The leaders’ hugs in Lahore and the smugglers’ handshakes across the laser walls on the border represent the stark contradictions in the Indo-Pak Sub-continent!
Some time back there have been some interesting happenings on the Indo-Pak border and almost simultaneously between the leaders of the two countries which have starkly demonstrated the contradictions galore in the sub-continent. For a pretty long time one has been hearing about the growing bonhomie between the leaders of the two countries which have otherwise been perennially at war with each other. The bonhomie between the top leaders has always been followed by some unfortunate incidents involving innocent people. It is every time alleged that these incidents are meant to derail the talks intended for a rapprochement between the two countries. Here, an important question crops up. Who are these people who want to derail the talks? Why are they always successful in striking at the heart of imminent peace in one country or the other? However, the moot point is do these leaders really want to develop the bonhomie and also do they really have the power and capacity to do so?
The answers to these questions are simple. There are very strong vested interests on both sides of the divide who are beneficiaries of conflict. These vested interests are not only on the local level but are spread globally. First are the global armament dealers from the west. India is the largest importer of arms in the world. Pakistan spends more than 20% of its budget on defence. Among the arms manufacturers and exporters, the number one is USA whose share exceeds $ 500 billion! American economy to an extent is also dependent on conflict. The more the conflict areas in the world, the more is the sale of armaments whose production provides jobs to Americans. Once the famous Lockheed Company had issued a poster that “Peace in the world means lesser jobs for Americans”! They claim to be the leaders of the “Free Democratic World” but are in fact aggressive super cops going to extremes for their own selfish ends. Most of the violence in the last century and the beginning of the present one can be attributed to them. In addition to this, Europeans too benefit from armament sales. There is always a competition between European and American manufacturers to sell combat aircraft to India!
After the global vested interests, come the native players who benefit from the conflict. Both the countries have massive security organisations including scores of intelligence agencies which are relevant only as long as there are chances of a conflict between the two countries. Members of all these organisations are brainwashed to consider the other side as the enemy side. Both sides help and keep in circulation civilian outfits to target each other and create grounds for a perennial conflict. Sanghis and Jihadis are nursed on two sides by the governments to keep their powder dry in case of an urgent need. In fact, on this side now the government itself is being run by Sanghis. Across the border, the extremists had been nurtured by politicians for their survival but ultimately they started consuming them! Because of this head-on collisions took place between the two sides. On both the sides the extremist elements have infiltrated most of the organisations and institutions. Sometimes the aims of these extremist organisations in the two countries coincide with each other.
An interesting bonhomie is between the smugglers on two sides. They work across the laser walls and are quite friendly with the border guards. Interestingly, during the Pathankot incident, some personnel of the Border Security Force were arrested for having leaked the laser wall maps to smugglers who had helped the terrorists to cross the border unnoticed. India has been building electrified fences, concrete walls and now laser walls to keep people out. However, these walls in fact keep the common people out while the extremists and smugglers find ways to cross these. The walls being built to keep people out make the infamous Berlin Wall look like a child’s play! In view of all these vested interests and the measures being taken to keep the common people from meeting each other, the real bonhomie between the two countries seems a distant dream. The only way towards real peace is to have absolutely free movement across the divide on the pattern of the European Union which will allow the people living in two countries to freely mix and share each other’s’ experiences. One had thought that the SAARC would one day become like the EU but unfortunately, in the present circumstances it appears a utopian dream. To realise that dream we would need to produce leaders way beyond present Modis and Shariefs! The only silver lining is the younger generation on two sides which may go forward with a clean slate to usher in the real bonhomie!