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by Shivshankar Sastry
The problem is that the moment Pakistan ceases to define itself as anti-India, everyone there will wake up and notice that they are basically Indians on the western periphery of the subcontinent. so what was the point of Partition and all the wars and the great Jinnah and all that propaganda if it was all pointless in the end?
And as people have pointed out time and again the most powerful tool for negating India is to hide behind Islam, saying India is Hindu and that Pakistanis are Muslim and cannot be Hindus and therefore not Indian. A complete negation of India's Hindu ethos is required for Pakistaniyat to integrate with India. This will not happen. Ironically Pakistanis have reinforced the middle-eastern connections of Islam and made it more local than global with all the passion of the neophyte eager to prove himself more pious than the prophet, more loyal than the king.
Pakistan at a deeper level and at a level not acknowledged by modern thought that revolves around liberalism and human rights, has been constructed as a retreat of Islam. No amount of suffering and privation, no number of deaths can be too great in order to protect Islam.
In practical terms what Pakistan has done is to set up any opposition to Pakistan as opposition to Islam. How is the world dealing with this?
The west- Pakistan's biggest sponsors, are now finding out about Islam in Pakistan and they are being judgemental about Islam. The west is searching for the chimera of an unattainable "moderate Islam" where women will show there faces and party with strange men. This is one type of conflict with Islam.
The Indian way has not been judgemental about Islam. Islam can be Islam - as long as it coexists with others. This is also a type of conflict with Islam - but probably less so than the conflict in the west.
The Chinese way is to ruthlessly beat down and suppress anyone who disagrees with the group beyond a point. The Chinese speak a language that Islamists understand. Still they will cheerfully combat Islam if that is needed. Pakistanis are too scared to oppose China. They see China as the conqueror of India - a nation that Pakis fear.
So what Pakistan has done is to set up a conflict with Islam by way of which economic and physical strife for Pakistanis can be ignored or dismissed as a necessity in the larger interests of saving Islam. In my view there are only two ways of dealing with the dilemma that Pakistan poses to the entire world. One is to oppose Pakistan and be accused of opposing Islam. The other is to let Pakistanis get as much Islam as they want.
The Indian way has been to allow the Pakistanis to get as much Islam as they want. That means allowing the Taliban to rule if necessary but defending India against the consequences.
The western way has been to try and prevail on one group of Pakistanis who are arbitrarily designated as "moderate" to oppose and fight others who are designated as extremists. For India this is a problem because Pakistanis change their behavior to suit the west when they need money, but remain true to their cause of protecting Islam from outsiders. China has trouble in Xinjiang so China too is like the West and will pay one bunch to oppose another.
The west are encouraging civil war in Pakistan by supporting an paying one group to oppose another. It so happens that the group that the west supports is also the group that China supports. India may be the only country that opposes civil war in Pakistan and actually talks about the mango Abdul (average Pakistani). In my view India is also the country that is least likely to be affected by a Taliban takeover of Pakistan because Pakistani behavior towards India has always been Talibanic. It would make little difference.
Pakistan today is the result of all these conflicts and conflicting methods of dealing with it. The west and china are both willing to pay and arm one group of Pakistanis to fight someone else - be it India or the Taliban. India is the only country that is not paying some group in Pakistan to fight anyone.
It appears to me that "economics" is often utilized in variable ways. If the elite of Pakistan who get paid by both the US and china are well off, the economy they represent is touted as positive and progressive. What is ignored is the vast mass of mango Abduls who are the tools used by various groups to fight someone else. Nobody can predict exactly what will happen in future, but from an Indian viewpoint I believe it would be ideal if various entities (US, China) stopped paying Pakistani groups to fight others. Since India is unable to prevail upon he US and China to stop paying some Pakistanis to fight others we have to search for positives in the bad bargain that we have got.
Perhaps the best positive for India will be civil war in Pakistan. If others are paying Pakistanis to fight Pakistanis - that is the best bargain Indians can get. Ultimately Pakistanis will turn on each other and their sponsors. Only a prolonged sate of chronic civil war, strife and large pockets of hunger and anger in Pakistan can erase or modify the delusions of Islamic supremacy that has tried to ignore both the geography and the history of the civilization around the Indus.