Pakistan is mildly pulsating these days at Indian readiness to accept its investors’ money. This is not the first time that actions by Delhi or Islamabad have aroused optimism that the two countries might be ready to forget their acrimonious past.
Similar hopes did blossom on many occasions in the past. The mutual distrust notwithstanding, if China and India can share billions of dollars in two-way trade, why can’t India and Pakistan do the same?
But does India really want a potent, prosperous Pakistan, as it regularly claims? That question haunts many Pakistanis.
To Pakistanis, Indian expressions seem to be merely cosmetic. Similar sentiments are completely understandable on the part of those Indians who see a Pakistani hand in the 2008 Mumbai attacks. The Kargil misadventure was another nightmarish scenario.
India and Pakistan blame each other for troubles they don’t want to face or solve — over sharing of river waters, Kashmir or Baluchistan. Of late, Afghanistan has provided the two countries a new battleground.
Pakistan feels India is working with its international “friends” to further disintegrate the country. Successive Pakistani governments have blamed India’s spymasters for wrongdoing in Baluchistan. Strategically, India might feel claustrophobic, too, as China and Pakistan cover its entire northern and western borders. The border disputes can’t wait forever to be resolved.
Sub-continental tensions provide an ideal situation for global gunrunners. They will continue to make big bucks by feeding the gargantuan appetite of the two armies, even if they don’t fight.
The Europeans, who fought two world wars, now travel to each other’s countries on a single travel document. I’d be a fool to suggest similar solutions for India and Pakistan.
I have seen Indians and Pakistanis working together to each other’s benefit when they are outside the subcontinent. They are business and professional partners in the UK and the US. Bollywood is another surreal world where Pakistani artistes have found opportunities.
What frightens me, though, is the anger of the youth underpinned by religious or national zealotry. There was hope that once the generation that experienced Partition moved on, temperatures would drop by a few points. There are new factors that could dissolve the good work being done by a few.
Unless the governments in New Delhi and Islamabad back those efforts, sentiments would worsen.
History teaches us that states behave like human beings because humans run them. In that sense I would recall a Chinese idiom that says man is born at 60. I know it is too pragmatic but hope both India and Pakistan grow into mature nations able to deal with their past, living perfectly at peace with each other.
(The author is an anchor with ARY News, a leading news channel in Pakistan)