Monday, September 12, 2011


By Atiqa Odho
Published in The Express Tribune, December 7th, 2010
This is a just a note to share how one feels regarding the Indian government denying General Musharraf a visit visa. Frankly, it didn’t come as a shock to most of us since he has gone there several times and won over both their public and their press. His recent forthright remarks regarding Indian involvement in Balochistan didn’t go down well either with the Indian government.
To make the refusal look kosher, the Indians now claim that Kargil has become an issue — which seems a bit sudden give that it happened over a decade ago. How come India didn’t have any problem on this issue when General Musharraf was invited to, and visited, India in the last few years?
I think India is uncomfortable with General Musharraf in the current situation, which is that a former army chief is making a comeback through the political system and he knows all the realities of India’s intent towards Pakistan. Also the fact that each time he was there, he managed to make himself heard is something that the Indian establishment does not want.
Once, on a visit to India in 2000, I was asked by many Indians about General Musharraf and how as a Pakistani I felt about a general ruling my country. I could tell, when I was asked this, that the Indians were afraid of his straightforwardness and his bold approach. One, of course, delighted in the thought that the general perchance scared off Indians — which is just as well since they have never really been our friends. My answer then, and now, is that I felt safer in the hands of “our general” than in a so-called democratically elected feudal dictator.
I have always questioned India’s interest, or lack of it, in us through observation in areas such as our creative arts and sports. One shouldn’t be surprised to learn how tightly the Indians control their money and refuse to invest into anything Pakistani. The notion that Pakistani musicians and artists go to India and make good money is, in fact, a myth. I can say this with some authority as I have spent the last few years investigating this issue to be able to understand it quite intricately.
India has for several years taken the talent that it does not possess from us. This talent is then used to make good products for Indian companies and eventually lots of money for them. But what does the artist or musician get out of this, since they have to pay taxes on their income and high overheads?
From this follows a question: Why does our talent even cross the border? And the answer to this, I am sorry to say, is vanity. They go because they feel they have to make it big in a large international market and that if they do that they will be able to charge even higher fees in Pakistan. This may well be correct thinking since in Pakistan the corporate sector is sadly, extremely India-centric.
That’s obviously not the case on the other side of the border because even though the spoken language is the same in both countries, Indian broadcasters have never aired any of our Pakistani content within India.
I would advise General Musharraf to not bother with India as there is much work to be done elsewhere.