India and Pakistan for dummies

Aman Ali's view

Barely covered this week was a monumental change in India/Pakistan politics. Amid all the U.S. coverage of the pope and Tom DeLay, a turbaned and bearded prime minister and a hyperactive, mustached president sat down to watch a game of cricket and discussed the future of India and Pakistan.

These two rascals are none other than Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. Just two weeks ago, The New York Times reported that militants attacked a bus line that connected the two countries. March 26, The Washington Post reported the United States sold F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan for the first time in 15 years. The fact that India and Pakistan are even talking after all this tension is news to me.

Before I lose you all any further, allow me to present the Cliff Notes version of the India/Pakistan conflict.

In the late 1800s, before India and Pakistan were official countries, the British had control over that entire region (not to mention Bangladesh, Burma and all those other countries with ridiculously yummy food). But through the Treaty of Amritsar, the British decided to sell a piece of land called Kashmir to a Hindu prince. Kashmir is a small valley that lays right smack in the middle of modern day India and Pakistan. You know those cashmere sweaters you have that are a pain in the butt to get Chef Boyardee stains out of? Well, now you know where the fabric comes from.

Anywho, the Hindu prince ruled over a predominantly Muslim land and passed the lands on to his family when he passed away. Any time a minority leader rules over a majority, regardless of race or religion, there’s bound to be tension.

So then yada yada yada, India and Pakistan both become countries in the 1940s. But technically, Kashmir was not necessarily a part of India or Pakistan since the British had sold it off in the 1800s. Yet, both India and Pakistan claimed rights to Kashmir.

On the surface, it looked like Pakistan wanted Kashmir because the land was predominantly Muslim, and it seemed like India wanted the land because it was ruled by Hindus. Just like the political conflict in Iraq right now, the fight over Kashmir is a lot more complicated. To be completely blunt, both countries simply want to extend their power.

This fight has gone on for more than 50 years. The United Nations has intervened here and there, as well as other neighboring countries. But since the conflict originated, little progress has been made.

Neither country, in my opinion, deserves that land, and Kashmir should be a separate state. But Kashmir is a war-torn country that is a hot spot for human rights violations committed by both Indian and Pakistani militants. Kashmir needs support from the entire world if my dream will ever happen. But since everyone would rather focus on places such as Iraq, I can only dream at this point.

I’m excited that Pervez Musharraf and Manmohan Singh are talking, but I remain skeptical. I’ll believe that change is happening when it happens. I’m also mad that Pakistan kicked India’s ass in cricket last week, but that’s another story.

Aman Ali is a junior information design major, president of the Muslim Students Association and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].