When are India and Pakistan ready for peace?

By Moorthy Muthuswamy, March 2004

In two of my previous papers (Soft Borders with Pakistan: A Certain Suicide, Prithiviraj, Again?) I discussed how and why the ongoing normalization process wouldnít really benefit either India or Pakistan and instead plunge the entire region into chaos. In another paper, I have pointed out why the American Indo-Pak peace initiatives are not particularly well-advised (American Policy Advice in South Asia: Fatal Flaws).

In this work I discuss what steps must be taken in both Pakistan and in India to resolve the ongoing conflict. To do that we must first understand the roots of the conflict.

Roots of the conflict

Islamic religious leadership that defines Islamís power structure across the spectrum in South Asia sees it as an unfinished agenda of not having fully Islamized the region during the period when Muslims mostly ruled it. Now they appear to be totally committed to Islamizing it. Since Islam, as is practiced in South Asia doesnít offer a model of prosperity that attracts converts from non-Muslim faiths, they are using various forms of warfare (jihad) to marginalize and destroy the economic and security well-being of "infidels" and then eventually force them to convert.

The evidence that this is the case can be inferred in many ways. Among the most glaring is the marginalization and massive ethnic cleansing of non-Muslims in every area of South Asia where Muslims have power Ė through majority status. Even in areas where Muslims are in sizable minority, their relationship with majority Hindus is conflict-prone and wrought with violence, mistrust and suspicion.

The "peace talks" between India and Pakistan does almost nothing to address Islamís power structure within both India and Pakistan that continues to sponsor and sustain the conflict. That is why I have argued in my previous papers why this move could turn out to be a catastrophic blunder for India. It is Islamís power structure that must be made progressive or neutralized in order for this conflict to be resolved.

Islamís power structure in Pakistan

Islamís control of Pakistan is nearly complete. Pakistani textbooks are full of hate against non-Muslims and present a falsified history, while glorifying jihad. In mosques and madarasas across Pakistan there are routine calls and training for jihad. Any decision that could undermine Islamís power structure is vetoed away by the clerics who have influence over spectrum of the society. For instance, the widespread introduction of modern education at the expense of "Islamic" education is carefully negated by clerics as they realize such a step will result in reduced clerical power, and undermining the central role they play in the society.

The clerical influence is so extensive that all institutions, including Pakistanís military, come under its sphere of influence. Hence, there is no question of any of one taking a sustained adverse action against Islamís power structure in Pakistan.

Conclusion: Only an outside force can neutralize Islamic power structure in Pakistan that has been using it to stage jihad against India and the rest of civilization.

Islamís power structure within India

Muslim clergy that represent Islamís power structure in India find themselves not being able to totally dictate terms as in Pakistan due to Indian Muslimsí minority status. However, they do so in Indiaís only Muslim majority state Kashmir, that is doing everything it can to cleanse itself of its non-Muslim population, right under Indiaís very nose. It is notable that even in a multiethnic, secular and democratic India, there exists no reformed version of Islam (ISLAMIC INSTITUTIONS IN INDIA - Protracted Movement for Separate Muslim Identity?)!

The fundamentalist Muslim seminaries within India have been circumspect in not openly calling for jihad on "infidel" Indians, -- unlike their counter parts in Pakistan, where Islam is the real power broker.

However, Indian jihadists have used the strategy of exploiting the slogans such as secularism or human rights, a given under Indian secular democracy, to push for various forms of jihad at the expense of the majority community. Shahi Imam Bukhari, among the most retrogressive and fundamentalist Muslim clergy, - and the leading Indian Muslim cleric, deviously calls for upholding secular values in the Indian context but calls for imposition of Islamic values on all citizens in nations where Muslims are in a majority. This is typical of the jihadi frontís strategy in India.

When the Pakistani regime decided to opt for peace-talks with India, there were very quick announcements of all kinds of delegations consisting of lawmakers to journalists to movie stars lined-up to visit Pakistan. Who was behind this effort Ė certainly not Hindu organizations or even the government! Jihadi front groups inside India that masquerade as "secular ", "human rights" or "peace" organizations were behind this effort. Pakistan strategies that by showing the great Pakistani "hospitality" to these distinguished guests, Pakistan will be able to dictate the terms of "peace" with India. This shows that the jihadi network within India is very strong and diverse Ė the idea of jihad is so entrenched that even many well-educated and financially well off Muslims find themselves pulled towards it. Unfortunately, there was no Hindu organization powerful enough to neutralize this devious move.

Many of these jihadi front organizations too have been responsible in making sure that Islamic extremism is not objectively discussed in the Indian media -- fearing adverse reaction among the Indian public -- by claiming that such discussions would disturb peace and are communal in nature. But these jihadis continue to promote hateful, blatantly communal and retrogressive preaching and literature to Muslim masses. This is done toward only one goal: destruction of an unprepared India through an escalating jihad.

The Indian media mostly consists of people with humanities degrees achieved under the tutelage of Marxist-oriented professors. Indian Marxists are particularly known for looking for the almost nonexistent exploitation by Hindu upper class, but miss the exploitation and extremization of Indian Muslims by Muslim clergy and the big picture associated with Islamic expansion in South Asia. Thus, in general, the Indian media continues to be an unwitting friend of jihadists and their frontal organizations and has undermined Indiaís cause immensely (Journalists: Unwitting Friends of Jihadis?).

Even some Indian Muslim-controlled companies such as Wipro have stepped forward to help Pakistan, on the grounds that it actually helps Indian Muslims (?), even as Pakistanís jihadi structure and the intent are still intact! Jihadi front organizations within India are working extra-hard, trying to cleverly bail out Pakistan so that India could dig its own grave by making Pakistan stronger. This canít and shouldnít be allowed to continue.

Conclusion: Past Indian governments have continued to be ineffective in battling, let alone reversing Islamic extremism. If anything, they have lost valuable ground to the forces of fascism that have taken Muslim communities back many decades and escalated the conflict. What India needs is a counter force by organizations representing the majority community that can neutralize Islamís jihadi power structure within India.

You are only as strong as your community

Being weakly institutionalized and their religious leadership not politicized, Hindus have found themselves not being in a position to defend their communityís interests, -- over and over again. Eventually, this translates into inability to protect property, freedom and even physical safety of family members.

This has happened in Fiji, where the natives egged on by the Church marginalized Hindus. This too has occurred in every Muslim majority area of South Asia, including Indian Kashmir. However, minority Muslim community in India still has managed to increasingly dictate terms owing to Islamís power structure that commands most Indian Muslims.

Within South Asia, not only the space available for Hindus to live in dignity continues to shrink, but the opportunities for progress are also not widespread, -- even in India. Indiaís only Muslim majority state, Kashmir, unsurprisingly, is waging a jihad against the Indian state. But many of its Muslim inhabitants, who directly or indirectly sponsor this jihad are being subsidized heavily. These resources actually come at the cost economic development in other Hindu majority states, with fewer of their children getting opportunities for progress and success in life. There are various forms of subsidies, such as "Haj" subsidies, used to "satisfy" Indian Muslim community and increasing resources spent elsewhere in battling Islamic fundamentalism.

Hindus need organizations that represent their interests

At the moment, jihadi front organizations, unwittingly supported by the Indian media and the Left are having a field day in intimidating and undermining even a small attempt by the Indian state to confront Islamic fundamentalism, -- with no other non-governmental institution powerful enough to challenge them. It must be clear by now that it is a must for Hindus to have powerful organizations that promote and protect their interests. Such organizations wouldnít have allowed massive ethnic cleansing of Hindus from Muslim majority areas of South Asia, and would have never allowed Islamic fundamentalism to rise its head this blatantly within India. Also, powerful Hindu organizations would have forced the Indian media to be objective and fair in its presentation of Indiaís war on terror. Such an India would indeed be very different!

Without such powerful organizations, Hindus are simply doomed in South Asia (Indiaís Future: Trend should be a Friend). It is important to take a note of the demographic trends. Recently, the Indian government refused to release the Muslim population percentage as part of the 2001 census results, -- merely stating that the release of these results will lead to communal blood-bath. A safe inference appears to be that Muslim population percentage far exceeded the projections from previous decades!

Since at the moment there are only two major organizations, namely, RSS and VHP that represent Hindus across the spectrum, I am going to discuss their role.

RSS and VHP must reformulate their strategy

I believe that Hindus can be mobilized and brought together on two grounds: 1) Creating opportunities for employment and economic development and 2) Fear of Islamic fundamentalism. These two issues are linked and both leads to one source: Islamic fundamentalism. It has been pointed out by many that Indiaís economic growth has been shunted by its ongoing war with Islamic fundamentalists. I also discussed before how resources are being used to subsidize Muslims at the expense of regions where most Hindus live. Muslim population percentage growth rate, escalation in Islamic terrorism, destabilization, and what happened to Hindus in every Muslim majority area of South Asia, -- including Kashmir, are indeed genuine human rights and even, looming genocidal threat to the current and future children of India. All of this is extremely unfair, in light of partitioning of India already once in the name of Islam!

This is also the most modern and inclusive way of formulating the strategy that has the potential to bring together not just most Hindus, but even some other religious entities under one banner. The issues of security and economy cut across the faultlines of Hinduism and its various castes, including educated, rich, poor and even the middle class, much more so than even Hindu religion specific issues such as Ram temple in Ayodhya. Once momentum is built using this banner, issues such as Ayodhya or Article 370 or expelling illegal Bangladeshi Muslims can be easily resolved in a fair manner Ė as Hindus will be working to defend their interests.

It needs to be pointed out that Indiaís strategic outlook towards Pakistan should be based upon how Islamís clerical power structure sees India and Hindus, and not the (temporary) feelings of warmth shown by Pakistanis these days. There is no evidence indicating that this ultimate power broker in Pakistan has changed its stripes vis-ŗ-vis India.

Many people do not realize that Islam-based religious fascism doesnít allow pluralism to flourish. Therefore, promoting a pluralistic India calls for undermining religious fascism. Hindu organizations must work to neutralize the jihadi front organizations within India and silence them. They must articulate, promote and work to make sure that majority communityís interests are implemented at the policy level by regimes in power. To do these activities effectively, they must generate a much larger following among the Hindu public. I am discussing some ideas below how this could be accomplished.

The role of grievance in mobilization

Islamists around the world have used the banner of Muslim "grievance" to mobilize and justify war against infidel states and populations. But in Muslim majority countries they have performed most unthinkable and worst atrocities against non-Muslims. But many non-Muslim states with large Muslim populations, that have given equal rights to its Muslim citizens, such as India, are being accused of "repression" and "extermination" of Muslims, while the Islamic fascists continue to indoctrinate these Muslims to wage jihad against such states. These Islamists have successfully exploited the allegation Muslim "grievance" to spread fascism around the world.

For Hindus too grievance can be a powerful mobilizing tool. Hindus have genuine land, cultural, religious, economic and security grievance against the sponsors Islamic fascism and terror. Each and every grievance (New Ideas for a New War) Hindus have in the hands of Islamic fundamentalism in South Asian context must be discussed and well-publicized. Doesnít that increase tensions between Hindus and Muslims? It does, in the short run. However, in the long run, it makes Muslims too realize that they have been duped by many of their clergy into waging a never-ending jihad and driven to poverty, and makes possible genuine reform of Indian Islam, when there is none (ISLAMIC INSTITUTIONS IN INDIA - Protracted Movement for Separate Muslim Identity?)! Also, it prepares the majority community mentally, for the first time, to prevail in this long war imposed on them.

Let me present an analogy here: The smallpox was eradicated by educating the public, mobilizing the public and then systematically vaccinating the public.

It is OK, or even necessary for Hindus to get angry upon hearing how they have been systematically marginalized by Islamic extremism and many opportunities taken away. Anger at the enemy or even hating the enemy is an emotional mechanism the human body has to activate in order to fight back effectively. An India without anger and concern is an India that is unprepared to win this war.

Summary

To achieve peace and prosperity in South Asia, the roots of the conflict Ė Islamís extremist power structure -- must be addressed. In the case of India, the majority community must develop organizations capable of reforming, neutralizing this power structure and even liberate Indian Muslims. Otherwise, as the past trend has shown, India will be civilizationally destroyed by this ongoing war. Pakistan needs an external intervention, as religious fascism is too entrenched there for it to be dismantled internally.