Khaled Almaeena
Khaled Almaeena

The state of affairs in the subcontinent is alarming. The high-pitched frenzy of hatred and toxic words by established and wannabe public figures has affected a large segment of the population, especially in India where the Defense Minister in an irresponsible and totally undiplomatic manner said that going to Pakistan was “akin to a visit to Hell.”

A rebuttal by Divya Spandana a young Indian actress who went to attend the first SAARC Youth Parliamentarians Conference caused a lot of fiery statements and hordes of demonstrators egged on by right wing parties and extremist organization went on the rampage.

A complaint of sedition was also filed. What is truly disturbing is that official blessings are indirectly being given to the rabble-rousers.  It is really sad to see waves of extremist ideology wash away Gandhian principles and Nehruvian ideals of secularism. It’s also detrimental to India’s pursuit of entrance to the Big Boys Club. It could hamper its push for a seat on the UN Security Council.

I call it silly politics. By creating a psychosis of fear and distrust, these politicians and their subservient media are damaging India. It is, therefore, important for PM Modi to rein in those who howl and bay for blood!

India should also note seriously that the Islamization of politics in Pakistan has resulted in a catastrophe for the country and increased violence. Any similar move toward Hindutva in a secular, multi-cultural ethnically diverse country with tens of castes and creeds could, God forbid, spell doom.

On the other side, too, a much-loved cricketer Shahid Afridi was maligned for a positive comment on India. Here, too, an apology was demanded. The ordinary people of India and Pakistan, barring RSS and other extremist organizations, Pakistan’s Lashkar-e-Muhammad and other violent extremists, only want peace. They have to identify their real enemies!

On a visit to Rajasthan a few years ago while sitting in a village, I asked the headman point blank. “Is Pakistan your enemy? This ex-Indian army serviceman pointed to his stomach and said: “Hunger is our enemy.” He was right.

Check newspapers across the subcontinent. The problems are the same. Hunger, malnutrition, corruption, nepotism, disease, over 60 percent having no access to clean water and millions living in abject poverty. Go to a slum in Mumbai or Karachi and you will see the same expressions of despair and hopelessness. The real enemy of both states is that after almost 70 years of independence, stagnation is prevalent.

And to make matters worse, this war of words continues unabated and could trigger a bloody conclusion that could prove fatal to both countries. I think civil society in both countries should revolt against the harbingers of death and destruction and snuff out sections of the media who are hell-bent on stoking the fires of hatred and intolerance. It is very easy to answer the question “who are the real enemies of India and Pakistan?”

— Reprinted with permission of the Saudi Gazette and Khaled Almaeena. The writer is Editor-at-Large. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter: @KhaledAlmaeena