M J Akbar ''presents'' Pak''s past and future in a tinderbox

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Zafri Mudasser Nofil

New Delhi, Jan 14 (PTI) Pakistan may have little hopefor peace with India but a settlement with New Delhi will helpremove the jihad culture ravaging the country, writes veteranjournalist M J Akbar in his new book.

In "Tinderbox: The Past and Future of Pakistan",published by HarperCollins India, Akbar embarks on ahistorical whodunit to trace the journey of an idea, and theevents, people, circumstances and mindset that divided India.

The investigation spans a thousand years, and anextraordinary cast: visionaries, opportunists, statesmen,tyrants, plunderers, generals, and an unusual collection oftheologians, beginning with Shah Waliullah who created a''theory of distance'' to protect ''Islamic identity'' from Hindusand Hinduism.

"There might be little hope for peace with India,given the fundamental divergence on Kashmir, but a settlementwith India will help excise the jihad culture ravagingPakistan," says Akbar.

According to the writer, it is comparatively easierfor India to come to terms with Pakistan.

"Economic growth and dreams of becoming a part of thefirst world have begun to dominate the Indian mind. The Indianmiddle class has begun to appreciate a simple reality: socialviolence and economic growth cannot coexist. Liberalizationhas had an impact on lifestyle and attitudes.

"The culture of consumerism has been quickly adoptedby the young, while entertainment television is a mirror ofsexual liberation and the fusion of Western mores with Indiansentiment."

He says that the most remarkable aspect of this changewas that "even terrorism, often exported from Pakistan, andwearing an ''Islamic'' label, did not feed a backlash in theform of Hindu-Muslim riots, even after the venomous terroristattacks in Mumbai in 2008."

Akbar feels India is content being a status quo-istpower, determined to preserve its current geography, withoutserious claims even on territory it believes it has lost toChina along the Himalayas and to Pakistan in Kashmir.

"Peace is a logical extension of this position. Thereis a large and growing constituency in Pakistan thatunderstands this. But unless Pakistan achieves clarity onterrorism, with all its snake-oil justifications, thesubcontinent will remain hostage to malevolent mania," hewrites.

The book also talks about LeT''s involvement in the26/11 attacks.

"LeT''s involvement with the terrorist strike on Mumbaiis well known, even if Islamabad will not acknowledge this.

Britain''s Channel 4 showed an extraordinary documentary in2009, ''Terror in Mumbai'', which contained footage ofcontrollers sitting in Pakistan and communicating with theterrorists in Mumbai on cell phones." .

Akbar also mentions how Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari admitted before a closed-door meeting of officials onthe evening of 7 July 2009, that conflict with India had breda nexus between terrorist groups and Pakistan''s intelligenceagencies.

"Militants and extremists emerged on the nationalscene and challenged the state not because the civilbureaucracy was weakened and demoralized but because they weredeliberately created and nurtured as a policy to achieveshort-term tactical objectives.

Let''s be truthful and make a candid admission of thereality. The terrorists of today were heroes of yesteryearuntil 9/11 occurred and they began to haunt us as well,"Zardari had said.

Akbar also recalls how Maulana Azad made somesignificant predictions about Pakistan in interviews toShorish Kashmiri, editor of a Lahore magazine Chattan, 1946.

"The moment the creative warmth of Pakistan coolsdown, the contradictions will emerge and will acquireassertive overtones. These will be fuelled by the clash ofinterests of international powers and consequently both wingswill separate...

"After the separation of East Pakistan, whenever ithappens, West Pakistan will become the battleground ofregional contradictions and disputes," Azad had said.

Azad had warned that the "evil consequences ofPartition" will not affect India alone.

"Pakistan will be equally haunted by them... We mustremember that an entity conceived in hatred shall last only aslong as that hatred lasts. This hatred shall overwhelmrelations between India and Pakistan. In this situation itwill not be possible for India and Pakistan to become friendsand live amicably unless some catastrophic event takes place."PTI ZMN ANS

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