April 14, 2021
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Too Right, 1971 Should Tell Indians All They Need to Know About Pakistan

Too Right, 1971 Should Tell Indians All They Need to Know About Pakistan

Outlook carried an article by Pakistani author Khurram Hussain, To Understand Pakistan, 1947 Is The Wrong Lens purporting to tell Indians something about Pakistan that he thinks Indians don't know.

Here is a quote:

"But again, no one in India accounts for 1971 when making such grand universalising (and, if I may add, genuinely noble) plans for the future of the region. Pakistani intellectual elites share with their Indian counterparts the normative horror of what the West Pakistani military did in the East. How can anyone in their right mind not deem such behaviour beyond the pale? But horror does not preclude abiding distaste for the Indian state's wilful opportunism in breaking Pakistan apart. It is for this reason that while the intellectual classes in Pakistan, especially the English language press and prominent university scholars, have almost always condemned their state's involvement in terrorist activity inside India proper, they have remained largely quiet concerning Kashmir. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. Kashmir does not seem so different to them than East Pakistan."

Here's the full article.

1971 is indeed the right measure with which to understand Pakistan, but not in the way the author paints it. Khurram Husain's token pieties about "such behavior" (can he come up with even less judgmental terms, maybe?) notwithstanding, this kind of bogus moral equation between Kashmir and Pakistan's 1971 genocide sums up the problem that is Pakistan,  more clearly than any sophistry by that country's intellectuals. "Moral bankruptcy" is not too strong an expression to describe their continuing indifference to the realities of what their country did in 1971.

As for Pakistani concerns about India's plotting against them, even pretending for a moment that there is actually something to that,  they still fail to consider that it would  make perfect sense for India to take firm and assertive action in Kashmir and elsewhere to forestall and roll back any additional expansion by a military power that represents a monstrous culture and a mindset that (a) slaughters and rapes a mind-boggling number of its own citizens because they were not proper Muslims, or short, dark and lungi-wearing instead of tall, fair & salwar-wearing--these were the Pakistanis' actual stated moral justifications in those less artful times--and (b) seems perfectly content to remain what they have shown themselves to be, by virtue of (a). I mean, they don't exactly say that they are proud of what they did in 1971, but as a culture and a nation, they don't seem all that ashamed of it, either, in the way that the Germans learned to be ashamed of their Nazi doings. (And yes, that's a perfectly fair analogy, if anything a bit unfair to the Nazis who took about a decade to exterminate 7 million or so, while the Pakistanis took less than 6 months to kill upwards of a million. And mass rape wasn't part of the Nazi agenda, albeit for their own sick reasons.)

This article is a perfect example of what is really wrong with what is sadly, an example of perhaps the best and most thoughtful brains that Pakistan has to offer--they can't, or won't, come to terms with the fact that there is something wrong with being focused on their loss to what they consider an inferior "Hindu" India, all the while having no interest to speak of in examining what it is about their civilizational mindset that makes it all right for them to blithely gloss over one of the most sickening crimes against humanity their country committed in 1971.

Most Indians, and certainly those that were alive in 1971, understand this instinctively (and this understanding is not just conveniently confined to the Indian "state" either but extends to the people), but are generally too polite or otherwise inhibited to say it out loud. That reticence probably accounts for what I'll charitably call this author's confusion. Others might see it as classic Pakistani sophistry that is meant to manipulate a generation of young Indians who might be unfamiliar with the historical and human realities of what happened in 1971.

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