Posted in Events dear boy. Events at 11:23 pm on 17 December 2008
The recent events in Mumbai were tragic and dangerous. The immediate response of citing elements within the Pakistan government for aiding the attacks was predictable and maybe ought to be resisted because that was probably part of the thinking behind the attacks, one of whose perpetratorsâ intents was most likely to be to try to foment strife between Muslim and Hindu (more strife than there is already I mean) as well as damage Indiaâs tourist industry and get back at Brits or Yanks.
But both the Indian and Pakistani governments have a âterroristâ problem. Both could address them by working together to obstruct the terroristsâ aims.
However the present situation is not of the two countriesâ sole making. In too many senses it is our (Britainâs) fault. Not just the presence of British troops in Afghanistan and Iraq inciting some Muslims – which certainly does not help. [By the way did no-one in the UK government or its advisors know any history? What were they thinking? We were chased out of Afghanistan several times in the colonial era, the Soviet Union was booted out much more recently. The Americans armed the mujahideen to help bring this about. They then morphed into the Taliban with the results we know. The enemy of your enemy is not always your friend, guys. Afghanis have never taken kindly to outside interference. Nor, it seems, do Iraqis. And why not? Nor would we.]
Were it not for Britain there would be no Pakistan (nor Bangladesh.) We partitioned India along religious lines (causing untold misery then and in the 60 years since) so that we could up and leave in as short a time as possible â too short in hindsight. It was a selfish act. The history of rivalry and war between the two countries since, and further partition – of Bangladesh from Pakistan – makes dismal reading.
Without partition would India (all-India) have felt the need to have the Bomb? Maybe, perhaps, just, as a defence against China – but that is an unlikely scenario. Without partition there would be no institutional focus for Indian Muslims to aspire to nor for Hindus to set themselves against. Without partition the running sore of Kashmir would not have opened â and any Sikh separatists would have had no encouragement.
Is the forced partition of a country ever a reasonable solution? Ireland, Palestine, the sub-continent, Korea and Vietnam have not been good advertisements for it. Okay, the two Germanies never had outright conflict and did remerge on the first opportunity – but that was an artificial partition in the sense that neither of the Germanies felt the other was really not German and the partition was propped up by outside forces. (Arguably the latter was/is so in the cases of Vietnam and Korea – even Ireland if you look at it from one side of the fence.) The separations of Norway from Sweden in the 1900s and of Czechoslovakia in the 1990s were not analogous, being amicable. Further back the Partitions of Poland did last well over a century, but it was sandwiched, and cut up, between three Empires which were Great Powers at the time.
Indiaâs dogged adherence to democracy since partition is admirable. Pakistanâs road has been more shaky but the military never seem able to hold democracy down for long. Too many years of mutual mistrust make any wider accommodation between the two countries difficult. That must be the terroristsâ hope (and inspiration?) We can only hope the two will work together and the terrorists end up disappointed.