The new South Asia By Masood Sharif Khan Khattak DATED Saturday, January 03, 2009
Pakistan and India will never go to war again because if they do both will become history. The notion expressed by some Indian and international think tanks claiming that, while India will not be totally destroyed in any nuclear war, Pakistan will be completely annihilated is a fallacy. Let it be said in unambiguous terms that both, Pakistan and India, will perish if a nuclear war breaks out on the Subcontinent and from the ashes of that war will emerge many smaller countries based on blood borders. Therefore, pragmatism must now prevail over emotions emerging from history and religion.
In the envisaged new South Asia it should be possible for all citizens of South Asia to travel freely within South Asia for trade, business, commerce and tourism thus generating colossal mutually gainful activity. Is this impossible over a reasonable time span if pragmatism takes over now?
Don't the Germans, British, French and other Europeans travel freely in Europe today despite some of them having fought each other bitterly in WWII, just 65 years ago? What atrocities did the Germans not perpetrate when they occupied France and Poland? Do we now see any signs of that bitterness in the present generations of France, Poland and Germany? No.
All EU heads of states meet freely for the good of the Europeans and have put WWII behind them. Resultantly, Europe's current generations only strive to further their personal careers. I once asked a well placed British man of about forty what the Battle of Britain was. He had no idea at all. He was focused only on his own future in a multi national corporation.
When the Germans invaded Russia (Operation Barbarossa: June 1941) nearly 30 million people lost their lives due to the fighting and the vicious Russian winters at Leningrad, Kursk, Stalingrad and Moscow. By 1945, in the backdrop of the Normandy landings, Russia too marched through half of Germany which later became East Germany. Comparatively, Pakistan-India wars can only be called skirmishes, yet, they override pragmatism which could bring about an EU style South Asia. Conversely, what happened between Russia and Germany just 65 years ago, though extremely bloody, does not override modern day state pragmatism.
The war demolished Europe of just 65 years ago is the European Union of today having the world's second largest economy. Many EU countries and Russia have awesome military capabilities but none talks of how quickly they can blow up each other and Europe. They only talk about progress in social and economic spheres in their respective countries and in Europe as a whole. It is now time for South Asian leaders to emulate the European leaders.
To achieve this India must understand that if it supports an international war on terror waged against militant organizations of the Islamic world, it must also ensure that the Hindu extremist organizations wreaking havoc within India against Muslims, Christians and other minorities are reigned in. Likewise, whenever India hurls allegations against Pakistan's ISI it must also turn inwards and gauge the activities of the RAW. Today, many Pakistanis believe that the insurgency in Pakistan's northwest is being fuelled by RAW stations in Afghanistan. Like the Europeans, these two nuclear military powers must now take charge and not let the extremist elements on both sides manipulate their destinies.
In accordance with the EU model, SAARC should be converted into a South Asian Parliament exactly as the EU Parliament with every country represented. It is time for South Asia to have its own Brussels. Such an entity will also give a strong say to the South Asian region in world forums without which South Asian countries, including India, will remain pawns in world politics.
Absurd rhetoric about pumping bullets into each other and blowing many millions of human beings to oblivion must stop. Instead, Pakistan and India should start thinking of working towards putting some food, every day, into the millions of hungry stomachs in South Asia.
The writer is a former director-general of the Intelligence Bureau and a former vice-president of PPP Parliamentarians. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org