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Constructing the enemy

56 1 526
16.03.2019

THEY claimed to have invaded the sovereign territory of an enemy country. They had dropped bombs, they said, and hit a terrorist camp that involved no military or civilian targets. In the days that followed, we retaliated: we intruded enemy-controlled territory, chose to strike near enemy targets, and took an enemy combatant prisoner after downing his fighter jet.

No truth is more apparent than our enmity as modern nation states. Indeed, India and Pakistan have followed a largely cyclical process of escalation and de-escalation. Before nukes came into play, we went to full-scale war thrice. In the years since, we have had countless skirmishes. Most of these conflicts have stayed within areas internationally recognised as disputed, and therefore stopped short of the absolute destruction that all-out nuclear war can bring.

The creation of the enemy is central to this story of hostilities and conflict. For this article, I will focus on two elements of this enmity: the nation-state enmity, involving India and Pakistan at the level of the state, and the communal enmity, rooted in the two-nation theory and dependent on creating distinct Indian-Hindu and Pakistani-Muslim communal identities. The Abhinandan saga and Fayya­zul Hasan Chohan’s frequent foot-in-mouth mom­ents mean that both merit some serious reflection.

For ordinary Pakistanis, what is this ‘India’ and how do we identify our enemy?

Let’s start with the nation state. First, the obvious: India is our sworn enemy. It is involved in fermenting unrest, promoting violence and........

© Dawn