A restarted, and perhaps soon restopped, Delhi – Lahore bus service could not do it.
The Samjhauta Express train service through the Wagah-Attari border crossing could not do it.
Shimla and Agra accords could not do it.
Handshakes at Davos and the UN could not do it.
Having a PM on one side and President on the other, born in territory on the “other” side, could not do it.
Yet, the unthinkable has happened. Catalysed by an unexpected event.
Extreme right-wing groups, that comprise most of the relevant population in each country, the ones supported by democratic governments, the ones who know what is good for everyone else and do not hesitate to intimidate others into agreeing with them, in antagonistic neighbours India and Pakistan, are now fighting for a common cause.
Can you believe it?
It is apparently a cause worth fighting for. After all, in a modern society, do you really have a cause, that will be supported by the democratic government of the day, if you do not intimidate others into agreeing with you, for their own good of course?
It passed this litmus test of worthiness.
No, it is not Kashmir that we are talking about.
Not even Baluchistan.
We are talking about Valentine’s Day celebrations.
The Islamabad (capital of Pakistan) High Court has banned Valentine’s Day celebrations at public places in Pakistan acting on a petition claiming it to be un-Islamic.
Apparently, it was important that it was banned because it was providing enjoyment for youngsters without throwing bombs or undertaking suicide missions while celebrating. Not even intimidating others into joining their celebrations.
It was important it was banned because businesses, without threatening or intimidating customers, were managing to sell everything from roses to cars to houses to salt to mobilephones to shoes to vegetables to floor tiles to butter to light-bulbs. This could only lead to greater economic activity and economic liberation. Who has it ever helped?
It was important it was banned because in a modern society, often claiming to be democratic, only expressions of hate are to be allowed in public places, especially when backed by tactics of intimidation.
It was important it was banned because youngsters were spending their own time and money on the celebrations and letting others live. Who in a sane, modern society can call this a celebration? Especially if you are a leader of some sort who knows one can celebrate only when one gets to spend other people’s money.
Though initially stumped by the verdict as it took away the primary reason for their existence, of Pakistan-bashing, groups on the Indian side of the fence have displayed their maturity by applauding the decision and calling upon the Indian government to consider meritorious judges of the Pakistan High Courts for the many positions lying vacant in the Indian High Courts. As the request was backed by violent demonstrations and looting and arson, the government has agreed to consider the request sympathetically.
In deference to the secular nature of Indian society, these groups have refrained from calling Valentine’s Day celebrations un-Islamic or un-Hindu, plumping for a secular un-Indian instead. They have also identified it as an insidious western ploy to capture the minds and hearts of our responsible, intelligent, sensitive youngsters. Our responsible, sensitive and intelligent youngsters do not know what is good for them, one of the main reasons we allow them voting rights. We do. We will not let western culture corrupt our youngsters, debase our religions and denigrate our culture.
We know how. As do our political leaders.
We will shamelessly pander to rich companies in the West. We will change rules to make it possible for them to come and invest in our country and create opportunities for them to bribe decision-makers. We will raise a hue and cry when a western society seeks to reduce the number of Indian job-seekers and immigrants. So that our youngsters can get more jobs in western companies and promote Indian culture.
We will continue, year after year, to go to Davos and other destinations outside India that claim to be solving the world’s problems, on taxpayer money, to be clicked with the rich and famous and get our children admitted to Ivy League colleges. We will continue to send large delegations to western countries, especially in their pleasant summer months when it gets very hot in India, to learn about things that we will never implement here.
We will not let our youngsters be corrupted by western influence.
We wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day.