Pakistan resposible for indian muslims plight

This article has nothing to do with the general Pakistani people. The Pakistanis whom I have met have mostly been very decent and some of the most courteous people. We are the same blood, similar cultures, same languages, same cuisines and similar dress. The prior statement is not from an Indian Muslim but from an Indian. If an Indian can be most closely identified with any other people in the whole world outside India it will be either Pakistan or Bangladesh – whether it be skin, language, cuisine, culture, music, arts or many other things.

This is also not an analysis of history as to what happened prior to the partition. I am too detached from the social and political conditions at that time to comment on them intellectually. This is just an analysis of the end results. The way an Indian Muslim looks at the things as they stand now. It has nothing to do with the people of Pakistan but it is to do either with the administration or the idea of Pakistan.

In India, across the Indian Muslim community it is widely accepted now that the partition of India was the biggest blunder that happened. Instead of safeguarding the interests of the Indian Muslims it reduced the ones who continued to live in India to a position of significantly reduced importance. It impacted the most those who needed the biggest safeguards, the poorest of the poor. A significant portion of the educated cream of the Indian Muslim community migrated to Pakistan; some say they chickened out when the push came to shove. Most of the remaining Muslims in India were poor who would be just fighting to make their two ends meet.

The first silver lining in this was that India was formed as a secular and democratic state. The constitution of India recognized that every citizen will be absolutely equal in his rights and will be free to profess, practice and propagate his religion. The goals were set in the clearest way and the struggle was to achieve the goal and not about the goal itself. It has often been a struggle for the Indian Muslims no doubt but the question has not been the constitution but it has been about upholding the spirit of the constitution. The same Nehru who is often held responsible in Pakistan for the inflexibility fought to uphold the secular fabric of India.

The second is the demographics of the country. India is a unique country, one of its kind. It is like  Europe put together in a single country. That is true whether you compare it in size, population, languages, cultures, cuisines, dress, habits and many other things. This fact itself makes it a land of huge diversity and contradictions unlike any other place in the world. This structure itself demands that people of different backgrounds have different needs in their daily lives. The result of that is the number of players that have emerged in the Indian political structure. The identities are not Hindu and Muslim so much as the Muslim League would have thought or the BJP wants.

The result of this diversity has been that even after unleashing its whole might and propaganda machinery through RSS its political offshoot the BJP, at its zenith, could never get more than 25% of the votes. It is only in Gujarat that the worst fears of the Muslims have come true. Other than many of the leaders of BJP no political party questions the Muslims about their existential and cultural position. Many political parties acted as ‘messiah’ of the Muslims and paid just lip service yet perhaps no other party other than the exception of BJP pursued harming the interests of the Muslims.

The response of the Indian Muslims has been as true citizens. The overwhelming majority of them took the path of the ballot and followed all the democratic means at their disposal. This is the reason that there were so few supporting political parties to BJP and it was able to put together NDA only when it toned down its rhetoric and agenda. When Gujarat 2002 happened and later NDA lost in the general elections some of the supporting parties found it tough to remain onboard.

As the generation that lived through or was close to the years of partition is getting replaced by those who are completely detached from it a new Indian Muslim identity is emerging. When the Indian economy was sluggish and the jobs were few, it was not meritocracy alone that was basis of governmental jobs and discrimination was easy. But now as the economy is booming and every corporation or entrepreneur wants the best hand to work for them, it is just about who has the skills to get the job done. This is evident from the recent Sachar Panel report where though Muslims are pathetically under-represented in all segments yet their best representation comes in the flagship industry of India, the IT and ITES industry.

The goals of Muslims in India are clearly cut out; safety of life and property, uprooting poverty in the community, increasing literacy and getting to the fore-front of the administrative and economic leadership of India. One of the biggest roadblocks to these is the prejudices, stereotypes and discrimination that the lowest rung of the society face. This is not because of any of the democratic institutions of the country but solely because of the people who fill them. The constitution safeguards the interests and the highest level of judiciary safeguards the interests. If the perpetrators of the Mumbai or Gujarat riots do not see the door of justice it is because of the people who shun their constitutional responsibilities.

Indian Muslims have successfully survived in India. The future only looks better. The Two Nation Theory has been falsified. India and Pakistan keep vying with each other over who has more Muslims! So what has been the contribution of Pakistan in safeguarding the Indian Muslims after the biggest blunder that had already happened in partition? In one single word: Negative. Why negative and why not zero? Because as I argue below it is negative.

The worst thing that can happen to the Indian Muslims is adding fuel to the propaganda machinery of the right wing. While Indian Muslims have their own weaknesses and moles that are responsible for this but the focus here is only on Pakistan’s contribution.

Firstly, by opposing India being a member of the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC). In 1969, when OIC was formed and India lobbied to be included as it had the third largest Muslim population in the world Pakistan successfully lobbied against it. Pakistan looked at its strategic self-interests and not anything about safeguarding the Indian Muslims otherwise it was a significant move on the part of India to have made that move to be included in the organization as an Islamic country! If Gabon with just 10% Muslims (150,000 Muslim citizens) can be a member, it is a mockery that India with 160 million Muslims and till very recently having the second largest Muslim population on the planet is denied that status. If India was denied significant position vis a vis Muslim countries there was little incentive for her to put the strong feet of her Muslim cultural identity forward and sustain it.

Secondly, the most contentious issue of the way we look at history. The propaganda machinery of the Indian right wing does a great job in picking up all the opinions, lies and rumors against Muslim rulers and paint a picture that the presence of Muslims in India has been the biggest damage and tragedy to the Indian civilization. Whereas invaders like Ghauri and Ghaznavi are understandably condemned even the Mughals who lived in India as their own home are termed as foreigners. While Indian Muslims look at the past as a syncretic culture of great tolerance the Pakistani reading of history is music to the ears of the right wing in India. When Pakistan builds its missile programme it names these weapons as Ghauri, Ghaznavi and Babur as instruments to attack India. This just reiterates the point to every Indian listening to them and reinforcing the deep rooted prejudices.

It matters little to both the sides on this reading of history – of Hindus pitted against Muslims in the medieval ages – that Babur defeated a Muslim Ibrahim Lodhi at Delhi’s throne, Ghauri defeated Prithvi Raj’s army which was led by a Muslim and Ghaznavi had one of his top generals who was a Hindu named Tilak. It also matters little in this reading of history that when Akbar and Maharana Pratap fought at Haldighati then Akbar’s army was led by a Hindu Raja Man Singh and Maharana Pratap’s army was led by a Muslim Hakim Khan Suri. It also matters little in this reading that the Sikh Guru Arjan Dev who was executed by Aurangzeb had the foundation stone of Golden Temple laid by Mian Mir a sufi saint and had included so many sufi songs in the Sikh holy book Guru Granth Sahib. Or that Shivaji who fought with Aurangzeb had a Pathan unit and one of his most trusted aides was Didi Ibrahim, a Muslim and that Aurangzeb sent Raja Jaisingh, a Hindu to fight him. Or that when Babur defeated Rana Sanga at Panipat the latter’s army had thousands of Muslim soldiers.

Thirdly, it is the treatment in Pakistan to its minorities. The fuel to the Sangh Parivar is that while the Muslim percentage in India has marginally increased since partition that of Hindus in Pakistan has significantly reduced and they are widely discriminated against at all levels. They say that if Hindu discrimination is so deep in Pakistan then why should Muslims of India claim anything better?

The Two Nation Theory had no theological base. That is the reason that the Ulama were so much against the partition. The Prophet from his example of Madina showed a model of co-existence, where his city included the Muslims, Jews and Pagans as citizens of a rudimentary state. The two nation theory was propounded just from a social perspective. The Muslim League leaders got stuck in talking with a few on the opposite side and took them to be India. It was sad that they could not figure out that in a democracy while Muslims, quite justifiably, would not have had an upper hand so would any other section, as India is incredibly diverse by its very nature.

I don’t know about what the social context was in which partition happened but I now know for sure that the leaders who pursued it were shortsighted. Pakistan formed as an ‘Islamic’ country refused to acknowledge the rights of Bangla Muslims and the country split within 25 years. In its sixty years of existence it has been under military rule for a significant portion. The independent presence of judiciary is so impacted that its most famous Prime Ministers are either barred from entering their own country or hanged. A couple of weeks back Dina Wadia (daughter of Jinnah) wanted to spend her last days in Jinnah House in Bombay and not at any place in Pakistan. If today 13% Muslims can impact the political scene in India then definitely about 35% could have never been taken for a ride.

Now with Pakistan actively supporting terrorism in India like 26/11, they are againg pushing the indian muslims in the corner and on the defensive, and is giving the right wing parties in india something to psh their hinduvta agenda




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