Here is an excerpt from a purported meeting between top policy makers agonising over whether we should talk to Pakistan:
Top boss: We can’t give up talking to Pakistan. If we call off the talks we’ll be playing directly into the terrorists’ hands.
Big shot: The people want peace. That’s why we want the Ghulam Ali concert to be held.
Flunkey: Is he a terrorist?
Big shot: No clue. I haven’t heard him sing.
Sceptic: But our leaders have been talking and meeting and yet the terrorists keep coming.
Top boss: You must realise Pakistan is no ordinary country. It has non-State actors.
Big shot: Terrorists are non-State actors. Nawaz Sharif is a State non-actor.
Top boss: To simplify things, I’ve made a chart of all their power centres. 1) State actors — a rare breed; 2) State non-actors — most of the administration; 3) Non-State actors including 3a) bad Taliban — Taliban in Pakistan; 3b) Good Taliban — in Afghanistan; 3c) Bad terrorists — terrorists against Pakistan; 3d) Good terrorists — against India; 4) State within a state — Pakistan army; 5) State within a State within a State — ISI; 6) Rogue elements within 1&4&5; 7) pseudo-State actors — the Hurriyat; 8) sectarian outfits; 9) Dawood Ibrahim and 10) non-State non-actors — the people. All of them gang up with and fight with everybody else. To make things interesting, terrorist outfits constantly change their names, the Jaish-e-Something becoming the Lashkar-e-Something else or the Harkat-e-Whatever whenever they feel like it. So there’s absolutely no point talking only to Nawaz Sharif. Why, sometimes even Nawaz refuses to talk to Sharif.
Sceptic: Yes, what’s the point in talking peace if he can’t deliver it?
Top boss: The solution is — we must talk to all of them.
All: Hear, hear.
Sceptic: What if the terrorists attack again?
Big shot: Talk harder. We could even stage a cross-border raid and give them a severe talking-to.
Sceptic: What if they still don’t listen?
Top boss: We must nag them into submission.
All: Thank God, we now have a strategy. Hurray.
Minion: Er ... what should we talk to them about?
Top boss: Good point. So that you all know what to talk about, I’m playing the video of the last India-Pakistan talks between the advisors of both countries:
Pak envoy (loudly): We must as good neighbours strive our utmost to mend relations between our two great countries ...
Indian envoy (muttering to himself while the Pakistan envoy is holding forth): Oh yeah? Really? Ha ha. Bloody terrorist. Bloody terrorist. Bloody terrorist. Bloody terrorist.
Indian envoy (loudly): We owe it to our people and future generations and the world to bring peace ...
Pak envoy (mutters to himself while the Indian envoy is talking): Balderdash. Utter rubbish. Bloody hypocrite. We want Kashmir. Gimme Kashmir. Gimme Kashmir. Gimme Kashmir. Gimme Kashmir.
Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint
The views expressed are personal