control. Not to mention examples of our responsible behaviour and stability since May 1998: Kargil, 12 OCtober 1999, 03 Nov 2007, 27 December 2007 and the ongoing insurgency in FATA, Swat and Baluchistan.

    5. Pakistan is a failed state:

    what is the definition of a failed state? didn’tpakistan became a failed state on 16 december 1971? the new state that was rather unceremoniously born that day, is fast heading in the same direction unless there is a course correction. vj’s, dj’s theatre festivals – if they could be called that.. each and every one of them attracting bomb attacks in ‘peaceful’ lahore! when you cannot even have a cd shop in quetta (in ‘anti-taliban, retro-socialist balochistan’), peshawar or swat, d.i.khan and more than half the country. hundreds of girls’ schools are no more. many boys schools too. polio is resurgent in the North West. what, again, is the definition of a failed state?

    6. It is a deeply religious country:

    the thing about the so-called lawyers’ movement is very true. pakistan can be proud of such a popular and selfless movement for nothing more or less than supremacy and rule of law.

    the islamists who hold a gun to the nation’s head do not bother with participating in elections. if they did, there would be no problem! our problems are not and never have been a result of mullahs participating in the democratic process, but them negating and bypassing it and using violence and terror instead. acid and stone throwing lynch mobs and vigilantes. i’ve already mentioned about schools, cd shops and so-called theatre etc.

    yes, we’re no saudi arabia. but that is hardly cause for celebration.

    7. All Pakistanis hate India:

    i know most of us don’t. but was saddened to see the reaction to mumbai 26/11 on not just ptv but all the private channels.. with the exception of probably 2 anchors out of 3 dozen or so, and less than 10 ‘analysts’ out of a 100 or more on tv alone! sadly, the myopic jingoism within Indian media has been no better, if truth be told, much much worse.

    although the general comment about nwfp, sindh and balochistan is true. and encouraging. punjab’s problem stems from the fact that the army that needs india to be hated, is punjabi.

    8. Training camps:

    there might not be any physical training taking place in muridke, but ideological training certainly does.

    9. RAW would never do what ISI does:”There is a simple reason that ISI is a bigger, more notorious brand name: It was CIA’s franchise during the jihad against the Soviets.”

    hence, the reason for the world to fear the ISI and pakistanis to fear it even more than they need to fear RAW! the ISI has been blindly following and serving the military dictators rather than giving a damn about its duty to law, constitution and country (same is true of the army, of course). an institution that considers itself to be above law is infintiely more dangerous than one (like RAW) that takes its orders from the civilian govt (even if it is not too discriminating about whether the orders are lawful or not). It is for the Indians to ensure that RAW is accountable to both law and Parliament.

    10. Pakistan is poor, India is rich:

    true, for now. and the image of the 1980′s. but the indian economy is ready to take off, indeed, take-off has commenced. pakistan, on the other hand, is busy driving its economy in to the ground. the jihadi chickens coming home to roost, does not help. revisit this comparison in 5 to 10 years time.

  58. Faraz says:
    January 12th, 2009 4:39 pm

    My first reation after reading the post was that this seems like a PR stunt to help improve the image of Pakistan. Nothing wrong with that at all. But we also need to be honest with ourselves. Most of these “myths” are at least partially true, as some others here have already argued.

  59. Asif Fasihuddin says:
    January 12th, 2009 4:45 pm

    Pakistan’s troubles are huge. Is the military turning the corner? Lets hope it is. The people’s heartwarming response to the 2005 earthquake, the brave and uniquely noble movement for supremacy of law and the constitution throughout 2007, and the 18 Feb vote… are all signs of life and vitality in Pakistani society. Hope that we can fight our huge problems: a legacy of military dictatorship and interference in general and Zia ul Haq in particular.

    But Indians gloating over Pakistan and being too complacent over their own 2 steps forward and 1 step back in both democracy and secularism should very well wishers of India. Politicians taking the easy way out of one-up-manship in sounding tough on Pakistan, turning India in to a security rather than a welfare state. Read RSS leader’s interview quoted below by Aqil Mushtaque. Politics playing with the fire of communalism. Gujrat, Babri Masjid, the fate of Christians in Orissa and elsewhere, and Kashmir. The Sachal Commission and Pandian Commission (and its blocking by BJP to investigate Chhattissinghpura massacre). I can be almost assured of seeing some documentary type ‘news report’on some aspect of hindu worship, even the narrator streeped in religion, any time I switch over to Star News. I don’t think I saw as much religion, let alone Hinduism, in 20 years of watching DurDarshan growing up in Sialkot, Pakistan.

  60. Sridhar says:
    January 12th, 2009 5:00 pm


    BTW, the video you have posted is false. It shows a couple of students being lynched and of policemen shockingly standing by when it happened. But the students were not Muslim students. These were students in Chennai’s Ambedkar law college and the lynching was the result of student politics, combined with long-standing caste rivalries between Dalits and Thevars (also a so-called ‘backward’ caste) in some districts of Tamil Nadu.

    No Muslim student was involved in the incident, but some malicious folks have used the video of this incident to try and incite hatred between Muslims and Hindus by falsely suggesting that these were Muslim students.

    See this story about the actual incident

  61. Myth-ologist says:
    January 12th, 2009 6:02 pm

    To all of those responding to Hanif’s article with cute myth-responses (having lists always does that), pls remember that myths are myths precisely because they are based on some partial truth which is then overblown. That is what Hanif is saying and you are proving – both by highlighting the partial truth and then demonstrating blowing it up!

  62. Waqas says:
    January 12th, 2009 6:08 pm

    Mr.Sridhar, thanks for clarification

  63. Sridhar says:
    January 12th, 2009 7:31 pm


    Indian channels, in particular, private television stations often pander to the lowest common denominator in the search for ratings. Hence Doordarshan, which is not so focused on ratings and is subject to greater regulation, is much more balanced and secular in its news coverage and analysis, even if it is utterly boring. It is more progressive and less prone to the pandering to and promotion of superstitious practices. For instance, I have never seen any astrological predictions being a part of any in-house Doordarshan production. Many private channel, by contrast feature segments on astrological predictions. The channels may say that newspapers across the world do that too and they have a point. However, moving from Doordarshan to private channels has meant a backward movement in several respects.

    That said, the journalists in India are a heterogeneous lot. There are people of all stripes in the journalistic community, including on television. Communalists of all colors hues coexist with utterly secular folks. Nationalists, multi-nationalists, anti-nationals all share the stage. And so on. So it is hard to paint the Indian media in one color.

    As to documentaries on some aspect of Hindu worship, isn’t that natural in a country with 80% Hindus, and a thoroughly religious bunch of people? One sees similar reports on aspects of Muslim worship too, perhaps to a lesser extent. But this by itself is hardly reflective of a communal mindset and is not necessarily wrong. On television channels in the West, there is coverage of religion and disproportionately of Christian practices, since it is reflective of the population here. Why is that a problem?

  64. bonobashi says:
    January 12th, 2009 7:34 pm

    Four points – the first one is incidentally addressed to fellow-Indians who have commented earlier:

    1. About the importance of Mr. Sudarshan: I cannot agree with Gorki that we need to permit freedom of speech to Mr. Sudarshan, or, leading from that, that the fascists of the religious right should be left alone in the interests of democracy.

    They are too dangerous for that.

    While Sudarshan’s parent organisation was banned in India during our early years, we had relative peace on the communal front. This is reasonable to say although another major party was even at that moment playing very cynical vote-bank politics, and encouraging Muslims (for a moment, assuming that Muslim is a homogeneous category, which in India is not necessarily the case) to follow Mullahs to the poll-stations. We have had NO END of trouble ever since the communalists came to power, first in pockets of the country, then in UP during the Babri Masjid but then in Mumbai, then in Gujarat, in Orissa, and finally in Karnataka.

    We need to address this problem urgently. One thing that all Hindus need to understand is that the religious right has a frightening agenda even within the very broad and accommodating spread of what is defined as Hinduism; they are sectarians with no tolerance for others of similar belief. Think Sipah’ Sahaba.

    After they’ve cowed Muslims and Christians into quiescence (for political reasons, they think they have the Sikhs with them, since they have the Akalis with them), they’ll be coming for us moderate Hindus who don’t think strictly their narrow-minded way.

    I am sorry to say this next, Gorki, and it isn’t intended to hurt or to stir up old wounds, but the Congress is not much better.

    It is embarrassing that the only parties to come out with clean hands are the SP under Mulayam Singh, and the Communists, in Kerala and in West Bengal. The BSP under Mayawati sounds promising, but so did the AIADMK under Jayalalitha ; now if only these four parties that have been named were not so uniformly, numbingly corrupt (this is not to say that the Congress or the BJP are not, it is a matter of degree).

    Be that as it may, there is no room to let up vigilance against the religious right. Looking next door, both to left and right, should tell us why we shouldn’t, not for a minute.

    2. About the electronic media: somebody commented that NDTV was soaked in Hindu polemic, which came as a shock.

    As an Indian, I am used to thinking of NDTV as clearly left-of-centre, secular and equidistant between religions – a stance derived from the antecedents of its movers and shakers. But that’s why we needed Hanif’s article, to remind ourselves to check our assumptions against reality from time to time, and that’s why we needed the comment referred to, to remind ourselves that the way others perceive us is part of this reality.

    Although Doordarshan was as inspiring and watchable as an electronic equivalent of Pravda and Isvestiya combined, at least it had the virtue of being secular; religion really had no space at that time.

    It is probably best to keep religion, ALL religion, strictly out of public affairs – I know my Muslim friends from both sides of the border will jump on me and tell me that this is impossible and undesirable, but surely bringing in specific religious precepts is not mandatory in a MIXED society – rather than take the other option of including ALL religions.

    Bringing one religious element in is the thin end of the wedge, and it never stops. Personally, some of my most tranquil moments have been spent in gurdwaras, but I object strongly to people carrying three-foot swords around in public on the grounds that their religion obliges them to do so.

    My personal take on this; don’t get mad. Back to the media.

    In general, there is a lot of irritation in India (which Pakistanis generally don’t seem to have spotted) with the electronic media – the vernacular channels in a very broad way, NDTV and Times Now specifically – especially regarding their recent and current behaviour, to the extent that the government has stepped in and proposed guidelines. The surprising thing is not that the Indian government seeks to regulate, but that it finds support for this move. A decade ago, there would have been a storm of opposition.

    The print media have been far more responsible and balanced, in my opinion.

    I think, if GEO and Dawn are representative, Pakistan seems well off; I nearly said ‘better off’, but refrained. We can do without the use of the comparative mode in our conversations.

    3. There was a perceptive comment on the Pakistani Army really being trained only for regular combat, typically with armour at the centre, on the plains of the Punjab.

    I am not entirely sure that this is true, although I agree with the conclusion, that it needs to re-orient itself, an understandably painful process that the Indian Army went through some decades ago, towards counter-insurgency.

    True, it does need to re-orient and re-train, and it is going to be a painful transition, not least because the generals don’t get the beautiful, big-ticket toys that they adore, but it seems necessary. It’s been a honeymoon all these years, and it seems to an amateur observer that it has almost become part of the battle doctrine of the PA that it uses irregulars as an adjunct, right from the earliest days of its existence, but now it has to figure out how to handle these irregulars turned hostile. I suspect that there’s an element of consternation within both the ISI and the regular Army command echelons.

    One final comment: if RAW is as hyperactive as it is claimed to be, something is badly wrong. I completely endorse intelligence operations and pinpointing terrorist camps for subsequent military action; BUT if RAW has been involved, even in a marginal way, in setting off bombs in public places, or in acts that kill civilians, there has to be an accounting to the Indian people – now. What is Parliament doing? Do people think that our remarkably silly Home Ministry can supervise such activities?

    We urgently need better mechanisms for supervising what these people are up to; I wouldn’t trust an unsupervised bureaucrat for a minute.

    I wouldn’t trust an unsupervised anyone for a minute.

    Finally, Gorki, I love your idea of Samosas for Peace (said with tongue parked firmly in cheek). I’m game to host similar sessions in Calcutta, anytime. :-)

  65. Asif Fasihuddin says:
    January 12th, 2009 9:20 pm

    Sridhar, thanks for focussing solely on just one aspect of my submission. It was only an observation. Indeed, you can have one man one vote, and 80% coverage of hindu ritual and worship on Star News (although, in more than 10 years, I’ve not seen any other religion have its customs, festivals or rituals covered on Star News – must be that by some stroke of misfortune I just kept missing the coverage meant for the 20% minorities).

    I remember when Indira Gandhi was assassinated. DoorDarshan had nothing but prayers for the 3 days of mourning, and there was a pretty equalish division between Hindu, Sikh and Muslim prayer and a slightly but conspicuously smaller portion for christian prayers. It is also true, that while DoorDarshan was doing this, thousands of sikhs were being targetted in the riots in Delhi and elsewhere. Now it is up to India and Indians of today to decide whether they wish to be satisified with or indeed insist on a strict democratic arithmetic or aspire to an even fuller, more noble democratic spirit. Should a non-hindu in India insist on his right to eat beef or gladly give up the right out of love and respect for his hindu compatriots? Let Kashmir remain divided, like Bengal, Punjab and India herself were, even though there aren’t the British around any longer to share the blame, or let them be united.. with the hindu refugees returning to the Valley. Let a mandir alone be made on Ram Janam Bhumi, or let a mosque, and why not a gurdwara and church too, to be made adjacent to the mandir and each other. After all, it is claimed that Indian secularism is not like Western secularism which denies religion but instead celeberates all religions. Should the cleberation be truly united or strictly by quota and numbers? Having dwelled on this one observation, do also give a thought to the points alluded to. Whether India wishes to address Gujarat and Modi, the welcoming of a nuclear holocaust by Mr Sudarshan of the RSS (see the link in Aqil Mushtaque’s comment), and what solution would it really apply to Pakistan that is struggling to wrench itself free from the military’s clutches (read the majority of Pakistani contributions here)? Is it enough for India to do better than Pakistan or than X, Y or Z.. or should she do what is right, noble, generous and highly civilised for its own sake? After all, only those who can dream can make them come true. I am sure you would like to respond to this, but I must apologise, in advance, for not wishing to carry on a digressing and expanding debate here. I pray for Pakistan and wish the best for India.

  66. Arjun says:
    January 12th, 2009 11:31 pm

    Haha, this is hilarious all over as usual. It looks like half the people commenting on me or my comments haven’t even read them :). But carry on.

    Hanif’s article is interesting but doesn’t cover even half the myths or perceptions held.

  67. January 13th, 2009 1:29 am

    A wonderful, yet a highly realistic op-ed indeed from MH.

    People on both sides of the border (I mean common people) who are more worried about their bread and if possible some butter, are least bothered of what happens on the state level, either in India or in Pakistan. They need peace and they want to have a reasonable life (which their forefathers promised at the time of independence). Unfortunately for them the governance on both sides of the border has been a change of faces only. Brown Sahibs against Gora Sahibs ruling the roost now. It is the time the media, the intelligentsia, the leaders and the governments on both sides of this sub-continental divide should concentrate more on this core issue.

    The political parties heat- up anti Pak sentiments in India and anti India sentiments on our side to fatten up their vote banks. (Unfortunately in Pakistan an additional factor

  68. Gorki says:
    January 13th, 2009 2:02 am

    To Bonobashi. Thanks for the comments. Since the discussion here is about myths in Indian media regarding Pakistan, I don’t want to go off the topic too much but your observations are good in general. I however still stand for allowing free speech to the likes of Sudarshan for two reasons.
    First of all, it is a part of a democratic society to give even the fringe elements a right to speak so that all ideas can be heard and then the toxic ones can be countered by better arguements. (For example for each Sudarshan that India has, it has hundreds of fiercely secular Bonbashis with better arguements so his kind does not scare me). Secondly banning speech is not practical in todays world. (Check out hundreds of hate spewing Jihadi websites). Thus the only counter to such rubbish is better ideas.
    Coming back to Pakistan, I hope in exposing the myths in the Indian media about Pakistan, this thread has helped expose some myths about India in Pakistani minds as well. I hope our Pakistani friends can see us for what we are; Not a uniformly anti Pakistan\anti-muslim bunch of religious bigots but an agrumentative bunch who can think for ourselves and at times disagree in principal and yet can still be Indians.
    At the risk of sounding patronizing (that is not the intent here) I hope moderate Pakistanis can realise that hyperpatriotism is as destructive as antinationalism. Pakistan is currently in the midst of a civil war for the soul of Pakistani nation and only the moderates in Pakistan can fight that battle.
    Only they can create a society that MA Jinnah envisioned. I can only say that in a society were a Nobel prize winner Ahmediya can not be accepted as an equal citizen was probably not what he would have wanted.
    The outcome of this current civil war is being closely watched in India since its outcome will surley decide the fate of our common South Asian homeland.
    May the humane and reasonable side win.

  69. bonobashi says:
    January 13th, 2009 4:48 am


    Maybe there have been misunderstandings, and maybe you may have been misunderstood. To the extent that I have contributed, if I have contributed, I am sorry.

    However, some brief points: this is a Pakistani forum and the majority commenting are Pakistanis. The bulk of the comments are forthright and frank; don’t you find it wholly admirable, and don’t you wish that if it was an Indian forum, and the bulk were Indian respondents, the answers should have the same moral fibre and the freedom from hypocrisy and cant that is demonstrated here?

    Regarding some of the points that you made, at the end of your first post, in your second post, in your third post (both rather similar in nature, and probably written in a fit of temper), I have problems. The trouble is that to explain what these are, I necessarily have to explain at some length. It can’t be done in a sentence and a half. I also am uncomfortable about taking the conversation away from the original Hanif piece about myths about Pakistan prevalent in India. This is not a mailing list after all.

    There is also the problem that in response, I need to be perfectly frank about some things. Do you really want me to wash Indian dirty linen on a Pakistani forum? Won’t they be irritated and wonder why we can’t take our bickering somewhere else?

    If you agree, I can furnish you my mail id and we can stop troubling these good people. This is said without rancor, and with no intention to denigrate your views or to curtail your freedom of speech.

    Or, if there is a different point of view, and that will necessarily come from Pakistani viewers, we can talk about these issues quite openly in this forum itself. I propose that as guests, we express no desire to take these differences further in this forum, and take it ‘off-line’; we can do so only by express invitation.

    However, I leave it to your good judgement.

  70. Aqil Mushtaque says:
    January 13th, 2009 7:10 am

    Keep religion in the personal domain and tolerance in the public domain. It is very easy to very quickly have too much religion. It is rather difficult to have too much tolerance. I am referring to the belief system part of religion, and not the identity part. Religion might well teach you tolerance, and I don’t know of any that does not, but what is important is to practice that tolerance and pointing out religion as the source of the tolerance is irrelevant. Be kind to each other. That’s noble. But to start preaching about the source of your inspiration for being kind runs the risk of very quickly starting to resemble some sort of an agenda… bragging at least. Media too should celeberate religious identity, if it must, in an inclusive and complementary manner, but stay well clear of belief systems except when it is as part of a legitimate, absolutely objective journalistic or scholarly activity.

  71. Ahsan Iqbal says:
    January 13th, 2009 9:39 am

    Mullahs and jihadis in Pakistan, as elsewhere, are on the run. Whether rogue elements with current or past links to ISI, or parts of the military leadership support jihadis – they have to do so VERY covertly under the many eyes of US and the world watching Pakistan and the jihadis. The war and actual loss of Pakistani soldiers has to carry on, at least, simultaneously. As for mullahs in politics, the only time in Pakistan’s history when they surprised even themselves with a bit of success was in 2002 when the ISI, under orders from Musharraf, used them as a bogeyman to scare Washington in to supporting the dictator.

    In contrast, the links between RSS, BJP and Bajrang Dal are frighteningly strong and even lopsided, for all to see. BJP is no marginal or regional party. They’ve won two general elections! One of the two biggest parties! Does that not put Mr Sudarshan’s views in to some kind of context for those who would rather brush them aside? Yes, I fully respect everyone’s right to free speech including Mr Sudarshan’s and believe the only answer to misuse of free speech is no more than its proper use. But don’t the BJP voters need to ask the BJP who are they really voting for? Or, do they only vote because they know exactly who pulls the strings (since they cannot vote for RSS – which is only an ‘NGO’)? Shiv Sena at least participates in the electoral process, whatever the dangers of their playing the religion, parochialism or whatever other card and strong arm tactics (which they are not alone in using).

  72. bonobashi says:
    January 13th, 2009 10:12 am

    Gorki, right on! A victory for moderates and the reasonable elements in Pakistan is a victory for moderates and the reasonable elements in India. More power to their elbow then.

    Speaking of secularism, yes, I am a secularist, of the Western sort, because I believe religion is best kept at arms’ length in public affairs, and should remain a personal matter. I think the Indian model of secularism, bringing every single religion in, is a BIG mistake. It thrilled me to bits to read Aqil Mushtaque’s last post.

    Regarding your comments on free speech, they do you great credit, although I personally think that harsh measures are called for against those who preach religious or any other kind of parochial hatred. I sincerely hope you are right. I sincerely hope that the religious right can be contained without compromising democratic principles.

    Is there any practical way in which we can support and help the democratic elements in Pakistan, and the democratic movement there, without being intrusive? Or setting up a backlash?

  73. Arjun says:
    January 13th, 2009 12:08 pm

    bonobashi, yes, let’s stick to MH’s article instead of getting side-tracked.

    Regarding MH’s myths, the truth is very very few people in India (that I am aware of) think about Pakistan at all except whenever terrorist attacks happen or when there’s cricket being played. Indians, because we have such a huge country with a zillion problems, are extremely pre-occupied with ourselves, our culture and our society. Other countries whether friendly or unfriendly don’t really enter much into our conversations or consciousness in general. I am one of the rare Indians who is interested in this neighbour of ours who troubles us so much. So while MH’s myths are interesting, they’re barely scratching the surface on the level of ignorance there is about Pakistan in India. Indian views of Pakistan and Pakistanis are still mired in Mughal times – this is how most Indians think Pakistan must be, with Mughal taur-tareeqay, dancing girls, persecuted non-Muslims under Islamic Rule, and harbouring a perennial aim to conquer and convert India and raise the Islamic flag over it. I am not aware of how close to the truth these perceptions are and perhaps MH can address these issues in his next list of myths.

  74. January 13th, 2009 1:17 pm

    “General Musharraf

  75. pasha says:
    January 13th, 2009 2:33 pm

    Dear You are really doing a good job.

    I want you to do more to build the relationship of both the countries. Although if you see the past we will be more blood releated. many youngsters in India need good releationship with pakistanis. I think young pakistanis should be advised in a proper manner rather than misguiding them. we love and respect few goodthings about pakistan and pakistanis.

  76. Amir Hussain says:
    January 13th, 2009 3:17 pm


    many thanks for the offer to help. wait till there is another movement like the one for the restoration of the judiciary in pakistan.. and then see if you can gather in front of the gateway to india.. in solidarity with your fellow democrats in pakistan.

    in the mean while, lets try and comfort rather than demonise each other if, God forbid, there is another terrorist atrocity. i was at a candle light vigil in lahore on 28/11 in memory of 26/11. indians, if so inclined, could have done the same for the marriott bombing in islamabad. it DOES make a difference.

    we in pakistan are trying to struggle with all we can muster against the dark and evil legacy of Zia ul Haq and the Afghan war which has continued and become further putrified. we struggle regardless of pakistan’s image in the world which makes our task 10 times more difficult. we know very well that we must carry on whether india helps us by being wiser and displaying much more foresight than what many might consider normal, or decideds to play politics and settle old scores.. or just becomes a gleeful spectator. we, the moderates of Pakistan, just have to carry on. Sooner or later, all moderates of this world will have to realise that we all have to carry on to save ourselves from the extermists on BOTH sides. Ultimately, it’s not a clash of civilisations but a war between those who say ‘kill or be killed and those who say ‘live and let live’. the ‘live and let live’ bunch has to wake up. the sooner the better. to george bush’s “you’re either with us or against us”, i say, we’re against the terrorists and we’re against the imperialists. label us as you will. we’ll do what we need to do.

  77. gorki says:
    January 13th, 2009 6:29 pm

    To all readers but especially to the following:
    Amir Hussain
    I have followed the thread closely and am struck by the fact that once we get past an initial mutual suspicion and try to hold a civilized conversation, how much the educated Indian and Pakistanis are alike in thoughts, hopes and expectations of the future.
    It is up to people like you and all other moderate like you and other sane minded people on both sides of the border to build an opinion in favor of co-operation between our two countries. Regardless of where the artificial lines were drawn in 1947, we share a great land that has given rise to a remarkable people and a remarkable civilization. We can not unhitch our destinies. The extremists will continue to try to destroy our combined culture but as long as people like Amir are there to see the pain of the other side and shed a tear for them, we will be fine. The darkest times can bring out the best in people some times. Let it be now. I want to finish with a poem by Faiz I read years ago in an Indian magazine, translated by Khushwant Singh;
    Yahi Junoon ka, Yahi tak o daar ka mausam
    Yahi zabr yahi Ikhtiar ka mausam..
    Subah ki mast khirami tahe khamand nahi,
    aasir-e-dam nahi hai bahar ka mausam.
    Bhalaa se humne na dekha to aur dekhenge
    Farokh e gulshan mein saut e hazaar ka mausam.
    Let us all build a public opinion for a better tommorrow.

  78. D_a_n says:
    January 14th, 2009 12:02 am

    @ Gorki…

    Have been closely following what you and the other Indian’s have been contributing on this forum and it has been a surprisiingly good discussion….However, in your 2nd last post I believe you wrote…(without trying to be patronizing) that ..

    ‘a society were a Nobel prize winner Ahmediya can not be accepted as an equal citizen was probably not what he (Jinnad) would have wanted.’…

    point taken and agreed with….However, it does tend to come across as a Holier than thou attitude when you have an entire state of 80 Million folks (and folks in other states) electing and cheering on the genocidal actions of Modi and his cohorts…and Captains of Industry eulogising him to no end….and this is accepted mainstream behaviour ….
    so is that a kind of society that your founding fathers would have wanted?

    my point is not to banaly argue and not that you cannot point out Pakistan’s issues/flaws……but to do so in the context that you too have fundamental issues with secularism as it exists on paper and what is actually happening and the attitudes we see…My only point is that too often I see obviously sane and balanced folks from your end dismiss the problems we point out as merely ‘one off’ events….or minor irritants when clearly they are not….they are deep tears in the social fabric and a deep disconnect with constitutionalised secularism…

    again…my point is not to attack…but to just let you know how I and many others are looking at things…Hope to hear from you more on this forum…

    @ Bonobashi…

    have immensly enjoyed your comments…..

  79. Gorki says:
    January 14th, 2009 12:41 am

    Sorry I forgot to write an English translation of the Faiz poem in the previous post.
    (Since I do not speak Urdu, I had memorised the poem by heart when I read it, years ago because it was so powerful. The translation below is to the best of my ability, and is also from memory. I will be thankful if any Pakistani Bhai can correct any errors in the poem or the translation).

    “Yahi Junoon ka, Yahi tak o daar ka mausam,
    Yahi zabr yahi Ikhtiar ka mausam..
    Subah ki mast khirami tahe khamand nahi,
    aasir-e-dam nahi hai bahar ka mausam.
    Bhalaa se humne na dekha to aur dekhenge,
    Farokh e gulshan mein saut e hazaar ka mausam”.

    This is the time for madness and also a time of brute force.
    It is also a time of cruelty but also a time to take responsibility….
    The pure reddness of the first rays of dawn is not any bodies slave,
    And the season of spring is priceless;
    (Implying that it will come, regardless of the current turmoil)
    Thus, maybe we won’t be able to see that which will come someday but the others surely will;
    And then it will be like a season of a thousand nightingales;
    in the paradise of heaven.

    Also, I will be very thankful if someone could confirm the context of this poem. I believe it was written when Faiz was in jail, awaiting a possible death sentence. Is it true?

  80. January 14th, 2009 1:10 am

    Thank you for providing your point of view. It’s important to know.

  81. Arjun says:
    January 14th, 2009 2:06 am

    D_a_n, which is better: constitutionalized discrimination that Gorki is pointing out, or a constitutionalized ideal and society’s failures to achieve it?

    In my opinion, a constitutionalized ideal at least sets a standard and there’s an obvious fact that practice is deviating from the ideal. Constitutionalized discrimination seems to be a more primitive state of society.

    I for one am not excusing discrimination. Yes, Indian society has discrimination, loads of it, but it’s not a practice we’ve gone so far as to enshrine into our constitution. And ideals are a precursor to practice.

    Yes, parts of Indian society discriminate on the basis of caste, religion, region, language, sex, race, whatever. But point me a society that doesn’t. Not to excuse it, but to say that yes, we have flaws but we know what the ideal is that we need to work towards. This seems to be (just an inch) further along the civilized road than things like the Blasphemy Law (Hudood?) or constitutionalized discrimination against minorities.

    As for people cheering Modi on, they’re cheering him for his business savvy and the economic prosperity he has ushered into Gujarat, not for his “genocidal actions”. He’s idolized for being the politician that’s really working for the economic progress of the state, not for his genocidal capabilities.

    D_a_n said: “

  82. D_a_n says:
    January 14th, 2009 2:58 am

    @ Arjun….

    just need to point out the following… (Please intent is not to attack…I am much too tired for that gibberish)…

    you wrote: ‘Yes, parts of Indian society discriminate on the basis of caste, religion, region, language, sex, race, whatever. But point me a society that doesn

  83. bonobashi says:
    January 14th, 2009 6:46 am

    @Ahsan Iqbal

    Unfortunately, your summation of the situation regarding the religious right is accurate. Having specifically ruled out violence as an option, moderates like myself can only grit our teeth and wait for the electorate to see through them and clean them up. The saving grace is that the Indian electorate is quite ruthless in its judgement. Being an agnostic, I can’t pray, but I can hope till my toes ache!


    Honest confession: until I started reading up about Pakistan, I had a very weird picture about Pakistanis in general; your three propositions kind of sum it up, although I’d add that I knew them to be aggressively hospitable and brilliant sportsmen, from squash to hockey to cricket.

    Not just these three either. Remind me to tell you about watching Brigadier ‘Hesky’ Baig save the match for us against Ratanada in the Centenary Gold Cup in Calcutta in 1961. He had a painful carbuncle on his thigh and was treating himself through the match with brandy!

    The last one month has been a succession of shocks. This particular forum has been the most severe shock, for reasons that you may understand.

    @Amir Hussain

    I suppose I must reluctantly agree that we each must fight our own battles; our friends can only watch in hope and cheer us on.

    We have to clean up Gujarat, and you can’t do much about it from outside. Similarly, please be sure that it is widely understood in India, far more than you might imagine from viewing our electronic media in recent times, that cleaning up terrorists is your own chore.

    Proposals to intervene in the anti-terror battle in Pakistan emanating from India are borne out of frustration, pain and anger, coming to a head after suffering the most casualties in the world on account of terror of any country. When you hear extreme views from ordinary people, please be tolerant; this will pass. It isn’t that there haven’t been moments at the reactions of Pakistani officials that I haven’t thought wistfully about ‘surgical strikes’, knowing as I do in my rational moments that this is not only not a solution, it will actually drive the situation headlong into reverse gear. These are moments of temporary insanity, a ‘junoon’.

    @ gorki

    Your views have been pleasant to read, and made me proud that the Indian point of view is so well articulated.


    It is for Gorki, who is clearly well-spoken and well-read to boot to answer for himself, and I shan’t try to interfere.

    Let me say that Modi himself and the present behaviour of Gujarat is a personal embarrassment, and I don’t know how to react. I am glad that there is an active population of Indians in the USA who moved to withdraw the visa Modi was given, and banned his travel there. It isn’t enough, nowhere so, but a lasting solution must come from people’s realisation that he’s pure evil.

    Having started work in a Tata enterprise, and being their whole-hearted admirer for their business ethics and principles, it hurt a lot to see the head of the house speak positively about this creature.

    The only way to beat him is politically, and it is going to be a long, hard struggle. But as long as we have heroines like Mrs. Karkare, we cannot lose hope – we must not lose hope.

    Let me also say that the discrimination against Ahmediyas is wrong, but two wrongs don’t make a right. The rest I leave to Gorki to say. It would be presumptuous for me to speak for him.

  84. bloody civilian says:
    January 14th, 2009 8:09 am


    a series of military men changing the constitution, holding a gun to the nation’s head, is not comparable to a democratic constitution (see pak’s 1973 in its pre-Zia amendments original form). regular military intervention and dictatorship does have more entrenched evil effects where the fabric and nature of society begins to change at some point. they interfere with textbooks, media, official version of culture etc etc. their civilian proteges take over from them and are little better. they systemetically eliminate any promising politicians, and bring in incompetent novices, thugs and thiefs with no danger of ever being afflicted with principles who can be easily blackmailed by them, wholesale, with every period of military rule.

    we, the people of pakistan, can at least claim: “not in our name”, “never with our vote”! others, in, say, india, can gloat: “you pakistanis deserve it”. the fact remains that the majority endorsed misdeeds of a democracy are more lamentable. it is also true that your constitution, untarnished by dictators, faces in the right direction. but how much complacency does the country need to show towards the ‘disconnect’ between practice and principle before it turns in to acquiscience and the weight of practice overwhelms attitudes and even principle? (how worried should india be at the jettisoning of M K Gandhi? how invaluable is munnabhai’s contribution of gandhigiri at this time?)

    an upside of so many years of rule by the military or its puppets has developed a far healthier skeptism amongst us of the official line, than amongst the indians. half our mullahs will shave their beards off the moment the military truly returns to the barracks for good, and truly and completely stops supporting islamists as both a political and tyranical proxy within and a terror and military proxy without.

    as an aside, is it a crime for a minority to ask for its insecurities to be addressed? whose failure was it that india was partitioned: the british rulers, the congress government (Nehru was the Prime Minister of India under the British), or the small opposition party the Muslim League who could not claim the support of more than half the muslim population of India and had a clear majority in terms of number of seats only in Sind)? who was the biggest leader with the most following throughout india: gandhi, nehru, patel or jinnah? If the Muslim League wanted partition then why did it accept the Cabinet Mission Plan? What was it that dictated that partition must immediately be followed by atrition and war instead of reconcilliation and peace? what dictates that the trend must continue?

    there is a difference between national and state sovereignty. different nations’ sovereignty within a hetrogenous state, is an embodiment of each nation’s identity. in a pluralistic state, each nation sees benefit and feels secure in VOLUNTARILY sharing state sovereignty with all the nations that form the hetrogenous state. national sovereignty, like ethnic identity, nevertheless, is never surrendered. i doubt the majority community in india will ever be willing to understand that. especially not someone like you. we can agree to disagree. peace ought to be possible, regardless.

  85. January 14th, 2009 10:56 am

    1. Adil please correct the typos in your article.

    2. The case of exploding mangoes is a myth in itself. The perpetrator was not the Shia airman from Gilgit (as spake Mohammed Hanif) but the recently-fired “security adviser” General (retired) Mehmood Durrani. This is confirmed by then Vice Chief of Staff General Mirza Aslam Beg and even Durrani himself . The fact that the US Viceroy scolded Prime Minister Gilani for sacking Gen Durrani for committing treason and that Durrani has since then started giving even more controversial statements is evidence that Durrani is an agent of the axis of Zionism and is more loyal to India than to Pakistan.

    3. There were other characters such as F K Bandyal too responsible for the crime committed by US Ambassador Rafael on 17 Aug 88. The veteran Pathan politician Muhammad Aslam Khan Khattak (April 5, 1908

  86. Amir Hussain says:
    January 14th, 2009 1:27 pm


    excuse the woffle… but
    did you check whether who you thought were pakistani ‘officials’ were really officials? the media tends to love a motley bunch of jokers when it comes to speakers from/for pakistan who are neither officials nor members of parliament. who makes better tv: sane normal fellow, or somebody strictly following the official line (conceded possible role of non-state actors from first minute), or raving mad lunatics (e.g. gen hamid gul – a zia favourite madder than his master.. forced out of the army after zia). remember zia had 11 years to fill the army command with jokers.

    as for moments of rage or madness suffered by otherwise sane and moderate people, that is exactly what the extremists want. for these moments to become frequent enough or for one to last long enough for the moderates ending up advancing the extremists’ agenda.

    26/11 and the subsequent blind rage amongst Indians has given new life to so-called politicians in Pakistan who had been consigned to the political sewer by the brave electorate in the feb 18 last. the noise of indian sabre rattling had this scum crawling out of the sewers and gutters with such glee. for example, sheikh rashid, a loud minister with musharraf, even lost his bond money failing to get the minimum number of votes from his home constituency. he is neither a member of parliament nor an official. yet he was a favourite with indian media shouting like a mad man that he is. except he is no fool.

    since gen kayani decided that feb 18 was going to be a hands-off election as far as ISI was concerned, all the war mongers and supporters of extremists and terror are left out of parliament. they can only wait for days like 26/11 to find a voice again. we had baitullah mehsud (suspected of having benazir killed, and fighting an ongoing war against the pak army) saying that if India attacked he and his men would alongside the pak army on the eastern front. old zia time retired army officers saying that ‘we only had a misunderstadning with baitullah mehsud types which could be sorted out since they were at heart all patriots’! getting rid of a durrani – the national security advisor – a sane voice, was a win for the hawks taking advantage of all this hysteria.

    we have three kinds of camps in parliament and mainstream politics now when it comes to extremists: those who would rather appease, those who’d easily be cowered, and those who know that nothing less than fully committed force will work. the former two need to see that it’s better to go down fighting since these terrorists will not change their minds nor curtail their evil ambition.

    it is critically important to keep one’s head when all around are losing theirs. moral support amongst the moderates of the world counts for a lot. but it is as important to know, understand and respect one’s friends to know exactly how best to help them as it is to know one’s enemies. the alarming facts is, not only do lots of moderates lump together friend and foe out of ignorance but while the extremist reads our mind very well we haven’t really made the effort to understand his. he knows excatly what buttons to press in order to make most of do exactly what he wants. this is not because he is some kind of genius. it’s simply because doing the right thing can often be complicated and a challenge, while doing evil never is. it is and always has been far easier to take a life than to save one.

    know the terrorist. know the moderates even better. so that you can isolate the terrorist. give the moderates unambiguous moral support if further co-operation will create more complications than help. dictators especially hate moral censure and thrive on groups that can cause societal trauma to render people unable to agitate for their rights (who better than extremists and terrorits to do the job)

    we can either destroy each other, or save each other. each one of us has to decide. those who think ‘we are big they are small’, or ‘we are strong they are weak’, their view of both victory and salvation (synonyms really) is too limited and myopic.

    as one of my pakistani friends said in an email when i pointed him to this developing thread: “wouldn’t it be great if the ISI was reading this stuff, even if it’d be worrying to know that they were so screwed up as to do that. somebody should email it to the 12 smart alecs in rawalpindi cantt”

  87. Durrani says:
    January 14th, 2009 2:27 pm

    Dear “exploding mangoes”, you do know that this book si a work of FICTION?

    Sometimes the silliness of comments is mind-boggling!

  88. Ayesha says:
    January 14th, 2009 4:17 pm

    Good article. I had seen it earlier and nice to see it posted here as well. The only point I disagree with is point 7. I don’t know why there is a tendency on the part of Punjabi analysts to always bunch the other three provinces together. The reality is that the other three have differing approaches amongst them just as often as they have differing approaches with Punjab.

    So, in my very vast interaction with Punjabis and Pukhtoons, as I have family on both sides of the ethnic divide, you may just be more likely to come across an anti-India pukhtoon as you are an anti-India Punjabi. I personally have observed that anti-Indian sentiment is greatest in the Potohar area of Punjab and a lot less in say southern Punjab, with central Punjab being divided on the issue. So I think the bunching together here is a bit simplistic, but the rest of the article is pretty good and Hanif is in any case a phenomenal writer!

  89. rumi says:
    January 14th, 2009 5:37 pm

    @ Ayesha

    100% accurate observation

    Potohar = most anti-India because Potohar = richest recruiting region for the Pak army and many armies before that!

    By the way, imagine if the Taliban had taken over Gujjar Khan the way they have taken over Swat and burning schools, flogging and beheading to their sick hearts’ fill. Can’t imagine? Try harder (and also think why it is so hard to imagine that). Eid, shab e barat, basant everything will stop. load shedding, inflation, drone attacks, iftikhar choudhry all will be forgotten about and a 100,000 troops would be sent to Gujjar Khan and ensure that every last Taliban and Taliban sympathiser is neutralized. There will be no problems with lack of commitment or low morale. Why? since you have family either side of the ‘border’(!!!), you should be able to put your finger on it. those who have family on only one side, can they imagine why?

  90. ShahidnUSA says:
    January 14th, 2009 6:27 pm

    Mother India (Grandma of Bangladesh) need to get better in not “discriminating” (cast system included) her childrens or her childrens would not stop falling apart or crying at her door time after time.
    The message is also universal whereever its applicable:
    Means, If the “shoe” fits, wear it!

  91. Watan Aziz says:
    January 14th, 2009 8:29 pm

    Is there a comparable Indian forum like Pakistaniat? Frank, candid and open?

    Just curious.

  92. Gorki says:
    January 14th, 2009 9:36 pm

    @ Watan Aziz
    Good question. I don’t know of a site I enjoy reading as much as the ATP. Great presentation and stimulating discussion. May be the editors can set up a seperate forum under this site to discuss a wide range of topics (Culture poetry movies etc.) concerning all South Asians.

  93. Arjun says:
    January 14th, 2009 10:17 pm

    Watan Aziz, I’m sure there are hundreds of Indian discussion forums and blogs on the line of Pakistaniat. India having been a democracy for 60 years, there is noisy discussion and argument on every thing under the sun relating to India. The space is so big that it’s very fragmented and you’d need to define the subject you’re interested in regarding India before you Google.

    Some that I visit occasionally:,, and some Indian language ones ( is one of my faves).

    You might also be interested in checking out

    Do visit with a positive attitude.

  94. Arjun says:
    January 14th, 2009 10:57 pm

    we, the people of pakistan, can at least claim:

  95. Arjun says:
    January 14th, 2009 11:25 pm

    I’d like to say that I’m very impressed that I have been able to express my thoughts in such a free and frank manner on this site. It has further reinforced my impression that not all Pakistanis are extremists, that there is a civil society in Pakistan very much like India that truly believes in free speech and expression.

    It is really unfortunate that the Mumbai attacks couldn’t become a turning point in the relations between the two countries – one where the fight turned from your usual run-of-the-mill India-Pakistan fight to the real fight between civil society in either country and the extremists in either country who threaten us all. It would have strengthened the fight for civil rights across the subcontinent, and extremists would have been on the backfoot. But as usual, it’s another lost opportunity sadly.

  96. bonobashi says:
    January 14th, 2009 11:48 pm

    @ bloody civilian

    I do wish you’d pick a nick which’d be easier to address! It’s so inhibiting to start off swearing at your correspondent, and puts one on the defensive immediately. Presumably the original intention.

    Yes, perhaps in India we don’t sufficiently appreciate the benefits that unbroken democracy has conferred. Even our most imperious politicians had the innate decency and democratic spirit to accept the verdict of the electorate (Indira Gandhi was the example that I had in mind, but after her example, all others have been more or less gracious about electoral defeat). We don’t seem to realise, as has been pointed out in various posts but most tellingly in yours, what a debilitating effect decades of autocracy do to public mores and to the general quality of political discourse.

    Sometimes when we contemplate our home-grown breed of pols, we do find it difficult to think of them as blessings.

    Just at the moment, we are going through a period of transition to an earthier, less polished generation, who however seem to have captured the aspirations of the masses rather better than their predecessors.

    Your point about the scepticism developed in Pakistan is interesting. Never thought about it, but now that it is articulated, it seems reasonable. Egypt has a similar, or perhaps a more pronounced scepticism, bordering on the cynical but salvaged by a hope for the future, and mixed with a strong but very subtle sense of humour.

    Unfortunately, I know so little about Pakistan that I can only take note of your observation, and hope that some day I can check it personally.

    Why is it not present in India in quite that form? Perhaps because we tend to take it for granted that something that offends a large number of people will be set right – late perhaps, slowly and with foot-dragging perhaps, but there will be a reaction. There is also the question of how we regard our institutions. Politicians are heartily disliked; see any poll. There is serious concern in political circles about this, sometimes finding very funny expression, like the man complaining about women in lipstick threatening action against politicians instead of concentrating on the common enemy across the border. Bureaucrats are despised. The judiciary was revered, but their image is beginning to look a little worn at the edges, and they need to clean up. The Electoral Commission is highly trusted. The Armed Services are still not questioned, partly because they have steadfastly refused to take sides while in service (the Col. Purohit episode came as a terrible shock which still hasn’t worn off). Maybe for this reason, that institutions are not totally distrusted yet, the degree of scepticism hasn’t become as deep here as it is said to be in your milieu.

    You had a good point to make about making secure an insecure minority. I read history in college, and am returning to it now on the other side of my working life. It does seem that there could have been far more magnanimity towards the largest minority community than was displayed. Of course, the situation was not a black-and-white one, and I might quibble with some of the facts, but your core criticism is, I think, not too far from the target. That one hurt, and deserved to.

    However, with the utmost respect, and with full recognition that it is a subtle point, I am deeply unhappy about the philosophy which lies behind your fourth paragraph, and simply can’t agree that there is a national sovereignty which is distinct from state sovereignty. I believe I understand where you are coming from, but I also believe – Lenin and Stalin notwithstanding – that that is a deeply flawed position, and its extrapolation to the South Asian situation was an intellectual disaster. As for the latter-day expression that it found, in a highly distorted form, not at all in the sense that I believe you are using, in the federal structure of India, it needs urgent rectification, and may turn out costly for India unless rectified at an early date. Very interesting point, although I disagree so wholeheartedly, and I wish we had space to argue it out fully.

  97. Gorki says:
    January 15th, 2009 12:01 am

    To Bonabashi, Amir Hussain, DAN, Arjun, Pasha, Bloody civilian and other like minded individuals:
    I wish we moderates can have a permanent forum for an intelligent discussion of these sometimes taboo topics. My reason for it is as follows:
    26/11 (and the subsequent massive media and political point and counterpoint that followed) has shown that no other two peoples are stuck at the hip as we are. Every political statement, media commentary and reported security move from one side resulted in a counter statement, analysis and reply by the other. Unfortunately the dialogue (on many planes) was and remains purely reactive and inflammatory.
    Each side is often ignorant of the apprehensions, fears and compulsions of the other side. The moderates like us watch with alarm while extremists gloat and goad on an increasingly alarmed and confused populations towards visions of Armageddon (Sudarshan

  98. Aamir Ali says:
    January 15th, 2009 1:18 am

    @bloody civilian

    Perhaps if your beloved politicians were’nt so totally incompetent and utterly corrupt, they would not have been thrown out by the military four times in Pakistan’s history. The politicians have been part and parcel of military regimes.

    I also reject the currently fashionable view among Pakistanis to blame Pakistan Army for everything. I think the people of Pakistan also share the blame for the state of affairs in Pakistan. The Army has indeed made mistakes, it has also defended the country against Indian aggression and internal terrorism. Since 2001 the army has been fighting the very extremists that have ruined FATA and NWFP of Pakistan, yet Pakistanis called such soldiers “American dogs fighting for American money” and refused to support their efforts. Its only in the last 2.5 years, and having suffered tremendously from terrorism that the same Pakistani “awam” now demands that the army eliminate extremism and accuses it of having a hidden agendas like “strategic depth”. But even now, there is no shortage of talk show hosts and politicians and commoners who still sympathize with these militants. Our awam is indeed ignorant and confused.

  99. January 15th, 2009 1:23 am

    Durrani says:
    January 14th, 2009 2:27 pm


  100. Zia Ahmed says:
    January 15th, 2009 1:29 am

    Adil Najam! is he out of sur these days ?

  101. D_a_n says:
    January 15th, 2009 1:42 am

    @ Exploding Mangoes….

    you opined as follows: ‘After all the Christians created Pakistan with a purpose…’

    Thankyou for dragging an interesting discussion down to the level of the asinine….

    PS: and of course you have facts to back up your claim….but ofcourse!

  102. Watan Aziz says:
    January 15th, 2009 3:54 am

    India has one family dominating the

  103. bonobashi says:
    January 15th, 2009 4:07 am

    @ Amir Hussain

    You are right, it was an unfortunate reaction. It is a pity that negative forces in Pakistan, otherwise defeated and discredited, have been revived by our display of anger.

    I could plead extenuating circumstances, but I think we all know what caused this anger among otherwise somewhat phlegmatic Indians.

    However, it would have been dishonest not to have acknowledged what I felt at that time, and for some time later. While my views have changed, those of many others who felt like that have not. I believe that if they were to read views such as have been expressed on this forum, there would be a lot of wonderment, and a great deal of calmer and more rational thinking.

    Having said that, it is clear that people in Pakistan don’t realise that adverse sentiment has been building up for some time, and the explosion after Mumbai was the explosion of a lot that has been pent up for months now.

    So where do we go from here? Accepting for a moment that the President, the Chief of Army Staff and the Chief of military intelligence are sincere and clear in their view of what is good for Pakistan and for the future of Pakistan, we hope that some concrete action will be taken which can be linked, in some fashion, to the events in Mumbai. If it is done within a reasonable period of time, if it is done with some acknowledgement that the culprits, and none beyond the culprits, deserve the treatment that is proposed to be given them by Pakistani authorities and processes, you may find a great deal of the uproar dying down.

    The individual ‘official’ that I found most irritating in his stonewalling was Prime Minister Gilani. He may have had his reasons, he may be a good man in other ways, but what is coming across is not very convincing. I would like to write at greater length about Pakistani experts and commentators on Indian TV, but don’t feel comfortable posting so frequently and so close together. Maybe some other time.

    @ Watan Aziz

    Yes, of course, but seldom encountered such a like-minded set. Outside my home mailing list, Silk List, I’ve seldom felt so comfortable and so welcome as here.

    Which was, it is embarrassing to admit, a huge surprise; Mohammed Hanif is uncomfortably close to the bone. Ah, well, one lives and learns. If you like, I could point you towards some good blogs, but somebody (Arjun, I think) has beaten me to it.

    BTW, I came here by typing in ‘Pakistan + blogs’ into Google, and thereafter wading through Pakistan Defence Review (both versions) – quelle horreur! – and lurking on, which I rather like. It is very pleasing to find that other Indians who write in are so simpatico, even the robust right-wing among them.

    @Watan Aziz (again)

    Speaking for myself, I think in India we are a work in progress. I wouldn’t try to tell anybody else that we are ‘better’ than them, just work on our own weaknesses – isn’t that a large enough job?

    @ exploding mangoes

    Aren’t you being a tad too harsh on yourselves? Think how we felt during the Emergency.

    I remember my father, a very senior policeman, seating the family in solemn conclave and discussing how to leave the country (he was in favour of leaving by way of Bhutan to Nepal, since he knew Jigme Dorji the Bhutanese PM), since life in an undemocratic India would be intolerable.

    Coming to think of it, if Indira hadn’t lost – and gracefully accepted the verdict – and if later Sanjay hadn’t died in his plane, what would we have done? It just doesn’t bear thinking about.

    I have to go back to earning a living again, so au revoir to all you good people.

  104. Aamir Ali says:
    January 15th, 2009 8:28 am

    If one cuts to the meat of the long-winded posts by Indians on this forum, one can see that they admit no mistake by India and no flaw in Indians and squarely put the blame on Pakistanis, whether they be “Pakistani commentators” or “Pakistani generals” or somebody else. This is the typical Indian mentality where Kashmir is not a problem, the plight of Indian Muslims is ignored, India’s internal problems either don’t exist or are very minor, and all “Muslims” or “Pakistan” are the cause of all problems.

    Its a pity that in recent years in Pakistan such India-centric views have also found root in segments of the Pakistani public. These segments think that by harping on “improved relations” and bad-mouthing the army, they are joining the modern world and being very civilized, which is wrong.

  105. Bloody Civilian says:
    January 15th, 2009 1:37 pm

    @ aamir ali

    simple question: democracy like any creative effort is an evolution, not always progressing in a straight line. we’ll have thugs, then thieves, then petty people and then ordinary people, again in a non-linear fashion, and may be a good leader, now and then, too. i’ll not accept an extra-constitutional lord even if the whole world thinks him saintlier than the prophets! who told you that because i will not allow musharraf to trample the constitution and destroy the rule of law, i’ll allow zardari to get away with defying the law or breaking it? you obviously don’t know the difference between the rule of law as a pre-requisite to being civilised, and the kind of law that thieves and thugs break. nothing makes us feel better than people who support those who consider themselves above the law and them to have the right to do with the constitution as they wish and to judge and rule all and sundry in the land, ‘bad mouthing’ us.

    @ arjun

    Your claim what Indians will do in case of a military takeover is, with all due respect, just that. it will never be tested. Not because Indians are braver than Pakistanis in standing in front of a tank on the street (and I am not saying that they are not), but because geography, demography (especially within the Indian military, and contrast that with pak military and how that compared to the nation’s, pre-’71 and post ’71) and history (the longer democracy stays, stronger it becomes, though the progress is never in a straight line, e.g. Mrs Gandhi’s emergency). i’m afraid there isn’t space to elaborate on any of the above here.

    east pakistanis resisted pak army and paid a very high price. hats off to them and best wishes to bangladesh (esp now since the last of the pakistan military academy graduates in their army have retired). baluchistan had military crackdowns by ayub khan, bhutto and musharraf. sindh resisted zia through the MRD and suffered military action from ’82 to ’84. and you know the story of the movement for restoration of judiciary in 2007 (whcih was spearheaded by punjab and supported by half of nwfp not engaged in war on terror and much of sindh. baluchistan was suffering the military operation.) read ayesha siddiqua’s ‘military inc.’. note that even as late as jan 2008, negroponte had the gall to say, defying the great people’s resistance and our laws and constitution, that “the US considered Gen Musharraf to be indispensable”. and even then, this is just the tip of the iceberg. i can’t post more here for lack of space.

    @ bonobashi

    lets hope about gen kayani. zardari is, ultimately, a civilian. provided we can push back the military in to the barracks, neither role in kingship nor kingmaking, then we can deal with zardari and even worse. they’re only bloody civilians like me!

    do read the head of ISI gen pasha’s interview with der spiegel. it isn’t exactly reassuring – even making generous allowance for incompetence, stupidity and poor communication skills.

    as for national soveriegnty, see the arrangement in belgium. the minority only feels insecure when the majority is reluctant to address its own insecurities (they just manifest in a different way). insisting on the nobility and fairness of a one man one vote, free for all, when you have the clear numerical majority, without mentioning self-serving, sounds just a tiny bit disingenuous. remember, muslims were a much bigger minority in united india than they are now. national sovereignty is political, state sovereignty is legal. sharing is a give and take, an absence or lack of which resulted in partition. that was then, this is now. and at that we can leave it, since we have bigger fish to fry. which brings me to…

    @ Gorki

    i probably would not have written this post and ended it with the last one instead, save for your post moving me to write. the military dictatorial machine, and it’s nexus with the mullah, suggested and supported by the US in support of its cause against the soviets in afghanistan (an extereme precis, due to lack of space here) has meant that they have had the state machinery at their disposal for four decades at least. no pakistani textbook, public building or monument mentions the 11th aug 1947 speech which embodies jinnah’s vision for pakistan. instead, every school child knows the Objectives’ Resolution of by heart, a mischief purported after jinnah was gone, only a resolution with no legal effect until zia made it a ‘substantive part of the constitution’.

    some plainly obvious facts:

    pak is further behind india on the democratic road. but not a angstrom behind in potential, resolve and hope to make pakistan a democratic and propsperous state where we are all free and equal at peace with ourselves and the rest of the world, esp our neighbours. aamir ali, thanks for spurring us on.

  106. ayesha says:
    January 15th, 2009 2:49 pm

    @ rumi

    Not sure I understand exactly what you are trying to say. The situation in swat is without question absolutely dire. People in swat that I am in touch with are for good reason deeply resentful of the military and civilian administration. There are many who also doubt whether the military is sincere in its fight. This is just what I know from talking to people. Regarding your hypothetical, I find it very difficult to speculate. I am nevertheless quite surprised at some of your insinuations….you cannot possibly be suggesting that the anger against drones, judiciary, load shedding is all orchestrated to divert attention from swat?! Though I do feel that swat needs to be the number one priority for the nation right now. Your pejorative tone makes it a bit harder to decipher what you are getting at.

  107. rumi says:
    January 15th, 2009 3:21 pm

    @ ayesha

    i meant exactly that swat resembling khmer rouge’s cambodia should be our number one national priority. everything else should be secondary. this

    kind of thing should be the only thing being talked about for at least a day! it’s Year Zero in Swat!

    my pejorative tone, though regretted, is a result of even a possibility (a suspicion of which you too refer to) that the military and the state can be anything less than 100% committed to delivering the people from the beastly brutality of the terrorists! it stems from gen shahid hamid recently saying that there is no danger to the punjab, since it is “a simple matter of plugging four road bridges”. we’ve had more and bigger protests in solidarity with the people of gaza and against american attacks than in solidarity with the people of swat.

    the frustration is a result of the fact that the i cannot see how we can allow the armed forces – almost 600,000 strong with all that we spent on them – to have not delivered there fellow pakistanis in swat from this nightmare even after two years! in fact, it has got much worse. all this, on top of the experimental lab that the nwfp was turned in to with zia’s strange ideas about conducting the afghan jehad, no control/organisation of the refugees from that war, and the modern, independent sate of pakistan’s (as opposed to the british colonial power) failure to feel its responsibility to gradually and amicably educate and absorb FATA in to the rest of the country, by taking responsibility for the welfare and betterment of the people living there, rather than making no efforts whatsoever and the state using tradition as an excuse to abdicate its responsibility instead. the imaginary scenario of all this happening in the so-called heartland instead of ‘far away’ in the mountains, was to question the absence of the sense of urgency that the people of swat expect and deserve from the rest of pakistan.

  108. Arjun says:
    January 15th, 2009 4:37 pm

    Aamir Ali, for the record, no one in India claims we are perfect or flawless. Not sure where you are getting that from. India has internal problems, huge gaping ones like most countries, but what has that got to do with Pakistan or this forum? Why should those be brought up here when the context of these comments is MH’s myths about Pakistan article? Please elaborate.

    Do you want us Indians to flood your Pakistan-related forum with our random myriad problems – our internal fights with Maoists, our internal problems with Christian evangelists or with Hindu extremists, with discrimination against lower castes in places like Bihar and elsewhere, the pitiful state of women’s rights, the cruelty orphaned children endure at the hands of unscrupulous thugs and gangs, the problems with reservations and quotas, the problems with medical admissions and limited seats, etc etc? .. I could go on forever. I think not. This is a Pakistan-related forum, and the topics and discussions here have to deal with Pakistan.

    Aamir Ali wrote: “If one cuts to the meat of the long-winded posts by Indians on this forum, one can see that they admit no mistake by India and no flaw in Indians and squarely put the blame on Pakistanis, whether they be

  109. bonobashi says:
    January 15th, 2009 9:02 pm

    @bloody civilian (you STILL haven’t changed your nick: drat!)

    I’m keeping this short to avoid further bolts from Olympus and the unwanted attention of manly types given to direct action rather than words.

    I have difficulty considering religious belief or practice to be a valid factor of nationhood, which is why we differ. Perhaps being an agnostic Hindu pinko (that’s about politics, not about sexual orientation, I hasten to add) is not a good way to acquire religious sensitivity.

    Your point is valid, with respect to India, if we take religious practice as a category, if what you’re saying is that religious minorities get ploughed under by the huge mass of Hindus. Trouble is, in practical terms, it doesn’t work like that. There’s nothing called a Hindu vote, never was; there was a rabidly communal wave for one election at national level, another infected state and its own state elections – twice. And that’s it. There have been dozens of elections, a few too many, think some. I don’t recall this having been a factor any time else; please feel free to correct me.

    I’m not sure how it applies to Pakistan.

    What else could we use to define nationhood? Language? If so, India is 16 or more nations within a single state. Also, Bangladesh shouldn’t exist; it should be part of greater Bengal (awful thought: Bengalis are best taken in homoeopathic doses). Also we in the southern Indian states are so far ahead, economically, in terms of literacy, in terms of health care, of the status of women, everything (probably including cricket), of the rest of India, and those four – or five – nations should be sitting planning our own state. But then that brings those sods from Jaffna in. I hate loud noises.

    The other great differentiator in India is caste (keeping language aside for a moment), which makes four cardinal points in all. While I personally deplore the coarsening effect of Mandal politics (caste-based politics), it has to be admitted that those parties have made common cause with the poor of all creeds. In a left-handed, perverted kind of way, they are gathering together the dispossessed of all sorts onto a common platform. If something good comes of this, I’m ready to give in and accept Mayawati as a future Prime Minister (it’ll be hard to swallow, though; any jobs for elderly software services managers in Pakistan, just in case?)

    I think the trouble is that we don’t have a word which is the equivalent of ‘Pakistaniat’. That non-existent word would have summed up what India is about: not a religious congregation, not a linguistic group, not a dominant caste, but something beyond. It’s real and I believe in it passionately, and so do a surprising number of others. Sorry, it’s clearly a messy situation, but we didn’t really plan for it, pray for it and design it; it happened, and we found ourselves, often reluctantly, fighting for it. We’ll try to do better next time.

    That doesn’t invalidate other models of nationhood, but those other models don’t sit well with ours. You may have noticed this already.

    At the end of the day, I sincerely hope that you understand that my complete opposition to your intellectual position involves no personal animus. And tongue in cheek doesn’t equate to a curl of the lips.

    No, Victoria, that was not a long piece. And no, I couldn’t have cut it down to a couple of lamb chops.

  110. bonobashi says:
    January 16th, 2009 12:59 am

    From David Milliband’s blog:

    “The Anguish of Mumbai

    I think that many in Britain do not realise the scale and depth of Indian anguish over the Mumbai attacks. The Prime Minister came to India in December to show his solidarity and sympathy, and I will be at the the Taj Hotel tomorrow. But India has been struck to its core: its people want a hearing, and they want action from Pakistan against those involved. The anguish is doubled because of the efforts India has made to work with Pakistan. Those need to continue. The support by the Indian government for the Pakistani IMF loan is real leadership and real vision. “

  111. Amir Hussain says:
    January 16th, 2009 9:00 pm

    re. aamir ali’s post: 587k armed force vs even an armed politician is no mathc; or to use a metaphor likely to be more pleasing to you ‘tank vs thug’ is no competition. competition is that magic ingredient that makes a free market of absolutely selfish free agents work!

    as for pakistanis condoning or wishing to appease the extremists. the army spent at the very least a decade (under zia) brain washing the people in to all kinds of perversions of jihad and religion. now you blame the very same generation, robbed by zia of all light, for not standing by the army against the very mullah they were brain washed by the army in to espousing the cause of, however violent his means!

    not just the army, but the people too are reaping the evil that zia and his army sowed.

    re. bonabashi’s post: gillani is a feudel of low intellect who went and joined the muslim league (always too eager to play the role of the military dictator’s king’s party) when he first entered politics in 1979 (most probably after seeking advice from the local ISI major in multan, and probably the blessing from the Garrison Commanding Officer – some general). it was his good fortune that by some calculation of how best to hedge his bets by looking at which parties his relatives and business associates belonged to, he joined BB’s PPP. it was him who sacked the Nat Sec Advisor for accepting – a couple of days ago(?) – that the mumbai terrorist in custody was a citizen of pakistan.

    is gen kayani on board? i see that ‘bloody civilian’ has already ‘answered’ you on that score. i might add that the deal that the US carried through between mush and BB, despite its obvious moral shortcomings was an improvement on their previous stance of total support to the dictator. kayani and zardari both have to stick by that deal as the ‘legitimate’ usccessors of the original principals.

    the US influence is not all bad. with obama taking over it will become even less palatable for most pakistanis except the most farsighted. what medicine good for you is not bitter! but since the influence is ultimately about US national interest and not Pakistan’s, it will only take us so far on the road to recovery, and at some point we’ll have to be prepared to and be capable of taking full responsibility of purging ourselves and fully correcting our orientation. a bit sordid, but the more brutal the terrorists get within pakistan, the more quickly and widely is the zia indoctrination shaken and thrown off (aamir ali is right in that particular conclusion even based on his totally wrong analysis).

    as for the rest of what you’ve said, that is, the first 3/4 paragraphs, it is quite inspiring to see how you have managed to be completely objective without compromising one bit on grace and generosity. teach us north indians how to do it ;-) may be at the kind of forum that Gorki has suggested.

    all the best

  112. gorki says:
    January 16th, 2009 9:24 pm

    A good post is one than challenges the reader to think. After reading Bonabashi

  113. bloody civilian says:
    January 16th, 2009 9:36 pm

    first of all, limited space or not, to our Indian friends, I do appreciate your sentiments and admire your honesty, and am glad you did not surprise me.

    bonobashi, i wear the nick with pride. so don’t worry. it’s like the plaque on some cars/bikes on pakistani roads saying simply “common citizen”. (the difference between us and how you described egypt is that their dictators never lost sight of how dangerous the mullah can be, while ours tried to ride the monster to their advantage with predictably disastrous results).

    can it be that you’re talking of or at least picturing today’s india with its 60 years of history since ’47? whereas i’m talking of the options the leaders of india had when contemplating a post-colonial india coming up to ’47. unlike you, the leaders then were looking at immediately before 1857, and what had happened since. (which is a longish story.)

    i’m not talking of religous beliefs or practice, only of religous identity. ask any jew – religous, agnostic or atheist – what religous identity is and what it means to have the right both to claim and or unclaim it voluntarily. that is precisely what gives you the right not to identify yourself as a hindu, if that were your wish (again, i’m not talking of beliefs but identity).

    if a minority agrees to be assimilated, on whose terms should that be? should there be a one-way or two-way assimilation? coming up to 1947, congress wanted a strong centre and got it at the price they were prepared to pay for it. the muslim league had to settle for their second best option, the cabinet mission plan being no longer on the table (as a result of nehru’s press conference of 10 juy 1946 in bombay which abul kalaam azad termed the ‘most tragic day in the history of the independence movement’ in the famous 30 pages of his book).

    arjun, we know we each have our own battles to fight with our hawks. its’ just that sometimes we feel tired and lazy so we indulge in a bit of wishful thinking imagining that India despite being a flawed democracy as many equally admirable others, will suddenly stop providing fuel to our hawks and thereby make our fight 10x easier. that modi will never become a PM. that advani was never practically the PM despite his role in the babri masjid thing.

    our arsonists are mainly interested in burning our own house down but they are equally glad when an ember or two land in our neighbour’s. recently you had reason to suspect what we had always suspected (because of the pogroms of 2002, 1992, 1984, 1967) that you have little arsonists of your own too, who too are (unknowingly) burning their own house down. sadly, at least one of the brave men who unearthed some evidence (alarmingly linked to a serving lt col), got claimed by one of the embers.

    there are two UN SC resolutions on Kashmir with the same moral authority of the int’l community espressed through the UN as the very recent resolution relating to the 4 LeT terrorists. it is only and only for the kashmiris and no one else to give up any part of that right given to them by that moral authority. i’m sure that the indian forces in kashmir in their v large number are thoroughly professional (despite the findings of Justice Pandian, AI and HRW, the draconian immunity laws enjoyed by the SOG, CRPF and Elite Police, and the iron curtain stopping foreign journalists and indian jounalists not bothering) but collateral damage happens despite the best of intentions and over 22 years it accumulates. there is terrorism due to outside interference. the kashmiri people are a victim of both and will not easily forget either of their tormentors. there is hope, as the recent J&K elections showed, though partially boycotted. hope is a pre-requisite but not a substitute for a lasting solution. there are at least two sides to every story or picture. why do kashmiris deserve to remain divided?

    we’re grateful for the IMF thing. whenever a crime straddles an int’l border, evidence cooperatively brought together completes the jigsaw and makes for the strongest evidence. this extradition thing: does india want justice for the victims or also to humiliate pakistan? the PM and home minister saying that they must presume that there was state involvement unless proven otherwise: guilty until proven innocent? how does any one prove a negative? india’s wound is too fresh right now, and the arguments above could be revisited in a few months time when it would be more appropriate to do so.

    to end, let me share a couple of dreams of mine. i sometimes dream about the childish, macho stupidity that passes for ceremony at wagah border that pakistan would do the full stupid military drill thing and in reply, on the indian side a solitary office babu would leisurely walk to the gate, smoking a cigarette, unhurriedly close the gate for the night, pull out the pen resting on his ear and the tattered register tucked under his arm, scribble something on it, walk back to his bicycle and cycle back to his happy home and homeland whistling an old kishore song. or, at other times i dream, paksitan having comletely disbanded its military forces after letting the generals have one final lottery of the choicest real estate and parts of corporate pakistan they want. leaving the wagah border gate wide open round the clock with a banner hanging over it saying “Welcome to Pakistan, enter unarmed if you want to have fun, or armed if you want the headache of taking over us lot.”

  114. Aamir Ali says:
    January 17th, 2009 2:04 am

    Indeed this is a Pakistan-related forum. If that is your defense then what are you, an Indian, doing here? If you Indians do bother to post on Pakistan related forums, why do you bring India-centric and barely hidden anti-Islamic views here ? Do you think you are going to find any takers?

    Pakistan has many many problems, but unlike you Indians, we don’t think they are because of Islam, or because Pakistan should not exist. We Pakistanis discuss our problems like normal people in a normal country which has serious problems. That is difficult to do when Indians enter the conversation.

  115. Farrukh says:
    January 17th, 2009 9:22 am

    Unfortunately, this and some other posts are being highjacked by our visitors from India. I have seen this happen before at ATP. They come, they get excited about the forum and then they lose sight of forum rules and the fact that they should respect the subject of the post. I would request everyone to please respect the rules and traditions of the form. It is really annoying when someone tries to take teh whole discussion in a totally different direction.

  116. Gorki says:
    January 17th, 2009 10:52 am

    @ Amir Ali Pakistan is a reality and no rational Indian in their right mind should even question its existence or ask for a rationale for its existence.
    Which Pakistan exists though affects not only its own citizens but also Indians for obvious reasons that I have stated earlier. You can forgive us for getting alarmed as well when Swat gets overrun by zealots who I believe are scaring most moderate Pakistanis as well.
    Bloody civilian is absolutely right though when he says that this Indians interest (and statements by Indian Hawks) make the task of Pakistani moderates so much harder and play into the hands of the extremists .
    Nevertheless I hope you can see that the concern in this forum by us

  117. bonobashi says:
    January 17th, 2009 11:13 am

    @bloody civilian

    It’s amazing that you spoke about the Wagah border ritual in the terms you did, since for some months now, I’ve shared the exact identical vision, except that in my version, it was a pot-bellied, not very well shaven regular police constable who strolls up, salutes the flag and brings it down, and so on… It was startling to read your words.

    I have to concede you the point: I was indeed thinking about what happened post-’47. By the way, I’ve never doubted that the Congress blew it by its intransigence in the last years, actually, even the last months before August.

    My quibble was about the nature of a nation, and you certainly are making a lot of sense with your arguments. This needs some mulling over. Excuse me if I take a little time over that.

    Your last para had me in splits. Couldn’t we, instead, hire the Sri Lankans to run both countries? That is, if they agree to let the Tamils run Sri Lanka. The possibilities, now that you’ve released that genie from its lamp, are wonderful.

    To all: Yes, indeed this is an exciting forum, and yes, it does beg for comment. However, the intention can never be to ‘hijack’ or otherwise be discourteous to my hosts. I hope I’ve stayed on topic at all times. If not, please say so, without hesitation.

  118. Arjun says:
    January 17th, 2009 12:50 pm

    Indeed this is a Pakistan-related forum. If that is your defense then what are you, an Indian, doing here? If you Indians do bother to post on Pakistan related forums, why do you bring India-centric and barely hidden anti-Islamic views here ? Do you think you are going to find any takers?

    Aamir Ali, a humble request to you is to get past the fact that I have the crime of being Indian and just read my posts dispassionately and judge them on the merit of their content rather than on the person’s nationality.

    Being Indian should not preclude me from being interested in any country in the world, let alone a neighbour like Pakistan, to visit its discussion forums, to comment on articles or to participate in discussions. Since I have never once brought India, Hindu beliefs or anything else India-related into the discussion ever, but solely focused on Pakistan, I hope you will not accuse me of being smug, superior, holier-than-thou or any of the other random attributes that Indians get labeled with in your country.

    Pakistan has many many problems, but unlike you Indians, we don

  119. Gorki says:
    January 17th, 2009 1:22 pm

    @ Arjun and Amir

    I agree with the general gist of Arjun’s post. This to me appears to be mostly and a healthy and an open discussion, However if someone feels slighted or we visitors appear to smack of anti-Pakistan bias, then sincere apologies. That is not the intent of this writer.

    I only disagree with Arjun regarding the following lines:

    “You will be surprised to know that there are 1 billion Indians in the world, and probably as many views and opinions held by them on a single subject”.

    I believe the Indian politicians (especially Haryanavi ones) feel it is their constitutional right to have more than one view on each topic so that it can suit the need of the hour ;-)).

    @ Bloody Civilian and Bonobashi :
    You both are hilarious and should write a screen play for a joint movie.

  120. Desi Italiana says:
    January 17th, 2009 4:13 pm


    “Indeed this is a Pakistan-related forum. If that is your defense then what are you, an Indian, doing here? If you Indians do bother to post on Pakistan related forums, why do you bring India-centric and barely hidden anti-Islamic views here ? Do you think you are going to find any takers?”


    “Unfortunately, this and some other posts are being highjacked by our visitors from India. I have seen this happen before at ATP. They come, they get excited about the forum and then they lose sight of forum rules and the fact that they should respect the subject of the post. I would request everyone to please respect the rules and traditions of the form. It is really annoying when someone tries to take teh whole discussion in a totally different direction.”

    And as a non Pakistani who visits ATP often, I have seen this type of remonstration all too often from some commentators about supposedly India-centric commentators, “anti-Pakistani” elements hijacking threads, even if the comments in question aren’t even saying half the things that they are alleged of saying. I haven’t read any of Arjun’s posts, but your comments strike me as ridiculous. Do you propose that ATP start asking someone’s nationality before they can comment? Instead of Spam protection, maybe there should be a box to check off “Pakistani,” “Non-Pakistani” or “Indian”.

    Blog posts are often the only means for people from opposite corners of the world–let alone two neighbors– to interact, state their opinions, and even take a discussion in different directions. As long as they are not personal attacks and the ATP moderators do not intervene (like Prof Najam), I see no reason why some commentators should police threads.

  121. Desi Italiana says:
    January 17th, 2009 4:22 pm

    I haven’t read MH’s book yet (local library doesn’t have it), I did enjoy his op-ed, esp. this part:

    “5. Pakistan is a failed state: If it is, then Pakistanis have not noticed. Or they have lived in it for such a long time that they have become used to its dysfunctional aspects. Trains are late but they turn up, there are more VJs, DJs, theatre festivals, melas, and fashion models than a failed state can accommodate. To borrow a phrase from President Zardari, there are lots of non-state actors like Abdul Sattar Edhi who provide emergency health services, orphanages and shelters for sick animals.”

    I am very glad he said that. I vehemently dislike the definition “failed state” (vs. “successful state”?), which comes from the realpolitik school of thought (which I think is completely inaccurate, dehumanizing, hypocritical, and often encourages statesmen to disregard international law, etc)

    I think it is absolutely important to note that whatever definitions some officials like to slap onto Pakistan, life has been happening in Pakistan– like the trains running, people going about their own business, etc. I think once people realize that, it will be more difficult to dismiss a nation of hundreds of millions of people and think of Pakistan has devoid of people and life.

    “6. It is a deeply religious country: Every half-decent election in this country has proved otherwise. Religious parties have never won more than a fraction of popular vote. ”

    Another crucial thing that I cannot fathom why, why, why some media (i.e. NYT) failed to state this during the anti-Musharraf protests and continued to publish apologetic articles on behalf of the General?

  122. Seedy Seventy says:
    January 17th, 2009 7:42 pm

    Very useful and interesting piece by MH. equally interesting comments in resposne to Mr Najam invitations to quibble with MH’s 10 myths which he cannot explain without writing a book but gives, very candidly, food for thought to many, thinking Indians.

    As a proud and patriotic Pakistani, I see no contradiction in stating that I care less for whether this land that I love and where I was born and live and so shall my children, is called Pakistan, Hindustan, New Tamil Nadu or Spranglyoneeyedoodhbalaoistan, than that each and every one of its kids should have clean water to drink, enough to eat, the opportunity to learn from truthful books nothing more or less than how to be a good human being, an opportunity to make something of their lives and to be able to live in peace and with dignity. I wish no less for every kid in India and the rest of the world.

    It enrages and saddens me like something unbelievable to see generation after generation of these kids being lined up at the brink of the dark pit of poverty condemed to live miserable lives until they slip or are pushed in to the pit in droves every year. while billions are spent on propaganda, hate, militaries, weapons and nukes which can only dig deeper and darker pits to swallow even more of S Asia’s humanity and its dignity. That India’s or Pakistan’s economies are growing, the middle classes adding to their numbers and/or bank balances, the rich are getting richer, and even that some poor can or have been able to escape from the brink of the presipice, does not excuse the cruelty of perpetually preparing for war instead of ever working for peace.

    Believeing that it’s a dog-eat-dog, law of the jungle out in the world of international politics is a self-fulfilling prophecy. For two neighbours who can never wish each other away, no matter how hard they try, it’s suicidal madness. Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad (Eruipides?). Since I do not wish to make self-fulfilling prophecies of doom, I will celebrate the several comments here, instead, for the hope they show and bravely hold on to.

  123. Aamir Ali says:
    January 17th, 2009 10:17 pm

    The comment post about Pakistan as a “failed state” is interesting. In my view a failed state is one in which the govt/military and civil bureaucracy has completely collapsed, large scale violence is present and international forces have to fix the place up. The other definition of failed state is one where the country simply disintegrates. By that definition Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Soviet Union are indeed failed states.

    When we come to Pakistan, no doubt the country has serious problems, but people in Pakistan are trying to solve those problems. I dont get how some “experts” sitting abroad put Pakistan in the same category as Afghanistan/Somalia! I would define Pakistan as a “struggling state”.

  124. ayesha says:
    January 17th, 2009 11:34 pm

    @ rumi

    sorry about the delay in replying, but yes, it is much clearer now and I agree wholeheartedly with what you have said. Swat must be a serious priority!

    I didn’t know about gen hamid’s quote and thanks for bringing it to my attention—that was a very odd remark!

    I would like to add one thing though, wrt the Frontier going way downhill, I blame Musharraf even more than I blame zia. His coddling with the MMA for the 17th ammendment gave them a free hand in the province….and this double game was played during his long rule! Instead of reversing the damage zia had done, he made it much much worse. That is why though Mush has his supporters in karachi and lahore, there are no takers for him in the Frontier…he really did that province in!

  125. Liaquat Ali says:
    January 18th, 2009 12:04 am

    Nice article. Pakistan has enough real problems of its own and then its neighbors keep trying to dump their problems on us. I guess this time its really the Congress govt making use of this crisi to prop themselves up before an election and win some hawkish votes in the process.

  126. bonobashi says:
    January 18th, 2009 2:51 am

    @Desi Italiana

    Regarding this business of failed states, I think we are making mountains out of molehills, and personally it’s getting under my skin. Aamir Ali has defined it precisely and economically, and there isn’t any need to go beyond that. Pakistan doesn’t qualify, not now, not for the present state of affairs.

    In that case, we ask ourselves, why is it being used?

    When this term occurs in Indian discourses, it usually signifies one of two things: an exaggeration and a bombastic expansion of the situation in some areas of a large country, made for effect, usually out of anger that nothing is being done by the country in question, in this case, Pakistan, in a completely different context; secondly, a pessimistic prediction of a bleak future UNLESS CORRECTIVE ACTION IS TAKEN BY THE CITIZENS THEMSELVES, through democratic means, with minimal bloodshed.

    No neighbour should stand by and watch the house next door catch fire and do nothing.

    If they’re asked to lay off and let the owners handle it, that’s fine, but the owners shouldn’t complain if the fire grows and threatens other houses, and the neighbours inform the Fire Brigade; if the neighbours start screaming and yelling and shouting out alarms and telling everybody who’s listening that the house is done for, that’s understandable but not helpful, and may lead to panic, and is probably dealt with best by a bucket of ice-cold water judiciously used, and that’s what MH is doing here, if only we’d let him; if they pour inflammables into the blaze, that’s criminal, and the police should deal with it, unless the police want to turn a blind eye and let the owners correct that situation forcefully, on their own.

    It’d be nice if both owners and neighbours could get together to put out the fire together, and would constitute, I imagine, normal behaviour for a normal community, but that needs an atmosphere of trust and mutual confidence. Trust and mutual confidence? Well, just ignore the last sentence about normal behaviour then. I’m beginning to wonder if that description applies to Indians and Pakistanis.

    And, yes, for the neighbour that sets fire to other people’s houses (such things have been known to happen), I would suspend my personal opposition to corporal punishment. But we needn’t dismember him; that would be unnatural and savage punishment.

    Please also consider that MH was after all writing to grab the attention of readers. Consider that he were to have written, “(Indians think that) Pakistan is a country, like many others, with significant difficulties with dissident elements in some specific regions”. Not exactly attention-grabbing, is it? Not worth a bucket of ice-cold water either. The same thing applies to Indians using the phrase when talking about these matters; it’s used for shock value.

    Please, good people, this is a term used to draw attention. It will be a reality, at some future date, suddenly and without warning, without a slow decline, if and only if EVERYBODY in Pakistan gives up, throws in the towel and allows it to happen. Going by the democratic struggle by enlightened elements to restore the independence of the judiciary, that’s not happening soon. Judging by the sentiments expressed by Pakistanis here, that’s not likely at all.

  127. Bloody Civilian says:
    January 18th, 2009 6:46 am

    bonobashi: the meeting of minds is freakily wonderful! except (a tiny irrelevant one), somewhat in the same spirit as Aqil Mushtaque’s thoughts on what is a judicious display of religion, I’m more comfrotable with being slightly embarrassed of flag waving and displays of patriotism for the sake of displaying only. as an analogy, i am happier carrying the love of my wife every where with me as a big beaming, slightly stupid but constant, smile on my face than a picture in my wallet that i pull out and show around at every opportunity. i would rather use the warmth i feel from having the privilege of her love to bring some warmth, happiness, laughter and a smile to others if and when i can (at least that’s the hope), rather than keep telling them why i’m so happy and how wonderful my wife is and how great our love.

    those who are not quite sure what is the indian equivalent of pakistaniat are likely to be india’s best hope rather than (i suspect) those who are a bit too sure they know exactly what it is. i hope that all pakistanis will wish for ‘pakistaniant’ to mean nothing more or less than ‘insaaniat’. now i’m much happier seeking the menaing for ‘insaaniat’ since it seems a much safer and more worthwhile pursuit, let alone that it makes for a much better start with many already knowing lots about ‘insaaniat’.

    gorki: if we could just read in to the mind of bhagat singh the teenager, and understand his hopes and make them our own, and resolve to not let any Dyers, Hafiz Saeeds, Sudharshans and many like them to change hope in to despair, we shall have nothing to worry about when it comes to the future of India and Pakistan. If we can familiarise ourselves with and reclaim as our own, in Pakistan, Jinnah’s vision of august 11 ’47, peace within and therefore most likely without will be our destiny as per the inspiration behind the “tryst” made with destiny herself by Nehru that India must never forget to live by and honour, no matter how big the hurdles (and you, yourself proved that and were saved by it, in 1984).

    As your teacher(?) said at passing out, go out and make India a better place, it implicitly includes the neighbourhood and indeed the world. (bonobashi too), you don’t have to worry about interfering in your neighbours’ business, you don’t ever have to. just become a better person, society, democracy and nation yourself and your neighbours can but only gain and benefit from that. other than not making things more dificult for each other than they need to be, we can inspire, even encourage each other. i think all that we can do for another in this life, the best is to encourage them.

    having been to good schools or having had good opportunities in a land where most lives are totally blighted with the absence of either and much more, we owe the multitudes who served us and wished us well without envy or jealousy or anger (all would have been completely justified) everything that Seedy(??) Seventy’s lament (still hopeful) has quite emotionally drawn our attention to. if we, with the spectacularly good luck we’ve had in the midst of a mass of deprivation, cannot be the hope for our countries and region, then no one can. i agree with his/her ‘what’s in a name’ sentiment.

    it is to MH’s credit that every comment on this forum is relevant to his frank, funny and insightful piece. without it, none of the however little benefit would have been possible to however few people reading and contributing to this thread.

  128. Seedy Seventy says:
    January 18th, 2009 10:25 am

    A Correction, In case anyone was interested.

    In my last post I wrote “at the brink of the dark pit of poverty condemed to live miserable lives”. I meant to write “at the brink of the dark pit THAT IS A PERPETUAL MASS GRAVE, condemed to live miserable lives.” Since millions are born and live in poverty any way, only waiting to slip or be pushed in to the mass grave.

    @Bloody Civilian
    It’s CD70 as in the “ek litre main 70km” Honda CD70 beloved of mine that has served me faithfully through regular and ongoing use of 24 years!

  129. Jagjit says:
    January 18th, 2009 10:54 am

    As an Indian I ma very impressed by this website. I have seen Hanif’s article and it is good. But even better is the fact that you would have a fair and open website that can have serious intellectual discussion on tough questions without it disgenerating into name calling and attacks. I am extremely impressed by the Pakistani comments here. Thank you.

  130. Shakirullah says:
    January 18th, 2009 12:30 pm

    I was 10 when Dr Abdus Salam won the Nobel prize. I kept waiting. year after year. for a chapter to appear in my urdu, english, physics or (the infamous) Pakistan Studies text book about the great Pakistani physicist. For a road, in one if not several major towns, a library, a laboratory, a research centre or a university to be named after him. But I was forced, by the state, to practically forget about this great man.

    Some years ago, I saw thousands going to Aimal Ka ns i’s funeral. Pakistani parliaments offering fatiha for the condemned murderer (without ever raising any doubts they might have had about the judicial system that condemned him, or any belief that he was innocent of the murders). I couldn’t but make the comparison with my thirst from that young age for the Pakistani nation to revere Dr Sahib and put him forward as the great role model for my generation and those to follow, and the ‘role models’ that were being presented to the youth in the shape of so-called ‘shaheed’ condemned murderers. My father-in-law told me that somebody had suggested offering fatiha in parliament at the time of Dr Sahib’s death (when I was studying abroad and didn’t get to follow this particular piece of news), but the request was refused and shunned. Even a request to observe a minute

  131. Gorki says:
    January 18th, 2009 1:06 pm

    I want to make a few short points.

    1. First of all I want to formally thank Adil Nijam, who in creating this site has allowed a network of writers, thinkers, and peaceniks to flourish not as Indians or Pakistanis or even as South Asians but as Insaans that Bloody Civilians hope should be our identity.

    2. I also want to thank the long time visitors of this site who have put up with the repetitive themes touched upon by us new comers in this thread. Specifically, a few posts ago I had mentioned that we create a site with the goal of long term people to people contact little realizing this is exactly what this site and its visitors have been quietly doing for the last 3 years. Only recently I happen to go back and read many past posts from the archives and noticed that the dominant spirit of the site and the posts have been tolerance, and understanding. Exactly what I was proposing. My apologies for trying to sound as if it was all my unique idea. To any one who may be interested in the India Pakistan issues, I suggest go to the threads regarding Independence Day greetings (both 2007 and 2008). A poem by Faraz posted by Baber in 2007 is a gem and a must read for any Indian hyper patriot before they start passing judgement on the motives of Pakistanis. Again Thanks Adil.

    3. Bloody Civilian, your Insaaniat seeps out with your posts. It confirms my firm belief that the land that is now modern Pakistan, has always been a fertile cradle for free thinkers philosophers and humanists. Your thoughts would make any Sufi saint proud. Don

  132. Sundar says:
    January 18th, 2009 4:45 pm

    Excellent article and good discussion. Although I still think that Pakistanis thinking so much about Pakistan and Pakistanis thinking so much about India is unhealthy. I wish them both luck, but let each go its separate way.

  133. bonobashi says:
    January 18th, 2009 9:08 pm

    From the sublime to the, er, well, not so sublime.


    You got me with that very late inswinger. Is there a typo, or are you suggesting that Pakistanis thinking about anything at all is unhealthy? Was that a zen moment?

    Just unhealthily curious.

  134. Behzad Saqlain says:
    January 19th, 2009 5:09 am


    that of course might have been much easier had the two not been nieighbours, with a common history, a shared, very difficult birth, and were they not culturally more similar than different.

    Problems can be simply ignored and forgotten about, but usually then they come back to haunt you, ten times worse. the best way to truly put a problem behind you is to work through it, no matter how challenging that might be.

    amicable siblings can go their own way taking away the happy memories. but those with issues can often not run away from them try as they may. if india and pakistan are not siblings – twins (albeit unidentical) – then no two countries are. neighbours, too, have no choice but to resolve the problems so that they can be meaningfully put behind.

    even if we decide to simply forget about our problems, we have to make sure that opportunists with a naked lust for power and fascistic tendencies within our respective countries are not allowed to use the other as the bogeyman in order to swindle the people in to following or tolerating such scum, or be stirred up in to a hateful frenzy.

    that is ignoring the great mutual benefit that we can achieve by coming together and cooperating and using that to lift the masses of the two countries out of the cesspool of destitution. ignoring even the psychological damage and degeneration caused by leaving an issue festering unresolved; and the added responsibility to resolve and work through issues as nuclear powers (a status i very much regret, for my country – pakistan – at least. what a waste!).

    by the way, despite all this the two neighbours do think about matters other than each other. the proportions could become more normal as do the relations. it is not bad to think about each other, per se. what is bad is to think so negatively about anything at all.

  135. Bloody Civilian says:
    January 19th, 2009 12:27 pm

    Thanks for the encouragement Gorki, and sharing your inspiring experiences, efforts and hopes.

  136. gorki says:
    January 19th, 2009 3:14 pm

    @ Behzad Saqlain
    To hear a voice from the Pakistani side calling India Pakistan twins is very encouraging and I agree with your comments. More voices (not less) like these are needed from both sides if we are to combat extremists on both sides who would like our two nations to remain in a perpetual war like state.

    Regarding Sundar, Bonobashi has pretty much summed it up. I suspect Sundar means Pakistani side thinking too much ‘negatively’ is bad rather than thinking per se.
    @ Bonobashi, Bloody Civilian, Arjun, and other like minded individuals, thanks for a lively and a civil discussion. I did learn a thing or two myself from your thoughtful posts.
    @Bonobashi and Bloody civilian: I am very impressed with you overall understanding knowledge and decency.
    Although it may not be possible to meet (since I understand bonobashi lives in Calcutta) I would like to continue communicating with you both once in a while even outside this forum.
    What do you both think?

  137. bonobashi says:
    January 19th, 2009 8:04 pm


  138. kosar says:
    January 20th, 2009 10:31 am

    I agree with Mohd Hanif on the issues he has raised. However he fails to touch on a very important subject: PERCEPTION. As we all know, perception has nothing to do with the truth, and if it does its only incidental. India is a master of media manipulation, esp after the world saw how USA manipulated the media after 9/11. Indian media is on a roller coaster ride whereas our media is busy mud slinging at each other. As a result India is perceived as a sucessful state where as we have all the negative labels attached to ours.

  139. Arjun says:
    January 20th, 2009 4:27 pm

    India is a master of media manipulation, esp after the world saw how USA manipulated the media after 9/11. Indian media is on a roller coaster ride whereas our media is busy mud slinging at each other. As a result India is perceived as a sucessful state where as we have all the negative labels attached to ours.

    Such posts convenient ignore the facts. India is perceived as a relatively successful state for valid reasons. Some reasons include:
    1. Steady democracy, which no other post-colonial state has achieved.
    2. Indian arts and culture, both present-day and age-old. From yoga, ayurveda, the kamasutra, to today’s cultural products like movies and novels, India’s cultural and arts output is phenomenal and the world gets a positive impression from that.
    3. Indian scientific achievements, again age-old astronomical, mathematical, medical to today’s IT prowess and nuclear physicists, India contributes to the world.

    In contrast, Pakistan has relatively fewer contributions given the strength of its population and it’s being a new country. But it’s being a meeting ground of terrorists is obviously giving the country a bad image. Eliminate terrorism and work towards the country’s development, and the image will automatically follow.

    I would seriously rethink your “media manipulation” theory when you contrast the points above with Pakistan’s checkered history. My aim is not to beat India’s drum, but to prove your post wrong which feeds an invalid and untrue paranoia about why India is seen positively. Saying it is *media manipulation* is insulting to all the contributions people of Indian origin have made to mankind.

  140. Arjun says:
    January 20th, 2009 4:36 pm

    Another point I forgot to add: India is and has been home to nearly every religious belief in the world from time immemorial. There is not a single country in this region that has the diversity of religious belief and tolerance that India does. From the big ones like Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism to minorities like Jainism, Baha’i, Zoroastrianism, Judaism and others, thought is allowed to flourish freely in the land with no persecution. This diversity is another of India’s strength and reflects the plurality of our society. And is another reason the world sees India positively. In the last couple of years, our Prime Minister is Sikh, our Leader of the Ruling Coalition is Christian, our President was Muslim. Many top movie stars belong to various different religious faiths. How can you call these stark realities “media manipulation”?

  141. bonobashi says:
    January 20th, 2009 7:18 pm


    The dazzling vision of a master-plan in India, and a media campaign in the service of this master plan may cause a great deal of unexpected and untimely mirth; I’ve just sprayed most of a mouthful of cheese and tomato sandwich over my keyboard and am writing in a justly indignant mood.

    When you wrote ‘India is a master of media manipulation’, what did you have in mind? Is there a department of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry dedicated to these things? Perhaps a secret section within RAW (this vision can occur only to those who haven’t actually met a member of RAW – unfortunately for me, I have, and the vision doesn’t last very long under the burden of that lingering memory).

    Or do you mean it is due to the media mafia, Prannoy Roy, Dileep Sardesai and Arnab Goswami? There was an outburst of excess after the events at Mumbai, but this outburst has attracted a storm of criticism within India, to the point where the Government, mistakenly, thought it had a mandate to take action. It found out quickly enough that it hadn’t, and we discovered how many reverse gears the ship of state has.

    Your use of the subordinate clause, ‘esp. after the world saw how the USA manipulated the media after 9/11′ implies that there is a causal relationship somewhere. Is it that in the last seven years, this media management capability has been built up within some obscure Indian office to the extent that it influences world opinion?

    If you have specific information, I wish you would share it with me (off line, of course, and a suitable financial arrangement can be discussed); I have a resume that urgently requires dissemination, and a favourable reception to boot. No, no, that came out badly; what was intended to be conveyed was ‘a favourable reception as well’. Please ignore the other wording.

    I have to agree with you wholeheartedly when you say that Indian media is on a roller-coaster ride, although we may not have precisely the same situation in mind, perhaps not even the same simile. But that sickening feeling of having left one’s stomach forty feet behind is familiar; happens to me every morning when I read the headlines. Gets worse when I read the employment pages.

    I am relieved to learn that this whole business of the success of India is highly exaggerated, and is merely a matter of perception. It was never very clear where all those statisticians and mathematicians were finding employment.

  142. Baykar Badshah says:
    January 21st, 2009 8:07 am


    when you say you are right and the rest of the world says you are wrong, there are, usually, only two possibilities (we shall NOT talk of probabilities): either you are wrong or the rest of the world is wrong. of course, as an individual, you have the same 1/7.5billionth right to insist that you are right as any of the other 7.5 billion.

    what is pakistan’s research output? how much of it is junk? what is the reference count of whatever little scholarly output from pakistan? how big is our media? how professional and how competent? what message do we give when we shut down the media on the whim of one man (not that it being a ‘democratic’ decision would have been any imporvement)? how does it help our ‘image’ when one man sends 60 senior most judges home and puts them under house arrest along with their families? how big is our economy and our attractiveness to the rest of the world as a market?

    india is only better than pakistan instead of being in any position to form or influence world opinion. hardly a cause for celebeation. it has nothing that comes close to being comapared with CNN (watched in 170+ countries) or BBCWorld. nor an equivalent to Harvard, Berkley, or Oxford, London School of Economics. it has nothing to compare even remotely to the huge scholarly, critical and ultimately world opinion forming activitity that goes on in the west (scholarship no doubt follows the money).

    with islamist terrorism being the biggest issue in the world today, how do pictures and news of forced beard growing, bombing of schools, flogging and beheadings in som eparts of our country enhance our ability to influence world opinion? not to speak of our history, e.g. supporting the taliban (and we supported them agains the NA who are the partners that America wants to see succeed in the interest of American prestige).

    India is a democracy, no matter how flawed. at least they’ve regular elections, free and fair enough for governments to change, frequently. their constitution, at least, (thanks to men like Dr Ambedkar) is totally secular. what about pakistan’s (and not ignoring how it is trampled upon by military dictators every so many years)? no wonder the whole world is up in arms about mumbai when it took little notice, if any, of marriott. despite the total innocence of those who died there, we cannot even convince the world that we too are victims. the reply usually is the not very helpful (to the innocent victims atleast): it’s your own fault.

  143. gorki says:
    January 21st, 2009 1:23 pm

    @ Baykar Badshah

    You bring up a very important point in the following paragraph:
    India is a democracy, no matter how flawed. at least they

  144. Hassan says:
    January 24th, 2009 1:56 am

    Very honest and well written article. The problem is that in both countries we let a few loud mouths on TV define the discourse. Most people are far more sensible than they are.

  145. Dawood says:
    January 24th, 2009 9:42 pm

    I think the most important discussions regarding India-Pakistan relations have to be held WITHIN Pakistan and WITHIN India and not between the two. Once each side learns to respect the other and not concoct crazy ideas about who the other is and why they act as they do, then maybe things will have a chance for improvement.

  146. pakistani atheist says:
    January 25th, 2009 1:31 pm

    very nice article , i would love to read more. i think Mohammad hanif hit the nail on head. i agree with on almost every thing.

  147. maryam says:
    January 30th, 2009 1:46 pm

    thank you, mohammad hanif.

    as 10th graders in islamabad during the early 90s, my friends and i used to ponder upon these very myths and wondered why the world at large did not ‘get it’…..#5 on your list is what i notice, unbelieving, every time i visit karachi, #4 is so darkly true that one cannot help but snicker helplessly at it and #10 makes its case clearly; this is what two countries have done to ‘teach each other a lesson.’


  148. Monkey says:
    January 30th, 2009 5:23 pm

    Great article! Definitely need more of those.

  149. I'll Just Say It says:
    February 3rd, 2009 2:49 am

    Good article but points 5 and 10 are very contestable.

    Point 5 depends on the criteria for what a failed state is. Yes, it is true Pakistani government’s have failed their people historically, and those that were on the path of success were made to fail – but for all intents and purposes, Pakistan has failed to establish a solid, stable and progressive society in Pakistan. At best it is a struggling democracy, at worst it is failed state.

    Point 10. It is no doubt that Pakistan shared with India a culture, language, customs and even its share of poverty. But it is impossible to deny that India is making great strides economically. What is apparent is that in India there is a greater and much more visible divide between the rich and the poor – the wealthy are even more so than the Pakistani elite, while some of the slums are even worse than what is evident in Pakistan.

  150. Aamir Ali says:
    February 3rd, 2009 7:20 pm

    60 years is enough time to build a “stable and progressive society” ? I don’t think so.

  151. Arijit says:
    February 10th, 2009 6:09 am

    Great article. A real cynics point of view.

  152. Asad Khan says:
    February 17th, 2009 5:21 pm

    To Aamir Ali saying “60 years is enough time to build a

  153. April 7th, 2009 7:29 pm

    Brilliantly written bite sized doses of reality for every Tom, Dick and Harry who thinks they understand the situation in Pakistan.

    Keep up the good work.


  154. Parmeshwaran says:
    September 24th, 2009 5:21 am

    I have full faith in the fact that at grass root there is a discernible love for each other on both the sides of the border. Of course its the common man again who falls for sectarain and fanatical view too. It is the duty of the statesmen and the intelligensia on either side to nurture the underlying goodwill and counter the rightwingers on either sides. It is in the interest of both countries. May commonsense and God’s Will prevail on those in power, here and there.

  155. Rehma.R.Hyder says:
    October 23rd, 2009 5:25 am

    well written article. very true and i hope both parties change their perspectives. Procastrinators should visit both India and Pakistan before complaining.

  156. Jamshed says:
    March 30th, 2010 10:27 am

    Hey,Mr.Hanif,what is this ? “Punjabis imposed India as enemy in chief” ? What a statement !It is tiresome when anything and everything is blamed on Punjabis. You make it sound as if it is all sweetness and light on the other side of the border.

  157. May 2nd, 2010 1:06 pm

    What an excellent (and funny) corrective to the sketchy half-truths peddled about Pakistan – and most other countries – by superficial media preferring sensation to analysis. The book is excellent, too..

  158. Uttam Sirur says:
    August 4th, 2010 11:28 am

    “this is what we have achieved in our mutual desire to teach each other a lesson” … So why don’t we become friends again? Or even become one country again? There are many people in India who think it is possible and desirable, though there are probably many more who who don’t. Personally I think we should make some moves towards reunion. What do you think?

  159. Ralph Rau says:
    August 4th, 2010 11:56 pm

    I used to worry about Pakistan army nuking Mumbai until I became aware that for Pakistanis (just like for Indians) life without Bollywood would not be worth living.

  160. immi khan says:
    August 18th, 2010 6:55 am

    dude, its Punjab that has imposed India as enemy # 1. It is the Punjab which has spanwed our rogue army which goes nd bombs poor people in poor provinces of pakistan…for American Dollars.

  161. Irfan Khalid says:
    March 10th, 2011 6:46 pm

    I think more than anything else, it may kindly be made clear in minds of many Indian friends that why they are so tempted to long for “re-union” of both countries! Why cannot we live side by side as two mutually respecting countries? They must understand even in a marriage spouses do not loose their identity. If someone suggests me to loose my identity, it will cause me deeply insecure.
    Irfan Khalid
    Lahore, Pakistan

  162. Aarti says:
    June 15th, 2011 10:32 pm

    I felt good reading the article. It is nice to know that there are serious attempts to get rid of the mutual misconceptions and distrust from the other side of the border also. I appreciate the effort. In this age of web technology we should not be dependent on the politicians to lead us to the path of mutual harmony and respect.

  163. Avinash says:
    August 23rd, 2011 7:26 pm

    I really admire Mohammed Hanif’s writings and have always been impressed by his frank views.

    Regarding ISI & RAW I would just like to add that while ISI is strictly controlled by the army, RAW is always headed by a civilian. Plus ISI has draconian powers within their country (as mention in exploding mangoes), RAW (as far my little knowledge goes) does not interfere in internal matters.

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