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Sunday, 15 June 2014

SAARC Leaders Meet in Delhi: Did Modi And Sharif as Democrats Transcend Borders to Unite Against The Pak Army?

(Modi took a bold step and invited SAARC leaders for his swearing in ceremony as PM. Nawaz Sharif, who met Modi found the talks more fruitful than expected. Was there more than what meets the eye in their talk?)

The Bold Invitation by Mr Modi
Modi won a landslide victory in the recently concluded elections in India. While that was a surprise, his invitations to all the SAARC heads of governments to grace his swearing in ceremony was a bigger surprise for one and all. Almost as an export, the surprise even landed in Pakistan.

With the ball being unexpectedly thrown into their court by an uneasy neighbour, who was assumed not to follow 'love thy neighbour', unsure Pakistan was certainly in disarray. Although, complete suddenness and 'go we lose not go we lose' situation made the political decision hard, not having a single power centre made it harder. Though external cause was blamed, a delayed yes from the army possibly delayed PM Sharif's yes. In addition, Pakistani brains airing venom against Modi in its TV, didn't make things easy.

The Opposition at Home
It wasn't "all is well" on the Indian side either.

Although, inviting Sri Lanka's genocide accused President Rajapaksa did raise resentment in the south, sticking to the Hindi heartland like what the canvassing politicians did, media focused on the ever so headline grabbing juicy Indo Pak relations. And Indian thinkers didn't miss the opportunity to think loudly.

Although I am not sure, whether they were unhappy with Modi for doing what they usually did ('soft' on Pakistan) or for him hurting them before but changing to their ways now, true to being in opposition, the Congress members criticised Modi's current stance. Citing 'bombing and talk can't go together' and almost airing 'running government and elections aren't the same' even some BJP members were terse. But then, the inactive Congress had actually gone a step further; it had stopped talking to Pakistan.
Why The Invite?
Despite barrage of opposing noises, even from his own party members, why did Modi invite his neighbours knowing fully well that Pakistan and Shri Lanka had not been good to its citizens?
Though grossly misunderstood and said to be a change from his earlier stance, the invite was not a change. When Nehru was rejoicing his mantra of 'Hindi Chini bhai bhai (Indians and Chinese are brothers)', the good guys from the north attacked India just to tell India, who the boss of Asia was. It's good to talk says British Telecom and women concur; but strange are the ways in which country's talk!
Today however, with the mantra of 'You cannot change the neighbours like friends', Modi was almost tracing the Hindu God Krishna's peace initiatives before the Mahabharata war.
He called the SAARC leaders to deliver just two messages:

1. Whatever has happened in the past has happened. I have come now; nothing untoward has to happen from now onwards. If it happens, it will be dealt with.

2. All of our peoples need peace and progress, and as a group - read SAARC- we can exploit the resources and the common market to make a huge progress together.

The Pakistani Response

Irrespective of the above, not having made to the airways soon enough, the ever so important (that made the risk taken a success or a failure) Sharif's answer was waited with a bated breath.

Suddenly, almost like an answer to 'Will you marry me', a 'Yes I will' - given with a brave face by the Pakistani PM - gave smiles to the Indians. And when the caught fishermen were released as a bonus, their waiting families even went ecstatic.

And the men and woman encircling India from all sides and even governing their lot, converged. After creating history, they spread themselves again. Media , in turn, upgraded its nosy genes. But then, the 'bad Modi shifted to a 'successful Modi'. Indians had believed in him; as if it was an infection, now South Asians awaited their turn to believe. Suddenly, South Asian history looked different.
The Modi Sharif Meet And Nawaz Sharif's Need

But then, what really happened?

Although the Indian spokesperson was tight-lipped on what exactly went on in the meeting between the interesting two, post meeting news from Pakistan as, 'it went beyond expectation', revealed more. Addition of Nawaj Sharif's history adds even more.

With the melting of Sharif's mum's heart, when she saw a picture of Modi's mum offering blessing to her son, it did, right at the start, insert a heart to heart talk in the meeting. Though the meeting wasn't like, what Imran Khan alleged - 'Treated him like a school boy'- with Modi showing him the planned enormous economic benefit for both peoples, and asserting 'bomb and talk can't go together', the use of a 'carrot and stick' is probably not untrue. But then, the 'we both won majority' and more importantly the 'Talks went beyond expectation' need a light from history for a better understanding.

Having seen several army dictatorships, unlike India, Pakistan not only has more than one power centre, it has an intense power struggle between them. However, almost as a paradox, hostility towards India that unites the country as a bare necessity, also unites those centres to form an elite bunch. While politicians gain votes out of the external enemy India, its army gathers the lion's share of the budget claiming a defensive necessity - so long as the hostility is kept alive. In fact, while the Daughter of the East, Benazir Bhutto, supported the Kashmiri Jihadist, outsmarting the army politicians have also incited war against India.
Though, Sharif's role in the tragic Kargil war following Bajpai's joyous visit is an enigma; even if he had a role, 'a changed man' - normally reserved for Modi - validates Modi's 'You are a man of peace'. This is because, Sheriff has asserted the futility of the f16s and emphasised the need to enhance the livelihood of his countrymen. He also has survived a death penalty brought in by the army. Unlike the historic tug of war with the army, this tug is on the hostility towards India itself. Though good for the Pakistani elite, with it restricting the cherished common sub-continental market, and with reasons, making army take lion's share of the state budgets that could otherwise have been used for all, hostility isn't good for the ordinary. With army being the only respected institution, this fight between the democrats and the army makes Sharif feel helpless. Seeking help, thus, becomes natural.
A New Alliance

Thus, following an initial hesitation, when he suddenly met another democrat - a strong leader who had won a landslide victory and had progressive plans for the subcontinent - almost reminding 'workers of the world unite' he grabbed the 'democrats of the world unite'. Having a slanted eye on his army and lending a voice to the later he said, 'I also won a majority'.

In addition, however, when the two mummy's boys came together under the spell of maternal instinct and tradition, almost an Indian style arranged marriage made in haven seems to have taken place. And if history were to be brought in for reminiscence, it would almost seem to show the coming together of long lost          culture sharing friends, who would question 'Why on earth did we separate?'

As if influenced by globalisation, developmental plans that transcended cast creed and ethnicity in the election 2014 would now trace the misadventure of its Pak banned Bollywood. To be precise, it would now transcend the Indo-Pak national border.
As if to match the Taliban's gloom with the earlier misadventure, this ganging up of democrats hasn't made the Pak army happy. The delayed 'Sharif wasn't happy' alluded to that fact. Though, numerically it is still two, the Indo Pak hostility that saw cross border terrorism, as a changed power dynamics in South Asia, now seems to show a clash between a united group of cross boarder democrats and the lone Pak army.

Modi: From Derision to Praise

And when all things were said and done and apprehension and blame gave way to praise Modi's grin showed all 32. His tailor alone, however, would be privy to the rise of his chest size above 56. And when the imported sari arrived from the West, even his mum could not stop a smile. Almost like infection, the smile spread everywhere. While praising itself for playing good opposition in the saga PPP got praise, praising Modi for the episode Congress stalwart Shashi Tharoor even got a beating from the recalcitrant Aiyar.

Either way, the sub-continent is not going to be the same.

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