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« How the Mind Works: The Dunning-Kruger Effect (Norman Costa) | Main | The Death and Burial of Peter Russo's Father – Part 1 (Norman Costa) »

February 28, 2012



Thank you, again, for a graduate level seminar on South/Central Asian politics and current events. I must confess, though, that I was hesitant to read your essay because I was afraid of finding despair and a future of disintegration. I hope your own predictions are more likely than those of Subcommandante Zee. (I really like that adopted moniker.) I'm relieved to hear that the world will not be coming to an end - maybe.

One thought grabbed my attention. I was unaware of an Amercian view that China would exercise influence in the place of a disengaging U.S. It's an interesting thought. It seems to me that China has a major interest in limiting any kind of an Islamist-Jihadi surge in its Western provinces. Diluting an Islamist-Jihadi export movement in Pakistan and Afghanistan seems to be in their interests. The Chinese and Russians have been doing the same thing, in reverse, with North Korea. They could exercise more influence than they will admit. From their perspective, though, why bother if it occupies, stretches, and distracts the policies and resources of the U.S.

End part 1.

Part 2.

The Russian invasion-adventure into Afghanistan was intended as bulwark against an Islamic soft-underbelly in the old Soviet Empire. Although they left in military defeat, I wonder if it was, in fact, successful (to some extent) in buffering the new Russian Federation from Islamic-Jihadi forces. Of course, the war in Chechnya would be only a more recent extension of the Afghan war - only this time it's closer to home.

Another idea I found interesting was your reference to Pakistan's Indian roots. I find it interesting because of my ignorance. Perhaps you or another of our writers and readers could elaborate on this. My only reference is that Pakistan was partitioned from the India that was administered by the Brits. I am wondering if "Indian Roots" refers to a core of peoples in South Asia who migrated West from the peninsular subcontinent. I am aware of the historical migrations and invasions from the West and the East, but just barely. Perhaps "Indian Roots" does refer to pre-partition India.

Norm, the undeniable common history (ethnicity, language, food, music and several centuries of living side by side) of India-Pakistan is something that Pakistan has denied for the nearly 65 years since the partition. The denial has been motivated by several factors, among them, carving out a distinct Islamic identity (as opposed to South Asian) was perhaps the foremost one. While the older generation of my parents lost their homes on both sides of the current borders (my parents as well as as my in-laws had their ancestral homes in what later became Pakistan), the hostility and the alienation of the post-independence generation in Pakistan which did not see the carnage that their elders witnessed, is surprisingly venom filled. This has been fueled mostly by the steady stream of misinformation, revisionist history and paranoia disseminated through Pakistan's media and educational system for decades.

India is extremely nervous about Pakistan and has been so since 1947 but being a much larger country with a very diverse population, the majority of which were not affected by the geographic partition, the suspicion is political in nature rather than cultural (except for the extremists on the Hindu right who hate all things Islamic). My school curriculum for example, never fed us a Pakistan centered narrative although Kashmir, the major bone of contention between the two nations, was emphatically considered an integral part of India.

The US played a very insidious role in keeping alive the hostility on the Pakistani side by its years of support for the Pakistani military and military dictatorships to keep democratic India in check (go figure!). And all this was way before Afghanistan and the Soviet invasion. Now of course, the tables have turned and the US is friendly to India and jumpy over Pakistan. That makes Pakistan even more nervous. But all stupidity and suspicions aside, the best bet for both India and Pakistan is to ignore the west's geo-political concerns and quietly make peace with each other. Perhaps it will happen although not without opposition from the cultural and religious purists on both sides and the Pakistani military which fears its power weakening if tensions diminish.

But small steps are being taken by both countries to ease the way to a more relaxed co-existence. The best way to accomplish that is always through trade and things are looking up somewhat.

Thanks, Ruchira.

Finally got the time to read through this article, Omar.

I think your current prediction sounds so much more 'hopeful' than the earlier ones. What's a little messy Indianization, along with its attendant contradictions and mini-rebellions compared with a full-scale no-holds barred civil war and degeneration of law and order that you were talking about in earlier articles?

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