Sunday, December 07, 2008

Two-nation theory has bred practice of hatred

Two-nation theory has bred practice of hatred
By M J Akbar

Why has Pakistan become synonymous with terrorism? The vast majority of Pakistanis surely find terrorism, which is the purest form of hatred, as repellent as Indians do. Why then does Pakistan breed an endless flow of suicide missionaries?

Practice has been shaped by theory. A theory of separation created Pakistan in 1947; over time, this has been converted into a culture of hatred by some self-appointed ideologues.

Pakistan emerged out of the notion that Hindus and Muslims could not live together. The threat perception was raised into the claim that Islam itself would be obliterated in a Hindu-majority India, during the seminal general elections of 1936-37. The Muslim League's slogan was: "Islam in Danger!"

Neither history nor theology could have sustained such a slogan, but Muslim elites in British India, particularly landlords and capitalists, manipulated the incipient ideology of the Muslim League, and fuelled it with incendiary sentiment in order to create a state where they could protect their vested interests. They were not really afraid of "Hindu Raj"; they were terrified of land reform and socialism - however pale a version it might be - that the Congress would enforce. It is no accident that till today there has been no serious land reform in Pakistan. Gandhi's honest faith in Hinduism was maliciously exploited to spread the perfidy that India would never offer an equal place to Muslims.

The idea of Islam being in danger was particularly attractive to a section of the ulema - but not to all of them; the Jamaat-e-Ulema-e-Hind (now led by Maulana Mahmood Madni), unlike the Jamaat-e-Islami, was very clear-headed about the potential pitfalls and opposed the creation of Pakistan. The pro-partition ulema, however, discovered a unique opportunity for power. If Islam was going be the raison d'etre of the new nation, then who else could be its true guardians? The elites took control of the economy and politics; the upper middle classes dominated the administration; and the two shared authority in the armed forces. The clergy gradually took control of educational and legal space.

The one thing that united these elements, who had separate agendas and could be culturally antagonistic, was Kashmir. The first important decision taken after Pakistan's birth was to convert the two-nation theory into a cornerstone of Pakistan's foreign policy.

It is often forgotten that Pakistan created the Kashmir problem when it decided to seize the Valley by armed force in the last week of October 1947. If this incursion had not taken place, there would have been a peaceful resolution to both Kashmir and Hyderabad, perhaps by the spring of 1948, with Britain as referee through the person of Lord Mountbatten. Perhaps this was one reason, apart from his sense of self-importance, why Mountbatten wanted to be named Governor General of both India and Pakistan, but Jinnah told him to stick to Delhi.

India, Pakistan and Britain were in full agreement that no princely state should be permitted independence. The two holdouts, Kashmir and Hyderabad, could never have survived in their frozen condition. Mountbatten has left on record a note from Nehru in which he suggested that the resolution of Kashmir could be left to spring 1948, when the snows had melted.

Instead, Jinnah, Liaquat Ali Khan and Pakistan's freshly emboldened leaders were convinced they could pray at the main mosque in Srinagar on the Friday following the invasion. They failed. The failure sponsored a lie, that the invasion was a "popular uprising". Shuja Nawaz has exposed this falsehood effectively in his history of the Pakistan army, Crossed Swords [Oxford University Press]. The October 1947 invasion was armed and supported by the Pakistani administration.

Six decades of Fridays later, the rulers of Islamabad are still waiting. If they want to enter Srinagar on tanks they are welcome to wait another six decades and hand over the effort to their great grandchildren. If they want to come to Srinagar in peace, they can come and pray tomorrow. But it will be difficult for them to come in peace to Srinagar as long as they believe that Hindus and Muslims cannot live together. The two-nation theory might have been abandoned in 1971, when Pakistan itself was partitioned. But it remains the official doctrine of the Pakistan state, sold to generations in millions of school textbooks.

Pakistan's support for Sikh secessionism in the 1980s was clear evidence that it did not need only a "Muslim" cause to become pro-active. If it could destroy India's integrity through another religious module, it was equally happy to do so. If General Zia ul Haq had spent as much energy on the construction of Pakistan as he did on the destruction of India, Pakistan might have had a rising economic story to tell by now.

Kashmir became the implicit sanction for the emergence, under Zia's beneficial watch, of terrorist groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba, or the Army of the Pure. Zia's successors, starting with Benazir Bhutto, did little to contain these terrorists. When India protested, Pakistani diplomats were polite across the table, and probably had a good laugh behind Delhi's back. Since Zia's time Pakistan has been asking for "evidence" or proof, and encouraging skepticism or conspiracy theories (dutifully lapped up by sections of the Indian media). Well, this time there is a canary singing in custody, and a satellite phone abandoned by terrorists with five logged calls to members of the Lashkar. Just in case you did not know, it is the declared intention of the Pure Army to fly the Pakistani flag on top of the Red Fort. Its plans are not secret. They are on its website. Its leader, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, certainly gets a wink if not a nod from the Pak establishment. Pervez Musharraf was the only Pakistani leader to ban the Lashkar, under international pressure after Vajpayee mobilized along the border in the wake of the December 13 attack on Parliament. Passions cooled, and it simply reappeared under another name, back in business. Hafiz Saeed does not live in hiding. He gives interviews to Indian publications.

Asif Zardari's latest alibi is: these are non-state actors. They certainly preen around on the Pakistani stage. If the Pakistani state cannot stop this bloodthirsty drama, the world will have to.

Appeared in Times of India - December 07, 2008


common said...

Religion is like perfume that should be used very diligently in small quantities. If people start utilising perfume for head baths then no doubt it will lead to migraine for self while causing headache to others.

No society can sustain and survive PEACEFULLY without FREEDOM and justice given to its citizens. These are bedrocks. Though democracy is worst form of governance but it is better than other forms of governance.

What ever be the degree of incitement and strife, societies that do not realise these facts will be doomed one day dragging along with them common people, their families and their humble aspirations.

Common Person.

Pradeep Gawande said...

agree with u.

KishyCool said...

You always write excellent articles. I really wonder why we don't get leaders like u instead of these dirty politicians.

Najam Gilani said...

Pakistan is a country whose people are in state of stupor -------------Be that ordinary citizens, government organizations, ruling/opposition parties or media establishment----all are obsessed with the idea of living in a state of denial. All is well with them, everyone else is planning, plotting, conspiring against them, and hence they need to defend themselves----from the collective might of Jews, Hindus and Christians. They so believe.

Pakistan is in advance stage of abnormality. For, it is not quite normal to believe that while playing with the fire there is much higher probability of hurting oneself as well and the hurt could be fatal.

Problem of Pakistan is that it is carrying the baggage of hatred from the past. Its needs to understand that its obsession with the hatred will lead to its own destruction, because in the process of it, it will not be left with any positive energy, which is required for growth and development. For now it may drive temporary sadistic pleasure in causing chaos and mayhem across the country and the world but ultimately it is Pakistan only which has to shed the tears of blood, because the countries for which it wants to create the crisis are capable enough to handle it, but the after effect of these crisis would be too big for Pakistan too manage it.

Anonymous said...

One of the most honest analyses of the TNT that I have ever read!

Ray Lightning said...

I support KishyCool. I hope MJ Akbar would seriously consider stepping up into the Indian political arena and inspire hope into several young Indians like us :)

Ray Lightning said...

Loyalty to religion as loyalty to state : this belongs to the age of feudalism. It is no surprise that the idea of Pakistan got its best support from feudal classes who are opposed to land reform. The French philosopher Michel Serres traces the evolution of human society based on the way information is organized. He marks 4 eras : oral (before writing was invented), written, printing and internet. The state is defined on each of these eras based on loyalties towards race, religion, language and humanity respectively.

Linguistic nationalism is a more sophisticated and progressive feeling than religious nationalism. It belongs to the age of democracy and secularism. It is no surprise that the most bitter opponents of the cause of Pakistan have been linguistic nationalists : in Bengal, in Sind, in Pakthunkhwa and in Baluchistan. These secular parties who have formed provincial governments have all been brutally suppressed by the Pakistani military. Significant political leaders such as the former chief minister of Baluchistan, Akbar Bugti were assassinated. Any politician who asks for mere increase of provincial autonomy is assassinated : the most recent example being the Bhutto family.

The Pakistani army is maintaining an enormous charade of fighting the Taleban, where as the raison-d'ĂȘtre of these terrorists is the Pak army itself, which believes that Islamist ideology is the principal element that is holding Pakistan together.

It is time we Indians stopped being uncaring of the travails of our brothers across the border. The violence that engulfs the Pakistanis has long crossed the borders and spread into India. We Indians should support linguistic nationalism in Pakistan : we should press for more provincial autonomy. This is in our strategic interest, and these people are our own brothers.

When the Khudai-khidmatgars were being murdered by Abdul Qayyum Khan and other murderous Islamists, we turned a blind eye. We turned a blind eye for a very long time when the Bangladeshi nationalists were being murdered. We cannot afford to continue any longer. The murderous attacks in Mumbai are a thinly veiled distraction so that Taleban could get a lifeshot in the west as the attention is focussed on the eastern frontier. There have been billboards in NWFP advocating for an independent Pashtunistan on Nov 19. There has been attacks in Mumba on Nov 26. Coincidence ?