This is not about the newfound India-Pakistan bonhomie but about the fact that when cheeni is kam, the tea isn’t fantastic. If we have learnt anything in the past two years, it is that Pakistanis and Indians don’t like non-fantastic tea.
Only, Prime Minister Imran Khan has decided to do something about it. Pakistan is all set to import 0.5 million tonnes of white sugar from India along with cotton and yarn after the government lifted the ban on trade. It had been suspended in August 2019 following India’s abrogation of Article 370 that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir. Let bygones be bygones, India is our new sugar daddy.
What happened from then to now is no secret. But what is not happening in Pakistan right now is a shocker. Historically, any political government in Pakistan that so much as hopes for a better relationship with India is issued the fatwa of treason. But do we hear anyone from the container giving a call out to the prime minister – “Modi ka jo yaar hai, ghaddar hai”? No, because now those who give orders and those who obey them are on the same page. So even if the decision of importing sugar from India comes in the backdrop of a huge sugar scam allegedly involving a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader and his family, to keep mum and applaud dostana with India is the new national interest.
Then and now
If Nawaz Sharif was the prime minister now, Pakistanis would have been told day and night on primetime news television about how several RAW agents were recruited in his sugar factory; how the trade deals with India was Sharif’s way of appeasing to the Indian and Jewish lobby; and how these politicians only see their business interests when it comes to India. Now, thousand days later, the Pakistani leadership echoes what was said before: Put the house in order or face international isolation. But of course, in 2021, it should be considered as a ‘good’ house in order; in 2016, it was ‘bad’ house in order. Sharif can still ask, if all parallel systems running Pakistan wanted trade with India, then “Mujhe kyun nikala (why was I ousted)?”
‘Ab kya karna hai?’ is a question from Pakistanis who were standing every Friday from 12 pm to 12:30pm doing nothing but following orders of Imran Khan to show solidarity with the Kashmiris. Can they all sit down now, since the Khan government is in the mood of lying down? All those who were singing ‘India ja ja Kashmir se nikal ja’ want to know if they can now stop singing. PM Khan meant it when he said he will go to any extent for Kashmir. Two years down the line, all it amounted to was calling back the high commissioner from India, who already wasn’t in Delhi. Or banning Indian films. Or the surgical strike from the prime minister when he put up a black display picture on his Twitter. Never forget all those Modi-Hitler tweets, please. Seriousness was shown and be assured it was seen by everyone who was serious about the Khan government. Now Modi is no more a “fascist” or a “small” man for Khan, he is “Excellency”. Talk of geo-strategic badalte rishtey (changing relations).
Now there are some Imran Khan supporters who are confused whether Narendra Modi is a Hitler or a fascist anymore or not, something their PM taught them. Because jumping on a Pakistan Day letter and a ‘get well soon’ tweet from Modi is now the order of the day. Confusing times, indeed.
This confusion transcends to the federal ministers as well who have spent two years mouthing extreme political rhetoric against India. And now with orders to follow the new reciprocity, they really don’t understand if they should rant or be happy. Somewhat hybrid emotions for a hybrid regime.
With greater interests comes great responsibility. So now in the new environment, we are ready to be told that it is definitely in greater interest of Pakistan to import Covid-19 vaccine, tomato, onion and ginger from India. There is no Modi ka yaar 2.0. In fact, tomorrow the same set of rulers will convince the people, with the help of State’s news anchors, that Pakistan will seek loan from India, which is only in the best interest of the country.
We are also ready to be sold on conspiracy theories of how importing edibles from India is Nth generation warfare from Pakistan that will lead to food shortage in India. Don’t be shocked if it doesn’t happen.
When Pakistan downgraded diplomatic ties with India and banned trade after the abrogation of Article 370, it was promised that nothing will return to normal till India reversed the abrogation. Now since we all live under the rock, we have no clue when India reversed the 5 August 2019 move that sprung the Pakistan government into action. It is safe to say that this is yet another foreign policy win for the Imran Khan government.
The author is a freelance journalist from Pakistan. Her Twitter handle is @nailainayat. Views are personal.
(Edited by Prashant Dixit)