What Can India and Pakistan Learn From Each Other?


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The bilateral relationship between India and Pakistan is coming in the sharp focus. The Economist published a special report on India and Pakistan in its recent edition.

The events in Pakistan affect India and vice versa. There is no country so alive and so hated in each other’s national minds like India and Pakistan. It is based on hate fuelled by the fundamentalists from both the sides.

The great Pakistani poet, Fahmida Riaz, warned India long back that it should not become like Pakistan when the Hindu Fundamentalists came to power in India for the first time.

The signs of growing religious fundamentalism in India will prove poet Fahmida Riaz right soon.

When Jinnah designed Pakistan in his office in Mumbai working through ideas of secular democratic state, he did not think that it will emerge the way it has today. It is the tragedy of Pakistan that Jinnah died so soon after it was created.

The united Pakistan created out of the British India got further divided into Pakistan and Bangladesh.

It was a big question before the newly born state of Pakistan as to how they will rule two remote geographical land masses from one seat of power.

The political constitution was also an important glaring question facing the newly born state of Pakistan. But the intention of the founding fathers of it was clear, to begin with, and that was to constitute Pakistan into a secular democratic state.

The great Dalit leader from Pakistan, Jogendranath Mandal, was appointed as the first Law Minister of Pakistan. He would have had a chance of drafting Pakistan’s constitution had the Pakistani elites would not have hurried to consolidate their power over the Pakistani state.

Jogendranath Mandal was the close friend and associate of Babasaheb Ambedkar. Undoubtedly, Babasaheb Ambedkar, who also became the Law Minister of India and the founding father of Indian democracy, would have helped Jogendranath Mandal to draft the constitution for Pakistani government also.

The elites in Pakistan did not walk the line of politics that Jinnah defined. This is the first lesson that India can learn from the history of her neighbour: Never diverge from the path already defined.

The Indian Constitution defined the goals for India clearly and if India strays away from that the experiences of neighbours come handy.

At this present juncture, the RSS/BJP Government is exactly doing what the elites in Pakistan did and it will lead to “fragile” and “banana” state as far as India is concerned.

Indians must follow the constitution as their sacred duty even raising it above their religious values.

Indians should avoid the same mistake that Pakistanis committed.

The second lesson India can learn from its neighbour is not to impose strict religious codes and one language on all the citizens. The RSS/BJP is exactly doing that with Indians. They have been strictly imposing religious codes on the citizens of India and imposing languages.

The diversity is the part of democracy and it makes democracy rich and exciting. Diversity creates the ground for testing ideas and looking at ideas from many points of views. India is a diverse country and the diversity is brought into the workable political system by the Constitution of India. Perhaps, some learning from the Constitution of India and its working will also be helpful to our Pakistani neighbours as we shared the same political system till 1946. There can be no problem in taking what is good for one’s country.

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Because of the rise of Brahminical Hindu nationalism, the Indians are seeing fissiparous tendencies raising their ugly tentacles all over India. It is similar to Pakistan and many voices of dissent in Pakistan are being raised.

India can learn positive things from Pakistan

Particularly, the pragmatic foreign policies of Pakistani government in the past. Pakistan allied with the US. That was the time, India was locked in its cloistered brahminical bureaucracy, which did not see beyond, but took pride in India as the spiritual super power.

Henry Kissinger rightly described Brahmin bureaucrats as “arrogant dogs”.

Pakistan filled in the gap in South Asia which India created by so called “Non-Alignment Movement”, but sided with Russia during the cold war.

India is also missing on China’s economic rise by coming openly with strong bilateral trade ties with China.

In reality, the Indian capital is already moving slowly in the hands of Chinese capitalists looking at the investments from China in India. India should make its foreign policies very open and practical.

The most important lesson that India can learn from Pakistan is how to disqualify the heads of the state.

The judgement against Nawaz Sharif is an important lesson for India.

The Supreme Court in Pakistan showed that there is no one above the law, even the Prime Minister tainted by corruption can be disqualified and removed from the office.

In India, it can never happen though India boasts of a robust political system than Pakistan. As a student of Pakistani culture and its politics, I can go on and on into what we can learn from our neighbouring country and in return what can they learn from us.

The mutual hatred is destructive and counterproductive to people from both the sides, only the correct understanding and ability and willingness to know each other as clearly as possible will create an atmosphere of peace and harmony in our societies.

Our shared history shared experiences, and lessons in successes and failures can pave a way for better future for generations to come.

Author – Mangesh Dahiwale, Human Rights Activist

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