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23rd January '2013
Indo-Pak war games

Eric Berne, the famous psychiatrist wrote in 1964 the bestselling book on human psychology, the Games People Play: The Psychology of Human Relationships. Since its publication the book has already sold five million copies. The first part of the book describes various social interactions through transactional analysis of human behaviourand traces the three mental states of Adult, Parent, and Child. According to him the negative human behaviour is caused by switching or confusion of these mental states. In the second part a series of what he calls the, “Mind Games” are described. These are social interactions through which people interact through a patterned and predictable series of "transactions" which usually appear normal to people in general and even to the two people transacting. However, these interactionsactually conceal motivations, include private significance to the parties involved, and lead to a well-defined predictable outcome, usually counterproductive.

From the Wikipedia, I am quoting example of a typical game applicable to Indo-Pak relationship.“The game is named "Now I've got you, you son of a bitch," in which A is dealing with B, and A discovers B has made a minor mistake, and holds up a much larger and more serious issue until the mistake is fixed, basically holding the entire issue hostage to the minor mistake. The example is where a plumber makes a mistake on a $300 job by underestimating the price of a $3 part as $1. The customer won't pay the entire $300 unless and until the plumber absorbs the $2 error instead of just paying the bill of $302”.

According to Eric Berne, not all interactions result in games. The best solution to stop the games and produce a sensible and productive interaction is for both the parties in their one-to-one conversations to remain in the Adult-to-Adult Ego-State. Unfortunately, this rarely happens in Indo-Pak interactions and the plumber game is played again and again. The typical example is the recent Visa Agreement which was heralded as a revolutionary achievement. However, an incident on the Line of Control, the likes of which happen off and on, was used as a trigger to temporarily derail the whole agreement. Ante was upped so much by the right extremist media that it seemed war is imminent.The excuse which according to General Musharraf was a made up one, was the alleged beheading of an Indian soldier on the Line of Control. In fact, the BJP leader in the Parliament, Sushma Swaraj wanted ten Pakistani heads to be brought back. The Indian Home Minister has given a new twist by declaring that there is “Saffron Terrorism” also. According to him, BJP and RSS are training terrorists who have been responsible for many acts of terrorism previously attributed to Indian Muslims/Pakistan. Fortunately, as reported in the media, the present tense situation seems to have been de-escalated due to American intervention? However, one is not sure whether the games are over?

Similar, games have been played in the past also. For instance, the Siachen Glacier could have been long back demilitarized but for the plumber’s part of the psychological game. Before demilitarization, the Indian side wanted their present positions to be marked and authenticated on a map. In any case, it is a wasteland of ice, rock, and snow and it hardly matters where the positions were held in the past. These keep on changing due to natural causes. It is humanly impossible to mount any sizeable military operation through this extremely cold region. The decades of conflict at these forbidding altitudes on the largest glacier outside the Poles have not only cost enormously both in men and material but has made it the most polluted spot on the Earth. Unfortunately, the people taking decisions about its demilitarization do so in cozy places. They should be asked to hold their parleys somewhere on the glacier and that too in winter!

Almost same story goes for the Sir Creek dispute. Many times agreement was reached but it could not be clinched because of one or the other hitch. People have been claiming that there are some rich resources under the creek and its demarcation is the biggest hurdle as everyone wants to get access to these resources. It has been invariably seen that at the nick of time when a deal is about to be clinched, something happens which sweeps away all the goodwill and bonhomie. As observed by Eric Berne, these games have a strong underlying motivation which one cannot discern in a normal way. To an observer all the interactions appear normal but in fact there are always underlying motivations which make people play these games.

In case of India and Pakistan, apart from legitimate national interests, there are plenty of vested interests who are the beneficiaries of conflict.On both sides these people have a lot of clout with the rulers and sometimes even blackmail them to pursue a specific agenda. Unfortunately, we do not have honest, sincere, and dedicated leaders or rulers who could rise above petty political interests to remove the mistrust and behave in an adult way. Leaders of such stature are now missing in both the countries. The only way to remove the mistrust is by ending the “Games” which is possible when the two sides have a one-to-one conversation in Adult-to-Adult Ego States. Will it ever happen? That is the proverbial million dollar question! Probably when the leaders of the partition generation give way to the newer generations not carrying any burden of the past?

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