THE WAY IT WAS: Try spitting out the anger —Mian Ijaz Ul Hassan

I must admit that it is often not easy to get the substance of a thought across as easily it is presumed. ‘Talking’ in this instance is like wading through a stream in spate. In his present mood he is given to glossing over (on some occasions misconstruing) the text that makes the slightest dent in his contentions

I am beneficiary of another response from Captain Nresh Wadhera to one of my articles (Divali Mubarak, Daily Times, November 17) that needs to be shared with the reader. Captain Wadhera has rather inflexible views and seems not to reflect, even ponder over what I have aired in my recent articles on Indo-Pak issues. I must admit that it is often not easy to get the substance of a thought across as easily it is presumed. ‘Talking’ to Captain Wadhera is like wading through a stream in spate. In his present mood he is given to glossing over (on some occasions misconstruing) the text of the article that makes the slightest dent in his contentions. Some of the points answered “ point-by-point” by Captain Wadhera to the last article are being reproduced. Here goes:

“The harsh lesson of history is that in order to proceed on to the future a person has to come to terms with the present and cease living in the past. If a Lahori like myself wishes to read a poem that has been written in Ludhiana he must acquaint himself with the Deonagri script.”

Learning the Devnagri Script is your personal option and is not being enforced upon you. You must appreciate that if I want to read a poem written in Lahore I will also have to acquaint myself with the Urdu — sorry the Persian script.

I thought that is what is said.

“Whereas the army reports to the parliament in India, in Pakistan the parliament reports to the generals. Please bear with me when I expect the Indian parliament to play a more peoples-friendly role than ours. It is ironical, however, that India should maintain a diplomatic reserve when General Musharraf, who represents a constituency that has been traditionally jingoistic, is outspoken about settling issues with its traditionally-feared enemy. The Indian PM’s directive to reduce the presence of soldiers in the Kashmir Valley is a positive move. It seems that whereas my friend Captain Wadhera living in Surrey turned a deaf ear to my pleas, Shri Manmohan Singh has readily lent me his.”

Bhai Ji, it is surely not difficult for you to understand that a democratic form of government cannot go on making concessions to a dictator who has already unilaterally attacked the democratic country.

As you are aware Indian troops are usually reduced in numbers in Jammu and Kashmir as the instances of cross-border terrorism and cross-border terrorist infiltration go down in winter. One can also attribute the reduction in cross-border terrorism and cross-border terrorist infiltration to Pakistani president reining in and controlling [the terrorists]. Come spring, the instance of cross-border terrorism will increase and so will the Indian troops.

That is indeed heartening.

As such, the reduction of Indian troops in Kashmir is directly attributable to the “reining in, controlling and reducing” of cross-border terrorism and cross-border terrorist infiltration and thus President Musharraf deserves your thanks as it is he who has lent his ears to your pleas. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s gesture is the “effect” but President Musharraf’s act is the “cause”. I hope that you are conversant with the cause-effect theory. It is wrong to say that India is Pakistan’s “traditionally-feared enemy”. It is Pakistan that has attacked India — Jammu & Kashmir in 1947, Rann of Kutchh and again Jammu & Kashmir in 1965 and now Kargil in 1998. In addition, it was Pakistan that attacked India initially in 1971 but I will accept this as an extension of the Bangladesh War.

“I am convinced that there is neither any danger of China invading India nor of India attacking Pakistan. It has become imperative for us to overcome our irrational fears and strengthen mutual understanding for reaping larger economic benefits and political goals... So let’s just do it.”

If India does not need to have a huge armed forces capability as there is no danger of China invading her — while China’s annual defence forces budget is around $55-60 billion and India’s annual defence budget of $20 billion is only a third that of China where as India’s economy is half that of China — I see no reason why Pakistan should have half of India’s defence forces strength when Pakistan’s economy is about a sixth of India. Especially, since you are convinced that India will not attack Pakistan.

Again Bhai Ji one can be what one likes to be or is, but that does not preclude one from rational reasoning. As I have stated above, Pakistan has attacked India thrice and I shall wait for the next Pakistani attack. I MAY BE SURPRISED IF THERE ISN’T ONE ALREADY ON THE CARDS.

“Urdu has been so Persianised and Punjabi so Urduised. Both countries have played havoc with a common lingua franca. We in Pakistan have ‘Islamised’ the Urdu language using Persian and Arabic and you — I don’t mean you personally — have dove tailed so many Sanskrit words in Urdu/Hindi that even common Indians cannot understand it. Languages cannot be invented by academics. Why muddy clear tongues in common use with obscurity?”

I have no objection to Pakistan having Islamised Urdu. The word ‘Urdu’ is a Turkish word which, I believe, means camp/camp-follower. As for removing the Sanskrit content — if any — and using more and more Persian and Arabic words, I can have no objection as I am not from Pakistan and “Pakistani languages” are Pakistan’s business. It does not affect me at all.

“Being a Lahori, I consider it a great misfortune that I cannot read Punjabi written across the river Beas in the Deonagri script. Fortunately, I can read the Adi Garanth that was inscribed in the Persian script.”

Bhai Ji, it does not matter to me what script is used. It is the prerogative of the Sikhs and Hindu Punjabis of India to read Punjabi in Hindi or Gurumukhi script.

I am honoured indeed at your “acquaintance” with the Adi Granth in Persian script. I am surprised that you overlook the fact that Adi Granth (soft D in Adi) is a term composed of of two Sanskrit words.

As such one could “opine” that the Adi Granth was also written in Sanskrit or Punjabi (Western Hindi) using the Devnagri script but it is quite possible that these sersions written in the Devnagri script were destroyed along with the temples or ashrams or Gurudwaras where these “religious scriptures” were destroyed by the invaders-rulers. One must appreciate that if the Adi Granth was originally written in Persian that it would have a Persian title and not a Sanskrit title.”

Please note that it was not written in Persian, but in Persian script.

“Every generation inherits the past and has to deal with the errors and misfortunes of its ancestors. If a Lahori like myself wishes to read a poem that has been written in Ludhiana he must acquaint himself with the Deonagri script. If my friends from Amritsar wish to easily find their way around Lahore they have to learn to recognise Alif and Bay.”

I do regret to note your “typical Punjabi Pakistani” penchant for trying to enforce Urdu on all and sundry which is most unfair. This penchant for imposing Urdu — not an original language but an outcome of exchanges between Turkic, Arabic and Persian, possibly with some words from Sanskrit and Hindi — is one of the prime reasons that led to the dismemberment of Pakistan whereby East Pakistan separated and became Bangladesh.

Is your enforcing of Urdu on us Indians a “guise” to dismember India?

No one is enforcing Urdu on any one. What is resented is that Punjabi should be artificially Urduised, Urdu Persianised or Hindi Sanskritised. “Why muddy clean tongues with obscurity.”

Wadhera Ji, tusse dosti naen karni nan karo, laro te nan. Try spitting out the anger.

Prof Ijaz Ul Hassan is a painter, author and political activist