Aman Ki Asha: an Indo-pak peace initiative

Whenever something as grand and as controversial as Indo-Pak peace initiative and reconciliation is being talked of, there are bound to be sparks in the air (some would say of the hopeless romantic kind, while some would say fireworks that are a bad omen of things to come) . While some may dismiss the Aman Ki Asha advertisements, initiative and programs as romantic eye-gloss/eye-wash , I believe these are steps in the right direction and that more, rather than less, such initiatives are required in today’s time .

Left Brain thinking : a checkered history since nation state formation

Everyone knows the checkered history of Indo-pak relations since the nation states were formed in 1947, so no need to repeat that here. Suffice it to say, that there is sufficient grounds for both countries to be suspicious of each other (If India helped Bangladesh liberation to some extent, India has more current grievances like Kargil/Mumbai 26/11). But a new factor that has emerged recently in geo-politics is Pakistan struggling (some would say apparently) against its former allies, the Taliban.  With the US pressure, alongside the Talibani backlash, it seems an opportune ground to make the Pakistan state realize that supporting terrorism is not a viable alternative in today’s realpolitik and there is no recourse better than to have healthy and peaceful relations with the Indian state.

Right Brain doodling: A romantic sufiana view of assimilation before the divide-and-rule

And yet, before the Britishers sowed the seeds of divide and rule and communal disharmony things were more or less hunky-dory in India and Mughals were accepted to a large extent as native kings (following the efforts of Akbar, the great) and a new language and culture of Urdu assimilated in the Indian stronghold. If one is to believe the sufiana poetry or poetry of poets like Kabir,  one comes to the realization that there was a lot of assimilation and mutual respect and admiration between the communities/ the different states.  Even the 1857 revolution was fought by all communities alongside each other, perhaps shaking the Britishers from their slumber and forcing them to sow seeds of divide and rule.

Whole brain fusings: War between nations versus Love between people

And yet, even when one focuses on post-independence history of Indians and Pakistanis, one has to contend that there are two histories- one that between the two nation-states which have always been at loggerheads and suspisious of each other and one between the people who despite reservations, suspicions and occasional overt ill-will, also paradoxically are so  much embedded and enthralled by each others culture as to be indistinguishable. Be it ‘bakra kishton par’ and other pak dramas that enthralled India even as babari-masjid episode was at its peak, or the firm grip of Bollywood under which the Pakistanis live; be it  Nusrut Fateh Ali khan saying that my beloved has returned home:-) to Hasan Jahangir enticing the winds to spread fragrance between the two nations (Hawa-Hawa) – the cultural ties have always been there and have fascinated us and kept us tethered to the fact that the person sitting cross-border is very much an Indian -sans nationality. Perhaps it is more politically correct to say that we are all pan-Indians/pan-Pakistanis.

Out-of-the-brain musings: Kashmir/Terrorism and Truth and Reconciliation

And yet, we  will continue to live under the legacy of hatred, suspicion and ill-will till we finally sort out the underlying issues of Kashmir and Terrorism. I propose to go the way of Truth and Reconciliation of South Africa- Truth regarding Terrorism -its stark origins, effects and repercussions and reconciliation and re assimilation of  those who might have been way laid by financial, religious or ideological factors; also Truth about accepting Kashmir’s present situation and reconciliation between India and Pakistan over the issue. Of course this is easier said than done. But when the people of both nations would show solidarity, would show that the states of India and Pakistan cannot play against what the people of India and Pakistan yearn deep in their heart- then their would be no looking back. Peace would no longer be a hope- it would be a real possibility.

Parting thoughts: Partition and Raksha Bandhan

While partition of 1947 was tragic on account of the lives lost,  another partition springs to mind- the partition of Bengal in 1905. That had led people to celebrate Raksha Bandhan on a wide scale , by encouragements from Tagore and to this day has led to a tradition of celebration of Rakhi in Bengal. Perhaps we need another Raksha bandhan celebration- this time across the Indo-pak border- with citizens pledging to defend each other cross border, the nations states would soon follow suit. There is a strong need of the hour to incorporate raksha bandhan in the Aman ki Asha and similar cross-border campaigns. When we view each others as friends who can be counted on for security, all the historic ill-will and malice will vaporize and the aman ki asha will not just remain asha or mere hope , it will become a vishwas or faith grounded in reality. Lets all pledge to Aman Ka Vishwas and with our faith it will soon become a reality!  Insha-allah!

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Remembering 26/11: replying on a Thursday!

Number of Terrorist Incidents 2000–2008
Image via Wikipedia

I know this post is a little early – 26/11 is still 26 days away. But then I don’t want to commit the mistake of last time this time too. Last time we were caught unprepared. This year is our chance to reply on a Wednesday (the eve of 26/11) or on a Thursday (the day 26/11 falls this year).  We have no excuses , we have ample time to plan and prepare. And don’t get me wrong, I, by no stretch of imagination want the reply to be violent; but what we cannot live with is no reply at all. We have to reply to their hatred, with solidarity and Love. We have to find new and innovative ways of replying in a non-violent manner.  More about that later.

Left brain thinking: Remembering what?

Our feelings of insignificance. Our resolve to do something. Our determination to reply back. Our disgust at the politicians. I remember in the immediate aftermath of 26/11 I felt so insignificant, so detached in my daily chores from the work of nation-building. I was so disgusted with the politicians who were at the helm- I decided to become one myself! I contacted political parties I thought were different (their founders were IITians) and was ready to quit my well-paying job for this spur-of-the-moment emotional decision.  For the first time I wrote something not directly related to psychology on my blog and I was like thinking what is the whole point of blogging about psychology etc. when such terrorists operate uninhibitedly. Slowly after some time, the emotions faded and worse sense prevailed and I kept my job and did not jump into politics or give up on blogging. I still feel emotional decisions are the best and I want you and me to remember the raw emotions we felt in that immediate aftermath of 26/11.

Right brain doodling: remembering why?

Because we forget. Psychological studies time and again show that we forget  even the events that we in the heat of the moment feel that we will never get over- this ranges from an unrequited or jilted love to a death of a loved one.  Within 6 to 12 months we get over the worst of our personal crisis. Similar time frames should exist for national crises like the 26/11 or 9/11. And I do not mean that we should harbor any ill-feelings or not forgive; but it is one thing to forgive and another to forget. As Thomas Szasz has famously put “The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naive forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget.” I want to be wise. I want you to be wise. Let us forgive, as it heals us, but let us not forget . And most importantly let us not make them forget. Let us keep replying on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Whole brain fusings: remembering how?

When I talk of replying on a Wednesday , I don’t intend the reply to be violent–but it has to be dramatic- it has to be such that it installs fear and terror in the mind of the terrorists. And what better way than to show them our solidarity and our courage- effectively giving rise in them a sinking feeling of despair- that their tactics and strategy of terror is not going to work.  Also when people do not get divided on religious grounds, when people do not mistake the terrorists  hatred and activities for justified revolutionary /rebellious stance and when they themselves do not get divided on regionalism etc , when people realize that despite being a commoner they can reply – then the terrorists will have no other option than to change their course. In one psychological experiment and finding , when people are tortured, if one begs and whines, the torturer feels that the torture is justified and continues to torture assuming righteousness and the belief that the person being tortured is indeed a victim.  While if one faces it stoically and courageously , then the torturer does not attribute that much guilt to the person being tortured. Terrorists torture the common man and the state and want the state and the commoner to feel guilty for crimes uncommitted ( the thinking that ya the terrorists have a point, they are just fighting for their rights, and by denying them their land, we are guilty) and thus they feel justified in their hateful quest.  If the commoner on the other side does feel  guilty that they have committed crimes against the breed (a region/ a religion) that the terrorist belongs to , it is that much easier for a terrorists to justify in his mind that the commoner was indeed guilty and needs to be punished / tortured.  It is only by showing that we would never admit guilt which was never there in the first place (like the Kashmir issue) can we force the terrorists/torturer and the others who watch this drama (US/UN)  and make them realize that their terror/torture tactics re not going to work. We will not give them any leeway and let them get away with justified revolutionary terrorism. By being brave and standing up to them, we diminish their inclination to continue the torture and diminish their self-justifications. By cowering and whining or by being ‘reasonable/ politically correct’ and trying to see their point-of-view too, we will only make matters worse. So the best form of remembering, is by replying in a dramatic manner that shows that 1)we do not admit to their thesis that they have a slice of truth or justification for their actions 2) we are not cowed down by their torture and terror. We stand up and are brave enough to reply back (peacefully) 3) we stand united as humanity and as a civilization  and not as a mere nation in the fight against terrorism.

Out-of-the-brain musings: remembering when?

Typically one remembers such events when it is already too late and the event is almost there. Then there is no time to plan or celebrate (ya we should celebrate the triumph of Mumbai spirit  over the hatred and terror that the terrorist wanted to sow) . The aha moment was realizing that we should remember such event a bit early and perhaps celebrate(?) with full  planning and organization.  Replying on a Wednesday requires elaborate planning – and its our duty we cannot shy away from. So remember 26/11 now and decide what you are going to do that day now!

Parting thoughts: remembering whom?

Whom should we remember though? Is it Kasab and his fellow terrorists and their hateful and misled lives? Is it Osama bin laden , Dawood or Lashkara who’s who, who continue posing the threat to India? These are people who are alive and operational and we should remember about them -not for their ability to plan and execute- but just like we remember Rawan more than Ram on a Dusshehra -as a threat and reminder of what a misguided man can become and how the most important thing in the world is to burn the Rawans  within.  We should also remember those who are no longer there -some died in the course of their duty- others were misfortune victims and died unnecessary and meaningless deaths.  and of course we should remember the common man who did stand up to the terrorist and didn’t cower. That reminds me to tag Senha Gore – one of the organizers of candle-light vigils in the immediate aftermath of 26/11 and request her to organize one more such event this time around. Last time I was not aware and couldn’t participate; but this time I want to reply on a Thursday? What about you? Any creative thoughts on how we can reply on a Thursday?

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Published in: on November 1, 2009 at 7:33 am  Comments (2)  
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