ALMOST anything is digestible in the heat of the moment. When Mumbai came under attack, most of Pakistan mourned as well. And why not, for who other than Pakistanis have been most brutalised by terrorism in the 21st century? We understand the pain, the trauma, the scarring of a collective psyche. When Indian leaders resorted to bellicosity, and when the media in that country went hysterical, most Pakistanis said let it be, they need to express their grief. Extreme anguish and irrationality can go hand in hand, and that is perfectly understandable even at a remove. But the dust has settled now and it is time to talk sense. It should be clear to the world that Islamabad has tackled the ostensible ‘Pakistan connection’ to the carnage in Mumbai with considerable maturity. Unlike India, it has refrained from war-mongering and upping the ante in a tense situation. The press too has acted with commendable wisdom for the most part. But make no mistake. If it comes to war, which many people in India seem to prefer, there will be no victory for New Delhi. What we will have on our hands is mutually assured destruction.
Only madmen can advocate conflicts involving nuclear weapons. But that is precisely what the head of the Hindu-fundamentalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh seemed to be doing on Friday when he said that India should be ready for a nuclear war. Granted he said that such a showdown would be the last resort, but the fact that this hothead can even entertain such a possibility is simply mind-blowing. Pakistan and India attack each other with nuclear weapons? Who will be left to proclaim victory? No one. The RSS chief also likes to see the world in black and white, in terms of ‘good’ and ‘evil’. Such sweeping statements, with no specific focus, only contribute to mass hysteria and can never add to the comprehension of complex problems. The head of the RSS is as ignorant and sinful as the most rabid mullah that can be found anywhere across the length and breadth of Pakistan. There is no differentiating between the two, other than their stated ‘religion’.
The ‘Islamic fundamentalist’ is a well-known commodity. This is so largely because of the transnational nature of militant Islam. The terrorist driven by what he sees as his Muslim identity is equally at ease killing passengers in a train station in Europe or Eid shoppers in Pakistan. The Hindu fundamentalist, on the other hand, works within the geographical boundaries of his own country and as such does not attract attention worldwide. The pogrom in Gujarat, the targeting of Christian missionaries in India’s tribal regions, all go unnoticed in the western world because India is a major trading partner. That’s what it comes down to, essentially. Money. (Dawn, 14 Dec 2008)