A Balanced Approach

After the  terror attack on Mumbai  Nita had written a well researched post on the reactions of the Pakistani media. I would like to present the other side of the coin. The balanced views of  some of  the very respected Pakistani columnists-

Irfan Hussain

Mahir Ali

Kamran Shafi


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29 responses to “A Balanced Approach

  1. Prerna

    This post is not just a great gesture but also an injection of calm amongst the baying-for-blood (whose, I am not so sure) sentiment prevailing.

    In a discussion of the merits of Amitabh Bachchan, I pointed out to ‘fans’ that as far as responsibilities of being a public figure was concerned, he is a big FAIL. People need shoring up of hope as much as they want succour from an-eye-for-an-eye.

    Nations are not built on despondency, knee-jerk reactions, and aggression; they are built on hope and confidence, consideration and strategy, and steady nerves.

    I do not see the reason to insult people of Pakistan with every step. I think the decent people suffer enough shame and blame, even undeservedly (This came to mind about associative guilt: woh mera dost hai saare jahan ko hai maloom, dagha kare wo kisi se, to sharm aaye mujhe…)

    That such thinking commentators are allowed to write in public fora is a sign of hope to me.

  2. You remember from last year, a friend called me irritatingly optimistic? :-) I’d rather be an idealistic, action-driven, time-spending, fund-raising fool than a sitting-around, emptily-cursing hand-wringer.

  3. Pingback: The Mumbai Seige: Link Diary « Visceral Observations

  4. Like Shefaly said, wonderful gesture Prerna. Now that the Pak media overall has only increased its rhetoric against India, it is good to know that some columnists are keeping their head on their shoulders. May their tribe increase.

  5. These columnists may be respected by us and those in the West but they are not the ones who have a voice on Pakistan. Times Now had run a small program on what was going on in the visual media there. Despite our usual editing to make things look better than they are, what I heard came as no surprise…I have watched Pak TV for years and know how the people of that country have been systematically psyched to hate India.

    The bombs and bullets keep coming but we keep trying to dig for an odd misplaced flower to give ourselves a ‘feel-good’ pill and hope that things will only get better because there are flowers, not bullets, to come in future from there.

    I know, I am sounding alarmist but it is better to be realistic based on 61 years of experience and prepare ourselves to give a knock out punch to the terror that Pakistan has been exporting for decades now.

  6. Vinod, I have watched PTV for many many years because of my love for Urdu language.I loved the literary programmes and a few of their wonderful anchors but their news were as bad as our Doordarshan during Emergency. Strangely enough their democratic regimes were equally bad when it came to censorship. Mushharaf’s regime made a big difference although. About the programmes on Times Now TV, I watched them too. Pakistanis have their own versions of India TV, Zee News and Aaj Tak and they can’t be compared to Times now and other such channels. I wonder if you had a look at the coverage of these rogue channels who were dishing out absolute non-sense. Contradicting themselves all the time and concocting stories. The columnists I have mentioned write for Dawn newspaper which is one of their oldest newspaper and respected one too.
    Shefaly I would any day loved to be called irritatingly optimistic, especially these days when everyone is so angry.
    Thanks Nita, as you said may their tribe increase.

  7. Prerna

    I doubt many Indians know this man exists.. Our knowledge and understanding of Pakistan and its people is so poor which is another reason why I appreciate your post(s) about them. :-)


  8. Thanks for the links.

    Like indicated in the first link, Zardari was on Larry King last night here on the US, and guess what? He wants “proof” that L-e-T did it before going after them – yes same old story. So should we take that he obviously he still thinks those guys are innocent – the same ones who admitted to earlier bombings? And of course he is also fully committed to the war on terror. And yes, we are supposed to buy both as it still all adds up logically.

    And also, he certainly does not believe that the captured terrorist is pakistani. And *even* if he was by-chance, we must all understand that they are all “non-state” actors, and hence basically the government of Pak can’t really be expected to own up any responsibility. If any, there are guys in his land causing him problems too, and only he can fix it (but then he also is the poor victim).

    Now may all this is tit-for-tat knee jerk reaction, but I think what India needs most is for Pak to start owning up to its problems – and show it by action. I mean serious action. They may not be successful, but just show us you are serious by action as opposed to words! So far it seems they have been unwilling and unable to do anything concrete. I certainly believe that there are many in Pak who do not condone terrorists, but these guys have enjoyed free reign with support from parts of the populace, as well as parts of govt for too long. The people of Pak cannot disown that responsibility. They need to own up to that – and it starts with the govt.

    In fact a strangely similarity to people of India (or I guess citizens of most democracies). We elect the same bozos – but when problems arise, they conveniently disown the problem and simply point at the politicians, as-if all the problems lie just with the politicians. Same way, in Pak, all the problems now are simply with a handful of bad apples, and so people there ask “How dare you blame us because of them?”


  9. I think Arunk has eloquently expressed what I was trying to say. Talk and hope has got us no returns for over 20 years from Pakistan. On the contrary, the situation is getting worse. That is what needs to be recognised so that we don’t keep getting caught again and again due to our misplaced optimism based on the views of very few Pakistanis who do not influence the agenda in Pakistan at all.

  10. Prerna, I’ll have to go with Arun and Vinod here, because that’s where the facts point me to.

    It’s interesting that so many Muslims came out to protest the Danish cartoons. Shouldn’t they be out in similar numbers protesting the attack done by Islamist extremists belonging to, or backed by terrorist organizations housed in their country? Why there are no protests on the streets among the ummah for an act which harms their religion much more, hints at the reality and why any optimism (about what specifically? I’m not sure.) is misplaced. Pakistan government as well as Pakistani citizens need to act and walk the talk, but when the power lies with the military and not the civilian government, I can see why it’s a tedhi kheer. Merely talking about peace and harmony and doing nothing to root out elements of radical Islam from their midst will only lead to more attacks – both in India and Pakistan.

  11. lallopallo

    Thanks for these links Prerna.

  12. i am sorry prerna… i’ll have to differ on this one.

    kashmir had to end in kashmir. if 0.5% of the columnist can see both sides of the coin other 99.5 % cannot. Resilience cannot be used as an excuse. how will i show my another cheek when he is spraying bullets into another?
    the days of decent negotiations is over. the number of bomb blasts in smaller places other than bombay is too many to list and if you know what VT is like – PACKED SARDINES – is the best description . this is not only about the attacks in bombay.
    how many times pak has been warned. if US were to display the same dilly dallying attitude ..talks, negotioations, discussions… many 9/11’s would have repeated.
    The stick (bullets )has been spared too many times, so the kid (pakistan ) is messing around too much.
    yesterday when my husband was at NYU for his class an american girl bought a candle to him and said ” light it for the people who died in bombay”. i guess for the first time after 9/11 nyorkers understood what it means to feel hurt from a bomb blast

    for me the point is not about the bomb blasts in bombay .. are we waiting for another blasts this time in a series from kashmir to kanyakumari these terrorists are capable of everything ? in order to elicit washington’s reaction they will not stop at anything..

    we need to look at the client who is in front of us and talk (and put forward the proposal), than clubbing all the clients together in one basket. each client needs to be customized – this one will not listen, because pakistan has deaf ears.

  13. To those who are insisting on an all out war with Pakistan, I would say Shanti. You are falling for your overblown Bollywood ego balloon. Neither, India is the US nor Pakistan an Afghanistan.

    India must put its own house in order first. Afterall, for how long can one “shine” on the outside and remain rotten inside?

  14. baryaal,

    Please feel free to use the name of the commentator when you refer to any of their words regarding “all out war with Pakistan.” I doubt that anyone here bites, and using names makes the discussion more engaging. :)

  15. Both the countries have fought many wars together over the past 60 years and if one thing we have learned, that there is nothing for the people/awam/janta in it. If Pakistan will export terrorism to India then that would be a huge blunder at our part.

    The same goes with India if they will impose a war the results wont be all romantic for them as well, cuz Pakistan is military wise capable to face India. But deep down inside we all knw that war is not the answer but the ugly face of the problem.

    Thanks for sharing these links, believe it or not majority of the Pakistanis want peaceful relations with India.

  16. Sober voices…..but are they being heard?

    In an atmosphere where jingoistic rhetoric rules the day, then these three voices will not be registered at all.

    It is also time that we tone down rhetoric on our side too. war is not going to happen.

    The first military doctrine says – You shall not alert the enemy, give him time to prepare and then go to war.

    You cannot have TV channels with their QOTD type schemes deciding for India that war should be declared on Pakistan.

    We are living in emotionally surcharged atmosphere………

  17. Prerna:
    For a real glimpse of Pakistani balance, read this blog in its entirety. It is great fun, and I cannot recommend it too highly.

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  19. Rambodoc, perhaps you are unaware of the fact that 9/11 was also planned and executed by the Jews and Hindus :) There were no Jews in the twin towers when it was hit because they were warned in advance. I have heard that so many times that I can’t even laugh at it.
    We have our own jokers. Have you heard the coverage of India TV, News 24 and Aaj Tak, it is as bad as Pakistani channels. I remember a well respected industrialist commenting after the Babri Masjid demolition that it was done by Hanuman ji. It is not possible for humans to demolish such a large structure in one day. I couldn’t even react. Then we have our Praveen Togadias, so not much difference.
    Mavin, //In an atmosphere where jingoistic rhetoric rules the day, then these three voices will not be registered at all// I agree but these are not just 3 voices there are many more like Asma Jahangir and other columnists but they don’t make interesting reading and more important than that we don’t want to believe they exist.
    Ammar, if war was the solution, we would have the results in 1965 or 1971. We don’t have a choice, we have to find peaceful solutions.
    Baryaal, Afghanistan problem is not solved yet so no point comparing. War was never a solution and will never be.
    Anrosh, we have to keep our house in order. I am under no illusion and know that elements from Pakistan were involved but we have to guard our own people. We can’t sleep with our doors open and blame the robbers for robbing us.

  20. Arun, Zardari is in a very difficult position. If you remember he blamed elements in ISI and Pakistani military when Benazir Bhutto was assassinated. He was in opposition then, as the president of the country he cannot accept that rogue elements from ISI are involved in a ghastly crime like this.
    Amit, perhaps you haven’t noticed the number of muslims that have come out on the streets of Bombay to protest against the Mumbai carnage. Out of 190 killed in the attack 40 were Muslims. Muslim clerics have refused to bury the terrorists. If the Pakistanis could control the Jehadis that easily, do you think that they would be facing these fidayeen attacks so often. We have to find solutions of our problems ourselves. America haters haven’t decreased after 9/11, yet they could prevent further attacks. We need to beef up our intelligence and security, that is the only way out.

  21. Sure he is in a difficult position – but come on – he is the leader. He is posturing about Pak as a nation, territorial integrity etc. etc. IMO, he like Pak leaders in the past likes to play it both ways – because in the end, the trump card is personal and political survival. And thus this is the same difficult position all pak leaders have been before this. Look where it has got *others* into?

    This “we are also the victim” message, even though it has some truth to it, is not going to get much sympathy because in the past when these idiots were killing “others”, it was all fine and dandy to not only to leaders but to the people there too (atleast the significant % who supported it overtly and covertly).

    The “change” has to come from within Pakistan – it can start with the govt, but that is a small start. The change, the outrage must come from the people. The people must own up to the problems created by their nation. They need to finally start wresting control from these non-state actors. It obviously is going to be painful – but they fed the monster (sure it was also fed by western interests).

    We all love to take pride in our nation, and rally behind its name when it does good (wins medals, wins tournaments, wins wars), or when its “manhood” is threatened (like voices in Pak is doing now). At those times everyone loves to sing the same tune. But when serious problems are caused, people in the nation love to disassociate from the problems like “hey its not all us. Only some of us are the real bad seeds”. This is not unique to Pak – all nations have this problem. But right now, the light is on Pakistan – its government and its people. Either they own up to this, or it only gets worse for all of us, including them.


  22. “perhaps you haven’t noticed the number of muslims that have come out on the streets of Bombay to protest against the Mumbai carnage. Out of 190 killed in the attack 40 were Muslims. Muslim clerics have refused to bury the terrorists.”

    Prerna, I thought we were discussing Pakistan and Pakistanis. The recent protests in Pakistan have been anything but to protest against the Mumbai terrorist attacks, going by the reports. Yes, the response of Indian Muslims is admirable and we need to see more of that.

    “If the Pakistanis could control the Jehadis that easily, do you think that they would be facing these fidayeen attacks so often. “

    That’s exactly the point – we need to pressure Pakistan and collaborate with like minds there. No one said it’s going to be easy, but the fact that it’s difficult doesn’t mean we do nothing or don’t put pressure on Pakistan. Just to be clear, I’m not advocating for a war with Pakistan, but if Pakistanis themselves don’t take steps to tackle extremist Islamic ideology which is also destroying their country (recent bomb attack killed 18 in Peshawar), who will?

    “We have to find solutions of our problems ourselves. America haters haven’t decreased after 9/11, yet they could prevent further attacks. We need to beef up our intelligence and security, that is the only way out.”

    I agree that we need to strengthen our own security and that should be a priority, but that’s not a sufficient condition to prevent future attacks. As for USA and this internet meme that they prevented further attacks after 9/11, I’m a bit tired of reading this and it needs some analysis. USA is separated by an ocean on both sides and does not have porous borders with two hostile countries, like India does. So, the fact that USA has not been attacked since 9/11 is not entirely because of their beefed-up security measures, though such measures sure played some part, but I still have to see some evidence that USA prevented some planned attacks similar to 9/11 since then. Just to give you an idea of the time scale involved, the previous attack on WTC before 2001 was in 1993. Besides, USA’s actions in Iraq have been wrong and misguided and bled money. It’s not unreasonable to conclude that the negatives of economic crisis would’ve been mitigated somewhat if millions of dollars were not being spent in Iraq daily, and the focus had remianed on Afghanistan instead.

    It’s also amusing that when it comes to mentioning names, people like Togadia, Thackeray and Modi top the list, whereas incompetent and sycophant names from the ruling party are missing, or are mentioned in a muted voice. Easy targets to avoid introspection and shift the blame perhaps?

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  24. Vivek

    Indeed out of box!!

  25. Vivek, your comment has landed on the wrong post. Thanks anyway.

  26. nice to see there are some sane people on other side of the border.

  27. Welcome Veresh. There are sane and insane people on both sides of the border. Only the numbers may vary.

  28. hi
    good list. it is time that we all ignored idiots on both sides of the border and stop getting all worked up about them.


  29. Thanks Harini calamur.

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