September 24, 2020
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Let's Talk To Us

I, too, am for talks, but NOT with Pakistan. I think we should spend that energy talking to our people in Kashmir. We should ignore Pakistan (apart from, of course, beefing up our border security, and shooting down the infiltrators like mangy dogs).

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All of a sudden, a whole lot of people want to talk to Pakistan. Politicians, socialites, bankers, sportsmen, dukandaars, pimps… everyone’s busy talking about talking with Pak to solve the Kashmir problem.

The talk virus (more contagious than the SARS virus) seems to have infected columnists as well… last Sunday, Vir Sanghvi, in his column suggests that talks are the only hope to finding a peaceful solution. I entirely disagree with this.

No, I am not about to recommend we fly the Agni over Islamabad, nor am I saying we do unto them what they do to us: encourage their minorities like the Sindhis to chuck some stale papads at Musharraf (‘thuk nalata tai, moa!’).

I, too, am for talks, but NOT with Pakistan. I think we should spend that energy talking to our people in Kashmir.

In fact, we should ignore Pakistan (apart from, of course, beefing up our border security, and shooting down the infiltrators like mangy dogs), and I will come to that shortly.

The Punjab experience has taught us that once the local people get fed-up of extremism, and are able to see through Pak’s nefarious designs, they tend to realign themselves with the ‘mother’ nation.

No doubt, the process will take longer in case of Kashmir (mainly because of the majority Kashmiris’ shared religion with our neighbour), but it will eventually happen.

My view is that we must work toward catalysing this process… by making the Kashmiris feel they belong here in India… that this is their true homeland.

Once they begin to get convinced on this score, they themselves will throw the Paki agents out. In any case, the locals do seem to be tiring of violence… the last elections in Kashmir, which, given the rabid situation in that state, were hugely successful, have indicated this, and have offered a foot-in-the-door to Delhi.

Now, the trick is to win ‘hearts and minds’, and one very potent way to do that, is to hire the services of my friends in Upper Worli.

Having worked with the ad world for long, I can confidently tell you there is enough talent and will in the industry to work out short and long-term plans of goodwill-hunting communications, targetted at the Kashmiris.

We need to re-position (pardon the jargon… it’s an old, bad habit) Pakistan in their eyes, we need to convince them that despite our nation’s shortcomings, they are far better off this side of the border.

This, of course, needs to be backed by concrete deeds at the ground level… and Mufti Mohammed Syed’s party seems very serious about gaining affection in Kashmir.

By the way, Pagla Dubya did experiment with this idea; he hired the services of Charlotte Beers, Madison Avenue’s famed ad personality (ex JWT and O&M), with a brief to projecting America in a positive light in the Islamic world.

The results were unremarkable, I might add, only because soon after the good lady showered colourful, lovey-dovey leaflets over the Muslim nations from atop her gas balloon, in came the B52s, dropping tomahawk cruise missiles! So frickin’ American, that.

Onto Pakistan. It is now clearer than ever, our friendly neighbour is on a self-destruct path. Pakistan is a totally screwed-up nation… backward and sick in all spheres of activity, except cricket (there, too, amcha Tendlya recently took their pants off).

Government after government (democratically elected or otherwise), has had the same boring ten-point national agenda: Kashmir, Kashmir, Kashmir, Kashmir, Kashmir, Kashmir, Kashmir, Kashmir, Kashmir and, ahem, Kashmir. (And no, young Ekta Kkapoor has nothing to do with this.)
They win votes based on K, they get the hard-liners fired-up based on K, indeed they survive based on K.

Once the Kashmiris throw them out, Pakistan will self-implode for it will have nothing left to exist for. (Which is the other reason talks are useless with these zealots… they’ll never want to solve the Kashmir problem.)

And even if the Pakis manage to survive, sooner or later the marauding Americans will knock on their door… like they did to Iraq.

Especially after the pro-Osama mad mullahs take control of the nuclear button, a certain eventuality in that fanatic country. And if the Yanks are destined to do our dirty work, why should we lose our breath?

Instead, we grab an apple-pie, some Coke, and watch the action live on CNN.

In conclusion: talks with Pakistan, at any level, is a waste of time and energy. Let’s instead talk to Kashmir. Let’s talk to us.


Courtesy, Sunday Mid-Day. The author can be reached at anil@mid-day.com


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