Aisi taisi Indo-Pak​

Aisi taisi Indo-Pak​
A musical hand of friendship from India, reciprocated by Pakistan... Aisi taisi

What the bilateral dialogue should really be about

By Sagarika Ghose

By Sagarika Ghose

India and Pakistan’s National Security Advisers may talk to each other, at each other or not at all. Sartaj Aziz and Ajit Doval may have failed to have their Bajrangi Bhaijaan moment, but Indians and Pakistanis have much to talk about. A recent viral music video “Aisi Taisi democracy” – and its response from Pakistan – suggests both countries have far more in common than our netas admit. Instead of crossborder terrorism and non-state actors, we have a number of issues to resolve.

Is Imran Khan a better all-rounder than Kapil Dev? Is Lata Mangeshkar a better singer than Noor Jahan? Is the gaajar halwa better in Old Delhi than in Lahore’s Food Street? Is Gulzar a far better lyricist than Faiz and are the Big Fat Subcontinental shaadis more extravagant on that side of the Indus? Are the chapli kababs of Peshwar more tasty than galouti kababs in Lucknow?

Too much talk about Sir Creek can give us a sir dard (headache). Why should we be chained to Siachen? After all we are the terrible twins separated at birth, even though we are divided by a Line of No Control and menaced by big guns without borders. Can we run away from the deep similarities between us? Karachi is supposed to be the Mumbai of the 50s and Lahore reminds of Delhi of the 60s. We have our Gandhis and they have their Bhuttos. If Mumbai has the Shiv Sena then Karachi has the MQM. If we have our underworld dons then they have their private militias, and if Pakistan has its morality enforcing Taliban, we too have our home grown moralists imposing porn bans and cracking down on hand-holding couples. And can we deny the Dawood connection? The don may live in Karachi but keeps an eye on Mumbai too.

Our Prime Minister talks of his 56 inch chest, Nawaz Sharif boasts of his gastronomic refinements, as reflected in his ever-expanding waist. There may be stiff competition between Kolhapuri and Peshawari footwear, or between the scenic beauty of Shimla versus Nathiagali or the taste of Muree beer versus Kingfisher but when it comes to bilateral dialogue we are both experts in the art of baat-cheat. We both follow the Clausewitzian doctrine of war as politics by other means. No wonder between us there is a subcontinent-sized ego clash. We may not want to sing ‘yeh dosti hum nahin todenge’ but we can’t deny our mutual ‘yaadon ki baraat’.

Sagarika Ghose is consulting editor, The Times of India. A former television anchor and deputy editor of CNN-IBN, she is the author of two novels, “The Gin Drinkers” and “Blind Faith” both published by HarperCollins.

​- Published in TOI Blogs, Aug 24, 2015

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