Pakistan, India and Peshawar Attack: Divided by History United in Pain.

There was nothing unusual about the morning, 16th of December, 2014. The day began as usual for most Pakistanis, with morning prayers and breakfast followed by the same everyday maddening rush for work, bounded by the unpredictability and vulnerability of a regular day in the life of the nation. A kind of fear and anxiety engrossing everyone of something unforeseen and uncertain in the cracking and already profusely bleeding society.

On the other hand, just northwest from the heart of the country, some mothers were woken up by their usual routine, pushing to wake up their innocently sleeping kids, getting them ready for their school, packing their lunches with the wonted motherly concern that they must eat properly. Handing them their washed, clean uniforms, polished shoes and colorful school bags . The morning was marked by the customary  haste, eyes alternatingly watching the rapid ticking of time as their children got ready. Only a few words were exchanged. There were quick hugs and kisses and then the goodbyes!

Never would they have imagined, that it would be the final adieu. That the apples of their eyes, whom they had woken up from their peaceful slumber with their own hands would return back, just a few hours later, packed in shroud, their tender bodies brutally riddled with bullets, resting in eternal sleep, refusing ever to talk to them again, ever to throw their affectionate glances on them, ever to call them mother again…

It was the worst day of reckoning for these mothers who had sent their beloved children to schools just a few hours before

As world came crashing down for these mothers, the world at large stood in shock and terror as Pakistan witnessed one of its blackest day in history. The Peshawar attack in its wake terribly shook the entire country, as citizens watched their own younger brethren, being taken out of the complex, been ripped apart and bathed in their own blood. The green and white uniforms were more red than otherwise. Students, both young and old were being carried out by the paramilitary forces, horror and trauma stamped on their confused countanance . While some were lucky to see the daylight again and meet the loved ones, for others not so lucky, it was their tryst with the ultimate.

The operation carried out by the Army lasted only a few hours, but not before leaving behind 132 feeble, inculpable children dead along with the 8 other staff members. As it should have been, It was only a matter of time, before the entire country erupted in anger and mourning. The questions on everyone’s lips were Why? Whom? For what?. The administration, who for most part had remained incapable of protecting their citizens, managed the usual political mumble. But the discontent and fury could be seen everywhere. One of the first platforms where the people could be seen venting their anger were the social networking sites./

Many youngsters were seen changing their profile pictures to black on these sites. As the latest news came up, people poured their hearts out filled with disgust and outrage. Within a short time as the story spread internationally, people began to slowly get hold of the things. Many people sitting out in the remote areas of the world, tried to sympathise and empathise with the people of Pakistan. However, an unusual  trend, quite contrary to everyone’s expectations was the efflux of empathy by Pakistan’s not so close neighbour India.

Massive outpouring of support from India could be seen across various social networking sites

One of the first countries, to extend its hand and shoulder to Pakistan, the Indians were seen massively expressing their solidarity and support on the social networking sites. The virtual space, which at normal times, is filled with contempt and scorn from both sides, was surprisingly cordial and sympathetic. The more the passionate were the Pakistanis’ condemnation of the attack, the equal was every Indian’s sincerity in matching their voice with them. It was as if the attack has united the two otherwise competitive neighbours with a unique common bond, a bond that so disdainfully overlooked the divisions of religion, history and hatred that hitherto has kept the two nations apart.

This rare and exclusive outpouring of emotions amazed many as world took notice of the same. The BBC in its report on 17th of December published an article highlighting this uncommon trend in the Indian media(see the article here). It was surprising for many Pakistanis and Indians too, but the way Pakistanis acknowledged and responded to the Indian emotions showed clearly how tragedy can bring distant of the relations together and awfully withdrawn hearts closer.

The tweet by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing his solidarity with people of Pakistan

The effect of Peshawar Attack was also seen on the Indian social and political life. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted his condolences to the citizens of the neighbouring nation as well as called his counterpart Nawaz Sharif to express his grief. He also directed Indian schools to observe a two minute silence in the memory of the departed souls which was accordingly done in the schools(see the reaction here) across the nation as well as in the Indian Parliament. Indian schoolchildren called their friends in Pakistan as well as wrote handwritten letters expressing their sorrow and encouraging them not get bowed down by terrorism. The trend #indiawithpakistan which was started on Twitter and Facebook, continued to receive entries from both the nations long after the attack.

Students across Indian schools observe silence for the kids massacred in Peshawar

Prayers were offered in schools across India for the children killed in Peshawar

Two minutes silence was observed in the Indian Parliamentin the memory of Peshawar victims

But as they say, every event brings with it a message from God which is directed to bring back man to his senses. The gelling of two countries, though over innocent blood, could well be a message from Almighty that peace between His creation is His only desire. This historic

opportunity and coming together of two nations should not be left to waste but instead should be zealously pursued from both the sides . Both the countries want peace and peace is the only way that will bring stability and prosperity for the people across the region, that will prevent the repitition of such horrific incidents.

We can presume that those children went away tying the two arch-rivals in a peculiar bond, a bond that now must be preserved against harsh memories of history and imprudence of later rivalries. Indeed, this loss cannot be recovered but it must be said, which is as well the call of time, that we should strive our best not to betray the sacrifices of those children!! 

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A Deadly Triangle: Afghanistan, Pakistan and India by William Dalrymple: A Review and My Thoughts

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A much needed essay comes from the eminent historian William Dalrymple at a time when the entire region is looking forward, with much anxiety, towards the withdrawal of American and NATO forces this year and the ramifications thereafter. What exactly is going to happen, nobody knows but one thing is sure that whatever is going to happen it is going to have consequences, not for the region or the players involved, but for the entire world.

The essay fills in necessary information to back the analysis concerning the future of all the countries of The Deadly Triangle. The changes that are taking place are in fact so rapid, that it leaves nothing but gamble dotting the course of foreign policies that India and Pakistan are going to follow. The withdrawal of American and NATO forces, the change of the Karzai’s government, coming of Modi government in India, signals of another internal conflict in Pakistan, the rise of Taliban, both in Afghanistan and Pakistan and most of all, the presence of China in Afghanistan. All of these are going to have their own effect in the geopolitics of the region in the time to come. It has led everyone to be tightly bounded to their own positions and forced them to wait to see where exactly the situation takes them to. As we quickly reach towards the designated time, one thing is for sure, it will take a major review of polices of countries involved and a fresh look at the situation, in order to defend the respective interests.

India has and is investing a lot in Afghanistan since a long time. And although 76% of Afghans have favorable view of India, it is still not much to neutralize Pakistan’s aim of creating “strategic depth”, a policy that it is surely not going to abandon, even if they choose to distance itself from it for the time till its internal situation stabilizes. One the other hand, the presence of China( even though it is still a business enterprise there but nevertheless they will influence the politics in the time to come) neutralizes Indian interests and the Indian policy to contain Pakistan from creating any misdeeds against its soil. I fear that Afghanistan may not become again another platform for proxy wars, this time even China getting involved in it.

India only wants peace in the region and it is only investing in Afghanistan for this sole aim. As the author rightly pointed out that India is and never was any threat for Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. India, as the world knows, is a peace loving country and the history is evident that it has gone to war only when the war has been thrusted upon it. This is the most crucial point that Pakistan Army must understand and internalize, for if they continue to follow the same policy what they have been following till now, it is never ending war.

And Afghans too must pay heed to where they are heading to. India would be very happy to leave Afghanistan to their own if it form itself into a stable, democratic and progressive country. Why do they even allow an “expansionist” China to muddle into their waters? Why cant they unite to have a stable polity at the center? Is Afghanistan has all remained to be a playground for proxy wars for a country like Pakistan or historically the Soviet Union or the US to use their population for their own interests and then throw them at will? Afghanistan was once a very progressive country. Now as the chapter of the American war( or whatever it was) against terrorism draws to a close, Afghans must look within and ardently realize that nobody is a friend in the international politics, that they must save their own home first, otherwise they will be continued to be abused for generations to come.

And lastly, Pakistan must understand that India is not and never will be a threat for them. The sooner they realize it, the better it will be for them. Being a large country and now a major player in international arena ,India may have a bit louder voice in the geopolitical region, but that does not mean that it is going to dictate the internal politics of any country. India loves democracy and respects sovereignty of any country and is firmly committed to it and only wants friendly ties and thriving trade with its neighbors so that prosperity abounds the region. I hope that not only the region but the world realizes this soon.