In their treatment of an opinion different from theirs, fanatics in both India and Pakistan behave like identical, spoiled twins. On Tuesday, BJP workers attacked a rally of scientists who were linking a hand-in-hand chain in Bangalore to protest their government's nuclear mania. And in Islamabad, some of the journalists invited to cover a press conference joined hands with a religio-political group to hurl chairs and insults at some learned men and women whose only crime was their conviction in ideas of peace, in their dream of a world without nuclear weapons.
Giving our newly-made bombs images of deities, couching them in religious metaphors and glorifying these weapons as a deed ordained by God is pathological. Bombs know no religion. They destroy, or, at best, create the fear of mass destruction. The centre-point of the debate on nuclear energy and weapons everywhere in the world is their elimination, not proliferation, possession or use -- let alone adoring them as manna and honey dew.
After demonstrating their fearsome capabilities, the governments and popular media in India and Pakistan are exploiting the emotions of an unthinking populace by presenting nuclear arms as panacea for their woes of existence. Attributes of masculinity engender false beliefs of 'superiority' in one poor country over the other. The people on the two sides are being made to believe that learning how to produce weapons of war by splitting atoms of radioactive elements is the biggest achievement of their nations since the British left.
Nationalistic slogans on both sides are now turning into war tunes. And, as is evident from assaults on scientists and academics in Bangalore and Islamabad, the first victims are likely to be the people at home.
In Pakistan the exchange of views that took place in the wake of many Indian nuclear tests was a refreshingly civilised debate. For the first time in the country's 50 years, fears of a possible catastrophe broke through ideological taboos. Many who wouldn't touch security matters with a barge pole were compelled to make and state an opinion. In the end, the government did what everybody expected it to do.
That act of the government on May 28, by any yardstick of love for the country, does not mean permitting violence against those who think it should not have happened. However few they may be, the voices against nuclear weapons carry as much moral and religious weight as those which rely on threats to the country's security. It is immoral and irreligious to expose such a large number of almost famished people to the high risk of devastation these weapons will surely bring, with or without being used.
Sadly, the debate we need to do after going nuclear -- that is, how to do away with all weapons of indiscriminate and mass destruction in India, Pakistan and elsewhere -- will now take place in an atmosphere muzzled by violence against dissenters.
Sandeep Singh Bajwa
It is a fact that there is a mistrust between Indians and Pakistanis. Reason being that historically all communities have always looked each other with mistrust. This mistrust was build up over centuries through several reasons. The major problem is clash of middle eastern idealogy vs. Indian idealogy. Majority of religions practiced today of this world originated either in Middle east (Jerusalem, etc) or in North India (Hinduism, Budhism, Sikhism, Jainism). In India this clash of Islamic culture vs. Indian culture is more apparent and visible through riots and mistrust buildup over the centuries. Only way to stop this is to educate each other's faith.
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Punjab-digest Wednesday, November 18 1998 Volume 01 : Number 021