Last week was a particularly interesting one for me for two developments. Without embellishments, I simply take my readers to those two developments and leave them to come to their own conclusions.
The first one was a copy of a letter that my friend Sultan Fazelbhoy sent to The Secretary of State of the USA Ms. Hilary Clinton. I reproduce it here.
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON
Secretary of State, Washington D,C., USA
September 09/09/10 From SULTAN FAZELBHOY. India
AN INDIAN MUSLIM, and NOT a Muslim Indian
My considered thinking at age 82 for a revised
route to Indo-Pak relations in the fundamental
interest of the common man.
I was in DC recently after about 20 years, reading local media avidly and interacting with a variety of
persons. The situation in our sub-continent is most disturbing and frustrating, and getting worse. Having participated in our freedom movement over 60 years ago, I earnestly want to see a change for the better in our bilateral relations before I leave this planet.
I think with your talent and courage you are the very best person to initiate a new direction by your persuasive powers. I am confident the President will be supportive. Will you consider and use the aspects suggested below ?
1 Indian Muslims do NOT need the Pak umbrella to protect our interests. We can look after ourselves; for example our former Muslim President Abul Kalam was NOT a stooge of any political party, and was much loved for himself; Azeem Premji of Wipro (leading IT company) was a few years ago the richest individual in the country, on merits, though a Muslim. Our current star in the world of music, A. R. Rehman is a Muslim. These are but three symbols of the scope for talent and determination, regardless of religion, in our secular, composite India.
2 The main purpose of politics is the welfare of the people, not acquisition of more territory or more power. Political leaders are constantly sacrificing this fundamental moral principle by their deeds and in their thinking. Pak leadership has to be brought back to deciding and choosing their moral values
3 Pakistan lost it’s claim to Kashmir after initiating and losing two wars against India. The legal and technical battle ends there, not to be revived every now and then
4 India is certainly NOT enemy Number ONE for Pak. We do have a benign and spiritual leadership in our
country. A large part of original India was released to THE YOUNGER BROTHER over 60 years ago to fulfill their ambitions and since then India has not attempted to reclaim any part of it. IT IS NOT LIKE ISRAEL AND PALESTINE, warring over land.
5 India has returned 90,000 prisoners to Pak without much hassle and repaid large monies due to them out of a sense of moral duty
6 Economically India has made much faster and greater progress than Pak. WHY ? it is our “COMPOSITE SECULAR CULTURE”, however imperfect it may be. Pak needs to analyse why they have been left behind, and face the truth: a common faith can only do so much for unity and not endlessly.
7 KASHMIR : as a businessman since over 50 years, if my enterprise was loss making, would I add another unit which is also loss making and troubled to my own business? and to what purpose ?
8 The millions of Rupees poured into defense and attack has only resulted in lost lives, destroyed families, led to frustration and fear. The cancer continues to daily corrode our body politic
9 Seeing the economics of Pak, the Kashmiri is NOT NOW interested in merging with them, which may have been the case in the early years after Partition due to religious sentiments and fervour
10 Friendship between India – Pak, with no border disputes as between USA and Canada, will yield far better fruit to the common man than the seemingly endless “war” for what is increasingly a lost cause
11 Earning Kashmir from India will NOT be a panacea for all problems between the two countries as mooted by them. In fact it will encourage them to fight long and hard and with violence for other benefits too, as for example the water sharing situation.
12 I do feel that only a hard headed and experienced diplomat like you, with the backing of an understanding and visionary President, can bring about a change in mind set in the younger brother.
13 At stake is the long term benefits of friendship with a stronger power, (Pak should accept they are not equal as of now,) with no enmity for them. There will be greater availability of much needed cash flow for the upliftment of the common man, specially in these recession times which most likely will not be over too soon. This can bring votes for far thinking parties.
14 Whatever business acumen I have after a working life of over 55 years, tells me to cut my losses as fast as possible, restore a healthier cash flow, and concentrate on success in priority areas (first things first)
15 FINALLY THE NUCLEAR WEAPONS: India has over a 100 warheads, Pak around 60. Are these necessary even in times of major differences in perspectives? Even 5 or 10 bombs would cause enough damage to cripple both countries. Then why the continuing expense in cash starved economies on hundreds of warheads that will never be used ?
16 I would like to see India announce an immediate UNILATERAL reduction of at least 50% in nuclear weapons. Even if Pak does not follow suit, what will it matter in terms of national security, when common sense says we will never use 5 to even 10 % without mutual destruction.
17 I think democratic India can do this without harm to the politicians hunger for votes by any and every means. Fear should not be the mainspring in this decision. (This can apply to USA & Russia too)
18 I hope I have spoken some sense and look forward to your country’s forceful influence over our difficult and perhaps misguided neighbour. History teaches that economics and merely the pious practice of one’s faith do not always blend well.
19 I pray in all earnestness for “Aman ki asha” — hope for peace, good health, security, jobs and
mutual love in our sub-continent . . .
Sultan is an activist even at this age!
The next one is a BBC news item which kind of brings hope to Indians like me.
That they lost in the finals is of no consequence. That they went up to the finals in one of the toughest tournaments in the world is heartening.