Top ten myths about Pakistan unraveled
Plenty of Pakistani as well as Indian commentators have written about the “Ten myths about Pakistan” (in the Indian media) by Mohammed Hanif, Pakistani author of ‘A Case of Exploding Mangoes’. Expectedly most Pakistani commentators felt that Hanif was mostly right (going by the comments on the posts) and most Indians felt that these 10 myths were not credible.
Here they are in brief, but if you want to read them in detaill, go to this link.
Myth 1: That Pakistan, or Pakistan’s government, or the Pakistan Army, or the ISI, or the rogue elements from the ISI, control the Jihadis. Well, I have not read this anywhere in the media, not explicitly, and nor do I know any Indians who believe this. What I have read however is that the Jihadis exert an influence on the Pak government and that elements in the ISI and/or the Army have Jihadi sympathasers. If this wasn’t so, the JUD would have been banned as per the directive of the United Nations.
Myth 2: Musharraf was in control, Zardari is not. True, Indians believe this and I do not think of it as a myth. While it is true that Musharraf was also not completely in control, no one doubts that Zaradari is less in control than Mush was. Immediately after the Mumbai attacks Zardari tried to take charge but was pushed into the background. Today his voice is not heard at all.
Myth 3: Pakistan is very diverse, not only ethnically but politically as well. I think intellectuals in India know this, but it is true that the Indian media talks of Pakistan as a whole, as one political and ethnic entity. But I think this isn’t something odd, because the media, and not just ours, often talks in this fashion of most countries that it writes about.
Myth 4: Pakistan’s nukes aren’t under control. Now, if this is a myth then I am guilty of it. A recent article in the International Herald Tribune tells us that there is a danger of Pakistani nukes falling into extremist hands, if the government falls. If Mr. Hanif says that “Pakistan’s nuclear programme is under a sophisticated command and control system” I believe it, and the IHT article says so too. But Hanif goes on to say that the nukes are “no more under threat than India’s nuclear assets are threatened by Hindu extremists.” I think Hanif shows a total ignorance of Indian politics. Hindu extremist parties do not have the kind of background and power that the Taliban or the extremists wield in Pakistan. The Hindu extremist parties do not conduct global terror attacks, are not linked to global terror networks, and they do not have power over our government. Also getting hold of a nuke and threatening the nearest country is not on their agenda. Their do not have “foreign” ambitions, which is to stop the suffering of Hindus in other nations.
Myth 5: Pakistan is a failed state: Hanif calls this a myth but it all depends on what one’s definition of a failed state is. The 2007 Failed States Index which uses about dozen social, economic, political, and military indicators to evaluate whether a state can be termed a failed state shows Pakistan at number 12 and India at 112. The top 60 states are considered to be in a critical state. Hanif says that if Pakistan is a failed state, then the “Pakistanis have not noticed. Or they have lived in it for such a long time that they have become used to its dysfunctional aspects”. If this is so, it is indeed sad.
Myth 6: Pakistan is a deeply religious country. I don’t think this is a myth at all, and to say that it is a myth because religious parties do not win elections is an odd statement. Why should the barometer of religiosity be whether religious parties win elections? India is a deeply religious country (92% of Indians are religious) as well but most of the time it is the Congress, a secular party, who wins the elections. Overall though I think in India at least elections are won on issues.
Myth 7: All Pakistanis hate India. Mr. Hanif has presumed that Indians think like this, and maybe it’s true. I don’t know. From what I know, more Pakistanis hate India than vice versa. Not knowing a sufficient number of Pakistanis I have to depend on surveys and a pew survey says (urban) that while 50 percent of Indian have an unfavorable opinion of Pakistan, about 67 percent of Pakistanis have an unfavourable opinion of India. But ofcourse one does not know whether Pew conducted this survey in the provinces of Sindh, Baluchistan, and NWFP which Hanif claims do not have “any popular anti-India sentiment.”
Myth 8: About militant training camps Mr. Hanif says that “there are militant sanctuaries in the tribal areas of Pakistan but definitely not in Muzaffarabad or Muridke.” This is a most surprising statement. The whole world has satellite proof of training camps, and they exist in urban and developed areas of Pakistan as well.
Myth 9: RAW would never do what ISI does. Amazing that anyone would think of this as a myth as RAW has no power in India. It is simply an arm of the government, and that too a weak one. Hanif goes on to equate RAW (the Indian Intelligence agency) and the ISI, although he admits that the ISI is a bigger “brand name” but he blames it all on the CIA. RAW lacks not just power in India, it is also widely believed to be inefficient by Indians.
Myth 10: Pakistan is poor, India is rich: Well, certainly India is not rich, but if Mr. Hanif insists on a comparison, yes Indians do believe that they are rich as compared to Pakistan. What about India’s GDP, economic growth rates, number of industries, infrastructure, stock markets, the percentage of middle classes, literates, most important the lack of dependence on aid.
Hanif’s article appeared in an Indian newspaper, but few people in India will buy his arguments. His write-up is more like a promotion of Pakistan and if it is so, it’s fine and should not be taken seriously. But unfortunately it is being taken seriously as Hanif is a respected soul. Hanif’s “myths” also reveal his denial of the facts. By pretending that RAW=ISI or that India’s poverty can be compared to Pakistan’s, or that Hindu extremists=Muslim extremists in terms of their reach, there is a certain amount of delusion here.
Related Reading: Some opinions of India from Pakistan
How much of Pakistan is sympathetic to the extremists?
Failed States of the world
Benazir’s assassination benefited Musharraf
Kashmir – what is the future?