Jehangir Ali

A loyal, unnamed Quaestor in the great Roman emperor Hadrian’s army, who built the city of Hadrianopolis (now Adrianopolis), had his eyes gouged out and his right arm amputated in the winter of 127 AD. Scandalous rumours that the Quaestor had embezzled funds collected for the construction of a giant wall meant to keep the barbarians away from Britain had reached the emperor. For three long years, the ugly ghosts of an unlit torture chamber became permanent companions of the Quaestor. Later, when an official inquest discovered that the Quaestor was innocent, he was summoned before the remorse-filled Hadrian.

Not that Hadrian had paid any attention to the bleeding, amputated arm or the puss-filled lacerations of the Quaestor, but the king was visibly shaken due to the ineptitude of his judicial insight. “My Lord! Look how my loyalty to the throne has been rewarded! I want justice, my lord,” the Quaestor demanded. A Legate was immediately summoned and asked to bring a new uniform and a fresh pair of boots for the Quaestor; a show of solidarity with a man whose integrity had stood the test of moral and judicial scrutiny. The Quaestor was sent home with a basket full of fruits and asked to resume his duties only when his wounds healed completely! The perpetrators were never punished. Justice that is!

This story, although apocryphal, aptly describes the poetic gimmickry surrounding the “peace process” that has suddenly found the dislodged train of India and Pakistan back on track. When India’s foreign minister, S M Krishna and his Pakistani counterpart, Hina Rabbani Khar, shake hands to the glitter of cameras in Islamabad in the coming days, we will be told that the wretched, evasive peace has finally found roots in the valley. The pedagogues of secular modernity of the two hysterical nations will shove it down our throats that the normalisation of ties between the two countries will sent peace messiahs running to bring this damned battle of egos to its rightful closure. They won’t tell you that there is nothing normal to see thousands of unidentified bodies lying buried in the mountains of this forgotten land; their revenants waiting for the perpetrators to be punished.

In this battle of rhetoric, the ultra-secular nationalists of the two countries will say that a box of spices brought from Pakistan to India after undergoing repeated molestations at the borders will bring solace to the people in Kashmir whose lives have been brutalized by 23 years of violence. What they won’t tell you is that there is no justice, no peace and no solace to see thousands of half-widows waiting for their husbands to return home. They will also claim that peace between the two countries was in the interest of the people of Kashmir, as if the wars have been gratifying at some point in history! What percentage of people in Kashmir is associated with trade is anyone’s guess!

The fact of the matter is that there is nothing to glorify when you keep hundreds of teenagers behind the bars and put up a fake show of Greek pomposity. Thus rhetoric serves the purpose. How peaceful is the peace when the separatist leadership is under virtual house arrest while those who fall in line are given audience by no one less that the head of the state. The truth is that the so called peace process will be blown to pieces if a lunatic jihadi decides to meet his creator and strikes in any part of India. But the revivalists of the doomed capitalism have to serve their interests. Let’s not spoil their party!


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