A worthy enemy
Is America really our Enemy No 1? I am not the one to raise the question. It’s the headline on a political analysis by Raza Rumi. But you know how sometimes a single line in a long poem says all that the poem is meant to say? I thought this was just the kind of headline and have therefore borrowed it.
Rumi says that at a gathering of Pakistanis in the United States, our ambassador to that country asked the audience who they thought posed the greatest danger to Pakistan. Was it India, he asked, the US or Pakistanis themselves?
There must have been some at the meeting who do not believe in naming a new enemy every now and then and would have named India on principle – it has had pride of place for so long. But according to the report the greatest number raised their hands in favour of naming the US. The ambassador is said to have sighed and said, “Then we are doomed.”
If you are wondering about what may have caused the pessimism let me share an anecdote with you.
An impulsive youth arrived home bruised and battered and told his mother he had fought a lion. The mother anxiously asked, “So what did you do son?” “What was there for me to do?” the youth answered, “Whatever was done, was done by the lion.”
I say we have long had a reasonably worthy enemy in India. In fact the very choice had helped us discover China as our main ally and friend, which, Allah be praised, it remains to this day. And what about the United States? In Iqbal’s idiom, it has been the patron whose continued indulgence has sustained us by always making things tolerable.
We have been doing fine with this trinity of relationships so what was it that caused us to raise the question?
Are we just bored or does India no longer measure up to our ambitions?
Well, if we have chosen a bigger enemy for ourselves, let us at least follow the norms. The way I remember it after the wars in 1965 and 1971 fingers were pointed at whoever happened to visit India.
With America, however, the situation is different. The queue in front of its visa office has shown no sign of getting smaller. In fact there are frequent complaints of humiliating discrimination against Pakistanis at US airports and yet our much mentioned self respect has not prompted us to refuse to visit the US.
There is also a class of people who tended to support the US on everything but are now its avowed opponents. But – going by the Urdu dictum – not to be so consumed by hostility as to make reconciliation impossible, they still encourage their children to visit America and treat it as a family friend.
And what prompted us to move from comparing America and India to joining the race for Enemy No 1 ourselves?
What if in the end we have to conclude that we no longer need an enemy?
*Translated from Urdu
Published in The Express Tribune.
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