Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Great Wall of India

Via Pakistani daily The Nation, here's an eye-popping assertion by columnist M.A. Niazi:

It may be unenlightened and immoderate to mention this, but Kashmir is an emotional issue not just for Pakistanis, but other Muslims around the world. The much maligned extremists, whether militant jihadis like Al-Qaeda, or political militants like the Ikhwanul Muslimeen or the Hizbut Tahrir, are now the only foreign friends Pakistan has on the Kashmir issue. Their hostility to India is not based on some separate conflict with India, but exactly on the same basis as Pakistan's: Kashmir. These groups have done more than Pakistani diplomatic missions to keep alive the Kashmir issue on the Arab street, even as their governments curry favour with India.

Wow!! And this is a country India thinks it can do business with? Instead, maybe, we need a "great wall of India" on the frontier to keep out evil influences from this benighted nation!

6 comments:

amit varma said...

Nice. I like the bit about the "much maligned extremists". But isn't it a non sequitur to conclude from the words of one arbit columnist that we shouldn't do business with Pakistan? After all, it doesn't represent their government policy.

Also, doing business with them to mutual benefit doesn't neccessarily mean letting our guard down with regard to security, does it? If so, how?

Primary Red said...

Amit:

No doubt drawing broad implications from one data point is not quite kosher, BUT the larger point is that there's likely no other country whose mainstream newspapers would even consider publishing such cuddliness to Al Qaeda.

What does that say about the state of Pakistani society?

As to whether we could neatly compartmentalize commerce from security issues, thats impossible to do -- as we painfully found out on 9/11.

Best regards.

amit varma said...

Ok, this is what it says about the state of Pakistan society:

1] It is terribly backward, and it is in our interest to change this.

2] Economic prosperity is one of the things that will change it.

3] Our trading with them will help bring this about.

4] Therefore we should trade with them.

A 9/11 style attack on India out of Pakistan can happen at any time, whether we trade with them or not. But the more prosperous they are, the less disaffected, jobless, extremist young men there will be to carry out such attacks. I don't think increasing trade can have an adverse impact on our security.

Isn't that one aim of the neo-con project anyway? To introduce free markets and democracy into backward and extremist countries? Of course, democracy's still some way away, but perhaps expecting democracy to flourish in such a backward society is putting the cart before the horse.

The Greatest Hokie Ever !! said...

Amit, the United States and Saudi have billions of dollars in trade, did that help avert 9/11 ? Many of the hijackers that night (and so are many terrorists the world over) were well to do, reasonably prosperous people. I doubt if there is a one to one relationship between prosperity of a nation and its propensity to encourage/discourage terrorism.

amit varma said...

Hokie,

Yes, the 9/11 perpetrators were from Saudi Arabia, but do consider that the regime that sheltered and nurtured Al Qaida was Afghanistan, the most backward in the region.

Also, I wouldn't be so simplistic as to claim that economic prosperity is all that a country needs to shed its backwardness: see point 2 in my last comment. However, it would push Pakistan towards being more progressive. It is better to trade with them than not to trade with them, though it is certainly not a panacea.

Anil said...

Terrorism, politics and friendship aside, am I the only one who is seeing a large and growing market of 150 million people right next door.

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