|Sam Rashid needs to be glad that he has been able to go to his
native Pakistan every year up until a couple of years ago. I have
not been able to go home to my native Kashmir, India since 1989.
My wish to visit home may be nostalgic but the rest of my family
who lived in Kashmir for centuries were forced out of their own land
to live like refugees in their own country. Such has been the
situation in Kashmir for two decades now where Kashmiri Muslim
militants trained in Pakistan by Taliban and al-Qaeda forced their
own Hindu neighbors to either leave or be killed. My father was
shot to death by his own Muslim friends on August 24, 1990.
Ever since September 11, 2001, and even before people struggled
with maligning the pronunciation of al-Qaeda, I have voiced my
frustration with US considering Pakistan as an ally. You cannot
have allies who do not share your core values - democracy,
freedom of religion and women's rights.
However, US has cornered herself between the rock and a hard
place. Do nothing, and the democratic powers in January 08 may
make it an Islamic state like Iran. Intervene and you get the
Pakistanis to hate us even more for interfering in their affairs and
further strengthen the public support for the radicals. Either way,
with 30 nuclear weapons and al-Qaeda's strong foothold, the
mushroom cloud is closer to a reality.
Pakistan's neighbor, India has to be on the edge. If India takes
any preventive action to protect its own rights, the US should not
intervene. If US has the right to fight the war on terrorism in far
flung areas of Iraq and Pakistan, India has every right to defend its
own backyard. India has turned the other cheek so many times
that even Mahatma Gandhi would be disappointed.
The war on terrorism cannot be fought without eradicating the
training grounds and Madrasas of Pakistan and stopping the
continuing funding of terrorism by Saudi Arabia. No matter how
you look at it or spin it, we have accepted this as business as
usual. Any attempt of US now to evade the crisis is like throwing
pebbles at a giant. Actually, we have been throwing pebbles on
giants like Iraq and Iran, and we should have left these giants
It was heartening to see liberal and moderate Pakistanis protesting
in the streets, but to see them getting hurled and dragged into
police vans reminded me of the autocratic British rule in India.
But this maybe the beginning of the end of oscillating democratic
and military rule in Pakistan. It is time for Pakistanis to fight for
their freedom. With an unemployment rate that is low at 6.5%, it is
clear that they have mechanisms in place to follow India's lead in
making economic reform.
The same blood flows through the veins of these two neighbors.
Although the people of both the nations have been labeled as
having fatalistic views of life, I know first hand that neither nation's
people shirk from hard work. Whenever they have been given fair,
uncorrupted, and competitive rewards, they have aspired like the
rest of us - make a good living and prepare a better life for the