Pakistan wouldn’t let India be a friend in need
I have a few questions for Pakistan’s elected rulers. Why have they let pass the “tragic opportunity” of floods that uprooted millions across that country— rather than using it to create bonding between our people and building trust between governments?
Why are they averse to Pakistanis breaking the Indian bread in their hour of need? Or what made them ask New Delhi route assistance (US $ 25 million) through the UN rather than sending it directly to Islamabad? Our PM called theirs. Foreign Minister S M Krishna spoke to Pak counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi. But they remained cussed. Unresponsive.
Imponderable of India-Pak relations mired in deep hostility. That’s what it looked to me.
The hurt was all the more unbearable when one saw Pak TV channels beaming footage of planes-load of relief material arriving from Vietnam, Turkey, China, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. The irony was lost completely on the Pak media, its rulers and even the bureaucracy. How much easier would it have been to let trucks full of vegetables, wheat, sugar, medicines, tents, blankets and other such relief driven into Pakistan from India via the Wagah check-post.
Barring stray voices, the point got lost in the Pakistani talking space controlled by India baiters. The Pak Mission in New Delhi had no instructions on how or whether to accept relief offers even from common citizens and voluntary groups.
Having agreed at Thimpu to find ways to build trust between our two countries, will Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani explain why his government failed the peace agenda by keeping people apart in this hour of crisis? Can he think of a better confidence building measure than Islamabad and New Delhi together serving the flood victims— taking them as citizens of South Asia?
I am certain these questions will never fetch a considered response. The malaise lies in misplaced national pride that in Pakistan is driven by the baggage of history, the establishment’s militarist mindset and the political myopia of right-wing parties.
They don’t mind celebrating Anjelina Jolie as the face of UN’s appeal for the flood affected. But they have problems accepting money raised by Indian NGOs and peace activists who could have enlisted similar support from Bollywood stars with huge fan following in Pakistan.
Responding to my mubarak message on Eid, Pak television anchor Hamid Mir wrote back asking: “I’ve had many from India greeting me this year. Is it the impact of Indo-Pak unity on the tennis field (read the US Open where Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-ul-Qureshi captured headlines by reaching the double’s final)?”
Yes and no, I thought. It has less to do with tennis and more with the devastation wrought by floods. Listen to India’s heartbeat Hamid and play it loud on your channel. Or else there wouldn’t be any asha for aman.