culture, Politics

Us vs. Them

There are conflicts and there are talks about those conflicts. Both need each other to survive. A conflict needs warring parties to gross generalize the enemies intension, which leads to great misapprehension of the conflict and conflict can go on for ever. A talk of conflict needs misconduct in war by their enemies such that more inflammatory speech can be delivered and enemy can be easily mis-represented. This mutual feed back can be tamed if certain care is taken in both conduct of conflict and talk of conflict. Conflict is messy and hard to monitor but the talk of conflict can be analyzed with relative ease.

The most serious problem about the conversations about conflicts is the “us vs. them” notion. People see their side as not one whole. They see different component in their system working. For example, news media, army, political parities, and bureaucracy. These components may not agree with each other all the time but they loosely fit together to build the whole system. This creates a standard of responsibilities in people’s mind. If any criminal act is done my some component of the system then people say that this crime is committed by this component of the system and it is responsibility of this component and whole system can not be blamed for the crime. For example, some military unit of their country kills some innocent civilian then the responsibility totally lay on the military unit but not on their country. On the other hand when the same people look at other conflicting side. They do not recognize the different components or faction on the other side’s system. They call all the component of the opponent as ‘virtualy same’. This monolithic view of the opponent leads to a different standard of responsibility imposed on the opponent. Any crime committed by anyone in opponent side is the responsibility of the whole opponent side. This different standard of assigning responsibility leads to highly skewed analysis of the conflict which can lead to fertile ground for misunderstanding and disastrous decision making.

For example, India and Pakistan conflict. After any terrorist attack in India, Mr. Modi comes to tv and blames Pakistan. Not the terrorists or Pakistani Army but the whole Pakistan. If Indian army does extra judicial killing then media reports the name of the officers who are responsible for the crime but not whole India. This leads to a perception of squeaky clean image of India, which does nothing wrong. In contrast, Pakistan, the rouge state, which can not be stopped for doing one crime after another. Similar attitude is true in Pakistan. For example, the recent row over not selecting any Pakistani players in IPL auctions. Here is an interview of a Pakistani player, who was not selected. He says at 4:21 to 4:23, “Hinduo ki zehniyat hi aisi hai” . He just blames all the Hindus for the mistreatment in some business event. (Courtesy: RTODM)

Another example, 9/11 attacks in US. For an American, taliban and Al-qaida are virtually same. They all are should be punished for a crime which was planned and executed by a bunch of Al-qaida members in extreme secrecy. The same mistake is done by these Muslim extremists. They assign responsibilities of criminal dealing of American businesses with middle east rulers to the whole country “America”. So, they are out there to kill any American.

I think this grave mistake can be avoided. We have to be vigilant and challenge whenever these gross generalization are made. Specially, when it is made by “us”.


Combodiaization of Pakistan!

Remember Vietnam! At some point of time in the frustration of war in Vietnam, Americans started blaming Cambodia for providing logistic support to Viet-Cong(North Vietnamese) forces. They were not accusing the Cambodian government, not the people but just the land where viet-cong soldiers can walk through. So, American’s have to bomb Cambodia to teach a lesson to the land. Nixon called it ‘a mad man theory of war’. When bombing stopped, a communist army, led by Pol Pot, came out of the jungle. And the year zero begun.

I fear if the history is repeating itself in Af-Pak. Is the next pol pot coming? I have heard Pakistani Taliban are much worse than Taliban.


Pakistan vs. Algeria

Latest events of Pakistan are so reminding me the history of Algeria. I have a limited knowledge of Algerian freedom struggle. My analogies may not be entirely accurate or may be grossly generalized.

Algeria was boiling in 1960s against French colonial occupation. It was the  last front of old school colonial occupation. FLN—quite Islamic and nationalist group—was carrying out violent insurgency against French. Eventually French suppressed this uprising with extreme brutality. After few years of this violent attempt, the people of Algeria took matters to the streets with massive protests. Finally, French political climate did change and they saw the wisdom in leaving the country. Then ex-terrorist became the freedom fighter and took charge of the country. This new government didn’t turn out to be just enough. Military became powerful and yielding influence over politics. Democratic process failed to run fluently. In 1990s, an ultra Islamic group won the elections and military refused to recognize their election. The usual justification behind this move was that the Islamic group is not civil enough to understand the modern concept of running a just state. The ultra Islamic group didn’t take it very lightly and took up arms. So, it started a bloody decade of brutality. It was vicious loop. More Islamic group rebelled. Military got more justification for brutal repression. This makes rebels more angry and more violence. Algerian government took very horrifying strategy to fight with these rebels. They committed massacres themselves and blamed it to the Islamic groups. Mainly to defame the rebellion such that population start hating them. Slowly, rebellion became week due to their internal clashes and slowly died.  Now Algeria is trying to recover from this bloody history.

Now! Pakistan, quite similar history. Pakistan, which used be part of British India,  born when British left India.  Their creation struggle is lead by Muslim league, a quite Islamic and nationalist group. In Pakistan, democracy could never establish itself. Soon, Army was in control. Military coups has been regular in last 6o years. The government has not been effective in delivering the needs of population. Now! Ultra Islamics are taking hold of the country. Similarly as it was in Algeria, the Pakistani government is coming into direct confrontation to these Islamic groups.

Now! what is the route Pakistani government going to take? Try to kill them all? From Algeria case, we learn that it will be bloody specially for civilians. Is there another way, for example talking to them? It does not seems great idea as their demand is not to get justice but to deliver justice(Sharia law) at their will.

There are some questions whose answer can lead to the solution. How do they get sophisticated weapon system? Who is selling them? Why can’t they be stopped from getting weapons? There must be some genuine demands of locals. Why don’t pakistani government tries to address them?