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Top ten myths about Pakistan unraveled

January 14, 2009

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?

All posts on Pakistan
All posts on Terrorism

51 Comments leave one →
  1. January 14, 2009 9:14 am

    “India’s nuclear assets are threatened by Hindu extremists”
    Mr.Hanif really has no idea about Indian politics. I agree with you that these Hindu extremists can raise a hue and cry but can never come to power …and even if they do they will change their so called ideologies because they cant win election only with support of those Hindus who agree with their views.

    The basic underlying factor in spoiling Indo Pak relations is jealousy. Nothing else. It all boils down to that. After the same number of years both are at such different positions economic and development wise.

    RAW????? Doing anything?? Thats a good one!

    Mr.Hanif just sounds like any other person who has closed his eyes and says its night time.

  2. abhishek permalink
    January 14, 2009 9:41 am

    Doesn’t Mr. Hanif appear a tad too jingoistic?? I mean some of his myths are utterly ridiculous.

  3. January 14, 2009 10:18 am

    Myth 1: The North West region in Pakistan is controlled by fanatics who revere Jihadis.

    Myth 2: Zardari in a coalition govt. with Mr. Shariff breathing down his neck and with US pressures is comparatively in less control.

    Myth 3: It is the same with India. For outsiders we are the same. Most in India know that Urdu is not everyone’s mother tongue in Pakistan and like Hindi it is a matter of conflict among Pakistanis who choose to converse in Punjabi or Sindhi over Urdu.

    Myth 4: Actually until now I believe it is a myth. But looking at the fast growing fanaticism in North West region, it is alarming for South Asia.

    Myth 5: Pakistan is as failed as India or any other developing country because only the rich are becoming richer but the poor are still the same or poorer.

    Myth 6: It is not. The very basis of the nation is religion. But it needn’t be a bad thing.

    Myth 7: Not All but some. But the feelings are mutual. The reason is our issues which is not political alone.

    Myth 8: I have couple of close friends in Karachi who would vouch that it is not a myth. They don’t even go back home now because every morning there is a bomb blast where couple of people gets killed and it doesn’t even make news. Well! India’s condition is no different when it comes to terror stricken states.

    Myth 9: When our Army doesn’t have much power in the country then what can RAW do?🙂 There can never be a military coup in India.

    Myth 10: Comparatively yes! But not all states. If you take Kerala and compare it to Pakistan then India is rich but you take say, Bihar then there is no difference.

    I apologize, Nita, for hogging the comment space. When I started typing I didn’t realize it would be this long🙂

  4. January 14, 2009 10:21 am

    Brilliant post Nita!
    I think though, at the moment, both the countries have a very limited understanding of what’s going on beyond the fence. I have been in touch with a journalist with Dawn who happens to be one of my closest friends. And right now, the Pakistani media is completely anti-India. And when articles by Hanif, however untrue, can cancel out the anti-Pakistan mission Indian media is on, I would be glad.
    Pakistan is failing to keep check on Jihadis, because it has little or no support from the international community at the moment. It has a lot of fingers pointing at their administration.

    Thanks for a great, thought provoking post.

  5. January 14, 2009 10:54 am

    wow!maybe someone needs to explain the reality to him..maybe he has been seeing too many reality shows? er..I mean NEWS channels?

  6. January 14, 2009 11:07 am

    India’s nuclear assets are threatened by corruption. Has anyone ever thought of that?🙂

    Anyway I hope they are not but somehow I am uneasy about a Nuclear India. Looking at the state of affairs around me I feel that the subcontinent would be better off without Nuclear weapons. Most Indian or Pakistani people have made these weapons a question of ego.

    However I guess I am not the best person to comment on what Pakistan is like because I have never been to that country. I guess in my opinion having been in some other neighbouring countries of India I would say though that Indians can be quite patronizing. That is a something I have heard some Pakistani people say as well. ‘we are better than thou’. attitude.

    Over the years India has lost its sphere of influence in its neighbourhood. It is bogged down in a perpetual struggle on its western borders. It cowers down to its neighbour. It participates in a bitter ethnic struggle albeit indirectly with a southern island neighbour. Supported a dictator for 20 plus years in a tiny Indian ocean country and even militarily intervened to keep him there! Wants to be friends with the world’s ugliest military junta in an Eastern neighbour. I suppose then most Indians take the line ‘we have terrible neighbours and they ‘all hate us’. Perhaps that may be true but what we need to do is change our policies as well if we want more friendlier neighbourhood.

  7. January 14, 2009 11:46 am

    Nita

    In this list, 1, 2, 4 and 5 are related, and so are 3 and 6. In 7, there is a rural/ urban divide of opinion. There is, I daresay, a more extreme view of India and Indians amongst people from PoK than from the rest of Pakistan, for obvious reasons.

    Through the last 40+ years, the Pakistani military is now accustomed to political control. When that is no longer happening, many other internally destabilising things happen which usually succeed in toppling their rare democratic governments and just as soon as the military is back in power, things are a-ok. Musharraf was an Army General, Zardari is not. Much of the power, control and nuclear arms management arguments flow from this relatively simple, unfortunate element of Pakistan’s history.

    Pakistanis are as religious or irreligious as the next bunch of people. At the very least, they are not rabid or extreme in their religious practices as some other devout Muslims are. This is not to say that they are not devout, just that they do not make a drama of it. I have Pakistani friends who break their roza by eating chewing gum and drinking water, especially if they are in a meeting or at work. Minorities – like everywhere else – have a reason to be more religious. They are trying to protect their religious freedoms and identity. This is no different from why NRIs tend to give their children tongue-twisting names like Dwaipayan or Sahasrahant (yes, I have heard both these!) when in India, no kid would be caught dead with these names.

    Like in India, one has to wonder what forms people’s opinions of other countries. We have as much propaganda as they have.

    There are a few Indians and Pakistanis who have links in both countries. Perhaps it would be best to ask their views on this issue. Alas, the only way for Indians and Pakistanis to meet in person remains outside the sub-continent.

    Unless this is possible for all of the 1.2Bn that make India and Pakistan, myths will continue to exist and attempts to demolish them will continue too.Rightly so in my view.

  8. January 14, 2009 12:10 pm

    I wish Indo-pak get rid of the similarly-evil-indo-pak governments and start providing a free trade environment on Individual Voluntary Association!

    I wish a healthy life for every Individual on the Indian subcontinent.

    RAW would never do what ISI does:

    Both the agencies have had a brilliant record of creating mayhem in the neighbouring countries. Both have a dismal record when it comes to protecting their own people. There is a simple reason that ISI is a bigger, more notorious brand name: It was CIA’s franchise during the jihad against the Soviets. And now it’s busy doing jihad against those very jihadis.

    We know it is true and we know how lamely media on both side of boarder deludes us.
    “Government is the disease masquerading as the cure of itself”

    • January 14, 2009 1:36 pm

      Reema, I agree that people like Hanif simply close their eyes to the truth in order to feel peaceful and happy and improve relationships. I do not think this works to improve relationships though.

      abhishek, I think it’s worse than that. Someone who is being jingoistic generally knows at one level that he is being so. But I have a feeling that Hanif actually believes what he wrote.

      Solilo, Your take on the myths is welcome!🙂

      compulsivewriter, thanks. True, the Indian media is being aggressively anti-Pak but as you mentioned the Pakistani media is anti-India too. I think its important that the media took the facts into consideration.

      Vishesh, yeah, some of these news channels are shows and nothing else!🙂 – Nita.

      Odzer, no I haven’t thought of that! And at present I don’t want to!🙂 Enough to worry about. I do agree with what you say about India’s attitude to its neighbours, but well I think the ball is not always in our court.

      Shefaly, thanks. As you say we too are subject to propaganda and overall one needs people who have lived in or are familiar with both countries and are now living abroad (to ensure objectivity) to be able to tell us what is actually happening in Pakistan. I notice that a lot of people defend their country out of a misguided sense of patriotism.

      Gargi, well a situation where there is free flowing love between India and Pakistan can only happen once they abolish the camps that train terrorists to attack India. As long as Indians know that terrorists who are using Pakistan soil are coming freely into India and killing us, I think its difficult and I can only think of it as a romantic expectation. Also you have quoted Hanif in full, but that is exactly what I mean. It is not possible to compare RAW and the ISI. They have a different power equation with their respective governments. And while it is true that our media goes overboard, at least people like us have access to the internet and we can know what others are thinking.

  9. January 14, 2009 1:45 pm

    The article is a farce. He’s absolutely kidding about the influence of RAW on India, when compared to the influence of the ISI on Pakistan. The ISI more or less controls Pakistan, while RAW is a weak bureacratic setup, which was further weakened by Mr. Gujral in 1997.

    Like you said, he is only promoting Pakistan. At a time, when the focus should be ONLY on what Pakistan is doing to eradicate terrorism, Mr. Hanif comes up with such a ridiculous piece.

    Well, Mr. Hanif is a novelist! We know what novelists such as Arundhati Roy in India write! In fact I would say he has written more sense than that! He is coherent at least. – Nita

  10. ruSh.Me permalink
    January 14, 2009 3:53 pm

    ya, I read that article, some time back…!!
    Humorous it was…!!!

    This thing is even more humorous….!!

    Yeah, I read that on lifeofhues blog a couple of days ago. It’s very funny! – Nita.

  11. Chirag permalink
    January 14, 2009 4:01 pm

    Very well written, Nita. Mr Hanif seems a lesser Author so he had to bring in his Paparazzi stint. Was this to sell more or ??? Truth was too hard to digest?

    I think Hanif had good intentions. Quite sweetly written I thought. If I were a Pakistani I might have been touched. – Nita.

  12. January 14, 2009 4:02 pm

    Nita:

    “I notice that a lot of people defend their country out of a misguided sense of patriotism.”

    When some people try to say something critical about their countries, they are generally told that it is unpatriotic to do so, and are strongly cautioned against how it may affect their friends and family.🙂

    Others may ask them – what is _your_ benefit in doing so, as if all benefits must always be personal and/ or quantifiable.

    That is the main reason why very few speak out. Or some wait for an opportune time to speak up.

    PS: I think you know what I am referring to🙂

    Hmm, I know what you mean. But then it depends on how this will affect the person who is being critical. For example if being critical gets everyone to get their daggers out, then it defeats the very purpose of the communication doesn’t it. But if communicating something simply raises awareness and actually helps to solve the problem, it works better for everyone in the long run.🙂 – Nita

  13. January 14, 2009 5:19 pm

    Timely post, Nita.
    And, as usual, unbiased🙂

    Thanks.🙂 – Nita.

  14. wishtobeanon permalink
    January 14, 2009 7:09 pm

    Good post, Nita!
    I wish there was more open communication between Indians and Pakistanis(not between only Muslims of both countries). It would help dispel a lot of myths.

    The only time I met Pakistanis was outside India! Here we don’t get any! And I haven’t found much on blogs either. In terms of friendship – Nita.

  15. January 14, 2009 7:14 pm

    Very incisive post, and enjoyable, too!
    I have nothing to add except (note how some people always get in their views with this word) to say that both countries, especially Pakistan, are victims of their premises. The same premises that made one a theocratic state held hostage by murderous zealots, and the other a melting point of the poor, the misguided, the irrational people on one hand and the exploitative politician on the other.

    Thanks. Well, notwithstanding all that, I think both countries have their moderates. But the moderate voices are always crushed aren’t they. – Nita.

  16. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    January 14, 2009 8:16 pm

    @ Shefaly:

    //…no different from why NRIs tend to give their children tongue-twisting names like Dwaipayan or Sahasrahant…//

    This is by no means unique to NRIs. I know several home-grown individuals with similarly (or more) sesquipedalian names. As to whether they are tongue-twisters or not, it is a matter of what the particular community they belong to considers normative.

    It is unfortunate that names like these, even on Indian campuses, get shortened to Dippy or Sassy. I remember a Qurrat-ul-ain (and boy! was she indeed one!) at college whose name was attenuated to “Curry”, and she ended hitching up with a faculty member called Vishwanath who took great pride in being addressed as “Vish” (behind his back some of us called him “wishy-washy”, which may or may not have been the green monster at work)🙂

  17. January 14, 2009 8:46 pm

    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.
    – Seconded

    RAW would never do what ISI does
    – We would be very safe and happy if RAW would do even a hundredth of what ISI is doing

    Yeah. If RAW did something useful our country would be a safer place. – Nita.

  18. January 14, 2009 9:51 pm

    Hi, Nita,
    I found too many links on your post to make it a genuine read. If what you feel is so true, why do you need so much support?
    This is how myths are formed, rumors become more and more concrete. And common sense flies out the window.
    How I wish Bapu were alive. Thankfully, his thoughts, his goodwill still flows in our blood and I hope that this hatred and fear will be washed away.

    Sorry you didn’t like the links. But that’s how I do my posts. Not for “support” as you put it🙂 but to give information for those who seek more. That is the advantage the internet has over print and I make full use of it. No one need go to the links if they don’t want to – Nita.

    • February 21, 2009 7:31 pm

      GRASSHOPPER
      What would have happened if Bapu was alive?This country is being run like a Pvt Ltd co.
      Talking of Bapu,how many of stood in silence for 2 mnts on 30 th Jan?
      I wrote about this in my blog on Feb 8th”Mahatma..Forgotten”
      If yoy get time,try and read it.

  19. gauri permalink
    January 14, 2009 10:28 pm

    Nita,

    Been reading the past few posts, and thought they made a very good read too. Like most of your recent posts, I don’t have enough b/g or insight to comment on the topic. Thought I’d let you know how informative and enjoyable they were to me all the same🙂

    g

    Thanks Gauri! – Nita.

  20. Naveen permalink
    January 14, 2009 11:18 pm

    That night, when our souls yearned for comfort and tough talk,
    Our politicos read us something emotionless from their old text.
    Finding no answers through the state or its entire machinery,
    Confused, Indians kept looking for their answers elsewhere.

    Dying to be noticed for long, many came out with their agenda,
    For the Hindutva-clan, it is a war on the age-old Sanatana Dharma.
    Bit by Chomsky-syndrome, Radical-Roy dared to call India a monster,
    For marxists, everything has always been a fight of the classes.

    But for me, it is an attack on my country by a foreign conspiracy,
    All I see is -my innocent countrymen tortured, killed and orphaned.
    I care my foot about Pakistan and its politico-economic structure,
    All I wish to see is -Justice and only Justice- for every murder.

    Dr. Hanif, I dare you send a 10-myth essay to your neighbor,
    when your grand-son pelts stone on their expensive windows.
    I don’t know where India derives its vast reserve of patience,
    Is sure a source of inspiration for others, but frustation to me.


    Very moving words. I loved the second last paragraph. – Nita.

  21. January 15, 2009 12:32 am

    Something that caught my most attention was the myth 6 – religious country, does that mean following one religion? or following /having good principles? I hope its the second one and if so, then arent most of countries trying to be religious?

    Somehow Nita, as I said to you before, I personally dont find any difference between us and them…..and if any difference exists its only in behaviour and it could be with any national….its bad to brand all due to some anti elements!

    I used to think, most Indians and even Pakisthanis do think like me – i.e – everyone is same, a common man doesnt hate another common man just coz he is of a diff country! But to my shock/surprise, when I spoke to some of my friends and cousins, Awww they said they dont like Pak! I was dumbstruck!! I dint expect that! But I guess, finally its the basic human nature, to form stereotypes or to conclude things based on a sample!

    • January 15, 2009 9:08 am

      Sahaja, being religious can be religious towards any religion. And as for following good principles, well, religion has these, but whether people follow them or not is nothing to do with being religious. Even atheists can follow good principles but to most people the word religious means someone who adheres to the form of the religion, in the sense of following its rituals and practices. Someone may follow the principles but if he does not adhere to the form of it then people will think he/she is not religious. In poor countries people are usually quite religious, in the sense they go to temples/mosques/churches, celebrate traditional festivals, observe fasts etc. Whether they also observe its principles, that is something that is not possible to measure.
      About your friends not liking Pakistan, well, it is human nature as that country has attacked India time and again. I doubt however that your friends mean individuals. As a country I don’t like Pakistan either, because it is founded on the basis of religion and not being a religious person, and also strongly believing that politics and religion should not mix, I would question the very basis of a state on the basis of religon. And the Pakistanis I met outside India, well, I was friends with them but it was a superficial friendship because they had a strong nationalistic Pakistani identity. I personally am open to criticism about India as you can see from the many posts on this blog, but I find that many people are not and one cannot have a meaningful relationship with anyone (whether Indian or Pakistani) if they do not accept hard facts. Facts which can easily be proven. Also one more thing I noticed about some Pakistanis I knew. If the subject of terrorist attacks by Pakistanis came up, they would immediately start talking about the internal problems of India. I never understood why India’s domestic problems should be used as a shield to deflect attention from the fact that terrorists were coming from Pakistan into our sovereign territory and blowing up innocent men and women and children. Our domestic problems are our own and strongly believe that national boundaries should be respected.

  22. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    January 15, 2009 6:17 am

    @ Naveen:

    Not sure what you mean by Chomsky Syndrome. In the given context it lends itself to at least two interpretations — [1] criticism of the domestic and foreign policies of one’s own country; and [2] opposition to large structures in business, governance etc. There are, of course, several other meanings the term lends itself to. I have never come across a formal use of it, and would therefore welcome clarification.

  23. Naveen permalink
    January 15, 2009 8:59 am

    @Vivek

    Yes, there could be many meanings to the word- ‘Chomsky Syndrome’. In the present context, they mean (in the order of preference):
    1) Shameful self promotion, distorted logic and being outright dangerously- ‘Anarchist’.
    2) Propogandists with an obsession to put the blame of every ill in the world on their democratically elected, non-communist government;
    3) Comparing patriotic soldiers to blood-thirsty terrorists and peace-restoring military action to ‘genocides’.
    4) Being ‘Closet capitalists’- making millions out of their copywrited books and preaching the world the need to redistribute the wealth.
    The list goes on….

  24. January 15, 2009 9:44 am

    Nita, I liked that bit about economic status ‘without dependence on foreign aid’ – Without any rancour at all to individual Pakistanis – I think they need to ask themselves – what has the country achieved in 60 years without American aid?

    Apu, I think they (in this case Hanif) don’t want to think about it. I have no problem in admitting that India is poor, that we are way behind China and Brazil etc. I think one should do some research to find out the difference between reality and opinion on the image of one’s own country. I would hate to be deluded about my country- Nita.

  25. January 15, 2009 2:09 pm

    That was an unbiased post..I appreciate that,bcoz these days it is fashionalbe to hate Pakistan..

    I think it all went wrong when they made a nation in the name of religion..they are neither religious not democratic nor autocratic..(lol,i don’t know the exact word🙂 ) A mess of politics and religion.But honestly,I would blame it on people living there..We have a good system here bcoz of US,the aam admi…Why don’t they make a revolt and change the system..172,800,048 is not a small number..

    We get what we deserve..

    Well, I would say that at one time it was fashionable to like Pakistan. These feelings ebb and flow. And as for them making a change, they are trying but Musharraff set them back by a great many years. – Nita.

  26. Sudhir Jatar permalink
    January 15, 2009 8:16 pm

    Nita, you have done an excellent analysis giving all the pros & cons. I would like to add under, “RAW would never do what ISI does”: When Gujral was PM, he disbanded the covert capacity of India to carry out sabotage abroad by disbanding the unit that handled it. This is well-known and Hanif should know it. Hanif is a hypocrite in my view.

    That’s true, our RAW is quite incapacitated and I think it was done deliberately. – Nita.

  27. Vinod permalink
    January 15, 2009 8:34 pm

    I’m so waiting for a good period of peace between India and Pakistan. I just want to taste some of those Lahori kababs.

    I guess it’s going to be some time because the way things are now if you go to Lahore they might arrest you for being an Indian spy!🙂 – Nita.

  28. January 15, 2009 8:46 pm

    Very well analysed, Nita.
    I agree with Shefaly, sometimes we tend to defend our country because of a misguided sense of patriotism. The reason could be that we usually follow our side of the story and form an opinion based on what is being fed to us through our leaders and some segments of media. To have a balanced view we need to have an open mind.

    Thanks Prerna. Actually Shefaly was referring to something else, but yeah I guess she does believe that! And I think that there is an element of hypocrisy that Sudhir pointed out. In the sense one knows the facts but deliberately tries to confuse the issue because of ego. – Nita.

  29. January 15, 2009 10:40 pm

    Is he debunking the myth or is he agreeing it’s a myth. I am confused.

    Yes. tats wat we Indians think of Pak

    Those are the myths (in bold letters) which Hanif thinks Indians hold. – Nita.

  30. January 16, 2009 12:07 am

    Nita, I personally have no issue with Pakistan being a country based on a religion. Perhaps there was no practical reason for Pakistan coming into being but there was a very strong emotional one. The Muslim League did lead what was a mass movement in British India and the provinces that comprise Pakistan did comprehensively vote for the League in the assembly elections. The movement did enjoy popular support. So its a bit unfair to say that Pakistan was formed based on religion, really it was formed on the basis of a mass movement based on religion. There is a difference.

    No one can deny that things could have been different, there is a unity within the sub-continent, if nothing else a geographical and historical unity but that need not translate into political unity. By the same token there are also huge differences within the sub-continent, linguistic, religious and caste-based, but that need not translate into political disunity as India has shown.

    I think a lot of Indians do look down upon Pakistan, they are dehumanized to some extent by us. I dont think we realize that of all the people in the world they are the most similar to us, especially North Indians.

  31. January 16, 2009 12:11 am

    For some reason, my comment has gone into moderation.

    • January 16, 2009 9:05 am

      Vikram, well, that is a fine distinction you made. I do see what you mean, but for me it is difficult to like Pakistan. My dad fought a war against Pakistan and I come from an Army background. I do not see Pakistan as “Muslim” or “Non-Muslim” or whatever, but simply as a hostile and aggressive neighbour. I think in all this seeing ethnic and cultural and religious similarities we need to keep in mind that Pakistan today is hostile to India. In fact I do not think anyone should see conflicts in terms of religion/ethnicity, but if the state is influenced by religion (God forbid if the RSS comes to power in India!) then conflicts get tinged with a religious hue. In fact even in the israel palestine conflict I do not see it as Jews vs Muslims. But a case of a big bad bully trying to crush a small helpless people because of some paranoic belief in being threatened. In any case I do not know much about the that conflict, and in any case it’s irrelevant to this post. I think as long as religion is mixed iwth politics we are going to have a lot of bloodshed in this world. Religion is the fuel and politics the goal.
      About why your comment went into moderation, I think there must be some word in your comment that is on my moderation list. I keep adding something or the other and can never figure it out!

  32. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    January 16, 2009 10:19 am

    @Nita:

    //…(God forbid if the RSS comes to power in India!)…//

    As far as I know the RSS is not, nor does it claim to be, a political party, so your fear may be misfounded. Of course there are some officially designated political parties which are ideologically affiliated to it. But that’s another matter. We have already had one such party that headed a coalition government and lasted its full term, doing no worse or no better than the major alternative party which (singly or in coalition) claims to be secular.

    You are right about the RSS. And I guess you mean the BJP. But I do not see the BJP as an extremist party, and certainly when Vajpayee was heading it, it was not following an extremist Hindutva agenda. – Nita.

  33. January 16, 2009 8:01 pm

    “I dont think we realize that of all the people in the world they are the most similar to us, especially North Indians.”

    Vikram, what has similarity – and by similarity, you probably mean food, some language, clothing – got to do with peace and harmony between two neighboring countries? It’s the similarity of ideas that matters more when it comes to relationship between India and Pakistan, less so whether we all share a love of jalebi and kababs and Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan. And maybe Pakistanis need to realize the same thing that you are saying instead of sponsoring terrorism that kills people who are most similar to them, especially North Indians.

    Yours is a standard argument brought forth by the “South Asians” which sounds good but doesn’t quite stand up to a closer scrutiny.

  34. January 16, 2009 8:05 pm

    “You are right about the RSS. And I guess you mean the BJP. But I do not see the BJP as an extremist party, and certainly when Vajpayee was heading it, it was not following an extremist Hindutva agenda.”

    Nita, I have a request for a post, whenever you get to it, on what items from the BJP’s platform you consider “extremist Hindutva agenda” and why. That should make for an interesting discussion.

    I would love to do a post on this, although it is a very sensitive topic and I have to be prepared for a lot of abuses!🙂 Just joking! Yeah, I guess it will be a good discussion. The problem is that there are so many individuals with different views in the BJP that it becomes difficult to say what is the party line. But I guess one can just take these various views and see which ones are rational and which ones are not. Will start thinking on it. thanks. – Nita.

  35. January 17, 2009 12:19 am

    Amit, I said “if nothing else a geographical and historical unity but that need not translate into political unity.” My comment was to point out two things, one that we cant invalidate the idea of Pakistan just because it is based on religion, because the creation of the new nation had mass support. And that even though Pakistan is politically very different from India, that cannot sever thousands of years of historical and cultural bonds.

    The South Asia thing is used often by immigrants from the sub-continent, mostly because once abroad they mostly carry our culture but not their political ideology.

    Obviously, I recognize that India and Pakistan have very very different foundational ideologies and principles. A simple Constitutional review committee freaks us out, the day of adoption is one of only 3 national holidays, they have had 3 or 4 constis and for many there the Koran is above the consti.

  36. January 17, 2009 12:20 am

    I meant to say, The South Asia thing is used often by immigrants from the sub-continent, mostly because once abroad they mostly carry their culture but not their political ideology.

  37. January 17, 2009 6:08 pm

    My eyes popped out at this – “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 was taking it as an intelligent write up by Hanif, but I am sorry, I chuckled at this one.🙂
    Also, I would like to add that there are certain factors you can’t pass off as myths when the world has ample proof. They are also trying to pass off the involvement of Pakistan in the Mumbai attacks as a myth but there are proofs to make us think otherwise.

  38. January 18, 2009 9:12 am

    I feel the write-up of Hanif seeks to score marks from a lazy examiner who just awards marks on seeing the number of points elaborated. A clever trick, a puerile anagram, so to say!

    Nanda
    http://ramblingnanda.blogspot.com

  39. Vishal permalink
    January 19, 2009 8:12 am

    Nita, nice article.

    I wrote about this several weeks ago (http://vishal12.wordpress.com/2009/01/04/ten-myths-about-pakistan/) on my blog.

    Hanif’s #10 (that Indians think that most Pakistanis hate India) reminds me of Thomas Theorem “If men defined situation as real, they are real in their consequences.”

    Loved Hanif’s debut novel, A Case of Exploding Mangoes, by the way.

  40. vasudev permalink
    January 26, 2009 5:08 pm

    India is no worse a lier.

  41. vasudev permalink
    February 21, 2009 10:10 pm

    link to BKC’s post on main page is leading upwards on subject page…

  42. vasudev permalink
    February 21, 2009 10:13 pm

    sorry! my mistake! i think his was a specific ‘reply’ to grasshopper.

  43. February 22, 2009 7:47 am

    NITA,
    Very well written.
    You might like to read”Pakistan..face the reality” in myblog of 02/02/09 It covers an article by S M .Mohmand ‘

  44. sunil kumar permalink
    March 12, 2009 6:52 pm

    very true article… Btw… who belongs to Hindu Extremists…?#%?

  45. Milind Kher permalink
    March 12, 2009 9:53 pm

    Pakistan would have been a wonderful country if it had lived up to Mr Jinnah’s vision for it, where “Muslims would cease to be Muslims, and Hindus would cease to be Hindus, not in the religious sense..but in the political sense”.

    However, after the passing of the secularist Jinnah, the influence of Maududi and his ilk begano to grow. It is this core which is obsessed with religion – not the average Pakistani.

    I do believe that if the governments of the two nations genuinely cooperated, militancy and terrorism could be crushed.

  46. Catalyst permalink
    October 17, 2009 7:08 pm

    Well in my opinion these 10 myth are injuring Pakistan more than it is to India. Bottom line is most people in both societies have lost humor. I think there is big communication gap between both the people and things really arent that bad once you get to know each other and keep countries away from discussion. Pakistan is home to moderates in majority. India shouldn’t try to pose as a superficial friend that tends to be concerened about the well being of Pakistan only to outline the bad things happening in Pakistan and then expect from Pakistan to shower India with roses and praises. Both of the coutries are equally jealous of each other. Which at times can be healthy but if viewed in the light of wisdom. I think India as a bigger country in terms or area, population, diversity and other metric would naturally have more problems than Pakistan. It depends of how much you are willing to accept it instead of posing that all is rosy on this side of the border, what about yours? Unlike India Pakistan is subject to International Playing ground for the West, Arabs, Middle East, China and then the religious elements. Poor Pakistani people wish to keep all of them happy. It is really unfair to paint the whole picture to be the fault of Pakistan. Pakistan is not the Arms producer nor has the finance to fund such long lasting war zones. Global Powers hold the stakes along with the Army when needed. This is the dilemma of a pro western diplomacy in Pakistan. Pakistan has also been a victim of hypocricy from day one. Be it from it’s neighbors or the West. Both having their own interests.

    Religious extremism can’t be neglected be it Hindu, Muslim, Christians or Jews as the fanatics tend to follow strick interpretation of their version of understanding. India can’t deny the religeous extremism that it has witnessed in the last decade. One should not be obssessed with only chances to bash Pakistan whenever they get the chance and same for Pakistan. Politicians & Military from both countries have made golden chapaties from various issues facing both the nations. It is for the people to realize what is right and what is worng and not view a whole crowd with an eye or paint all with a single color. That is what I follow in terms for India, home to a billion. Not all are the same. Definetly it even hosts more wise people than Pakistan. There thoghts should be the same aswell.

    Having said all that, we should always work on improving relations. With neighbors being the most critical relation. You may be related and may be not / like them or may not, but you can’t replace or change them. You need to accept them and live with them. Thier interest would be your interest & their peace would be your peace and vice versa. Foreiegn powers will come and go. Yet both India & Pakistan or their people will remain in this region. There should be more people to people contact that would help clear alot of myth. I think Mr.Hanif made his point well by not choosing any ones side. There is message in it for both Indian & Pakistani prospectives. Specially for those who are thinking they are better then the other…😉

    Peace!

  47. mahir permalink
    February 26, 2010 3:58 pm

    nice myhths :]

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