Arbiter of destinies - by Khushwant Singh Back   Home  
When two persons are convinced that the other is a liar, there is no point in their having a dialogue to sort out their differences. It is a Catch-22 situation: One in which you have a choice and yet don’t have a choice. India and Pakistan are caught in a vicious circle.

We try to convince other nations that we are telling the truth while the other is lying. Unfortunately the nations we try to bring round to our point of view remain unconvinced by our arguments and end up telling us to be good boys; stop sniping at each other and resume dialogue like civilised people. This has been going on for 53 years without us getting any closer to an understanding.

Recent exchanges between us prove the futility of a dialogue when there is deep distrust between the parties. We gave Pakistan a list of 20 men (14 of them Indian nationals) who had committed serious crimes in India and were given asylum by Pakistan and are currently living there.

Pakistan promptly denied knowing anything about their existence. So there was no question of it deporting them to India. Then followed it up by accusing India of harbouring Pakistani nationals wanted for crimes against the State. It promised to give us a list of their names; instead of the list it now invites us to sit round the table and discuss the matter.

We tell them there is nothing to discuss — hand over the criminals we want and we will hand over the criminals you want. Both of us present our cases to the United States which showed such alacrity in pursuing criminals who had committed heinous crimes in America and has become the arbiter of destinies of weaker nations.

Americans refuse to believe that either India or Pakistan are telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The impasse remains unbroken. Then gunmen attack USIS offices in Kolkata and kill five men, four policemen and a pedestrian.

Since none of the victims was American, the US refuses to accept that the attack was outside their building. It does not occur to them that if the gangsters had only wanted to kill Indians they could have opened fire in a crowded bazaar or even round a police thana.

They chose a US-owned building to do so because they wanted to send a message to the US. The US turns a deaf ear to it. If one American had his little finger injured in the incident, its reactions would have been very different. That is how myopic the world’s greatest power can be.
Published in Deccan Chronicle