No love lost
By Vikram Sood
5 Mar 2009, 0000 hrs IST
Over the years Pakistan has come to believe that the world is beholden to it because it exists. This notion of indispensability allows those in power in that country to be wild, delinquent and dangerous.
Like the spoilt brat of a rich and doting parent, Pakistan either becomes petulant when it is not granted what it unjustifiably demands or becomes belligerent when it is granted that wish by its benefactor.
Today, Pakistan has a begging bowl economy; terrorism is its main export. Unending unrest in Balochistan and sectarian violence in Dera Ismail Khan and Dera Ghazi Khan, coupled with a creaking law and order and judicial systems, evoke little confidence in that country.
There are many in India who are ready to give Pakistan another chance forever. They say Pakistanis are like us but the poor souls are stuck with rotten governments and they need our help to get them out of their predicament.
It is incredibly naive of us to build policies for our future and security on fond nostalgia, which is mostly one way. They teach their children mostly how to hate India with warped versions of history, even in their mainstream schools.
It is strange that we still keep telling Pakistanis that we are all alike and have a common culture and so on. The truth is that they do not want to be like us and, quite honestly, we have nothing in common with them. Not anymore.
First of all, our minority population is more Indian than the minorities there are Pakistani. And our majority too is different from the majority across the border. Pakistanis have never understood, therefore never accepted, the concept of accommodating minorities. Not that we do it perfectly but we do a fairly good job.
In Pakistan, you are either a Shia, Bohra or an Ismaili or an Ahmediya. Being a woman, a Baloch, a Pushtun, a Sindhi or a Mohajir or a Hindu hari is a curse.
Only a Sunni Punjabi is a true-blue Pakistani. Arguments with minorities are settled with a bullet. It is difficult for a Pakistani to understand that minorities can also have a say. Our cricket team symbolises our diversity. Pakistan does not have an equivalent of Bollywood and if it did, Hindus would never dominate the industry.
There are other fundamental differences. They deny history and even geography; we seek our roots in our civilisation. Extremists there cry jihad in the name of god.
We have room for all faiths at the Dargah in Ajmer Sharif, in Darbar Sahib (whose foundation stone was laid by Mian Mir) or San Thome. Fewer Pakistanis understand that it is easy or natural for an Indian to listen to Jafar Hussain Badayuni's rendering of Amir Khusro's `Bahut kathin hai dagar' or `Ek pita ekas ke hum baarek' by Bhai Maninder Singh and Bhai Jitender Singh or `Jai Madhav Madan Murari' by Jagjit Singh on any morning.
In Pakistan today, we see images of mullahs leading a march to medievalism. In India, we see the young and exuberant marching into the 21st century. We are still behind the rest of the advanced world but are determined to catch up. Across the border, they wallow in a sense of victimhood, and blame everyone else for their plight.
In Pakistan, the extremists believe that Islam and democracy are incompatible. Secularism does not exist in the mullah's vocabulary, or even in the minds of some self-proclaimed moderates like General Musharraf.
So what do we have in common with Pakistan that we yearn for? The answer is nothing. We are two different countries with two different kinds of people on two different trajectories and we here should be happy with that.
Pakistan will strike deals with al-Qaeda, will encourage Lashkar-e-Taiba to carry out attacks on India and will appease the Taliban. It would seem that they have a death wish. It would be prudent for us to take measures now in case Pakistan's wish is granted.
The writer is a former secretary, Research and Analysis Wing.
Constantine And Us
A Times Of India Editorial Comment
The marriage of state and church can be said to have begun when Constantine, then a successful general, had a vision in 312 AD as he led his troops at the battle of Milvian Bridge.
Constantine, according to Christian sources, looked up at the sun and saw a cross of light above it, along with the words "By This, Conquer!" He ordered his soldiers to inscribe a Christian symbol on their shields, to which their subsequent victory was attributed.
Constantine, famously, ended persecution of Christians in the Roman empire. Persecution took place because Christians refused to worship the Roman emperor as divine.
Such worship, however, was within a polytheistic framework that included many deities, churches and cults, and therefore cannot be described as a union of state and church.
When Constantine became the emperor of Rome he issued the edict of Milan, an interesting document. The edict conferred on Christians the right to observe their religion while allowing other divinities to coexist with the Christian God.
This had led to a misleading debate about how truthful Constantine was when he converted to Christianity. A better way to look at it is to see the edict of Milan as akin to the spirit of Indian secularism.
While western-style secularism calls for a strict separation of state and church Indian secularism, some of whose features are anticipated in Akbar's liberal principle of Din-i-Ilahi, recognises the coexistence of many faiths and spiritualities.
The later Constantine, however, was hardly a liberal. He renamed the city of Byzantium after himself and studded it with basilicas and overtly Christian architecture, while non-Christian temples folded up. Emperor Theodosius I, a successor of Constantine, made Christianity the state religion. Substitute Hinduism for Christianity, and that's the direction in which saffron critics of Indian secularism would like to take India.
Religion, however, is too serious a business to be left to politicians. Indian civilisation has never been beset by religious wars to the extent that Europe has. Indian secularism, which respects all religions, is an organic response to that.
The tools used by the later Constantine to spread Christianity, including grandiose architecture accompanied, according to some chroniclers, by the annihilation of non-Christian temples, were those of a Roman emperor whose writ was unquestioned.
Such conditions cannot be replicated in 21st century India, even if BJP president Rajnath Singh promised in the course of the current election campaign to build a Ram temple in Ayodhya. The BJP has enough issues to take on the UPA government, without dragging religion in.
Indian Secularism versus Pakistani Islam
My veiws are as under:
Secular Republic or Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Jinnah, General Zia and Israel
I am amazed with the concept of Daurl Harb or Darul Aman. I am sure if you ask majority of Muslims in India nobody will know this but they know that India is their country, their karambhoomi and they are proud to be Indians. They are a few lunatic on the fringes who espouse radical thoughts and there is one radical school of thought which needs to be banned snubbed and even chided. It is the same school that has created havoc in Pakstan and world over in the name of Muslims. This is anti Islam grouping which dons the make if Islam. We must be vigilant against this Wahabi brand of Islam whose venom has stained the blood at WTC New York and is the root cause of all evil in the Muslim world today. More than the debate on Darul Harab or Darul Aman, Muslims and all secular forces must join hand and plan a joint strategy to counter this gruesome Wahabi ideology
Endorsing the views of Asghar Ali Engineer, Jamsheed Baasha writes: "Muslims are indians first and Indians last". Ashok Singhal, not a likable person, could retort "Hindus are Indians first and Indians last". Another person would say the same thing about Sikhs and still another about Christians. What is the relevance of making tautological assertions? In terms of propriety and wisdom it is desirable to put an end to using religious idiom in public debates. Parde main rehane do weh sub kucch!
A comment on the Times of India's editorial: It is surprising and misleading to casually compare Rajnath Singh's election-linked oratory on Ayodhya to Emperor Constantine's use of Christian Church in the service of Holy Roman Empire. Let us remember Akbar's Din-e-Ilahi was stillborn and no historian would call his or even Aurangzeb's empire Holy Mughal Empire.
By A.M. Jamsheed Basha, Chennai, 6/3/2009 5.36 p.m.
'Neem Hakim, Khatre jaan', half-baked knowledge is always dangerous. Shri Shingal should have checked the facts right before embarking on asking the Muslims to come out clean in the matter of declaring India as Darul Aman or Darul Harab. Let me ask this question to Shri Shingal. What he thinks of India, whether it is Darul Aman or Darul Harab for Muslims? Who is at war with whom in India? Who is persecuting whom in India? It is not the govt that is after the minorities. It is the safron brigade that had opposed the existence of Muslims in India right from the beginning. Even during the days of struggle for freedom, there were riots by fascists forces that forced even our own Mahatma Gandhi to observe fast unto death to stop the killing of Muslims in Bengal. Did he forget this part of history? Muslims and other minorities were victims of hundred and thousands of riots in the post-independent India, the last uncivilised being in Gujarat where state sponsored pogrom was carried out in 2002. Muslims of Gujarat yet to come to terms from the horrors of 2002 riots. Did Mr. Shingal forget it?
In 1947, the Leaders of India was kind enough to declare India as a secular state with freedom for all religious groups to practice and propagate their religion. India is an abode for religious, linguistic and ethnic minorities. It is the finest example of peaceful co-existence what is today known as Unity in Diversity. It is these people belonging to self-styled organisation, who have taken upon themselves the burden to rechristian India as Hindu Rashtra or Akhan Bharat. It is these forces that were defeated by the secular forces whick kept India united so that it could be called 'Darul Aman'.
Indian Muslims, majority of them did not support the creation of Pakistan, is a fact known to Shri Shingal and others protagonists of Hindu Rashtra. Those who lived in the areas, which later became the part of Pakistan, did support such a move. Others down in the central and south India did not support either Jinnah's two nation theory or a separate land for Muslims. The Muslims of India are part and parcel of the great tradition and culture of this country but for their conversion to the new religion of Islam. Otherwise, they are as much Indians as the Hindus claim to be. As a matter of fact, the Dravidians in the south were the first settlers of India, who were pushed down from their own land by the invading Aryans from central Asia and Europe. As the civilization progressed, there were invasions and conversions. Some became Muslims due to invasion of India by Muslim rulers from Arabia and Central Asia and others into Christianity as the later part was ruled by Britishers. The pinnacle of Muslim invasion came in the form of Mughal rule and Muslim rule lasted in India for some five hundred years until its last Mughal was dethroned by Britishers.
History is full of glory tales of Muslim Rulers contribution to the cultural heritage of India. Mughals did stay put in India and made India their home. Right from Babur till the last Mughal Bhadur Shah Zafar, all Kings loved India and worked for the properity of the country. The management system, revenue collection, building of roads, dams, monuments and buildings left behind by the Mughal art and architecture, still standing tall in the country. Akbar the Great, tried his luck in uniting the two major communities through his famous marriage with Jodhabai. Who can forget the contribution of the Last Mughal Bhadur Shah Zafar joining hands with so many Hindu rulers of the time including Janshi Ki Rani, in their joint struggle against the British Rule that culminated in 1857 the War of Uprising called Ghadar. A mutiny that took the toll of the Muslim population in the country for they were alleged to be the mastermind of the mutiny.
Bhadur Shah Zafar, was so much in love of his country that he took upon himself the leadership of the greatest rebellion the country has seen for the first time. In the bargain, he lost his children, who were killed by the British Army and he himself incarcerated in Rangoon. The poet King lamented that he be burried in his 'Kohe Yaar" meaning India being the land of friend ( motherland). He wrote his famous ghazal at the end of which he cried and lamented in the jail that he was so unfortunate that he could not get two yards of land in his homeland for burial. But poor King he died and buried in Rangoon. His prophetic words came true:
" Do gaz zameen bhi na mili kohe yar me"
Mr. Singhal must check his facts right. How can one forget the first war of independence fought by the father and son duo in Mysore against the mighty Britishers, Nawab Hyder Ali and Tiger Tippu Sultan. Both kept the Britishers at bay for years together, until one traitor Sadiq, joined hands with them and succeeded in toppling the great Sultan of Mysore. While other Rajas, Nawabs and Maharajas were boot licking the Britishers, the Great Tippu Sultan was fighting hard and finally died as a true Indian Ruler. Were they not Indians?
Muslims of India who were left behind after the partition of the country were eternally grateful to the rulers of India for they not only allowed the Muslims to stay back but also protected their rights and provided them security. Indian Muslims never recognised Jinnah as their leader. He was considered as a selfish leader who always put his personal interest before the interest of the Muslim community. He created Pakistan in the name of two nation theory. If he really wanted a land for Muslims, which he called as Pakistan, he should have taken along the entire Muslim population to the newly created nation. Why did he leave behind, a large chunk of Muslim population? He had no answer to it. On the other hand, India did not follow Pakistan but declared India as a Secular Republic. If India had followed Pakistan and declared India as a Hindu Rashtra, what could have happened to Pakistan is anybody's imagination. Pakistan would have certainly crumbled unable to bear the burden of the entire Muslim population. Pakistan must therefore thank India for retaining the Muslim population ditched by their leader Jinnah. That is why, Muslims of India harbour no extra-territorial loyalty but love their country India which is their Darul Aman and never considered it as a Darul Harb. Mr. Shingal, must now come out clean as to what he thinks of India. Whether it is Darul Aman or Darul Harb for Muslims?
In the end I fully endorse the views of Asghar Ali Engineer and would like to add that Muslims are Indians first and Indian last. They need not declare their affinity openly as it is inherent and one can get the best example of it from the unity and solidarity shown by Muslim community during the trying hours and thereafter following 26/11 dastardly attack on Mumbai. Muslims did not rest with it. They even refused to bury the dead militants in their grave yards in Mumbai as to them they were not Muslims but criminals and enmies of humanity. Does Mr. Shingal needs anything more this?
Date: 6 Mar 2009 12:13:14 -0000 [05:43:14 PM IST]