Imagine you are India.
It requires a fertile and gigantic imagination indeed, but give it a try. It will be worth the stretch.
The carnage in Mumbai brings volatile South Asia back into the world media spotlight (where it should stay).
So, just imagine You are India and thus you hardly need another reason to hate Pakistan. But the latest terrorist attack , on your country’s financial capital, no less , really took the “kulfi” (an India ice-cream). Some of the bad guys turned out to hail from inside Pakistan, whose government had been proclaiming the utmost diligence in its campaign to contain domestic terrorists.
Oh, sure they have, you think sarcastically , and a lot of people outside South Asia actually believed it!
You note that Pakistanis actually denied, until the evidence became overwhelming, any connection at all with the attacks.
Where did they think the terrorists came from? Tibet? Dubai? Singapore?
This all makes you so mad that you want to strike back in fury , much in the manner of President George Bush’s hot-headed invasion of Iraq after America’s terrorist tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001.
It makes your Indian blood so overheated, it boils over the top when you think of the $10 billion in military aid forked over to Pakistani armed forces by the Bush administration during its tenure. Wow, was the United States ever conned!
You told them, again and again, that they were pouring their taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars down into a big, open, filthy Karachi drain. Think very much of that money actually went into terrorist-hunting? You cannot be serious!
The Pakistani terrorist world and Pakistan’s military-intelligence complex have links.
They don’t hate one another anywhere nearly as much as they hate India, together.
They used most of that aid money to build up their capacity to fight us , India. And so just now Islamabad is taking action , after Mumbai!
The Bush people didn’t listen.
A lot of people didn’t. Most everyone was so in love with that Pervez Musharraf guy, they were blind to the fact that this slick Karachi cookie was only interested in staying in power, not in punishing terrorists and pushing the them out of power in Pakistan.
India warned the Americans to be very wary of this military general who in 1999 overthrew Pakistan’s (admittedly corrupt but nevertheless democratically elected) parliamentary government.
Beginning Of The End
It was the beginning of his end when Musharraf actually sacked Pakistan’s chief justice of the supreme court , which is what tyrants do when they cannot get their way. Now the military man is off central stage, and his anti-terror war turned out to be a flop. We told you so!
Now you ask us not to retaliate for the Mumbai massacre as you did after Sept. 11.
Instead, you ask us to keep our cool. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice grandly paraded into India recently and advised us not to give Pakistan a reason to redeploy its forces against India as those very forces are now deployed against its terrorists.
The argument would be more salient if the terrorists were really on the run in Pakistan.
Instead, it looks like some of them were running to Mumbai to bomb its hotels and trains and terrify the citizenry while the Pakistani army cleaned its guns and cooled its heels.
Still, the stay-cool argument does have logic.
After all, if Pakistan implodes, the geopolitical explosion will rock the ground under our own Indian feet.
But you just wish the advice hadn’t come from the Bush administration, which has been wrong almost every step of the way with Pakistan, and which has bungled the war against terrorism with Pakistan’s neighbor Afghanistan (while you politely commented nothing about Iraq). This makes you worry that the logic might be flawed.
So you should say to Americans: Look at us again.
Our federal democracy is not perfect and our governmental bureaucracies will garner no outside awards with their legendary inefficiency. And with well more than a hundred million Muslim citizens and countless fiery Hindu nationalists inside India, we have our own tensions to keep under control.
But you remind everyone that India, for all its faults, is the largest democracy in the world. Compare it to Pakistan, and then make a judgment. Someday you may have to choose between us and them.
Veteran journalist Tom Plate’s column on Asia and America has been distributed worldwide since 1996.