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Myra MacDonald

Myra MacDonald

Myra MacDonald

Tell us about your experience while covering India as well as Pakistan.

I started covering India in 2000. In 2003, I went to Pakistan for the first time to research about a book on Siachen War. I have the experience of covering the Pakistan army as well as Indian army. The difference while covering with Pakistani Army is, it’s luxurious but while travelling with the Indian army, even if you get a bucket of water, you are lucky. Right from there you see how much richer the Pakistan army is.

Why do you think Pakistan lost the South Asian war?

I start with the book from 1998, in time of the nuclear tests. Theoretically, they both acquired the status of having nuclear weapons. So, Pakistan claiming it is threatened by India makes no sense. So I started researching in 1998, during which India was emerging as a superpower and Pakistan became more of a failing state. I think the major reason why Pakistan failed and India emerged is the power of Indian democracy as that provides internal stability. And this in the process lets it become economically more powerful. Pakistan definitely lacks the power of democracy and is dependent on its allies like China, USA whereas India used the strength of its own people to generate the internal stability.

Would you agree that Pakistan lacks a proper democracy?

I personally think that Pakistan lacking a proper democracy is a long way off. But I would like to counter it by saying, it definitely has a very strong civil society. Pakistan can run as effectively as India if it develops a proper democracy. It doesn’t need the army solely to maintain control.

Then why does the Pakistan army solely have the power?

This phenomenon till a certain point is quite cumulative. As the army gained more power, it had more reasons to retain it. As it gained more power, it invested far too much in the country to give that up without losing prestige, power and money. It is the snowball effect which makes it harder.

Do you think India and Kashmir are able to keep up the status of the army?

Definitely yes. As long as there is a conflict regarding Kashmir with India, army maintains its status. And clearly, it has a role in sustaining the conflict. By maintaining the conflict, it is tying down Indian troops and this helps in pacifying the fact that India is a threat.

Do you think the Western democracy is the parameter for comparing the democracies of the all the other nations?
I would go back to 1946 and suggest that pose ask this question to Nehru, who did go for universal suffering and started with democracy. It is a remarkable thing, what India did, as even Western democracy didn’t emerge to pacify universal suffering. From colonialism to universal suffering, all men and women got the power to vote, because if we talk about a recent example i.e. Croatia, there, only a certain part of the people maintain the country.

Lastly, what do you think is the future of India and Pakistan?

With any luck, it will continue the way it is without any escalating out of control. Well, I don’t see any quick improvement, but let’s hope it does get better.

About the Interviewee:

Myra MacDonald is a journalist and author specializing in South Asian politics and security. She was a correspondent for Reuters for nearly thirty years, and also published a book on the Siachen war. She lives in Scotland.