A soft rejoinder to Mosharraf Zaidi
Mosharraf Zaidi in his article “Lynch mobs in India: lessons for Pakistan” in The New dated October 6, 2015 after briefly highlighting the lynching of a Muslim in Dadri (UP) on suspicions that he had eaten beef and also mentioning ongoing Indian aggression along the LoC in Kashmir has rightly pointed out that germs of religious extremism and intolerance are present on both sides of the divide. He has then given full details of the incidents in Pakistan wherein persons of minority groups were targeted by religious zealots. Most of the quoted cases are related to blasphemy. Suchlike cases in which the champions of Islam decide to take law in their own hands are undoubtedly reprehensible and must be strongly condemned. However, those few acts cannot overshadow the series of gory acts perpetrated by Hindu extremists against minorities in India since more often those acts are State sponsored/protected.
The Indian Congress that has ruled India the longest and brags to be the champion of democracy has not been treating minorities justly. Attack on Golden temple in Amritsar in 1984, mass killings of the Sikhs after the murder of Indira Gandhi, demolition of Babri mosque in Ayodhiya, induction of 700,000 security forces in Kashmir Valley in 1990 to deal with uprising of the Kashmiris demanding right of self determination happened during the Congress rule.
Anti-Muslim riots in India and Pakistan bashing have remained a frequent phenomenon both during the Congress and BJP rules because both are anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan. Both are tied to four-fold caste system which places Brahmans above others and destined to rule for ever. Lower castes like Kashatryas, Vaisyas and Shudras can never become part of the upper class. The only difference between the two mainstream parties is that Congress artfully promotes soft Hindutva under the garb of secularism, while the BJP aspires to turn India into a pure Hindu State and preaches hard Hindutva explicitly. The other common factor is the book Arthashastra written by Kautilya to which both are beholden. It outlines the methodology how to go about neutralizing, subverting and conquering its neighbors at an opportune time. In line with Kautilya doctrine, Indian spies are promoting and exploiting the ethnic, regional, religious and sectarian fault lines that exist in Pakistan. RAW is instigating and thriving on the chaos gripping the Islamic Republic.
Minorities in India live under constant fear and are treated as second rated citizens and denied basic rights. Muslims in India are most hard pressed since they are seen with suspicion and are all the time required to prove their loyalty to Bharat. Hindu extremists are always on the lookout to attack Muslims and whenever attacked, the State looks the other way. It happened in Ayodhya in 1992 and in Gujarat in 2002.
Current PM of India Narendra Modi was then the CM of Gujarat who gave a free hand to the Hindu terrorists to play havoc with men, women and children. He nurtures no regret of the bloodbath of 2000 Muslims. In each of BJP rule, which is the product of infamous RSS, it has given fillip to Hindutva. The incumbent regime is enforcing it vigorously and selling the idea of RSS leader Madhav Sadashiv Golwalker who stated in 1938: “The non-Hindu people of Hindustan must either adopt Hindu culture and language, must learn and respect and hold in reverence the Hindu religion, must entertain no ideas but of those of glorification of the Hindu race and culture….In a word, they must cease to be foreigners, or may stay in the country wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment—-not even citizens’ rights.”
There are over 100 terrorist groups in India involved in terrorism against minorities and forcibly converting them to adopt Hinduism. These groups are part of Sangh Pariwar, which are linked with Indian military since the latter also is inclined towards Hindutva. Cow slaughter has been banned and Muslims are lynched for eating beef. Muslim girls are enticed to join film industry, forced to become prostitutes or marry Hindus. Indian history has been revised and Muslim rule in India painted in black.
India has the largest population of the poor in the world. Poverty is so acute that in 2012 alone, around 14,000 hapless farmers committed suicide in India, mostly Dalits. Villages in Maharashtra had the highest rate of farmer suicides. Democracy in India is in name only. It is a consequence of hideous caste system, tyranny of the high caste Hindus and growing poverty that there are 37 insurgencies and separatist movements raging in various parts of India of which Naxalite movement has become an existential threat for India. 700,000 security forces are involved in counter insurgency in India’s troubled regions and are equipped with black laws to carryout human rights violations unhesitatingly. There hasn’t been a single day since independence when the state has not deployed the armed forces to quash insurgencies within its boundaries. The number of people who had been killed and tortured is incredible. It is a state that is continuously at war with its people. Chhattisgarh is the worst affected. In occupied Kashmir, a force of 750,000 deployed in the Valley since 1989 is involved in gruesome torture, extra judicial killings, detentions, rapes. Over 100,000 Kashmiris have been killed in last 15 years. Hardly any soldier has been punished. Now a systematic program has been launched to change the demography by settling Hindu Pundits and retired soldiers in large numbers while the Muslim youth is being steadily eliminated.
Here, it also worth-mentioning that theoretically, Indian Constitution safeguards the rights of minorities, but in practice, ideology of Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) prevails. Hindu politics and culture, dominated by the fundamentalist parties such as RSS, BJP, VHP, Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena including other extremist outfits have been propagating Hindutva. Provocative utterances of their extremist leaders and the BJP rulers have resulted into unending violence against the Muslims, Christians Sikhs, and Dalits, while creating war-like situation between Pakistan and India, as Indian unprovoked shelling across Line of Control and Working Boundary displays.
The purpose behind giving all these well-known details is to bring to fore the fact that in Pakistan there is no State sponsored scheme to harm the minorities and by and large all minorities in Pakistan are living peacefully and harmoniously and enjoying complete freedom of action to practice their respective religions. As regards sporadic acts of vandalism, one has to see that 60,000 Pakistanis have died since 2003 at the hands of militants that are fully abetted by foreign powers. Ethnicity, sectarianism and now terrorism have all been stoked by foreign hands to keep Pakistani society divided, politically destablised and economically weak. In this, India has a major role to play since it has not reconciled to Pakistan’s existence and wants to either fragment it or reduce it to a vassal state. Pakistan’s conventional and unconventional military capability has kept India deterred from opting for another open war and has perforce resorted to indirect strategy of proxy war to weaken Pakistan from within.
With this background in view, it will be unfair to equate the sins of Hindu bigots in India fully patronized by the State with extremist Islamists in Pakistan that are under the leash and are being hounded and rounded up. Those involved in brutalizing minorities have not been spared. National Action Plan aims at disciplining Madrassas and Maulvis preaching hatred and militancy. As against Indian media which dare not speak against the government, Indian military and Hindu extremist groups, Pakistan media is excessively free and goes overboard in condemning the government, state institutions and Islamists. Zaidi concludes rightly by making a reference to Quaid’s legacy. Religious fanaticism in our society can only be controlled if Pakistan is made into a truly welfare state as envisioned by the Quaid.
The writer is a retired Brig, war veteran/defence analyst/columnist/author of five books, Director Measac Research Centre, Director Board of Governors Thinkers Forum Pakistan. firstname.lastname@example.org