With friends like these

Published: July 25, 2011

The writer is a partner at Bhandari, Naqvi & Riaz and an advocate of the Supreme Court. The writer can be reached at http://twitter.com/#!/laalshah. The views presented in the article above are not those of his firm

Till recently, I had nothing but respect for Mr Shashi Tharoor. He is not only an accomplished writer and a former under-secretary-general of the UN, but a popularly elected member of India’s parliament. All these are substantial achievements. At the same time, Mr Tharoor’s recent column “Delusional liberals” (Deccan Chronicles, July 21) left me greatly disappointed.

Since Mr Tharoor’s column was but the latest in a series of cross-boundary literary salvos, some background is necessary. This latest border incident began with an examination by Aatish Taseer of Pakistan’s so-called ‘obsession’ with India and, more specifically, the fact that even ‘liberals’ like his late father took much pleasure in any travails which happened to come India’s way. In terms of content, what Taseer Jr had to say was not entirely incorrect, though grossly overstated. However, the references to his father were entirely gratuitous as seen by some Pakistanis, which combined with the tenuous nature of his conclusions, inspired one Ejaz Haider to pen a response (titled “Aatish’s personal fire” and published on these pages on July 19)

Ejaz’s reply to Aatish Taseer made, in essence, two points. The first was that the article was massively simplistic. The second was that our apparent obsession with India was partly justified given the Pakistan-specific nature of India’s military preparations.

Tharoor sahib’s response to Ejaz, in turn, also had two things to say. The first was that Ejaz had missed the apparently evident point that India is a peace-loving nation whose military capabilities are all non-violent and defensive in nature. The second was that, like other Pakistani liberals, Ejaz’s commitment to critical thinking was liable to be overwhelmed by atavistic nationalistic impulses. Or, in the slightly more elegant phraseology of Mr Tharoor, “Indians need to put aside their illusions that there are liberal partners for us on the other side of the border who echo our diagnosis of their plight and share our desire to defenestrate their military. Nor should we be surprised: A Pakistani liberal is, after all, a Pakistani before he is a liberal.”

In the interests of honesty, let me freely concede not only that I found Mr Tharoor’s response to be infuriating but that I said all sorts of rude things about him on Twitter which I probably shouldn’t have said. On the other hand, I’m not sure I want to apologise. For a professional diplomat, Mr Tharoor’s remarks were cretinous in the extreme. In fact, they were probably cretinous by any measure.

Let us begin with the wide-eyed protestations of geostrategic innocence, the casual assertion that India has no hegemonic ambitions, regional or otherwise. Any diplomat who actually believed that would normally be classified as hopelessly naïve. Since Mr Tharoor is no naïf, the conclusion is that he is being economical with the truth. India does see itself as a major power, both economically and militarily; just ask the Sri Lankans or the Nepalese. Or better still, ask the Mandarins from India’s ministry of external affairs arguing that India deserves to be a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

Still, that is not the real problem with Mr Tharoor’s column. As a good Indian diplomat, it is his job to trot out the party line. He knows he’s fibbing. We know he’s fibbing. He knows we know. And so life goes on.

Instead, the real problem with Mr Tharoor’s column is how he transitions from the contention that Pakistan has an unhealthy obsession with India to the conclusion that real Pakistani liberals should share India’s desire to “defenestrate” the Pakistan military. This is dangerous ground.

I have no problem with the contention that Pakistan’s population — especially its establishment — has an unhappy obsession with India. At the same time, the opposite of India-obsessed is not India-submissive. Yes, we Pakistanis should not define ourselves in negative terms, i.e. purely by comparison to India. However, this does not lead to the conclusion that we should not seek to define ourselves at all (as Mr Tharoor apparently believes). Instead, it leads to the conclusion that we Pakistanis need to define ourselves in positive terms.

Mr Tharoor implies that there can be no positive rationale for Pakistan. Given the limitations of this column, all I can say to him is this: I am both Pakistani and liberal. I don’t hate India. Like me, most of Pakistan has no memory of a united subcontinent. In fact, like me, most of Pakistan even has no memory of East Pakistan. This country is all we know, Mr Tharoor, and we intend to keep it. Can we please move on now?

I also have no desire to destroy Pakistan’s military. Pakistan lacks stable institutions and while the armed forces are certainly a major part of our problems, ‘defenestrating’ them is not part of the solution (For a more nuanced version of this argument see Anatol Lieven’s recent book, Pakistan: A Hard Country, Penguin, 2011). Pakistan needs a military which knows its legitimate boundaries and which does not overwhelm our limited resources. But given the neighbourhood we live in, and given our current condition, no reasonable person thinks it advisable to dismantle our armed forces.

There is one final problem with Mr Tharoor’s column. As noted above, his fundamental assumption is that there is no core Pakistani identity besides rejection of India and that Pakistani liberals should join hands with similarly enlightened Indians in seeking the destruction of Pakistan’s military. Ironically, the only other group which shares this simplistic world view is the very Pakistani establishment that Mr Tharoor deprecates. It, too, believes that Pakistani liberals seek the destruction of Pakistan as an independent state. It, too, believes that Pakistani liberals secretly yearn to reunite Pakistan with Maha Bharat.

Let me summarise then. Mr Tharoor’s column is gratuitously smug about India’s supposed lack of strategic ambitions. Mr Tharoor further believes that Pakistan has no legitimate identity besides a rejection of India and that Pakistani liberals — if truly liberal — would acknowledge this fact. He thereby not only confirms all of the Pakistani establishment’s worst fears about India, but also helps delegitimise Pakistani liberals as would-be traitors, even though they are the very persons calling for peace with India. In a word, cretinous.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 26th,  2011.

Reader Comments (67)

  • Deb
    Jul 25, 2011 - 10:48PM

    @Author

    I agree with you. I haven’t read Mr. Tharoor’s article.But what I gather from your article does not make me very proud. I must say he has not only been extremely insensitive but impolite as well. Which is not expected from a seasoned (I hope so) diplomat like him.

    Just in case anybody cares to know, he has been found, on occassions, quite pompous.
    Now we know he is verbose as well.
    I am an Indian and firmly believe that there is a vibrant liberal constituency among the Pakistani populace (intelectuals,writers,journalists,students,educationists….. the list can go on and on) whose credibility is no less than their Indian counterpart.

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  • G. Din
    Jul 25, 2011 - 11:18PM

    I am sorry I have also not read Mr. Tharoor’s article but I have no hesitation in concluding, based on the author’s gist of that article, that there is absolutely nothing wrong in his wanting the so-called liberals of Pakistan to join Indians in “defenestrating” the Pakistani military. What he meant -as indeed the whole world including US does today especially after its May 2 debacle -that Pakistani military as it is constituted today must be defenestrated for the sake of the world peace and stability. It is no one’s case, certainly not, I trust, Mr. Tharoor’s or, for that matter, the world’s, that Pakistan should not have its armed forces limited in its responsibilities and capabilities to those as understood universally for any other country’s armed forces.
    However author’s own fears of this monstrous institution as it stands today are entirely justified!

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  • Talha
    Jul 25, 2011 - 11:21PM

    Mr Tharoor is talking about something that most Pakistani’s are not even familiar with.

    Talk about living in your own world.

    Worst was the fact that Taseer’s “hate” for India was encapsulated by a single tweet.

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  • Bashir
    Jul 25, 2011 - 11:34PM

    And your point is? You just ended up proving Tharoor’s statement that you are a Pakistani first. By the way not a day goes by these days that I thank the stars that my forefathers did not move to Pakistan post partition. Whatever be the shortcomings of the Indian state at least my home is not attacked by drones, suicide bombers or Taliban everyday, there is rule of law and the future is bright for my children. Dont keep parroting Kashmir, as your government has lost all moral high ground by basically using forces against your own people.Recommend

  • Anuj
    Jul 25, 2011 - 11:42PM

    well….Mr. Tharoor is a well-polished and an experienced diplomat……when he writes something, it might be painful or bitter to accept , but its truth…….when most of the pakistanis think that killing of OBL was not good , i really dont know which liberal pakistanis you are referring to except yourself….also, the way pakistanis see China as a substitute to US aid and support indicates intrinsic submissive attitude and lack of self-confidence…….
    As for UNSC, Germany and Brazil also want permanent membership , does that mean they also want to be ‘ chaudhary’ of their regions….its more about balance of power than overpowering other countries…..

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  • martin baker
    Jul 26, 2011 - 12:19AM

    I think by “defenestrating” Tharoor does not mean wiping out Pakistan’s military apparatus.Every country has right to a strong military.What he wants to say is that your military should remain under civilian control with it’s generals held accountable to the government.Everytime some of your ambitious general thinking himself to be alexander’s protege starts a war without consulting civilian establishment.Musharraf’s stupidity put 1.5 billion people at the risk of a nuclear holocaust.Seems they are more interested in ghazwa hind and than securing pakistan.
    You seem to have a very funny army,i dont know of any other military establishment in the world which runs side businesses ( energy and banking sectors,leasing, insurance, travel, pharmacies, gas stations, security and textiles, among others).I mean army’s sole business is protecting the country for god’s sake.(P.S and in no way am i disputing the fact that the pakistani soldier is amongst the best in the world)

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  • Talha
    Jul 26, 2011 - 12:28AM

    If Salman Taseer was alive, he would have given a fitting reply to these people.

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  • Talha
    Jul 26, 2011 - 12:29AM

    @Bashir, end your obsession with Pakistan.

    Leave this website and go to your own countries one.

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  • sceptic ali
    Jul 26, 2011 - 1:13AM

    mr.naqvi – besides describing mr.tharoor’s article and somewhat proving his contention, you have accomplished nothing in your column………nothing.

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  • sadhana
    Jul 26, 2011 - 1:35AM

    Well I think Mr Naqvi is doing the bluffing here. India does not see the independence of the Pak military or the independence of the Pak state or the independence of the Pak people as a problem(though being beholden to US, China and Saudi Arabia for virtually everything cannot be called independence, strictly). India sees the Pak military and its Afghan and Kashmir policies as the principal problem in their dealings with Pakistanis. Mr. Tharoor is right, we should now start seeing Pak liberals such as the wifully ignorant Mr Naqvi also as part of the same problem.

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  • Arindom
    Jul 26, 2011 - 2:08AM

    I haven’t read Tharoor’s article – but it is worthwhile to note one strange fact about him – for all his great achievements at the UN, he proved to be a hopelessly naive and un-diplomatic Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, getting needlessly involved in IPL shenanigans and causing confusion in the Indian Foreign Ministry by commenting on Govt Policy via Twitter!! Finally he had to resign.

    As a person though I respect and admire his achievements, skills and personality – I am sure most Indians and Pakistanis would too.

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  • S
    Jul 26, 2011 - 2:13AM

    Your arguments are naive. India’s power is not defensive and to verify that you need to ask SriLanka and Nepal? What for? For LTTE? Do you remember that LTTE killed one of India’s Prime Ministers? What did India do when there was large scale LTTE mopping operation recently? How many Tamils got killed you think and what was India’s reaction to it? And ask Nepal? Ask Nepal what? Could you give a hint? India has expressed desire to be part of the UN security council, and that is proving what? As someone correctly pointed out above, so have Brazil and Germany and Japan and many other countries.
    Some of you Pakistani liberals are very very funny, to say the least. .

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  • Bostonian
    Jul 26, 2011 - 2:58AM

    @Talha:
    I’m sorry mate, but don’t let the truth hurt you so much. I know it’s painful, and I know as Pakistani’s we are unable to accept some of these harsh realities, but it is time we realize that the anti-India brigade has got to stop.
    First off, don’t bash Indians or any non-Pakistani’s for reading articles other than that of their own country’s media. If anything, I think it goes on to prove their curiosity of cross-border views. Second, it may be worth you reading through Indian newspapers to get a sense of how the perception of Pakistan is, not just in India, but globally. If you are bashing Bashir for reading Tribune articles, then I am sorry, you should refrain from reading articles on the BBC, NYTimes, Wall Street Journal, and just about any publication OTHER than Dawn, Tribune, and the few other suspects.
    Rather than everyone focusing on cross-border obsession, which in reality there always will be given the history between the two countries, why not focus on harnessing such “obsession” towards something more constructive? Cross-border trade maybe? Developing business relations? Granting visas to boost tourism? (I wouldn’t blame Indians for not wanting to head this way just yet given the accuracy of some of Bashir’s comments… but at least we can start by visiting some of the absolutely gorgeous sites of India :) )
    Oops I think I may just have caused a few people reading this comment to absolutely burn on the inside… but let me just tell all readers of this article that I am a Pakistani, lived in Karachi most of my life, but I DO have the ability to recognize what the ground realities are like, and until and unless our people, ranging from our liberal elite to the more conservative folk, do not realize that “foreign elements” (Rehman Malik’s favorite excuse) are not to blame, and that our own corrupt politicians and army need to wake up, we won’t be able to help ourselves.

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  • SSA
    Jul 26, 2011 - 3:37AM

    @ Bashir. Leave us alone and for once, realize that you are, indeed, obsessed with everything Pakistan. All you are doing by using your time in visiting Pakistani newspaper websites is spewing out that deep-rooted hatred that you have been brainwashed with all your life and it is quite plain for all to see. There is nothing positive to be gained from all the hate-mongering that you and your kind indulge in by visiting and commenting on articles published in our newspapers. When I want to be friendly with Indians, I certainly want to avoid people like you who are sadly still stuck in the past and who refuse to just move on. I want to be friendly with Indian people with open hearts and open minds. I can do without the brainwashed, chest-thumping bigots telling my people what to do. Please get yourself a life. Thank you.

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  • Jul 26, 2011 - 4:09AM

    If Tharoor was smart he would have been UN secretary general now. He did something stupid and was called back to India. But even in India his raas leela continued. He got involved with the Kashmiri Pandit woman got married to her and then lost his ministerial post. He has lost his dimaag. So don’t take him seriously. He is the blue eyed boy [ and a genuinely blue eyed one at that] of the congress party who cant do any wrong. He has good command over English and is the centre of attraction in parties and attending parties is what he does. He is in his fifties but behaves like a teenager. He thinks he is a 16 yr old Dulha.

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  • Truth Seeker
    Jul 26, 2011 - 4:28AM

    @Talha:
    Don’t go back to square One. At least appreciate the commentators from India who are reading Pakistani view point and sharing their candid thoughts.
    When the walls are coming down, don’t erect new obstacles. If Indians are obsessed with Pakistan, aren’t Pakistanis obsessed with India.

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  • stuka
    Jul 26, 2011 - 4:28AM

    Look, I admire your columns but I’d look to point out a couple of erroneous assumptions made by you.

    “”Let us begin with the wide-eyed protestations of geostrategic innocence, the casual assertion that India has no hegemonic ambitions, regional or otherwise. Any diplomat who actually believed that would normally be classified as hopelessly naïve.”

    It is no one’s case that India does not desire to have hegemony in South Asia. It does. But there’s a difference between hegemony and revisionism especially from a territorial perspective. At no time has India desired to alter the IB or the LOC between India and Pakistan. Siachen is the exception that proves the role – the LOC did not demarcate boundaries in that sector. If you take Bangladesh as a contrast, India has given up territory to Bangladesh (Tin Bigha) and other adjustments are under way.

    “Instead, the real problem with Mr Tharoor’s column is how he transitions from the contention that Pakistan has an unhealthy obsession with India to the conclusion that real Pakistani liberals should share India’s desire to “defenestrate” the Pakistan military. This is dangerous ground.”

    This is absolutely true and the reason has more to do with the ideological conditioning of Pak Mil itself, rather than any fundamental case for liberalism. Pak Mil is not like a normal military in a normal country. Just as it is reasonable to expect a North Korean liberal to be against the current North Korean establishment, it is reasonable to expect a Liberal to be against the current state of affairs vis a vis civil – military relations in Pakistan. It does NOT follow that such a course of action would lead to a desire of reunification with India. Bangladesh is a case in point. It’s military is a professional military, it’s national identity incorporates it’s multi-hued ethos of religion and language, and despite the fact that there is a West Bengal in India, there is no demand for reunification on either side.

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  • R
    Jul 26, 2011 - 5:47AM

    Pakistan has the right to defend and arm itself to whatever its requirements are – So when will the military report to and seek approval from the , elected representatives of its citizens to fight “evil” India. Can the liberals square up to make this argument and fight for it? Unless they do, Pakistan cannot get off the path that it is on. Whenever “liberals” see that they have to really get out in the streets to fight for the change that they write about in English newspapers, they find convenient distractions to remain inside. Recommend

  • Sonam Shyam
    Jul 26, 2011 - 7:27AM

    First it was Ejaz Haider who was rubbed by Aatish Taseer the wrong way and now Feisal Naqvi has taken umbrage to Shashi Tharoor’s article. Hey! What’s going on? I am with all sincerity trying to understand the angry Pakistani reactions to those articles but I have been left scratching my head. The rebuttals from the Pakistani authors are quite unconvincing to say the least. Now Mr.Feisal Naqvi’s primary point is that how can Pakistan ever dismantle its military? The question is; Did Shashi Tharoor actually meant to say that in his article? Tharoor called on to defenestrate the Pakistani military. Defenestrate does not mean disbanding the Pakistani army, as Mr.Naqvi seems have understood, rather it means “Neutering” the Pakistani army, or to simply put it; Bringing the Pakistani army under civilian control. If Tharoor calls liberals in Pakistan as Pakistanis first and liberals later then what’s wrong in this statement? Even Tharoor is an Indian first and whatever else comes later. The Preamble of the Indian Constitution starts with the words, “We the People of India”. Therefore not just Tharoor but every Indian is an Indian first and every other identity is subsequent. If 1.2 billion Indians have no problems in being Indian first and being liberal or whatever next, then what’s troubling Mr.Naqvi if Tharoor calls Pakistanis as Pakistanis first and liberals later? Mr.Naqvi, if you know what actually is your Pakistani identity or what Pakistan as a nation stands for, you would never feel slighted if someone calls you a Pakistani first and a liberal later.

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  • kailash
    Jul 26, 2011 - 7:38AM

    Can we not agree that probably we will never(at least not in near future) be in good terms. And move on with own life instead of wasting time and energy talking about talks for friendship. Let taliban/JUD take its natural course and see where Pakistan is heading. I am sure there will some conclusive answer in 3-5 yrs. After that both can make right choice for future of south Asia. Till then plz just stop talking to each other. I guess we will in more peace in that way/ At least we won’t be pretending to be better country than other

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  • Y Khan
    Jul 26, 2011 - 8:05AM

    I completely agree with the author of this article. Let me start by saying that if the WSJ allowed Aatish Taseer to write an Op-Ed then by definition it would have had to be anti Pakistan, anti Pakistani Army and to a certain extent anti Islam. Hence Aatish Taseer like all the other liberals in Pakistan was used to further their anti Pakistan cause. I do hope that the young Taseer should reflect on the fact that his article, probably well meaning, would not make any difference in the Pakistani mindset while at the same time be used to further create a hatred for Pakistan in the eyes of the US.

    Not that I care what the US or their war mongering lackeys seem to think! The world will never forget the murder of 1million Iraqis.

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  • Frank
    Jul 26, 2011 - 10:18AM

    I think the penny is beginning to drop and the more intelligent of the liberals are beginning to understand what the Indian state is about. The Indian state by its very nature cannot accept the existence of Pakistan or any other polity outside of its control in South Asia. The very existence of states like Pakistan and Bangladesh is offensive to Indians because they undermine the whole ideological foundations of the ‘Indian Union’. Given the opportunity India will use any means including brutal violence to prevent or to reverse the existence of such states. This is all too evident in Kashmir where India has poured in hundreds of thousands of troops to subjugate a nation they ostensibly went in to help. This is the true significance of the Kashmir dispute and the reason Kashmir cannot be simply swept under the carpet by the Pakistani liberals. Do we Pakistani have the right to decide the destinies of our historical homelands or does that right belong to Hindustanis, Tamils and Bengalis in India? And if Srinagar today then why not Lahore or Multan tomorrow?

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  • pl/sql
    Jul 26, 2011 - 10:32AM

    Sir, why should we on the other side of the border, take the pain of being politically correct and sugar-coating the truth for the handful of Pakistani liberals who are not even strong enough to protest the killing of their fellow liberal (Mr.Taseer). You have watched in silence, partly due to fear and partly due to apathy as your own army chewed on your country’s future. Why should we on the other side of the border, stand up for you? I ask you that question sincerely.

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  • Trapeze Swinger
    Jul 26, 2011 - 1:20PM

    none of our fellow indian siblings have read the article written by their famous diplomat but everyone seems to be reading the one that Mr Naqvi wrote. only interested in what’s happening in Pakistan? only interested in leaving derogatory remarks here? I have been living in the UK for the past four years now and I can safely say that I’m close friends with approximately 50 Indians. Only one of those Indians thinks the way most of the people that comment here do. This group of people disappoints me. I can relate to every Indian I know here (minus that one) and we have healthy discussions every other weekend. The public sentiment in India about Pakistan and vice versa is very positive. I can safely say that (talking about the educated class which actually has contact with other Pakistanis). I, being a Pakistani, was elected as the President of the Indian Society at my university. says a lot, doesn’t it? Recommend

  • Paras Vikmani
    Jul 26, 2011 - 1:43PM

    Its a fact that after Taseer Jr, Mr Tharoor has said which you have to accept Pakistan!

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  • Jul 26, 2011 - 2:00PM

    The only bone I have to pick with Tharoor’s article (and I am no fan of tharoor) is the last sentence – Nor should we be surprised: a Pakistani liberal is, after all, a Pakistani before he is a liberal. That was a cheap shot.

    Otherwise I could not find anything cretinous in his analysis. However when I see your reaction and those of other liberal-minded writers, I do not hold too much hope for Hina Khar making any headway.

    You find it difficult to digest the fact that all the aggression has come from your side. You find it impossible to believe that India is a status-quo power – yes we have made mistakes (IPKF in Sri Lanka was a well-intentioned move but backfired).

    And if nothing else, remember this sentence from Taseer’s article (I am paraphrasing) – the hatred of india stops Pakistan from dealing with Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism. That is all you need to chew on. The rest is ‘tu tu main main’.

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  • narayana murthy
    Jul 26, 2011 - 2:05PM

    Tharoor was a failure as a minister for state for external affairs. He was kicked out of the ministry.

    He is a good looking guy, who speaks from his throat, with a fake American accent. Apart from that, I don’t think, he’s very astute as a politician and also as a bureaucrat.Recommend

  • Prefer not to say
    Jul 26, 2011 - 2:15PM

    Faisal, I have known you and have come to love your writing. This is especially an excellent piece. You have carefully deconstructed each of Tharoor’s arguments but I am afraid his one point still stands to cancel out all your logic.

    You have not responded to his (somewhat true) assertion:

    “This is not merely an academic question. Pakistan’s animus toward India is the cause of both its unwillingness to fight Islamic extremism and its active complicity in undermining the aims of its ostensible ally, the United States.”

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  • amoghavarsha.ii
    Jul 26, 2011 - 3:25PM

    @Frank, he he he, can u tell me are u a Hindustani or not?
    Because Hindustani means not indians(presentdayindia) alone. It is a older categorisation of Indians, whose border started from the present day Afghanistan.Recommend

  • Frank
    Jul 26, 2011 - 3:55PM

    amoghavarsha

    Frank, he he he, can u tell me are u a
    Hindustani or not? Because Hindustani
    means not indians(presentdayindia)
    alone. It is a older categorisation of
    Indians, whose border started from the
    present day Afghanistan.

    No, I am a Potohari Punjabi not a Hindustani. My people have always used the word ‘Hindustan’ or ‘Hind’ for the land east of the Yamuna where the Hindi-Urdu speaking people live.

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  • Y Khan
    Jul 26, 2011 - 4:10PM

    @amoghavarsha….I don’t know about Frank but i think Karzai and the Northern Alliance are definitely Hindustanis.

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  • FHN
    Jul 26, 2011 - 4:26PM

    dear prefer not to say

    Thank you for your kind words. I actually disagree with that sentence too (somewhat) but there is only so much one can say in 1000 words. A very large part of Pakistan´s very messed up policy is due to anti-India feelings but there is also a significant realpolitik element. In any event, this is more Ejaz Haider´s turf!

    As for all the others, thank you too for your comments (both negative and positive). A lot of the commentators from across the border seem to think that Shashi Tharoor was only impolite, not incorrect. let me try again to say that his comments came across almost as denying Pakistan´s right to an independent existence. If that is what Indians think, then we are indeed in trouble. However, I don´t believe that. Most of the Indians of my acquaintance — many of whom are good friends — have no such issues with Pakistan. It may be that Mr. Tharoor did not intend his words to be taken that way. If so, it would have been better for him to have measured his words more carefully.

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  • stuka
    Jul 26, 2011 - 4:45PM

    “The very existence of states like Pakistan and Bangladesh is offensive to Indians because they undermine the whole ideological foundations of the ‘Indian Union’”

    Load of crock. It is absolutely critical to India that these states continue to exist. Why would the Hindu majority want to dilute it’s numerical strength? Adding Bangladesh is a pathetic attempt to spread Pakistani delusions beyond your own borders.

    Once the Pak gives up its revisionist stance vis a vis India, a normal relationship can evolve. Recommend

  • stuka
    Jul 26, 2011 - 4:50PM

    “Do we Pakistani have the right to decide the destinies of our historical homelands or does that right belong to Hindustanis,”

    There is no historical homeland for Pakistan outside of British controlled Muslim majority areas that were determined in 1947.

    “Tamils and Bengalis in India? And if Srinagar today then why not Lahore or Multan tomorrow?”

    Erm, it has been 60 years, many tomorrows have passed. We don’t want Lahore or Multan or any other Pakistani city. We will defend what is ours. If you people are too insane to understand the difference, not our fault. Recommend

  • BruteForce
    Jul 26, 2011 - 4:52PM

    “India does see itself as a major power, both economically and militarily; just ask the Sri Lankans or the Nepalese. ”

    So, if you ask the small neighbours of recognized big powers they usually love their big neighbours? Do all the Countries like and adore USA who live near it(Cuba, Venezuela) or China (Vietnam, Taiwan,etc) or Pakistan (Afghanistan) ?

    If you are big, its almost granted the small are going to despise you or complain.

    India has got the approval of 4 powers out of the top 5 for the UNSC seat. What is so wrong with it! How is that hegemonic and domineering! Quite an idiotic point, actually.

    Maybe the word ‘defenestrate’ was not the right one to use, but the meaning you derived out of it was completely wrong. How can any sane person expect a Country to be without its military? It must only mean that the Military’s wings must be clipped and Civilian supremacy established.

    What is so wrong with that?Recommend

  • R
    Jul 26, 2011 - 4:53PM

    Defenestrate means: throw out of the window.
    It does not mean eliminating or even reducing the size of the military as Mr. Haider and the author have taken it to mean.

    Having said that: can the real liberals storm the glimmering palace – GHQ, and defenestrate the men in Khaki? Please arm them but put them under civilian control.

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  • antony
    Jul 26, 2011 - 4:58PM

    @Frank, Meaningless rant .India is a status quo country and all its people just want to progress their lives through work .Never one government or any small state in India wanted to absorb pakistan,bangladesh etc.For your kind information we tamilians of tamil nad were raising our voices against srilankan government during 2009 war where innocent tamilians where killed (willfully or otherwise) during LTTE war ..We never favoured LTTE for their violence as a proof we voted out the tamil government completely when our earlier prime minister (Rajiv gandhi — Kashmiri pandit genealogy ) just sympathising more to India rather than LTTE . Now coming back to our voices against 2009 srilankar war even US,UK ,Australia are toeing our line for sympathies of tamil civilians killed. For understanding your neighbhouring country India please interact as much with Indians to know about India. Few bad apples are there in every society and if you talk to them and make up your opinion then its like I talk to Zahid hamid and His rant to judge pakistan ..

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  • woohoo
    Jul 26, 2011 - 5:25PM

    Instead of fibbing about alleged fibbing and ad hominem attacks (by both Naqvi and Haider), I would like to see some facts presented.
    AFAIK, in Jinnah’s words, Pakistan is a supposed to be a secular country for the muslims of sub-continent. If that isn’t oxymoronic, nothing else will be.

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  • Hedgefunder
    Jul 26, 2011 - 5:26PM

    @Frank:
    If the Indian State ever has any notions against Independant Pakistan, than trust me Pakistan would have been dealt with at same time as eastern Pakistan in 1971.
    So rest assure that was never on agenda.
    What India actually desires most is stable and responsible Neighbourhood , without aggresion and policies that actually ensure that stability in long term, so that they can get on with its economic and social development, as too many chances have been missed due to ineffective governance and policies since Independance.
    Its time that people of Pakistan stand up and take those resposibilities too, rather than their dependance on others for their basic needs too!!!!

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  • IAH
    Jul 26, 2011 - 5:56PM

    @Trapeze Swinger : Funny / Sad thing is , I know maybe a few dozen Pakistani folks here in the USA. Almost all of them believe in the standard conspiracy stuff spewed in these papers (Mossad/ RAW ; India causing trouble in Karachi and Balochistan; India is behind the the Sri Lanka team attack; 26/11 Mumbai attack was staged by India etc.).
    And they are not shy about sharing this outright with you. It is very difficult to discuss anything with them. And all of them are western educated professionals.Recommend

  • Tanoli
    Jul 26, 2011 - 6:15PM

    well written article i never understand mr tharoor he is educated person but talk like street
    politicion thank god they did not elect him as a u.n.o secretry genral.

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  • Rock
    Jul 26, 2011 - 6:24PM

    @Frank: any reference you have to prove the argument.. funny part is “east of the Yamuna”. have you heard river name indus or sidhu or origin of word Hind? Hint- Ask Persians about hind.

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  • Hedgefunder
    Jul 26, 2011 - 8:19PM

    @IAH:
    They may be western educated as you say, but lack basic intelligence to grasp the reality, its same in UK, too, with exception of the Mirpuris as these guys may not be educated, but their commercial acuman is second to none and they are not buying Pakistan’s kashmir Ticket either, as they are well aware of Punjabis and their attitude towards anyone from other ethnicity!!!!

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  • Abbas from the US
    Jul 26, 2011 - 8:20PM

    There is a Mr Tahroor the ex diplomat who still has aspirations to the coveted position of Secretary General of the UN, there is a Mr Tahroor a parliamentarian who needs to be re elected to the Lok Sabha, there is Mr Tahroor a stalwart defender of the Congress as a political party who needs to keep the indian political narrative from passing to the Hindu nationalists and fundamentalists. There is also a liberal Mr Tahroor in Indian terms who would like to see in the Pakistani liberal as a reflection of the Indian liberal who has to on occaision argue with the Indian military hawk.
    But neither is Mr Tahroor a liberal first and nor are Mr Haidar or Naqvi, all three of them are either Indian liberals or Pakistani liberals, with their nationalism preceding their liberalism when addressing the other. Then not to forget there is Aatish who may have issues with a father who was not there for him as a parent, who chooses to question the Pakistani liberal side of his parentage. A father who as a politicised indvidual under attack from conservatives and extremists in Pakistan felt the more important need to demonstrate his Pakistani side in the twitter message, alongside his very liberal side of defending Aasiya now on death row, for which he laid down his life.
    This is a very complex story, which neither Salman, Aatish, Tahroor, Haider nor Naqvi can do justice in explaining other than which side of each of their personality finds dominance at that particular instant in time.

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  • Hedgefunder
    Jul 26, 2011 - 8:26PM

    @Rock:
    LOL !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Good point thou, perhaps Frank has got their geography mixed up as i have notice that with most Pakistanis, Geography and History are not their Forte!!!!

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  • Abhi
    Jul 26, 2011 - 8:47PM

    I think the war of wrods is heating up. I think Mr Naqvi would like Advani better than Tharoor who gave secular certificate to Jinnah.

    The problem with writing angree blogs is that the blog will be full of contradictions and easy to pick up a hole in it. May be because of same reason even Shashi Tharoor wen off balance.
    For example the para below will fit if coming from Musharraf or Mirza Aslam Beg kind of military person. Mr Naqvi knows well that the neighbourhood he is complaining about is making of Pak army rather than anything else.

    “But given the neighbourhood we live in, and given our current condition, no reasonable person thinks it advisable to dismantle our armed forces”

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  • Frank
    Jul 26, 2011 - 8:53PM

    stuka

    Erm, it has been 60 years, many
    tomorrows have passed. We don’t want
    Lahore or Multan or any other
    Pakistani city.

    That’s because we’ve never given you the opportunity. Sheikh Abullah did, and his people are paying the price for it to this day.

    We will defend what is ours. If you
    people are too insane to understand
    the difference, not our fault.

    How many people in Srinagar feel that you’re defending what’s yours and not occupying what’s theirs? As far as we’re concerned only their opinion matters.

    Please try to be reasonable.You got the opportunity to steal Kashmir and you took it. How can we be sure you won’t steal Lahore too if the opportunity should ever arise? Moreover, the thief cannot insist on keeping what he stole before the whole world and also insist on his innocence. This is insane.

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  • harkol
    Jul 26, 2011 - 9:26PM

    Author is mis-representation of what Tharoor’s says.

    Tharoor’s idea of ‘defenestrating’ is not to have a Pakistan without an army, it is just to throw the army out of its commanding position as the guard of ‘islamic pakistan’ and to move to a polity that’s truly democratic. Author says the Army is the only credible institution in Pakistan so deserves support! That’s precisely where Liberals go wrong.

    The biggest strength of a nation comes from right identity and ideology. India has strategic ambition, but it doesn’t have a desire for conflicts. Author’s thought of India’s desire to be part of UN security council as proof of its desire for geographic expansion is a very poor one.

    Pakistan’s problem fundamentally arises from a lack of Identity & Ideology. Religion isn’t an ideology, it is ‘personal faith’. Pakistan Army exploits this lack of cohesive ideology and gives a militaristic one.

    Pakistan hasn’t fallen to the depths of Nazi Germany in virulent ideology. But, If Pakistan won’t move to a identity that focuses on welfare & progress, then perhaps Pakistan too will descend to the same state of Germany circa 1930s – Broke, proud & floating in a ideology with religious fervor and becoming a scrooge to the world.

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  • Ayesha
    Jul 26, 2011 - 9:57PM

    @Abbas from the US:

    yours is the most carefully thought out response I have seen with regards to this controversy thus far!

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  • Hedgefunder
    Jul 26, 2011 - 10:43PM

    @Frank:
    Care to ask the same question to Kashmiris in your so called ! Azad Kashmir??
    I do mean Indegeous People of Kashmir, not those who were installed in the region with the view to future Plebiscite, hoping to tilt the balance in their favour!!!
    You also need to refresh your memory or at least look it up to realise , that on 6th Sept 1965, The Indian Infantry Division was in the vicinity of Lahore Airport, near the village of Barki !!! Ring any bells ???
    The message is simple if the Indians wanted it they would have taken it at that stage !! Not in present day ! As at present anything in Pakistan is serious Liability, nothing else !!!

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  • M. I. Aslam
    Jul 26, 2011 - 10:44PM

    A good analysis done by the writer and I totally agree with him about Indian ambitions and designs. Indians are trying their level best to get UNSC permanent seat but have failed till now and as per latest developments they are no where closer to the task.
    Indians have a permanent pain and suffering which started in 1947. At that time they accepted the arrangement of **Pakistan** expecting it to collapse soon under its own weight but to their horror it sustained all initial pressures. They played the most devilish game which resulted in fall of Dhaka.Although we did our part of sins and blunders but who gave India right to invade and cross in other country.
    Now many indians say that they wish to eliminate Pakistan i ve two things for them First Historically except British no other Invader has come from the East since Alexander. Second and the most important one is that now if india attacked Pakistan as suggested by some commentators it will be a matter of our survival and then it will another story.
    Indians wanted to be a south asian big brother and only problem is Pakistan which can give Indians matching response. They have been able to subdue Nepal Bhutan Bangladesh Srilanka and even Maldives with coercion and with military muscles. Indians don't mind Pakistan as an independent state if it assure indians to be **Freindly** state like Nepal.
    Indians always try to have larger than life role for their country at the world stage. They have great poverty ( est 50 to 60 % live below poverty line) but they portray **ALLLL IZ WELL** they are the biggest buyer of weapons and they compare them self to China ( they just comfortably ignore China's foreign reserves and their loans given to US EU states and other nations of world)
    The efforts of India to get permanent seat in UNSC has not been successful after a vigorous efforts of many years and wasting plenty of money.
    Pakistanis on the whole don't care much about india and what they think it is quite visible from our media but indians are still stuck in age old Pakistan mania or phobia. we have came a long way from that evidence i can produce is that after every bad incidence we don't out rightly blame India and RAW we have stated looking inward and i must give credit to our brave journalists and intelligentsia for that.
    P.S. Indians please look inward and don't find scapegoats we ve stoped now its time for u too
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  • Kabir
    Jul 27, 2011 - 12:10AM

    @stuka:
    Srinagar is not yours. It is part of Kashmir, which is a disputed region. Kashmir belongs to the Kashmiris, not to the Indians or to the Pakistanis. India and Pakistan both like to think that the Kashmir issue is all about them. What both countries fail to realize is that there is a third party to the conflict, the people of Kashmir.

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  • stuka
    Jul 27, 2011 - 12:15AM

    “How many people in Srinagar feel that you’re defending what’s yours and not occupying what’s theirs? As far as we’re concerned only their opinion matters.
    Please try to be reasonable.You got the opportunity to steal Kashmir and you took it.”

    India took Kashmir in 1947, when both India and Pakistan were in a formative phase.

    ” How can we be sure you won’t steal Lahore too if the opportunity should ever arise? Moreover, the thief cannot insist on keeping what he stole before the whole world and also insist on his innocence. This is insane.”

    You can keep calling us a thief but it was Mr. Jinnah who insisted that it would be the decision of the rulers that would count, not the will of the people. This is a historical fact. India offered a deal on Kashmir in exchange for Pakistan dropping claims in Hyderabad – it was Pakistan that rejected the formula.

    Anyways, the proof is in the pudding – we did not keep Dhaka either and have in fact returned territory to Bangladesh post 1971. Your point is – Indians not willing to give up Kashmir means they want to destroy Pakistan. You are welcome to that opinion but also responsible for the consequences that flow from that underlying assumption.

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  • Hedgefunder
    Jul 27, 2011 - 12:37AM

    @M. I. Aslam:
    What does it take to get you stop playing, same old record, perhaps with different words???
    You have not manage to respond any of the comments with any validity yet,and have audacity to continue singing same tune !!!!
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  • Bangash
    Jul 27, 2011 - 12:56AM

    These Indians are completely obsessed with Pakistan and send their trolls to Pakistani websites everyday.

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  • Concerned
    Jul 27, 2011 - 1:06AM

    Hey indian ‘liberals’ why don’t you ‘throw out the window’ (or defenestrate) your military first?

    After all, wasn’t it your ‘Mahatama’ who had suggested to the British during world war II to militarily surrender to the Germans inorder to truly be victorious. If India were to ever pay attention to its mahatama’s words it would cease to have armed forces.

    Indian trolls commenting here of course want Pakistan to throw-out-the-window its military. No prizes on correctly guessing why.

    Despite the fact that more than six decades have passed these poor souls are still reeling from the reality of partition.

    Stop obsessing about Pakistan… please.

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  • Moi
    Jul 27, 2011 - 1:27AM

    @woohoo:

    Pakistan is a State brought into creation for the Muslims of India. A State wherein this nation has all the independence to run its affairs freely.

    This freedom bestows upon them the choice to build the state based upon any framework they see fit. This framework may well be theocratic or secular.

    The Quaid-e-Azam advocated a framework wherein the State would function above distinctions of caste, creed or religion. As his humble follower I thoroughly agree.

    Yet, unfortunately we have often failed to follow the path envisioned by our great leader.

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  • Moi
    Jul 27, 2011 - 1:34AM

    @HedgeFunder:

    Yeah, the indian infantry division was in the vicinity Lahore and was soundly beaten back. Ring any bells???

    In all the wars fought, not once has Pakistan been the first to commence hostilities across the international border. Stop harping mad about Pakistan and stop your country’s vain belligerence .Recommend

  • malik
    Jul 27, 2011 - 3:19AM

    Yes we are Pakistani before liberal, and we will support our Army too but not for hatred for our defense.

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  • Anil Kapuria
    Jul 27, 2011 - 10:10AM

    After reading all three Astish, Ejaz, and Shashi write-ups, I got the feeling that Aatish’s was simplistic and I wrote off as pain of a neglected son. I do not know why Wall Street Journal published it, I double checked to ensure and it was indeed Wall Street Journal.

    Ejaz’s flow chart is really a well defined and very symmetrical mold that can fit essays from either side of the border about the other. No flow chart being too logical, could have captured a son’s words. Shashi’s essay was of course pompous, and Feisal stretches his to angry boundaries.

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  • Frank
    Jul 27, 2011 - 1:07PM

    stuka

    India took Kashmir in 1947, when both
    India and Pakistan were in a formative
    phase.

    This is an utterly vacuous statement. There was no formative phase. In 1947 the boundaries of Pakistan, India and Jammu and Kashmir were well defined. Whether you steal something ten years ago or ten centuries ago. what is stolen remains stolen and your possession of it remains illegal. India ostensibly went in to help the Kashmiris against Pashtun tribals but in fact used the opportunity to occupy the state. You went in claiming to help them but now you are subjugating them. Given the opportunity you will do the same to Lahore.

    You can keep calling us a thief but it
    was Mr. Jinnah who insisted that it
    would be the decision of the rulers
    that would count, not the will of the
    people. This is a historical fact.

    Who did or said what became irrelevant after India took the Kashmir issue to the UN. All parties involved, including India, agreed to settle the issue by giving the Kashmiri nation a plebiscite to decide its future. It is India that refuses to honour its pledges.

    Anyways, the proof is in the pudding –
    we did not keep Dhaka either and have
    in fact returned territory to
    Bangladesh post 1971.

    You did not because under the prevailing circumstances you could not. The majority of Indians I know believe Bangladesh belongs to them,

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  • BruteForce
    Jul 27, 2011 - 8:24PM

    @Frank:

    “As far as we’re concerned only their opinion matters.”

    How do you know what their opinion is? Have you ever held a poll? Even the Islamist parties can create havoc in any of the Pakistan’s cities but will fail to win a single election. Same goes for the Separatists. 80% of Kashmir voted for the recent panchayat level elections. Does that say anything to you where the wishes of the people lie? Why do you think the Hurriat has never contested a single election!

    Stop making a case out of Kashmir, when you have the audacity to conveniently ignore Uighur Muslim brutalization by China in Xinjiang or even Balochistan. If you want to work for the plight of some poor Muslims why dont you start by charging a few people responsible for 3 lakh Muslim Bengalis killed in 1971 so that their relatives can get some justice?

    India is doing fine, so is Kashmir. The boycott call of Hurriat for the elections was conveniently ignored by 80% of the people, including in Srinagar. Recommend

  • Wow
    Jul 28, 2011 - 12:14AM

    @BruteForce:

    1) Two wrongs don’t make a right.

    2) I see you’ve never been to Kashmir.

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  • abhi
    Jul 28, 2011 - 2:02PM

    @Frank

    I think you guys should stop making baseless claims.
    Everyone knows in what circumstances India intervened in J&K and under what circumstances UN resoultions were passed (Pakistan was sucking to USA in those days). Also how pakistan didn’t allow the UN resolution to materialize by not withdrawing its army from occupied Kashmir. Now even the UN secretary general has accepted that those resolutions are irrelevant.
    So stop making nonsense comments and write something constructive.Recommend

  • BruteForce
    Jul 28, 2011 - 8:33PM

    @Wow:

    Yes, but the hypocrisy is evident. Money is a greater a attraction than Religion, one comes to the conclusion.

    I HAVE been to Kashmir and met and befriended many Kashmiris who are working in my hometown Bangalore known for its booming business environment. I dont see how you came to the conclusion that I have not been to Kashmir. India is a free Country, my man, and I can travel where ever I want to, so can the Kashmiris.

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  • Rishi
    Jul 29, 2011 - 12:12PM

    Dear Mr. Naqvi, When Tharoor pointed out that India’s military projections are defensive and peaceful with evidence of the wars it fought with Pakistan, you are countering it with India’s ambition to become a UNSC member. What is the relationship between the two? How is India’s ambition to become a UNSC member through UN reforms can trigger a militaristic response from Pakistan? I am at loss here!

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  • Harsh
    Jul 29, 2011 - 2:10PM

    And i was expecting a good rebuttal! Mr. Tharoor’s article was strongly biased and should have been tackled methodically to disprove it. Instead we have an emotional response that leaves the onus of answering questions on “others”.

    Perhaps, a rebuttal focusing on why the Pakistani army is necessary and illustrating its achievements and contributions towards the peace and security of Pakistan might have been more sensible. He comes closest with:

    “I also have no desire to destroy Pakistan’s military. Pakistan lacks stable institutions and while the armed forces are certainly a major part of our problems, ‘defenestrating’ them is not part of the solution (For a more nuanced version of this argument see Anatol Lieven’s recent book, Pakistan: A Hard Country, Penguin, 2011). Pakistan needs a military which knows its legitimate boundaries and which does not overwhelm our limited resources. But given the neighbourhood we live in, and given our current condition, no reasonable person thinks it advisable to dismantle our armed forces.”

    Unfortunately he defeats the foundation of a good rebuttal in the same paragraph and raises a very critical question while at the same time hinting at the answer. Why does Pakistan lack stable institutions and why has the army been so successful at cornering resources? If Pakistani’s feel that the two questions are linked, then Mr. Tharoor’s point has been admirably made by Mr. Naqvi, who in turn clearly proves that he is indeed a liberal!

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