Business as usual with India


Twins always end up on opposing sides of a fight: Bollywood

After six decades of ups and downs, the people of India and Pakistan have finally come to an historic agreement – that both their governments have incompetent foreign ministers.

Realising that it would not be a good idea to let Hina Rabbani Khar and SM Krishna decide how to resolve issues between Islamabad and New Delhi, the people of India and Pakistan want to get on with trade first.

Pakistan’s government has approved granting India the Most Favoured Nation status. When SM Krishna announced Pakistan’s likely move, many in India were skeptical. “What have you been smoking?” a reporter asked.

Hina Rabbani Khar’s statement was not taken seriously either. “Please go in and send a grown up,” a senior journalist told the minister.

Now, many in the country are wary of the impact of the move on their livelihoods. “Negotiating economic matters with diverse stakeholders is like playing the board game Monopoly,” one analyst says. “Nobody wins. The only possible outcome is a physical fight.”

But experts on both sides are trying to address people’s concerns. “India had always been Pakistan’s most favoured nation,” a retired Pakistani military official told this scribe. “And that is why Pakistan has always set aside a huge sum from its cash-strapped economy to help the people of India liberate Kashmir and Punjab and for the welfare of the Naxalites.”

“New Delhi had also made a remarkable effort to help the people of Pakistan in 1971,” an Indian historian said. “We are currently involved in providing vocational training and jobs to a large number of unemployed poor men in the Pakistani province of Balochistan.”

Trade ties between the two countries have also been outstanding, economic experts say. Useful products and raw material that India has imported from Pakistan include:

Freedom fighters: These are useful for India as they de-legitimise indigenous movements against the state, and help the country unite against a single enemy. Recent examples include Ajmal Kasab, who has renewed the faith of Indian people in their security apparatus. “If they can spend Rs 450 million to protect him, I hope they can spend a larger amount on my protection,” a citizen said.

Musicians: These are raw material used in the finished products called Bollywood movies. Examples include Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Adnan Sami Khan and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. It is not clear how Adnan Sami Khan is transported from one place to another. An insider said the Indian government had waived the requirement to offload him from trucks at Wagah border. Caution is advised during the use of these musicians. Do not listen to them sing whilst standing in close proximity. If they move, large-scale damage to life and property is likely because of their size.

Key products that India has exported to Pakistan include:

Pakistan: Muhammad Ali Jinnah was initially reluctant to buy this product but the shrewd and persistent leaders of the Indian National Congress were able to sell it after some value addition. Subsequently the product became a key part of the identity of the people of Pakistan.

Bollywood movies: For a long time, Bollywood movies could not be seen in Pakistan. People used to waste their time and money on other things. Then the advent of the VCRs was a significant event. “First the VCRs came, and then came pornography,” a historian explained. “And then, at a significantly later date, came Indian movies.”

Bollywood movies have taught Pakistanis the important lesson that if twins get separated when young, they always end up on opposing sides of a fight. But in the end, they should forgive each other. In that spirit of reconciliation, the Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik has said that Ajmal Kasab should be convicted and sentenced to watching “Ra-One” to death.

While on a side note:

Tailpiece: Ties between Pakistan and the US saw a new low with the tragic killing of 24 Pakistani troops in a helicopter raid near the Afghan border.

But fears of a military confrontation between the two countries are ironic, because America has been a key supplier of weapons to Pakistan throughout its history. These weapons include several ex-prime ministers, a Birkin bag associated with Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and the Haqqani network – all of which have been useful tools in Pakistan’s foreign policy.

The incident shows the amount of mistrust between the two allies. Michael Mullen had said the insurgent Haqqani network in Afghanistan is a “veritable arm” of Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency, the ISI. Pakistani defence analysts deny the allegation, saying it is more like their Jim Carrey’s claw from the film “Liar Liar”.

The Obama administration still believes the US and Pakistan must cooperate for common goals. It is not clear if those common goals include the destruction of American economy and infrastructure.

The writer is a media and culture critic and works at The Friday Times. He tweets @paagalinsaan and gets email at [email protected]


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