MJ Akbar deconstructs Pakistan

Updated: Jan 14, 2011, 12:53 PM IST

New Delhi: Pakistan may have little hope for peace with India but a settlement with New Delhi will help remove the jihad culture ravaging the country, writes veteran journalist M J Akbar in his new book.

In "Tinderbox: The Past and Future of Pakistan", published by HarperCollins India, Akbar embarks on a historical whodunit to trace the journey of an idea, and the events, people, circumstances and mindset that divided India.

The investigation spans a thousand years, and an extraordinary cast: visionaries, opportunists, statesmen, tyrants, plunderers, generals, and an unusual collection of theologians, beginning with Shah Waliullah who created a `theory of distance` to protect `Islamic identity` from Hindus and Hinduism.

"There might be little hope for peace with India, given the fundamental divergence on Kashmir, but a settlement with India will help excise the jihad culture ravaging Pakistan," says Akbar.

According to the writer, it is comparatively easier for India to come to terms with Pakistan.

"Economic growth and dreams of becoming a part of the first world have begun to dominate the Indian mind. The Indian middle class has begun to appreciate a simple reality: social violence and economic growth cannot coexist. Liberalization has had an impact on lifestyle and attitudes.

"The culture of consumerism has been quickly adopted by the young, while entertainment television is a mirror of sexual liberation and the fusion of Western mores with Indian sentiment."

He says that the most remarkable aspect of this change was that "even terrorism, often exported from Pakistan, and wearing an `Islamic` label, did not feed a backlash in the form of Hindu-Muslim riots, even after the venomous terrorist attacks in Mumbai in 2008."

Akbar feels India is content being a status quo-ist power, determined to preserve its current geography, without serious claims even on territory it believes it has lost to China along the Himalayas and to Pakistan in Kashmir.

"Peace is a logical extension of this position. There is a large and growing constituency in Pakistan that understands this. But unless Pakistan achieves clarity on terrorism, with all its snake-oil justifications, the subcontinent will remain hostage to malevolent mania," he writes.

The book also talks about LeT`s involvement in the 26/11 attacks.

"LeT`s involvement with the terrorist strike on Mumbai is well known, even if Islamabad will not acknowledge this. Britain`s Channel 4 showed an extraordinary documentary in 2009, `Terror in Mumbai`, which contained footage of controllers sitting in Pakistan and communicating with the terrorists in Mumbai on cell phones."

Akbar also mentions how Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari admitted before a closed-door meeting of officials on the evening of 7 July 2009, that conflict with India had bred a nexus between terrorist groups and Pakistan`s intelligence agencies.

"Militants and extremists emerged on the national scene and challenged the state not because the civil bureaucracy was weakened and demoralized but because they were deliberately created and nurtured as a policy to achieve short-term tactical objectives.

Let`s be truthful and make a candid admission of the reality. The terrorists of today were heroes of yesteryear until 9/11 occurred and they began to haunt us as well," Zardari had said.

Akbar also recalls how Maulana Azad made some significant predictions about Pakistan in interviews to Shorish Kashmiri, editor of a Lahore magazine Chattan, 1946.

"The moment the creative warmth of Pakistan cools down, the contradictions will emerge and will acquire assertive overtones. These will be fuelled by the clash of interests of international powers and consequently both wings will separate...

"After the separation of East Pakistan, whenever it happens, West Pakistan will become the battleground of regional contradictions and disputes," Azad had said.

Azad had warned that the "evil consequences of Partition" will not affect India alone.

"Pakistan will be equally haunted by them... We must remember that an entity conceived in hatred shall last only as long as that hatred lasts. This hatred shall overwhelm relations between India and Pakistan. In this situation it will not be possible for India and Pakistan to become friends and live amicably unless some catastrophic event takes place."