by Hugh Faulkner
Pakistan squandered an opportunity to place world ridicule squarely on its most-hated neighbor India. Instead, the nation suffered a case of small man’s syndrome.
Ever since gaining independence from Britain, India and Pakistan have been bitter enemies and have both pursued a course of distrust and aggression. As a result, the citizens of these two nations have suffered the consequences. The efforts of Mohandas Ghandi to fight British oppression with passive resistance precipitated the removal of British influence. Unfortunately, this also led to a period of shame for Ghandi.
With the initial dividing of the subcontinent in 1947, tremendous migrations of peoples caused considerable strife. Within a year of the end of British involvement, war broke out between the two nations. Since that time, India has controlled two-thirds of the territory and this continues to be a point of contention today. Even now, the areas of Jammu and Kashmir are disputed.
The India subcontinent is at once beautiful and emaciated. These two countries, striving so desperately to find stature in weaponry have citizenry suffering for want of basic necessities. In India, only half the population is literate, while 35% are literate in Pakistan. India is the second most populated country and many are impoverished and suffer from drought-induced famine and disease. The standard of living in both Pakistan and India are incredibly low for the general population. Even so, billions of dollars are poured into the nuclear abyss in a game to keep ahead of the other.
In the early and mid-70s India suffered considerable unrest. Riots, food shortages, poverty and civil discontent continued throughout the country. Under these conditions, and to the shocked dismay of the world, India detonated a nuclear device in 1974. If tensions between the two countries were tense before, they were red-hot now. Pakistan, fearing its neighbor, set out on a course to likewise acquire the ability to develop nuclear weapons.
Islam vs. Hindu
In sad irony, the hatred between two peoples is sometimes related to their religious beliefs. While it seems perfectly logical to many who believe in Deity to live in peace among those of different beliefs, there are times when these religious beliefs fuel a hatred so intense that it blinds. In the 20 years that Ghandi worked for independence and human rights, he stated he was an Hindu, a Muslim, a Buddhist and a Christian. Unwilling to segregate based on religion, Ghandi set a course which these two countries unfortunately chose not to follow.
Lessons of the Past
As though it were a right of passage which all countries much walk through, Pakistan and India are on a collision course of escalating words and actions, and an arms race neither country can afford. Though the United States and the Soviet Union participated in the same folly, they nonetheless were ideological separates, with comparatively little history of hatred and anger. These two countries were driven to keep the other in check. India and Pakistan’s drive is to make up for the transgressions of the past.
Just like punk kids who find a sense of manhood in a gun they carry to school, Pakistan has shrunk to finding its place in history as nothing more than a country that has acquired nuclear technology. To the shame of both India and Pakistan, they have not learned that a nation’s greatness is in what it can do for the people, not in the size of their stockpiles. To the world, this can only be seen as children, unaware of the consequences, playing with guns.
If only they could show superiority by raising their standards of living, but raising educational levels, by addressing poverty, then they would truly be great nations, whereas now, they are simply would-be greats that have very dangerous weapons.