By Dr. Mahboob A. Khawaja
British imperialism was not accidental but a planned scheme of things to perpetuate its cultural and political dominance over the weak and most vulnerable people of the globe. Its aims were no different in the Sub-Continent of India-Pakistan. The immediate focal aim was to destroy the existing culture of the established Mughal Empire and divide and rule the whole of India. Remember, imperialism was an unadulterated civilization on its own with massive possibilities and material possessions to control the masses. The 1857 belligerent war on Mughal India and its occupation is referred to as “Mutiny” in imperial history. Bahdur Shah Zafar, the last emperor was arrested, his son’s head chopped off and exiled to be imprisoned in a garage in Rangoon, Burma. It is estimated that two millions Indians mostly Muslims were killed by the invading British armies. It was the beginning of rethinking as how to expel the British and freedom to be restored to the Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs and other minorities in India. You should know that truth explained in full clarity becomes indisputable. British imperialism took India from the Mughals and robbed their wealth, moral and spiritual cultural development of eight centuries. Not much has changed of the legacy of British rule. For over 73 years, Indian and Pakistani people try to celebrate the Independence Day, not in peace but with missing objectivity of the national freedom movement. Both nations somehow lost the sense of political reality and are overburdened with a sickening mental microscope of unreality. Both are in desperate need of political change and reformation, not revolution to imagine the historic freedom from British imperialism. Plato made it clear that “thinking is man’s natural instrument for problem solving, and any problem could be solved by thought…”
Towards Thinking of Reasoned Political Change and Unthinking of Extremism and Occupation of Kashmir
Indian and Pakistani politicians remained buried in the past. For change and future-making, they urgently need people of new ideas, new vision and proactive intellect. At the outset, nobody appears to be rethinking – how to restore normal relationships between people and nations who lived together for centuries in the same sub-continent. Revolution is not the answer as it is a configuration of mostly passion and national emotions subject to transitory feelings, time and place. A reasoned thinking is often the sparking guideline for sustainable human relationships. Anarchy of absolutism or nationalism is as dangerous today as it was centuries earlier – causing the Two WW and killings and dehumanization of millions and millions across the globe. What is the way out to reason and rationality to deal with problem-solving and return to peace and tranquility between the warring societies? Kashmir is at the heart of conflicts between India and Pakistan which was left unresolved by the departing British colonialism.
The political leaders in India and Pakistan have no rational sense of their strength and weaknesses. India is overwhelmingly claiming to be a Hindu nationalist regime under PM Narinder Modi. Its constitution and national freedom movement had philosophical and political soul of secularism. Pakistan had the vision of an Islamic State. None of the two are connected to their originality of the freedom movement. None would show sense of guilt for the disconnection and trivial policies and practices in their own affairs. The spirit of democracy, secularism and respect for equal rights is tormented by the leaders of the two nations. Both are nuclear nations and often remind the people of the world – what could go wrong when nuclear option is miscalculated for one-sided peace as it happened at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Could men of knowledge and genius rise up against the obvious political odds and ignorance that wars could resolve the problem without catastrophic human destruction?
India and Pakistan are not ruled by the wisest or brightest politicians. The masses suffer by neglect and anarchy. Their public institutions lack human care, services and efficiency. Those who grab political power by extreme ideologies and hateful manipulation are men of political intrigue assuming power through exploitation of fellow human beings and impose their absurdity on human consciousness striving for survival. Truth is One and the same unchanging as it was many centuries earlier. Contrary to historic India under Mughal Empire, we are seeing in India, denial of human rights and freedom and prolonged captivity of the people of Jammu and Kashmir – a framework of extreme Hinduism ideology. The masses of Kashmir seek their rights to freedom, not forced captivity. What if they had the freedom to express their will, if they want freedom from India or want to join Pakistan? Historically, Kashmir was never a part of British Raj but a separate entity and its geography and socio-economic lifelines run through Pakistan, not India. India after military confrontation with China will look for escape from reality to confront Pakistan. Kashmir is not a domestic issue of India or Pakistan. Conscientious Indian thinkers and people of conscience oppose the RSS Hinduism strategy and are adamant to these violations of human dignity and freedom. In a recent article, Arundhati Roy – an international peace activist and author of the novel “The Ministry of Utmost Happiness” and “My Seditious Heart.” (“The Silence is the Loudest Sound”-New York Times: August 15, 2019), makes this candid observation:
Amid these vulgar celebrations the loudest sound, however, is the deathly silence from Kashmir’s patrolled, barricaded streets and its approximately seven million caged, humiliated people, stitched down by razor wire, spied on by drones, living under a complete communications blackout…. Today Kashmir is one of the most or perhaps the most densely militarized zone in the world. More than a half-million soldiers have been deployed to counter what the army itself admits is now just a handful of “terrorists.” If there were any doubt earlier it should be abundantly clear by now that their real enemy is the Kashmiri people. What India has done in Kashmir over the last 30 years is unforgivable. An estimated 70,000 people, civilians, militants and security forces have been killed in the conflict. Thousands have been “disappeared,” and tens of thousands have passed through torture chambers that dot the valley like a network of small-scale Abu Ghraibs….. The danger will come from many directions. The most powerful organization in India, the far-right Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or the R.S.S., with more than 600,000 members including Narendra Modi and many of his ministers, has a trained “volunteer” militia, inspired by Mussolini’s Black Shirts. With each passing day, the R.S.S. tightens its grip on every institution of the Indian state. In truth, it has reached a point when it more or less is the state.
Pakistan’s Masses Hope for Political Change and Future-Making
Since 1947, Pakistan for the first time fair public elections allowed new generation leadership under Imran Khan- a cricketer and outspoken supporter of rights of freedom for the ten millions people of Kashmir. He claims to be an ambassador for the besieged people of Jammu and Kashmir under Indian administration since 1947. Lack of dialogue between India and Pakistan on Kashmir and normalization of people to people relationship are multiplying temptations and increased frustration on both sides demanding new thinking for a reasoned and conscientious soul-searching. One wonders why Pakistani leaders could never think to hold an international conference on Kashmir. Does Pakistan have competent diplomats to argue for the rights of Kashmiri people in global forums? If Pakistani leaders could evolve a capacity of moral and intellectual values and educated and honest people of new generation could hold offices of political responsibility, it could make the difference in dealing with some of the compelling socio-economic and political issues.
For over 50 years, Pakistan had a junk history of Bhuttos, Zardari, Sharif and Musharaf- all thugs, wicked and indicted criminals to rule a moral sensitive nation of values and spiritual history. PM Imran Khan, the first elected leader after long time, should focus on institutional development and recruit educated and intelligent people of new generation – people of ideas and vision rather than thumb lickers and “yes men” in his governing circle. So far, he does not seem to have any educated person of international integrity and strategic planning to uplift Pakistan from a non-productive political economy and governance to a status that could advance its originality of the freedom movement and a stronger and politically viable Pakistan. He needs to address the issues of missing public service, political accountability, law and order and justice. Pakistanis are waiting what they do not see a focused Plan for political reformation. If Pakistanis are intelligent enough they should start thinking – what is after Imran Khan?
The former political monsters are still free and one wonders when Zardari, Bhutoos and Sharif and Musharaf would face the firing squads for their crimes of stolen wealth and killings of people. They looted banks, time and opportunities for change, yet, they claim to have done nothing wrong. If he could enlist morally and intellectually able people to his governance, the issue of Kashmir could ably be presented in global settings and perhaps an exercise of referendum- plebiscite be practiced to ensure the encompassing reality for the deprived masses of Kashmir. Stupid clichés of freedom and casual allusion of political change and resolution of Kashmir will not make any difference on the ground. If Pakistani leaders have individual conscience and reality of the history to organize a Strategic Action PLAN, the issue of Kashmir could be amicably resolved. The essence of political change lies in being strong, not weak or divided in policies and practices.
Challenge – How to become Effective Leaders?
Leaders create new leaders with vision and integrity to imagine the universal phenomenon of change and futuristic developments. Human happiness and progress move horizontally in peace-time, not in continuing warmongering and irrational threats to other people and nations. In situation of crises, responsible leaders provide assurances and comforts to the masses – would leaders of India and Pakistan come out of the psychologically neurosis box and see the enlightenment of the 21st century of informed humanity and honor the rights of self-determination of the people of Kashmir and let them decide their own future and freedom and once for all rewrite a history of peaceful co-existence and friendship?
Dr. Mahboob A. Khawaja specializes in international affairs-global security, peace and conflict resolution with keen interests in Islamic-Western comparative cultures and civilizations, and author of several publications including the latest: One Humanity and the Remaking of Global Peace, Security and Conflict Resolution. Lambert Academic Publications, Germany, 12/2019.