By Ibn-e Eusuf
I still wish India success but now without much hope.
The point of the story is different from what the sentence seems to convey; and thereby hangs a tale. Let me explain.
When I was young I desperately wanted India to succeed. Looking at Pakistan, I could see it was a basket case, the quality of its leadership decaying at such a dizzying pace that the prospects of internally driven progress were non-existent. The only hope was in a miracle or in a dramatic breakthrough in India. The latter development would make Pakistan’s citizens see the light and make them demand change from its leaders who kept feeding the myth that Pakistan was doing better than India. Or so I thought, and so I prayed for India’s success.
Then I came across an old Russian fable about two poor peasants, Ivan and Boris. The only difference between them was that Boris had a goat and Ivan didn’t. One day, Ivan came upon a strange-looking lamp and, when he rubbed it, a genie appeared. She told him that she could grant him just one wish, and it could be anything in the world.
Ivan said, “I want Boris’ goat to die.”
It was then that I gave up hope although I saw no reason to stop wishing India success.
A lot of other things became clearer too – that after all is the power of fables – like Pakistan’s favorite Indians, for example.
Arundhati Roy is at the top of list, not because she is the author of A God of Small Things, which probably no more than half a dozen Pakistanis have read (alright, alright, double the number), but because she gives India hell. Arundhati ought to be India’s favorite Indian too, if you ask me, because she is amongst the few saying the things that need to be said. But despite all the progress India is making, the ability to listen to the truth remains severely limited. And Arundhati seems disinclined to communicate her message in a manner that would help it get across – she seems too enamored of hearing the thunder in her own voice.
Shabana Azmi is next on the list, not because she is probably the finest actress in South Asia (many more Pakistanis have been spellbound by her performances), but because she complained about not being able to rent an apartment in Mumbai. Which proves, doesn’t it, that all the talk about progress in India is just hype and India is in fact quite as bad and bigoted as Pakistan?
And, finally, Jaswant Singh has joined the ranks, not because he outsmarted the Pakistanis when he was in charge of Foreign Affairs, but because he has finally admitted what Indians knew all along but had been obdurately denying all these years – that Jinnah was a much greater leader than Nehru.
Once you have absorbed the fable of Boris and Ivan, the list of Pakistan’s favorite Indians makes perfect sense. Note that Manmohan Singh is not on the list. It is not that Pakistanis don’t know who Manmohan Singh is – they do very well – but Manmohan Singh is remembered in quite another way that illustrates the flip side of the fable of Boris and Ivan.
India is succeeding because of Manmohan Singh. And who gave Manmohan Singh to India? We did, we gave the smartest man in South Asia to India. And what did they give us in return? A fanatic like Zia ul Haq and a dimwit like Musharraf, both of whom suffered from the illusion they had been sent by God Almighty to do Her bidding. Evil Indians!
If India succeeds it would all be due to the munificence of Pakistan. Do you really believe they could have done it on their own?
I would like to thank Sohan Singh for the inspiration for this post.