Sunday, July 16, 2006

Violent Times

It's exhausting. With the world being hard enough to live in as it is, we seem to grasp at every opportunity to make it harder. The whole of last week, I first tried to make sure that acquaintances in Bombay were unhurt after the bomb blasts, and then spent more time getting in touch with Lebanese friends to ascertain that their families were safe after the bombings.

It took Europe two crippling wars to finally come to its senses (well, sort of). I wonder what calamity it would take for the Middle-east and South Asia to rid themselves of this cycle of violence that seems unending.

I wonder if the military elite of Pakistan realizes that there was a time, in the not so distant past, when Karachi was the premier port of South Asia, a bustling cosmopolitan city exporting wheat from the Punjabi hinterland to the entire world. Today it's a city drained of its vitality by sectarian violence, overrun by crime lords and fundamentalist thugs who export a pernicious brand of mindless brutality across the region.

Why do I talk of Karachi in the context of the Bombay blasts? Because actions have consequences. Because you cannot possibly cynically encourage the extremists without having a lot of it spill over in your own backyard. You cannot be encouraging the crime mafia without them setting shop in your neighbourhood, emboldened by your support. You cannot be handing out AK 47s to the Taliban without having a lot of them sold in open markets in Peshawar. You cannot bleed your neighbour without wounding yourself grievously in the process.

And decades from now, when your children look back at the havoc you wrought, both on yourself and your neighbour, they would wonder what happened to Jinnah's hopes and aspirations for a fledgling nation when he said:

The creation of the new state has placed a tremendous responsibility on the the citizens of Pakistan. It gives them an opportunity to demonstrate to the world how a nation containing many elements can live in peace and amity and and work for the betterment of all its citizens irrespective of caste or creed. Our object should be peace within, and peace without. We want to live peacefully and maintain cordial friendly relations with our immediate neighbours and with the world at large."

On each of these counts, the Pakistani leadership over the years has been a miserable failure. And it is the citizens of India who pay a heavy price indeed for their incompetence and cynical hunger for power.

PS: I'm fervently hoping, wishing for a speedy end to the Israeli outrage against Lebanon. Let's hope for an end to this madness.


Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

People have become inured, except when the scabs get torn off like they did last week. I read someone ranting on someone else's commentspace, going, "What have the citizens of Pakistan done about their country?" Yesterday, I was in a restaurant (in Hong Kong) sipping a beer. An old British guy at the bar had the BBC on, with breaking news from Lebanon. I had my back to it, looking out the door. At one point he turned to me and said, "I hope it's not too loud." (He pronounced it "laewd", Cleese style.) I said, "No, just very depressing." The guy *laughed*.

PS. Mind if I blogroll you?

6:19 PM  
Blogger Asheesh said...

Your comment about Israel is completely outrageous. What do you expect Israel to do? Behave like India when their soldiers are kidnapped by Hizbollah (who BTW are part of Lebanese govt. for crying out loud)? Unlike India, Israel has a policy of not negotiating with terrorists and I can only support their policy. What would you like instead a replay of 2000 Kabul scene with Israeli prime minister escorting jailed hizbollah terrorists to Beirut. Israel has taken the only path it can. Don't be swayed by the partisan media reporting whose heart bleeds at death of Lebanses citizens, but have nothing to say about israeli citizens dying. Mind you I donot condone violence by eother side but cannot take anymore of the Arab's being painted as the victims and Israel being the aggresor when the truth is something very complex and never ever discussed in any form of media.

11:12 AM  
Anonymous bongopondit said...

Thalassa: Good post. However, I would nitpick at your use of 'cycle of violence' with respect to South Asia. Unlike Israel, India has never resorted to millitary response against Pakistan (much to the outrage of many Indians). Hence as I see, it has been pretty much one-way violence. I am not talking about the three wars - but terrorist attacks, particularly those aimed at citizens.

@Asheesh: Where exactly was a comment on Israel ? Thalassa simply mentioned getting in touch with Lebanese friends. If she had Israeli friend, I assume she would contact them to find out if their families are okay in Haifa and other border towns.

11:34 AM  
Anonymous bongopondit said...

@asheesh: sorry about the earlier comment - did not see the post-script in the earlier. You are right - the truth is complex.

2:03 PM  
Blogger thalassa_mikra said...

Tabula Rasa: Yes the cynical smile, shrug of shoulders and then we carry on. Please do go ahead and blogroll.

Asheesh: Please calm down. It's a very, very long distance from non-negotiation with terrorists to bombing the living daylights out of a war ravaged country that had only just managed to rebuild itself.

Israel is not targetting Hezbollah alone, it is punishing the entire country.It is destroying Lebanese infrstructure, their airport, port, and highways, in a move that seems very calculated to me. How is that targetting Hezbollah? Speaking of Israeli citizens dying, compare casualties to date:
Israel - 12
Lebanon - 200
(This from the BBC Worldservice website that is quite unbiased about the Middle-east)

All this over 2 soldiers who are still alive. If this isn't an outrage, I don't know what is.

And I do believe I have the intellectual ability to tell propoganda from news on my own, thank you very much.

5:18 PM  
Blogger thalassa_mikra said...

Bongopondit, you are right, and "cycle of violence" is a bit misleading. Though there have always been allegations from the Pakistani side that RAW has helped a range of organizations such as MQM, Shia groups, and now the Balochis in their struggles against the Pakistani government. But yes, I don't think we've ever been accused of bomb attacks against civilians.

And you are right, I do have Jewish friends, but they are not Israeli citizens and do not live in Israel.

5:21 PM  
Blogger The Invizible Man said...

Your statement about two world wars bringing stability to europe is insightful - i just hope we don't need to go through the same experience for our stability. Is experiential learning the only way to progress, I wonder.

7:38 AM  
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9:47 PM  

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