ISLAMABAD, Pakistan-India is a big country with the brain of a mouse. Take this headline from India’s largest newspaper, Times of India: Obama Mission: Billions To Pakistan, Billions To India.
I love the headline. It’s not wrong but a little exaggerated. US President Obama is offering $2 billion’s worth of military hardware purchases to Pakistan, subsidized by US government.
For Pakistan, it’s a cautious welcome. Nothing will come to us immediately. The purchases are divided over the next five years. It will be a slow process, involving government red tape, politics and the usual arm-twisting that Washington is so good at. It’s also a lollypop that the US government has dangled before the Pakistani military to calm some of the anger over a US helicopter killing three Pakistani soldiers three weeks ago.
The Indian government knows all this. It also knows that recent US sale of F-16s to Pakistan came with a harsh condition: the planes will be accompanied by US ‘minders’ as part of support staff who will live on the base and ensure Pakistan does not ‘misuse’ the planes, as in against India.
Still, two weeks before Obama lands in India on an official visit, Indian media managers leaked this fabulously-titled but well-researched report, grumbling that billions of Indian dollars will be going to US pockets while Pakistan will be getting billions’ worth of weapons for free. Of course, even if Pakistan buys up all the $2 billion’s worth of US weapons immediately and not over five years, it will still not match India’s massive weapons shopping spree worth $30 billion, to be spent by 2012, meaning within the next two years.
This tells you one thing: the Indian government is really not worried about the puny $2 billion offer to Pakistan tipping the scales. We can’t match India’s $30 billion.
If that is clear, then what is it that India is worried about? Why whine about two billions to Pakistan over five years when India is spending fifteen times that figure in less than two years?
It’s just India’s small-minded pursuit of anything that would undermine Pakistan. There is no way Pakistan would ever invade or destroy India, nor are most Pakistanis interested in this proposition. It’s always the bigger countries that destroy smaller ones. Yet India doesn’t really miss a second seizing any opportunity to hurt Pakistan. Remember 1971 when peaceful Pakistanis were busy in post-elections noise? India launched an unprovoked invasion of Pakistan and, as the invasion unfolded, we discovered the Indians had actually planned it for two years and created and recruited a proxy army inside our country to help them once the invasion started.
The mindset behind the Times of India story is the same mindset that invaded us in 1971, the same mindset that refuses to resolve Kashmir and pave the way for peace, the same mindset that exploits Afghan mess to set up training camps to export terrorists to Pakistan, the same mindset that plants terrorism in Balochistan, and the same mindset that bans Pakistani TV channels across India.
And to confirm the height of this Indian small-mindedness, it is the same mindset that bans Pakistani visitors from posting comments on Indian news websites, no matter how respectful that comment is, if the comment questions official Indian positions on any question. [Let me also add that Pakistani guest columnists are banned in mainstream Indian newspapers for the same reason. Compare that to Pakistani generosity as our newspapers permit guest Indian columnists to write freely even if they criticize official Pakistani policies, and no Pakistani news website bans Indians surfers from posting comments.]
Our American friends can’t see this Indian small-mindedness, of course. That’s why we hear US officials insisting India is not a threat to Pakistan, the latest such gratuitous advice came just this week during the Pak-US strategic dialogue currently underway in Washington.
For Pakistan and India to live in peace, even resolving Kashmir won’t help if India doesn’t get itself a new mindset, big and confident, in contrast to the existing insecure, small-minded way of looking at its smaller neighbors.