Comment: The silly season is upon us again

Asking insignificant individuals like Fawad Khan to leave India isn't going to make any difference to India-Pakistan relations.

Rajeev Pai

It’s the season for patriotism nuts again.

First, some clarifications: I have never been to Pakistan. I don’t know anyone from Pakistan. I am not one of those candlelight wallahs who periodically gathered at Wagah some years ago calling for people-­to-­people contact and peace.

I do not believe India and Pakistan can co-­exist peacefully so long as the rulers of Pakistan insist on living in 1947. I do believe that if the people of Pakistan cannot, or will not, put their rulers (read: the army) in their place, the only lasting solution for peace in the region is the dismemberment of what remains of Pakistan. And no, I am not afraid of nukes falling into the hands of terrorists. The nukes are already in the hands of terrorists (read: the Pakistani army).

That said, I do not for a moment subscribe to the nonsense that masquerades for patriotism every time terrorists strike at India. If you can’t hit Pakistan, or at least the ISI, don’t try to make up by hitting insignificant individuals, be it Fawad Khan now or Ghulam Ali and the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan in days gone by.

Let’s be realistic. Asking actor Fawad Khan to speak against his country’s government or threatening Pakistani artistes to stop working in India isn’t going to make a whit of a difference to General Raheel Sharif and Gang. Nawaz Sharif may be moved, but nothing of any significance moves on his word in Pakistan. He remains prime minister mostly in name.

Nawaz Sharif is a realist, a businessman at the core. He knows there is money, lots of it, to be made trading with India. He knows bilateral cooperation could lift Pakistan out of the morass it is stuck in. That is why he has always struck a good rapport with several prime ministers of India, including Atal Bihari Vajpayee in the late 1990s and Narendra Modi today. But the last time he tried to overrule the army, he found himself in exile.

That is because the generals are also realists. They know that once India and Pakistan settle their differences, that will be the end of their evil empire of business, corruption and loot inaugurated by Ayub Khan and nurtured over five decades by his successors. There will be no reason for Pakistan to maintain the world’s sixth largest army, half the size of India’s, to defend a country that is less than one-­fourth India’s size (in area) with about a sixth of India’s population.

Moreover, the patriotism nuts need to look at their own record. When superstar Aamir Khan spoke up about political issues, whether it was the Narmada movement in 2005 or the rise in intolerance last year, he was shouted down and called vile names by the same people who are now asking Fawad Khan to speak up or leave. Even an actor of Aamir Khan’s stature couldn’t change hearts with his comments. To now pretend that Fawad Khan can do better with a crazier bunch is rich.