Narratives Of Violence

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Children of India’s diplomats will not study in Pakistani schools. The underlying narrative is that this had to be done

Check this out, the tuition fees payable at the International School of Islamabad for grades 6-12 is $21,889 per year, which works to more than Rs.14 lakhs! Add to that a “development fee” of $5,900 (Rs.3,83,500) which is non-refundable, and it’s no wonder the Indian government decided that children of our diplomats would not study in schools in Pakistan (since the government paid the fees).

The high fees are for a reason: The school may not have many students given that Pakistan is a non-family posting for diplomats from the US and Europe. Indian diplomats who have served there, say the school would not have more than 200 or 300 students, mostly Asian, some African and of course the children belonging to local elite families.

The fees apart, security considerations would have weighed heavily given that Pakistan is sanctuary to every manner of terror groups including those inimical to India. The attack on the Pakistani army run Peshawar school in Dec. 2014 would have alerted South Block to the dangers to the families of Indian diplomats. Reports in the Pakistani press even pointed fingers at India (though the Tehreek-e-Taliban claimed responsibility). Not surprisingly, the decision was taken the very next year not to allow any more Indian children to study in Pakistan. For that matter, all diplomats posted in Islamabad go minus their families although spouses are permitted. Currently, the Indian mission in the capital has around 40 diplomats and other staff (the Pakistani mission in Delhi has the same number since this is a reciprocal arrangement).

Pakistani terrorists are biting the hand that has been feeding them. After tragic events people need an enemy to blame, the sole reason why Guantanamo bay was created by the USA. But most of us cannot conceive that the enemy is amongst us

This is also a reflection on the larger relationship, which to put it mildly, remains in cold storage. As Pakistan watchers in India say, there’s no way ties can go forward given that both countries have stated positions on all disputes, positions neither side is going to turn its back on.

Recent developments haven’t helped, whether the Pathankot attack on the air force base in January or the Lashkar-e-Toiba strike on a CRP bus in Pampore in June, which resulted in the deaths of eight personnel and injuries to 22 others.

Central ministers beginning with Sushma Swaraj and Rajnath Singh have blamed Pakistan for the current wave of violence in the Kashmir valley, in which the death toll is nearing 50.

A rash of attacks in other parts of the world, from the US to France and Germany, have underscored that there is no fool proof security against terrorist violence. Although the hand of the Islamic State is not evident, its ability to influence and inspire is scary. A recent survey by the Pew agency in the US, showed 86% of Muslims saying suicide bombings and violence against civilians is rarely or never justified. But seven per cent said it is sometimes justified and one per cent indicated often justified. That opinion Pew found, was also loudly voiced in Turkey, Egypt and Jordan, which ironically, are US allies. Even more alarming, the Pew survey found that the vast majority, 82 per cent in Egypt and Pakistan, favour stoning for adultery, amputation for theft and death for apostates!

Is it any wonder, Pakistani writer Samreen Ahmed argues, that hatred, paranoia and violence are the only narratives in her country. “When will the Pakistani army stop supporting terrorist networks in Afghanistan?” she asks. “When will the army stop keeping certain people safe and sound in Lahore, instead of handing them over to the Indians who have been trying to punish those responsible for the Mumbai attacks?

Her lament: “Pakistani terrorists are biting the hand that has been feeding them. After tragic events people need an enemy to blame, the sole reason why Guantanamo bay was created by the USA. But most of us cannot conceive that the enemy is amongst us.”

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