All it takes is a word sometimes. To build a world of emotions, to destroy a lifetime worth of efforts! To reveal a perspective that took decades to build....
The recent LOC ceasefire violation by Pakistan and India brought back a memory of one such word. Both the countries are blaming each other for the violation - Indian newspapers are reporting Pakistani intrusion, but Pakistani, UK and US media blame India! Yeah, the US media always reports the Pakistani version. In case you are still basking in the euphoria of the nuke deal, please realize that Americans financed the entire Pakistani defence budget for last five years including recent freebies in the form of fourteen FREE F-16 jets worth 216mn USD. The US & the UK sleep with Pakistan every night, but they just wink at us on the street corner, once in a while, and we think we 'arrived' on the world scene! But we are digressing, like always...
When I discovered the mystical world of internet chat engines, I had this sudden, insatiable urge to connect to the rest of the world and understand perspectives beyond the 1969 edition of Manorama Year Book. I made friends far and wide, but never stopped pinging strange sounding names all the same! One day I chanced upon a Pakistani guy. This was before the Kargil war, btw.
And with the full brotherly spirit that the occasion deserved, we shot sarcastic barbs and insults that soon developed into a major diplomatic embarrassment for both the nations! I kept flinging accusations at him, and the poor guy, being underequipped in his typing speed and vocabulary, couldn't keep pace. And then he said a word. That word! I kept thinking about it, and even now that word irks me.
He said, 'This is what you Indians do always against Pakistan: Propoganda!'
'Propoganda'! Do you know that an average Pakistani's biggest grudge against India isn't Kashmir or hinduism, but the propoganda? Indians blame Pakistanis on the world stage for every internal trouble and bomb blast. Indians blame Pakistanis for ULFA, naxalism, the riots in coastal villages in Kerala, not mentioning their props - Kashmiri militants! A Pakistani is enraged every time our Governement blames him for all our problems. His blood boils at being called a born terrorist, while he may be just a civilized engineer, building a cancer hospital for kids. He wants to climb the roof top and cry into our ears, "Every Pakistani isn't a terrorist you know!"
While there is a legitimate cause for India to blame Pakistani establishment on a lot of counts, the truth is we too mask the the reality for our own political gains. And we keep creating a demon in the average Pakistani. Our Govt keeps hammering into our mindsets that Pakistan isn't a country of good people, and they are forever looking to hurt us. We keep hearing this, so does the world, and one day everyone thinks it is the only truth.
Propoganda! What if the Indian military really started the firing across LOC after Pakistan objected to an intrusion? Just to distract people from all the murky cash-for-vote deals or the security failure internally! Do you think we would ever come to know if that was a possibility?
Pakistan is a hotbed of terrorists. It is the epicenter of Islamic fundamentalism in the world. It is a failed state, incapable of democracy. It's army is a sloth-bear out of control. Yes, absolute truth! But if you realize, we Indians are guilty of propoganda too! It may be a Soviet legacy. Or it is just Chanakya's policy. But it possibly forever blocks our judgement, and may be incites more hatred against us!
That one word that day, gave me a peek into a Pakistani's mind. Not the bearded, turbaned, armed terrorist you thought up in mind, but someone like a Wasim Akram or Imran Khan. Of what they thought of Indians, every moment of their lives, inspite of the caramel custard they spill on ESPN when Tendulkar is batting!
May be I'm an anit-nationalist and a sensationalist that believes in running up-current for the heck of it! May be Praveen Togadia will burn my effigy tomorrow. But the average Pakistani won't be impressed if he blames the ISI for my views!