Coexistence with India – III
This blog is part 4 of a four-part series that attempts to understand the enemy within; and why and how our establishment has fed this monster for decades.
See Part 1: Coexistence with India – I
See Part 2: Coexistence with the world
See Part 3: Coexistence with India – II
Human identity comes from commitment and conduct. DNA defines one’s genetic stock but not one’s identity. As conscious beings with volition, humans carve their identity from what they think they are. How many Muslims of the subcontinent had Indian ancestors or how they became Muslims is not important. It is their sense of belonging and commitment that decides their relationship with the world. His DNA loses meaning when a white American Christian converts to Islam, takes an Arab name and joins al Qaeda to wage war against his own DNA stock.
Although Islam did not teach so, our ulema teache us that Allah created Adam and his race only to be Muslims. Therefore, those who do not accept Islam, go against their humanity. Over the past 65 years this interpretation of humanity has taken ever deeper root in our thinking. We are made to believe that Muslims are the only proper humans, the righteous and the blessed; that the rest of mankind is on the wrong track and must be brought to the right track or under the rule of the righteous Muslim empire. With this belief as their banner, followers of Sheikh Ibne Wahhab and Syed Qutb aspire to establish their Global Arab Empire; human systems that do not conform to their concept of Islam must be abolished. The monster that our establishment created with a perverse lack of vision sold out to these international recruiters. Over decades all our resources were dumped into the hell pit of a security state. That security state itself is now facing a threat to its life at the hands of these misguided missiles.
But our alienation from the rest of mankind is not the only tragedy. Division within the Muslim camp starts on the issue: who is a “true Muslim”? As believers we have been taught for ages that the scholars of Islam know better, that they are the doctors of our soul. Now there are different sects of Muslims and every sect has its ulema. They define “true Muslims” according to their separate sets of belief. This has been growing into greater bitterness within the Muslim community, each declaring the other as misguided, if not heretical, leading to clashed and bloodshed.
Communal sentiment divides people in communities and alienates one from the other; this almost always pushes them into hostile positions. Hate generates hate and begets hate. People close their eyes and ears under the hypnosis of hate. They act like programmed robots; reason loses all meaning. Time showed this truth in tragic clarity.
Indian leaders chose the path of inclusiveness to combat communal clashes. Without this wise approach, the vengeance of the Hindu who was vanquished for centuries in his own motherland could have caused immense bloodshed. Imagine a Muslim population whose places of worship are attacked and destroyed for centuries, whose holies are repeatedly insulted for generations and then they rise to freedom and power! What massacres of revenge will you expect?
The gradual cooling down of temper and insanity is possible only in a tolerant democracy which permits diversity and discussion. It is this constitutional openness that saved India from falling apart. We, in Pakistan, chose to decide all matters on religious belief; first our ulema rejected people of other religions as “heretics”, then our own religious minorities one by one.
The question lingers on whether India aspires to annex Pakistan. In 1946, the Muslim League leadership had agreed to remain part of the Indian Federation, in accordance with the Cabinet Mission Plan which provided the Muslim majority provinces with constitutional autonomy. Parties agreed to draft that constitution as the Cabinet Mission Plan stipulated. But within days, the congress policy changed. Maulana Azad, obviously in a considered move, handed over the Congress presidency to Jawahar Lal Nehru, who as the new president declared that the parliament will independently decide matters in the session by majority. The Congress Committee did not reject its president’s statement. This meant a clear move to shed us away as a load which they thought would suck more than serve. They could have kept us if they wished. Time could have weakened our resolve for separation, but that could be then. As for now, after what we have made of ourselves, a perfect hornets’ nest, a paranoid crowd of self-righteous militants, it seems highly improbable for any sane planner of India to annex Pakistan.
This strategy of load shedding by Nehru, Patel and their like could at best be called clever. It was not wise as many humanists warned. Division based on hate is not diversity but disorder. Diversity is individuality in harmony with its world, while disorder is a dismissal of harmony. That clever move made the “Two Nations” waste their trillions on weapons of mass destruction, leaving their teeming millions in abject misery. It brought several wars to the subcontinent and pushed our part to the brink of one civil war after another till it reduced us to diverse tribes of a mythical ummah where no national identity exists.
Do we inherit the sins and liabilities of our ancestors? Yes, because we inherit their virtues and their assets. Like other conquerors, our medieval ancestors ruled their subjects against their will. Hindus never went out of the subcontinent to invade or rule others, while invasion and domination were genetic to Muslims. They preferred to dominate rather than befriend. Conquest and killing leaves lasting scars. Those who are disgraced and defeated pass their memories of pain to the posterity, that breeds new conflicts. Only an admission of misdeeds opens the path to redemption. The contemporary descendants of Vikings, Romans and Mongols do not take pride in the violent history of their ancestors. In contrast, the boastful pride of our past makes us crudely unique and alienates us from the world. An honest admission instead can work as the recipe for coexistence. Such civilized attitudes are not humiliating; they can win us respect among nations. But that is not possible without a strong dismissal of the terrorists who represent the darkest aspects of our psyche.
And we have to acknowledge the irreversibility of history. The two people have to remain two or more as they are already three with Bangladesh. They have to learn the essence of diversity before they sit together like Europeans. Intellectuals and statesmen who wish reason and peace to prevail have to accept with patience the indispensability of popular will, if not consensus, on such future reconciliation. We have to create the consciousness that changes human destiny and changes the world. Yes, we have no option now except to mend our ways and learn to modestly coexist with the world, which starts with the neighbor’s door.
The author is a renowned Pakistani intellectual. His Urdu books Tehzeebi Nargisyat and Mubaalghe, Mughaalte are widely regarded as the revival of critical thinking and free inquiry in Urdu non-fiction.
The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.