PAKISTAN is fortunate that Dr Shashi Tharoor, the newest Icarus in the Indian National Congress, never fulfilled his ambition to become the next UN secretary general. He would have used the UN to resolve the problem of Jammu & Kashmir in less time than it took to create it.

Dr Tharoor has been endowed with all the boons his divinities could have bestowed on any Indian mortal: debonair good looks, a quick intelligence, the gift of oratory, a fecund authorship, and a dollar-denominated pension from the UN where he served as an international civil servant for almost 30 years. The price he was asked to pay in return was to become rabidly anti-Pakistan.

To hear him speak, to read his books, to watch him on talk shows is to realise what a narrow escape Pakistan has had. He is single-minded and obsessive in targeting his perceived enemy. One comment from a recent book of his serves well enough to indicate his animus: “A democratic Pakistan determined to focus on its own people’s economic development would be good news for India. On the other hand a flailing Pakistan, with a burgeoning population of uneducated, unemployable and frustrated youth prey to the blandishments of radical religious fanatics, and ruled by a military-dominated system that sees its security in destabilising others, could be a major threat to India.”

It is rhetoric such as this that brought him too close to the sun of his political ambitions. Too close, for he soon fell from the heights of being a minister of state for foreign affairs to the lower strata of a seat in the Lok Sabha. While he may not be as near, as he once aspired to be, to those who are policymakers in India, his attitudes are nevertheless of interest for they are reflective of a mindset amongst a newer generation of Indians.

Ironically, today, 65 years after Independence, Pakistanis and Indians are not only on opposite sides of the same border, they have reversed roles. Earlier, Pakistanis defined themselves by emphasising their separateness from everything Indian. Today, Indians seek to truss their national identity with a different sort of rope, a hangman’s rope from which to suspend not individuals but the Pakistani state.

Individual states within India may bicker with one another. But what binds them is a perception that unless they are overtly anti-Pakistan, they cannot somehow be Indian. This is apparent in Indian politicians, in the Indian press, and in that most pervasive of propaganda machines — Bollywood.

Many have suspected that the Indian media has been not the Fourth Estate in its societal structure as much as a suburb of the Ministry of External Affairs. Everyday its press lip-syncs official lyrics. Similarly, Bollywood has shifted away from the image of a Pakistani as a pre-1947 turbanned Pathan to a post-26/11 image of every Pakistani as a bearded terrorist who has to be eliminated by any of the triumvirate of Khans.

I have just returned from a visit to Kashmir where I breathed the same air as Shahrukh Khan. I drove from Srinagar to the mountain resort of Pahalgam and was prevented from entering my hotel, not because I was a Pakistani, but because Yash Chopra was shooting his latest blockbuster featuring King Khan near the hotel. Shahrukh Khan was the Indian hero hunting down terrorists who looked like me. I escaped to Gulmarg, and within a day, he had followed me there. I returned to Srinagar and was told that he was on his way down to shoot at Dal Lake. I fled to New Delhi and escaped him by immersing myself amongst its teeming millions.

To visit Kashmir is to understand why it has been such a fractious issue between India and Pakistan. Regardless of Radcliffe, regardless of the UN plebiscite, regardless of the porous border through which families, like mountain mists, permeate through borders, Kashmir is worth fighting for. Kashmir is the closest man will get to natural perfection. It was intended by God for the living.

The presence of the Indian army throughout the valley even now that there is a lull is as ubiquitous as the blood-red advertisements of India’s telecom giant Airtel. Individual sentries in lonely sentinel posts rely upon a mobile for company, groups of three or four sling their guns and use their free hands to text SMS messages, and corrugated steel-roofed cantonments resonate with the sound of incoming and outgoing signature tunes.

The sign across the road as one enters the upper reaches of the road used by pilgrims to Amarnath reads: ‘The Indian Army welcomes you to Sonmarg.’ It is the benign admission that there has been a change of strategy in Kashmir. The Indian Army has put stems of flowers into the barrels of its guns.

The average Kashmiri seems to have reconciled to the unavoidable. Any revival of hope for a plebiscite is not as important anymore as revival of its economy. Everything is now geared to restoring tourism in the valley. They have suffered enough from both sides. If a Kashmiri does talk about Pakistan or India, it is to emphasise that everything Kashmiri is distinctive and unique; from its scenery to its saffron to its wazwan cuisine. The only shooting they want to hear about is Shahrukh Khan this month and Salman Khan next month shooting films in their beloved valley.

Over the centuries, Kashmir’s geography had delineated its identity. Whatever will be the future of the Kashmiris, one thing is clear. Neither India nor Pakistan deserves Kashmir. It belongs as it has always done to the Kashmiris, as God intended.

The writer is an author.

www.fsaijazuddin.pk.

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Comments are closed.

Comments (53)

Shan
September 6, 2012 6:18 am
A democratic Pakistan determined to focus on its own people’s economic development would be good news for India. On the other hand a flailing Pakistan, with a burgeoning population of uneducated, unemployable and frustrated youth prey to the blandishments of radical religious fanatics, and ruled by a military-dominated system that sees its security in destabilising others, could be a major threat to India.” I beg your pardon. Who will find a fault in this statement? Isn't that everyone across the world is saying?
anon
September 6, 2012 6:50 am
“A democratic Pakistan determined to focus on its own people’s economic development would be good news for India. On the other hand a flailing Pakistan, with a burgeoning population of uneducated, unemployable and frustrated youth prey to the blandishments of radical religious fanatics, and ruled by a military-dominated system that sees its security in destabilising others, could be a major threat to India.” Isn't that the truth?
deswal
September 6, 2012 2:39 pm
please read history before commenting on it
basit
September 6, 2012 7:03 am
because of money
KnightRider
September 6, 2012 5:04 pm
Why you are blaming Shahi Tharoor. He has said nothing wrong
Roto Corp
September 6, 2012 4:03 am
sir ,with due respect do Pakistanis deserve Pakistan ? like what you are doing to each other in name of religion and that the same virus your countrymen have exported to Afghanistan and Kashmir.
sparky singh
September 6, 2012 8:01 pm
Sir, my Indian passport does not give me the right to own any fixed property in Kashmir. It has been this way for many decades now. Just wanted to point this out for the benefit of other readers.
shubham
September 6, 2012 7:50 am
".....use their free hands to text SMS messages,,,,," sms service was banned in the valley couple of years ago. If u r so intent on bashing india, atleast get ur facts correct.
Viraj Nasare
September 9, 2012 7:01 am
I agree with you.
BH
September 6, 2012 8:46 pm
Yes, I was also trying to figure out what was wrong with that statement. If making his statement makes you a fundamentalist, then count 99% of india as fundamentalist, the rest 1% is congress.
raju
September 6, 2012 8:04 pm
This article dwells on so many aspects and so many questions for the readers. I have never seen my friends or people I know bothered to talk about pakistan, or I can say whatever agony exists its due to the infiltration from Pakistan side. We never learned in our schools to hate pakistan. and whatever Tharoor wrote is logically right. Is it bad if Kashmiri's have started living normally or Pakistan does not want that to happen. By Gods grace this summer Kashmir had record number of tourists and my family was one of them. The people of Kashmir are very friendly and loving.
Zahid
September 7, 2012 1:39 am
It is better to see verbal skirmishes from both side of the border than military adventures.
BHB
September 6, 2012 7:51 pm
I was going to make the same comment. Isn't that the truth. Many reasonable Pakistanis will also agree with it.
sparky singh
September 6, 2012 7:57 pm
Dear, writer of this article.. The last line of your article says "as God intended". Please let us know who made you the spokesman for god? If your mind meanders to something at least have the courtesy to use arguments to illustrate the soundness of your views. Why use the god loophole to escape the burden of logic? Yours truly - nice little atheist man
Ajaya K Dutt
September 6, 2012 2:53 pm
“A democratic Pakistan determined to focus on its own people’s economic development would be good news for India. On the other hand a flailing Pakistan, with a burgeoning population of uneducated, unemployable and frustrated youth prey to the blandishments of radical religious fanatics, and ruled by a military-dominated system that sees its security in destabilising others, could be a major threat to India." Do you see anything wrong in it? Pakistan should thank the sole divinity that it was created next to India. If it was United States or even China, it would have been "stone age" in "land of pure".
Dudenator
September 6, 2012 1:01 pm
Can someone please explain me whats the point of this article? What is the author trying to convey? Does speaking the truth means that a person is anti India or anti Pakistani?
Ahmed Sultan (India)
September 7, 2012 10:50 am
only 1% of Indian movies has the word Pakistan in it.
Jag Nathan
September 7, 2012 1:17 am
Wrong again. A lie told a 1000 times does not become the truth
Victor
September 6, 2012 3:59 am
If Bollywood was so anti-Pakistani why do Pakistani singers and actors keep running to India for work?
yoginder nath tickoo
September 6, 2012 9:40 am
A gr8 pleasure 2 read ur lines.
R K HASTIR
September 6, 2012 3:27 pm
Fine,,writer is not comparing education policy of both country ,otherwise he should have written article in different form.god bless their so called intellectuality.
Jay
September 6, 2012 4:18 am
The author writes "He would have used the UN to resolve the problem of Jammu & Kashmir in less time than it took to create it." Most normal people would regard that as a good thing, don't you think?
Pip Alvi
September 6, 2012 11:21 am
the author says -Indian institutions are anti Pakistani,it is very difficult to find something likeable about the Pakistan state and society currently,and why do you expect Indians to be positive about Pakistan after all we have had nothing but trouble from our fanatical neighbours.
JP Singh
September 6, 2012 1:53 pm
just gibberish, doesnt make sense of anykind, if you are in India try to see how many indians discuss pakistan.
Saroj
September 6, 2012 4:40 am
I really don't get if there is anything wrong in what Sashi Tharoor has mentioned. It is a very generic statement which can be given about any neighboring country. Other than this, the article is ideal from all views, but I doubt whether a free Kashmir will ever become a reality !
circut00
September 6, 2012 4:54 am
After reading the whole article, im still puzzled what was author trying to prove by quoting Shashi Tharoor's book?? Wht he wrote is truth.But then again Pakistan sees everything with conspiracy glasses.And yes Pakistan dont deserve Kashmir at all, first learn to take care of what you were given in 1947, then talk about Kashmir.bbye
Krishna
September 6, 2012 4:56 am
Good analysis.. but I do argue that Balochistan belongs to Balochis...
vijay, chennai, India
September 6, 2012 8:19 am
What binds us Indian is our culture.
OMG
September 6, 2012 5:03 am
So when did an honest assessment become tantamoint to animus?
santhosh
September 6, 2012 5:04 am
I thought F.S.Aijazuddin would finish that he is the god. But it's okay. Is this an article based on ground situation.
suneel
September 6, 2012 5:38 pm
well said...I wanted to say the same.........
dks
September 7, 2012 3:24 am
The author need to unlearn what he read in Pakistani text books...
meow
September 6, 2012 5:25 pm
at the most a half cooked article.. sometimes I think Dawn needs some help is finding good authors. Starts from tharoor and tries to define tharoor as India. Does any1 know who is Pak?
Mano
September 6, 2012 4:12 pm
Has any Pakistani reached the heights that Shashi Tharoor has reached? Or has even failed at? How many Pakistani Senators can even speak good english? I heard a Pakistani TV anchor say that when Shashi Sahab speaks Pakistanis get scared. Boss, the man has the ability to handle your countries entire foreign policy successfully on his back if you guys have the ability to enroll or manage a calibre of his. You guys are seriously suffering from the desease of hating your neighbor and pathologically lying to your own audience.
kausar
September 6, 2012 12:11 pm
saach bahoot kadwa hota hai...ha.haha..
C. Nandkishore
September 6, 2012 5:52 am
"But what binds them is a perception that unless they are overtly anti-Pakistan, they cannot somehow be Indian" Don't give yourself airs. As far as the new generation is conserened, its 'Pakistan what?'
Khuram Saqi (@khuramsaqi)
September 6, 2012 12:09 pm
Kashmir is belong to Muslim, not even Pak or Ind
raika45
September 6, 2012 6:22 am
At least the Indian government ,it's army and the people of Kashmir have come to some sort of understanding.Can that happen in Baluchistan? Will your government and army allow that? Remember no non Kashmiri can own property in Kashmir.Will your people follow the same rule in Baluchistan?
Subramanyam Sridharan
September 6, 2012 10:15 am
“But what binds them is a perception that unless they are overtly anti-Pakistan, they cannot somehow be Indian” Sir, Pakistan describes itself as 'un-Indian' to describe its own identity but India does not need to resort to such tactic because India is proud of its Indianness. We, therefore do not need to hate somebody to find our own identity
Mirza Nadeem Mir
September 7, 2012 1:11 am
Yes, as Apkistani I admit that has to be the truth. Do not know what the author was trying to say or mean?
nt
September 6, 2012 8:43 am
You are very right ,Kashmiries need peace now,enough blood shade,please Pakistan,give peace to Kashmiries,when real peace prevails there,Indian army will disappear from there
Sandip
September 6, 2012 9:37 pm
Unless it does not favor pakistan :-)
Mirza Nadeem Mir
September 7, 2012 1:09 am
Mukesh, what was so anti indian in his article? Iknow truth is bitter and it hurts!!! I hope for peace between the two countries but Kashmir will forever be for KAshmiris,no ifs and buts about it!!!!
Sridhar
September 7, 2012 12:51 am
The author, I suppose, is not a regular reader of The Dawn. Every issue of the paper, especially, columnists such as Ifran Hussain and NFP have made similar observations about the failed or failing state of Pakistan. So the members of the US Congress and the British newspapers. Having a healthy neighbor who is pursuing prosperity in every nation's dream so that one does not have divert valuable resources to thwart belligerent, frustrated neighbor gone berserk.
shalin
September 6, 2012 7:12 am
hehe
Arun
September 6, 2012 7:13 am
This is a rambling article with no particular point other than for the author to express his dislike for Indians and Indian institutions like Bollywood and the Army. People like this are a dime a dozen and have no ideas for the future. Is Dawn losing its touch?
Deepak
September 6, 2012 11:50 am
We Indians need not be anti-Pakistani to prove our patriotism. If Pakistan stops creating trouble in the region, Indians won't even remember that Pakistan exists.
mukesh
September 6, 2012 9:59 am
why such anti india fundamentalists are allowed to enter India and roam freely.
Mirza Nadeem Mir
September 7, 2012 1:15 am
Saroj, As a Kashmiri ,let me tell you thatsooner or later Kashmir will be free. World maps change very quickly as you may have noticed. And why is freedom bad ofr kashmiris? You Indians and Pakistanis do not deserve us. We have nothing in common with Indians or Pakistani Sindhis, Baluchis, Punjabis or Pathans. we area a unique race with our own culture, language,, cussine and heritage!! We have nothing in common with Indians or Pakistanis.
Prakash
September 8, 2012 7:47 am
Dawn need not bother about any of our politicians to have courage enough to resolve this issue,as we are too lenient and tolerant especially where Pakistan is concerned.
nimesh
September 7, 2012 3:13 am
Sorry but I can see the 'animus' in this statement: : “A democratic Pakistan determined to focus on its own people’s economic development would be good for India. a flailing Pakistan, with a burgeoning population of uneducated, unemployable and frustrated youth would be a major threat to India.” To me Shashi Tharoor is Pakistan's friend. Change the lens you view the world with Mr.Aijazuddin .
raj
September 7, 2012 1:09 pm
So what...???? Even u can't buy property in Andaman & Nicobar, Himachal, sikkim & other north-east state.
shakeel khan
September 6, 2012 4:02 pm
what a great show of intolerance on your part!!!!!!!!
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