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TVR Shenoy's column

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    TVR Shenoy's column

    Mullahs and mind-washing

    ''On Wednesday, we had the mortification of watching Foreign Minister
    Sartaj Aziz fielding questions from a BBC correspondent. He fumbled and
    failed to convince. His performance can best be described as an exercise
    in obfuscation. With this abysmal potential in the foreign service, Pakistan
    was bound to be a loser.'' That, believe it or not, is not an Indian's
    judgement, but a quotation from a Pakistani newspaper.

    But Sartaj Aziz's performance was no worse than that of Mian Nawaz
    Sharief as he tried to justify the Pakistani retreat from Kargil. He began
    well enough, praising Prime Minister Vajpayee's visit to the
    Minar-e-Pakistan in Lahore. But then he went on to the same tired old lies:
    India violated the Line of Control, no Pakistani soldiers were involved in
    the invasion of Kargil, Pakistan wants peace...

    As it happens, I was reading an article on North Korea even as Nawaz
    Sharief was speaking. North Korea, like every other place where
    Communists take power, is an economic horror-story. Ordinary citizens
    are starving, a situation that has been going on for several years. But the
    Communist regime controls the propaganda machinery so effectively that
    the average North Korean thinks he is better off than the rest of the world.
    The lack of awareness is so acute that one young boy was quoted saying
    there are only about five countries in the world.

    Now think about this: the military-feudal landlord-mullah establishment in
    Pakistan has been in power even longer than the father-and-son pairing of
    the Kims in North Korea. This grouping has been pouring venom into the
    ears of the largely illiterate Pakistani citizenry for over fifty years. In his
    speech to the voters of Pakistan, even Nawaz Sharief betrayed his worry
    at what he described as ''religious parties'' and groups that had once
    vowed a ''thousand years of jihad against India.''

    Under the circumstances, can we in India expect any lasting peace with
    Pakistan? Remember this is a nation that has been indoctrinated since birth
    with the idea that India is out to undo what happened in 1947. Remember
    the mullah-fixation (for want of a better word!) of Pakistan took a quantum
    leap in the Zia era, with fundamentalist elements entering even the
    professional ranks of the military. Remember mind-washing isn't confined
    to the lower classes but goes up all the way to the top.

    Months ago, well before Kargil or even the bus journey to Lahore, I heard
    a horribly depressing story from former foreign secretary J N Dixit.
    Speaking of a dinner party he attended while serving in Pakistan, he said
    his host's young son danced around the table shouting, ''Indians are dirty
    dogs!'' (Or words to that effect.) If that is the kind of stuff drummed into
    impressionable heads, what hope is there of peace with that nation?

    And yet what other choice is there? I know a lot of people feel that India
    should have crossed the Line of Control even at the risk of losing
    international support. I have to admit it is thoroughly tempting, but then
    where would we stop? Would we just blow up the militant camps and their
    support-lines in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir? But those can be rebuilt.

    Or should India have actually liberated PoK at the risk of outright war?
    Well, first, maintaining peace in the liberated areas would have been no
    easy task. (Those people have been thoroughly steeped in India-hating
    ideology.) And, second, there is no guarantee that war would be confined
    to Kashmir. So where would Indian forces stop -- the Iranian border?

    The sad fact is that talks with Pakistan are the only realistic option. I am
    not saying we should restart the Lahore process immediately; talks should
    definitely be conditional upon Islamabad meeting minimum guarantees of
    decent behaviour. India's three conditions -- withdraw troops from Indian
    soil, respect the LoC, and stop supporting militants -- are the least that can
    be expected. Finally, there is one thing that we should do: give up the
    sentimental bilge heard after the Lahore Declaration.

    Permit me to quote what I wrote in this column in February: ''All that talk
    of 'brotherhood' leaves me cold -- as a South Indian I feel no kinship for
    Punjabis from the wrong side of the border.'' Indians and Pakistanis are
    not, and shall never be, 'brothers.' But the gods have made us neighbours
    and we have to live with that fact. May I suggest that the leaders of
    Pakistan -- assuming they are sincere about peace -- make a start by
    stopping telling lies to their own people?

    It is simple. Pakistan is going the way Iran had in late 70s. Fundos will in be charge for maybe 10 years. Soon people will get fed up and rebel against them. All in all its economy will become that of Afghanistan in next 20 years.