One of the peculiar things about Indians is that we love to see Pakistan humiliated. Our news channels, only mirroring what people want to see, often run shows on how we managed to expose/shame/humiliate Pakistan and/or Imran Khan, yet again. Hindi news channels are the most creative and enthusiastic. They show a sad Imran Khan picture (his gaze downwards, disappointed expression). Headlines comprise the choicest Hindi idioms indicating humiliation — “Pakistan ki naak kat gayi/ne ghutne tek diye/sharam se paani paani/kahin ka na raha/ne muh ki khayi”. Whether a UN summit, the PM’s US visit or evidence of terrorism or mismanagement in Pakistan, we love to take jibes at our neighbour.
If it were just about a few Pakistan jokes going around, it would all have been harmless fun. However, the problem is deeper and chronic. As Indian nationalism rises, putting down Pakistan has become an essential part of it. This mindset of ‘we are better than Pakistan’ and seeking constant validation of that needs to stop. It is harming us. I have no love for Pakistan. The regime’s violence and terror has harmed India. To that extent, yes, India must continue to tell the world of the Pakistan regime’s wrongdoings. However, for our own growth’s sake, we must stop comparing and feeling good about being better than Pakistan on a daily basis.
After all, do we compare ourselves with Bangladesh or Sri Lanka? Do we ever say Indian diplomats shut up Lankan officials at the UN? Or that we managed to humiliate the leader of Bangladesh? No, we don’t do it. We know all this is beneath us. We are also quite secure of our place when it comes to these countries.
However, when it comes to Pakistan, we change. We enjoy bringing them down, but in doing so we end up comparing ourselves to them. When we compare ourselves to them, we also equate ourselves to them at some level. And if we consider Pakistan an equal, aren’t we only insulting ourselves?
Please note the facts. The Indian economy is ten times the size of Pakistan. Pakistan’s GDP is less than Maharashtra’s GDP. India is still a democracy (with its flaws, sure). Pakistan never graduated to being a real country. We are secular in the constitution. They are officially about one religion. Factually, whether in economic, demographic, political structure or social equality terms — Pakistan is no match to India. Still, guess who loves to ‘rub their nose’ on TV every night? Insecure, low esteem us, isn’t it?
To get rid of this damaging obsession, it is important to understand why we have it in the first place. One, for sure they are troublemakers at a different level, compared to almost any of our neighbours. Their constant disruption of Indian life makes it difficult to ignore them. Note that they want to be compared to us. And as per that regime’s twisted thinking, they feel annoying us makes them equal to us. A mosquito annoying an elephant doesn’t make him equal to an elephant. However, if the elephant loses his cool and gets obsessed with the mosquito, then yes, the elephant has reduced himself to being the mosquito’s equal.
The second reason for our Pakistan obsession is our language and culture commonality, particularly for North Indians. It is just strange to see people who look like us, talk like us, eat like us (at least a few dishes), watch the same movies and listen to the same music being such adversaries of ours. That commonality is hard to shake off, but we must. If India has to progress, it better start not comparing itself with anyone else. If we have to compare, we should do it with China, Europe and America. To rise, look above, not below.
The third reason for our obsession is the bloody Partition and the way Pakistan was created. Pakistan’s creation was a hasty, ill-thought negotiation. The decision to make Pakistan was also one of the most communal decisions ever taken in India’s history. The pain of that time makes it difficult to forget them. That is why you see our senior citizens more obsessed with Pakistan. The younger generation, hopefully, doesn’t carry this baggage.
The fourth reason is something we don’t like to talk about. That is, hating Pakistan is an acceptable surrogate to hating Muslims. No self-respecting Indian would be caught openly bashing Muslims. However, bashing Pakistan is acceptable, and may even be appreciated as a sign of patriotism.
However, it is time India, and we as Indians, grow up. True patriotism is not about bashing others. It is about aiming high for your own country. Given Pakistan’s deeds towards India, we have no love for them. But remember, the opposite of love is not hate. It is indifference. Obsessing about them, even if with hate, is also a form of engagement. It only lowers India’s level and keeps us behind. It is time we stop obsessing about Pakistan and focus on ourselves. It is time we give Pakistan what it truly deserves from us — indifference.