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Ho hum, Pakistan

It seems that Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi and we share the same opinion on ‘India-Pakistan’: Indians are a bit too obsessed about our neighbouring country.

india Updated: Oct 14, 2009 21:51 IST

It seems that Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi and we share the same opinion on ‘India-Pakistan’: Indians are a bit too obsessed about our neighbouring country. Interacting with university students in Shimla on Tuesday — the place where his grandmum and Pakistani premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto signed the famous accord when Mr Gandhi was a two-year-old — the 39-year-old stated that far too much importance was given to Pakistan in India and that our un-neighbourly neighbour is “just a small piece in India’s foreign policy,” a line that in certain circles morphed into “just a small piece of land”.

Generations of Indians, especially those north of the Vindhyas, have obsessed about Pakistan. This is, to an extent, understandable. Indians who felt the tremors of Partition, directly or indirectly, have looked at the country that Jinnah built with a strange proprietorial interest as if its existence was always a temporary plan. As a result, they have demonised as well as romanticised the country to the point that either Pakistan is a psychological rationalisation for all of India’s ills or it poses no real problems at all considering, as the touching phrase goes, ‘we’re the same people’. Both pictures are exaggerated and don’t help when it comes to conducting the real business of level-headed diplomacy.

When Mr Gandhi says that he doesn’t have the time to “think of Jinnah for a second”, his rhetorical statement — with a nudge to history-obsessed BJP men — comes as music to our ears. Pakistan is an important part of our foreign policy, considering it obsesses about India. But we have certainly moved on — or, at least, should — since the time when India-Pakistan ties were part of an emotive public discourse that cajoled and bullied foreign policy. Today’s India is more obsessed about tying its own shoelaces than figuring out ways of tripping Pakistan or taking its shoe-size. That India-Australia cricket matches are bigger draws than India-Pakistan ones these days should tell you the story.