To gauge the impact here of the turmoil next door in Pakistan, Americans would have to imagine their own reaction to a military coup or the imposition of martial law in Canada.
Broder does acknowledge later in the column that
India and Pakistan have fought repeated wars over the years, and suspicions of trouble are always close to the surface.
So, my question is this - the whole Canada coup comparison means . . . what, exactly?
The reason India is as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs (I love that phrase; I first read it in a Stephen King novel, and have seen it in others of his published works) is not because, like Canada and the United States, India and Pakistan have the longest unguarded border in the world. Canada and the United States have not fought a war since 1812, although there were some skirmishes out west in the mid-19th century as rival claims to the timberland of the Pacific Northwest were still being settled. In the past sixty years, Pakistan and India have fought three wars, and there is an on-going guerrilla war in Kashmir, fueled by passions on both sides. With both sides armed to the teeth, including nuclear weapons, and with the constant internal political turmoil in Pakistan always a spur to Pakistani adventurism (aided by radical Islamic disdain for the officially secular, Hindu majority India), the fears of India are both rational and long-standing.
On the other hand, Canada is almost bland by comparison. We and they share language, legal and Constitutional traditions, a history of western expansion (although Canada's was much more orderly than ours), and many social and cultural traditions.
So - in order to understand India's nerves, we have to imagine not only martial law in Canada, we have to imagine a belligerent Canada, armed with nuclear weapons, with a history of political turmoil, three wars, on-going fueling of violence in the disputed Upper Peninsula of Michigan and Penobscot County, Maine, and a Canada that does not speak our language, is becoming almost psychotically wedded to a radical form of political religion, and has a history of hating the United States.
Good comparison, David. Really.