Human beings cut off ties with one another all the time. This not only prevents a fight-unto-death scenario, it also allows the adversaries to cool off and move on – go their separate ways.

The time has come for India to cut off all diplomatic, economic, cinematic and other ties with Pakistan. In perpetuity. Good luck and goodbye, Pakistan. May you prosper and may your people find peace.

I say this with a degree of conviction and moral certitude that our forefathers, barring perhaps Mahatma Gandhi, would have approved of. Let me explain.

Pakistan has a pathological hatred of India and the idea of India.

It was a nation created because of it. The creators of Pakistan abhorred India’s plurality. They disbelieved the assertion of many – including Gandhi – that Hindus and Muslims can stay as brothers. They doubted India’s assertion of secularism. No, they said, a time will come when our people will be under the boot of the majority. We want a separate land for our people.

The first speech Mr Jinnah gave in the newly created Pakistan was astonishing in its effrontery. He talked of how he wanted Pakistan to be a secular state! That’s right – you can’t bear to live as one in a secular state, but now that you’ve created your own nation – based solely on a religious conviction and unfounded fear of the majority – you are happy to believe that your newly-turned majority desires nothing else but a secular state where all minorities shall live in peace. Well, we know what came of it, the experiment that was Pakistan.

Pakistan has never been able to reconcile with the fact that an overwhelming majority of Muslims – whom Pakistan’s founders were supposedly fighting for in the first place – decided to stay back in India. This is a thorn that pricks Pakistan daily and will continue to do so.

Those who doubt the sincerity of Indian Muslims and forever taunt them and address them as “they”, forget this simplest of facts. A huge piece of land was created especially for them – “Come all ye brothers, to our promised land where you will never live under fear of the majority” – and then, when the time came, these very people, the Indian Muslims, ignored the call. Can anything else be more telling of the idea of India?

Pakistan has a pathological hatred of India because millions of Muslims decided to stay back.

The hatred became acute when Pakistan broke into two, of its own internal stress. A nation that was based on religion could not keep itself together to even celebrate its silver jubilee.

All history – right from the time of Herodotus – is contemporary when you factor in the fact that we read, assess and describe a few thousand years on a timeline of 13.8 billion years. What monumental folly! No wonder we cannot trust history and we fail to learn from it.

The cutting off of economic ties will not hurt India. It may hurt Pakistan, but if they believe it won’t then so be it. Our bilateral trade is minuscule compared to our trade with other countries.

It is, however, the cutting off of ALL ties, meaning people-to-people mostly, that divides opinion in our country, to the extent that we begin to label people as hawks and doves. We somehow believe it is not morally right.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Clip_77For all the unimaginable work that Bapu did for us, and the path he showed us, there were some blunders he committed that went on to condition us. The Mahatma, we must understand, had an unrivalled moral compass, more so if you notice the decades he was active in – Hitler, Churchill, Stalin, Mao, and Mussolini were his contemporaries.

I believe he was wrong in demanding that India pay Pakistan a chunk of money we owed them Rs 55 crore ($ 78.5 million today) even though it was certain that Pakistan would use it against India, in buying arms and expanding its skirmishes and not-so-contained battles over Kashmir. In any case, the two nations were at war when Gandhi demanded we make this payment.

The only man who stood up to Gandhi was Sardar Patel. I don’t know how to say this, and pardon my ignorance of history, but I am yet to find a blunder that Patel committed in all the years that he served India’s cause. I love Bapu and I like Nehru, but it is inescapable that the two made some astonishing mistakes. If anyone can list a single blunder of Patel, I’d be the wiser.

Those who say he was a right-wing fanatic know nothing! Patel exhibited the goodness of Gandhi but crucially, he did not let it – like Nehru did every time – cloud his exemplary realpolitik wisdom. In essence, Patel was an incredible student of history. People forget how close he was to Bapu – many a time Bapu told him to keep Nehru in check for he worried Nehru was getting too close to the Communists.

Patel was forthright in his objection to handing Pakistan the money. He went to Gandhi and told him so in as many words. But what can anyone do if the man he loves and admires decides to go on a fast-unto-death over the issue? What does a son do when the father blackmails? The awful dilemma of Patel – realpolitik versus Gandhi’s moral compass – is described in many books (Alex Von Tunzelmann’s Indian Summer comes to mind immediately). But the most objective description is in Joseph Lelyveld’s Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and his struggle with India. What does one do when the person you love asks something from you that you don’t want to give? In the end Patel backed out.

That was the first occasion when Pakistanis knew Indians are emotional people, that their every judgment from thereon would be clouded by emotion and the desire to feel good about taking the high moral ground.

We have suffered ever since at the hands of Pakistan. Not a day has passed when it hasn’t desired the destruction of India. Those who are old enough to remember the 1980s would recall how, when Pakistan was clearly fomenting trouble in Punjab, we gushed at Zia-ul-Haq’s arrival at the Jaipur test match. Even though we saw Pakistan’s intentions we wanted to embrace her, we wanted to take the high moral ground. This continued all through the 90s and continues to this day. The release of the Kandahar terrorists and their rapturous welcome in the streets of Pakistan; the 26/11 massacre; the LOC beheadings; the murder of Sarabjit…nothing will stir us into cutting all ties with Pakistan. Why? Because we think it’s not ethical and moral to do so.

But this is where we are so wrong!

India was one of the few countries which were unequivocal in cutting all relations with the apartheid South Africa. Those who say sports and politics shouldn’t be mixed forget that for decades we as Indians didn’t want anything to do with South Africa. It was even written in our passports, for crying out loud! Can any right-thinking person say that it was wrong on our part to do so?

Those who say that the overwhelming majority of Pakistanis are like us, good people, nice friendly people – why do they forget that the same held true for a large number of white south Africans, too? Were Nadine Gordimer and Dr Christiaan Barnard racist? But nations don’t behave like how their well-meaning people would like them to behave.

Apartheid continued for 50 years. The South African economy, based on diamonds, and gold, and mining and agro products, was one of the largest in the world during the time of apartheid, so much so that those who call themselves the upholders of morality and ethics now – the Western world – continued to trade with South Africa until as late as 1989!

But we were steadfast. And I am proud of that, proud that we can look Mandela and Tutu and Biko (if he was alive) in the eyes and say we stood with you, brothers, we were there right beside you.

We could have benefited a great deal from trading with the apartheid regime but we stood up for principles. Not all white South Africans were racist pigs. But despite that we wanted nothing to do with South Africa.

Why can’t we realise that the situation with Pakistan is exactly the same? Come what may, no matter how many Pakistanis think well of India, the pathological hatred that was the basis of their nation’s creation will make sure that Pakistan will use any opportunity to humiliate India, to bring her down, to break her.

I have nothing personal against Pakistanis. The majority of them are fine people and I have many of them as friends. But this is about our people, their continued suffering. It is time we took a stand, like we did against the apartheid South Africa despite losing out on economic trade and other ties.

We must cut all ties with Pakistan and be in no hurry to resume them until we are certain that the leopard has changed its spots. We must not worry about Pakistanis not being able to come and play cricket here. Did we lament when Gavaskar and Chandra and Amarnath couldn’t play with the South Africans? On the contrary, we were proud of them. Not so the case with the few West Indians who went on a rebel tour to South Africa in the 80s. They are derided to this day in the West Indies for selling out.

No, it’s much more than sports or Bollywood or literary contacts. It’s about two brothers realising reconciliation is impossible if one of them fails to confront the truth.

Pakistan, we wish you luck. Goodbye

Your’s Sincerely
Diljit C Shah
N. Gopaldas & Co.,
36, Chinnakadai Street.,P.O. Box 328,
Tiruchirapalli – 620 002. India