It is commonly accepted as an article of faith that Kashmir is the root cause of all problems between India and Pakistan. I disagree with this premise, and wish to demonstrate that the ‘Kashmir issue’ is itself the result of a deeper root cause, which is a clash of two worldviews: pluralism versus exclusivism.
(It must be clarified that neither pluralism nor exclusivism is the same as secularism, because secularism denies the legitimacy of religion, seeing it at best as exotic culture, and at worst, as a scourge. On the other hand, pluralism and exclusivism both recognize and celebrate religion, but in entirely different ways.)
Most people fail to recognize that this clash between pluralism and exclusivism does indeed exist. This exposes an intellectual failing and lack of preparation in getting to the root cause of the India-Pakistan conflict. This has repressed the real problem, pushing it into the intellectual basement of the global subconscious, and turning it into the shadow side of humanity.
Any genuine attempt to address geopolitical problems must look deeper than examining merely the symptoms of conflict. This essay calls for a paradigm shift in the understanding of the root cause, without which attempts to resolve the ‘Kashmir issue’ shall fail, or at best bring temporary relief. It concludes by defining the ‘hard question’ that must be tackled by the world community.
Religion and Conflict
All religions have two dimensions: theological beliefs that pertain to one’s relationship with a Supreme Reality of whatever kind; and sociological beliefs that pertain to dealings with human society. Often, people compare only the theologies, finding common ground across many diverse religions, and declare them all be the ‘same’ or ‘equivalent’. Hence, they naively conclude that the present global problems are not about religion.
However, one must pay special attention to the second dimension of religions, namely, the social theories mandated by different religions. It is here where the root of much conflict is to be located.
Christianity’s onerous social demands became the subject of intense fighting after 1500 C.E., leading to the Reformation of Christianity. Both sides — orthodoxy and the reformers — agreed that the social space should allow critical thinking, independent inquiry, and separation of church and state. This clipped the wings of Christianity from its control over the public space. Consequently, contemporary Western religion is largely a private affair and focuses less on control over society.
While Christianity does remain very active socially today, and has strong positions on abortion, euthanasia, and many other ethical matters, it is not the final legal authority to resolve sociological disputes. It has a position on these, but this is only ‘a’ position and does not automatically become ‘the’ position in Western society.
The situation in Islam is entirely different. A comparable Reformation has never been accomplished successfully, and those who have tried such amendments have been killed as heretics. Hence, in many ways, the sociological dictates of orthodox Islam today are comparable to those of pre-Reformation Christianity. For instance, during the Middle Ages, Catholic bishops had fatwa-like powers to give death sentences. They had police powers, and controlled the definition and enforcement of public law. (The greatest gift that the West could give to Muslims is guidance in bringing about such a Reformation, as that watershed event was the beginning of the rise of the West. The only losers would be the Islamic clergy.)
Furthermore, sociological mandates of a religion are also of two kinds: internal ones, such as the varnasystem, marriage customs, gender relations, and so forth, that only impact the internal society within a particular religion; and external ones, such as the requirement to proselytize or to kill or ill-treat outsiders, that impact those who are outsiders to a given faith.
In my view the theological and internal, sociological, aspects of a religion are not the primary causes of global conflict. Rather, the external, sociological, aspects of religion are the direct causes of global conflict.
It logically follows that it is the business of the world at large to interpret, question, and challenge those aspects of a religion that take a position concerning outsiders. If I am the subject of some other religion’s doctrine, and such a doctrine states how I am to be treated, what is to be done to me, what I may or may not do freely, then, even though I am not a member of that religion, it does become my business to probe these doctrines and even to demand a change. On the other hand, if a religion minds its own business, and has little to say pertaining to me as an outsider, then I should respect its right to be left alone.
In other words, a given religion’s right to be left alone by outsiders should be reciprocal and contingent upon its responsibility to leave outsiders alone.
Islam’s socio-political strategies in dealing with the non-Muslim world are now at the crossroads and under the world’s microscope. The positions adopted by Islamic leaders will have long-term consequences for the entire world, including both Muslims and non-Muslims.
Pakistan’s Islamic Foundations
The three important social demands that dominate the Islamic orthodoxy as adopted by Pakistan’s government and many other Islamic States (as opposed to alternative liberal interpretations that are subverted) are: (1) the 2-nation theory, (2) global loyalty to Islam superceding sovereignty of man-made countries, and (3) Islamic triumphalism. These are summarized below:
1. The 2-nation theory: Pakistan was carved out of India based on the theory that Muslims require their own separate nation in order to live in compliance with Islamic Law. This theory is equivalent to: (a) segregation(neo-apartheid) by demanding a separation of socio-political jurisdiction for Muslims; and (b) Islamicexclusiveness and imposition of Islamic “Law” upon the public sphere. This is the exact opposite of both pluralism and secularism. The traumatic event that resulted from this, in India, is commonly called “The Partition.” Once the population of Muslims in a given region crosses a threshold in numbers and/or assertiveness, such demands begin. Once this ball is set in motion, the euphoria builds up into a frenzy, and galvanizes the Pan-Islamic “global loyalty” discussed in #2 below. The temperature is made to boil until Muslims worldwide see the expansion of their territory as God’s work. The US will have this experience at some point during the next few decades.
2. Pan-Islamic loyalty superceding local sovereignty: Islamic doctrine divides humanity into two nations that transcend all boundaries of man-made countries: All Muslims in the world are deemed to be part of one single nation called dar-ul-islam (Nation-of-Islam). All non-Muslims are deemed to belong to dar-ul-harb (the enemy, or Nation-of-War). This bi-polar definition cuts across all sovereignty, because sovereignty is man-made and hence inferior and subservient to God’s political and social bifurcation. Islamic doctrine demands loyalty only to Islamic Law and not to the man-made laws of nations and states, such as USA, India, etc. Among the consequences of this doctrine is that a Muslim is required to fight on the side of a Muslim brother against any non-Muslim. This has often been invoked by Muslims to supercede the merits of a given dispute at hand. Orthodox Islam calls for a worldwide “network” of economic, political, social, and other alliances amongst the 1.2 billion Muslims of the world. Pakistan invokes this doctrine to claim Indian Muslims as part of dar-ul-islam, with Pakistan designated as caretaker of their interests. The Al Qaeda global network of terror is simply the extreme case of such a “network” mentality turning violent against thedar-ul-harb.
3. Islamic Triumphalism: A central tenet of Islam is that God’s “nation” — i.e. the dar-ul-islam – must sooner or later take over the world. Others, especially those who are in the crosshairs, as prey at a given moment, see this as religious imperialism. Pakistan’s official account of history honors Aurungzeb because he plundered and oppressed the infidels, i.e. Hindus and Buddhists. Likewise, many other conquerors, such as Mohammed of Ghazni, are portrayed as great heroes of Islamic triumphalism. (Even Pakistan’s missile is named after an Islamic conqueror of India in the Medieval Period.) Given this divine mandate, the ethos of aggressiveness and predatory behavior is promoted and celebrated in social life, which non-Muslims see as Islamic chauvinism. September 11 was a misjudgment of timing and dar-ul-islam’s ability to take over. But any orthodox Mullah or Imam would confirm God’s edict that eventually Islam absolutely must take over the world.
Once ingrained, these ideological essences become the contexts that define all thinking concerning society, politics, ethics, and even militancy. A sort of closed universe develops and rigidifies, and assumes a life of its own, with its internal logic and legitimacy.
An intense identity is often programmed from childhood. For instance, history gets rewritten to fit the requirement that anything pre-Islamic is to be seen as inferior and false. In India, this legitimized the destruction of Hindu-Buddhist institutions. The past is still a threat, because it is too obviously Hindu-Buddhist. In Arabia, it caused the virtual erasure of rich pre-Islamic cultures. Indigenous art got re-branded as ‘Islamic art’, even though it was done by non-Muslims who were employed by the conquerors.
Indian contributions in math, science, medicine, art, literature, etc. were translated by Arab and Persian scholars in the Middle Ages with explicit acknowledgment and great respect for the Indian sources, and were later re-transmitted to Europe. However, since Islam now no longer has exclusive control over India, it now claims these as “Islamic” sciences. This version of a triumphant Islamic history is promoted heavily by Arab sponsored television shows, and even on public television in the US.
The education system of such societies brainwashes and hypnotizes young boys into dogma that either includes hatred, or can easily be turned into hatred, by pushing a few buttons. It denies them job skills for the modern era, thereby expanding the available pool of jihad mercenaries for hire.
When Islam is in a minority and brute force power is not advisable, the Al-taqiyah doctrine legitimizes deception, if done for the larger cause of dar-ul-islam.
All this has built a neurosis and hatred for others. There is also hatred for modernity, seeing it as evil. When the infidels start to win economically or politically, the orthodoxy preaches that Islamic people are not doing a good enough job on behalf of Allah, and must get re-energized to fight the dar-ul-harb. Such a powder keg blows up under the right conditions of stress.
This thinking led to the creation of Pakistan in 1947.
History of the Two-Nation Theory
Sir Muhammad Iqbal (1876-1938), the leading Muslim philosopher of his time, was an Indian nationalist in his early writings. But by 1930, in his poem, The Millat, his thoughts had crystallized on Muslim separatism. He explained the concept of partition in his presidential address to the Muslim League in Allahabad in 1930: that a unitary form of government was inconceivable, and that religious community had to be the basis for identification. His argument was that communalism in its highest sense brought harmony.
Iqbal demanded the establishment of a confederated India to include a Muslim state consisting of Punjab, North-West Frontier Province, Sindh, and Baluchistan. In subsequent speeches and writings, Iqbal reiterated the Muslim claim to nationhood “based on unity of language, race, history, religion, and identity of economic interests.”
The name ‘Pakistan’ originated in 1933, when some Muslim students in Cambridge (UK) issued a pamphlet titled Now or Never. The pamphlet denied that India was a single country, and demanded partition. It explained the term ‘Pakistan’ as follows: “Pakistan… is… composed of letters taken from the names of our homelands: that is, Punjab, Afghania [North-West Frontier Province], Kashmir, Iran, Sindh, Tukharistan, Afghanistan, and Balochistan. It means the land of the Paks, the spiritually pure and clean.”
In the 1937 elections to the provincial legislative assemblies, the Indian Congress party gained majorities in seven of the eleven provinces. Congress refused to form coalition governments with the Muslim League, even in Uttar Pradesh, which had a substantial Muslim minority, and vigorously denied the Muslim League’s claim to be the only true representative of Indian Muslims. This permanently alienated the Muslim League from the Congress.
By 1939, the Aligarh Muslim group’s resolution reflected the hardening of the Muslim leadership’s thinking: “Neither the fear of the British bayonets nor the prospects of a bloody civil war can discourage (the Muslims) in their will to achieve free Muslim states in those parts of India where they are in majority.”
To rally political support, Jinnah used ‘Pakistan’ as the unifying cause. His famous 1940 Presidential address to the Muslim League’s annual convention in Lahore was a watershed event to segregate dar-ul-islam in the Indian subcontinent. He said:
“It is extremely difficult to appreciate why our Hindu friends fail to understand the real nature of Islam and Hinduism. They are not religions in the strict sense of the word, but are, in fact, different and distinct social orders. It is a dream that the Hindus and Muslims can ever evolve a common nationality, and this misconception of one Indian nation has gone far beyond the limits, and is the cause of most of our troubles, and will lead India to destruction, if we fail to revise our notions in time. The Hindus and the Muslims belong to two different religious philosophies, social customs, and literature. They neither intermarry, nor inter-dine together, and indeed they belong to two different civilizations which are based mainly on conflicting ideas and conceptions. Their aspects on life and of life are different. It is quite clear that Hindus and Mussalmans derive their inspiration from different sources of history. They have different epics, their heroes are different, and they have different episodes. Very often the hero of one is a foe of the other, and likewise, their victories and defeats overlap. To yoke together two such nations under a single State, one as a numerical minority and the other as a majority, must lead to growing discontent and the final destruction of any fabric that may be so built up for the government of such a State.”
(Americans should visualize a future American Jinnah substituting “Christianity” in place of “Hinduism” and adopting similar positions.)
Jinnah’s theory was partially rationalized by his understanding of history according to which segregation was normal and natural across the world. In his above speech, Jinnah went on to say:
“History has also shown to us many geographical tracts, much smaller than the Subcontinent of India, which otherwise might have been called one country, but which have been divided into as many states as there are nations inhabiting them. The Balkan Peninsula comprises as many as seven or eight sovereign States. Likewise, the Portuguese and the Spanish stand divided in the Iberian Peninsula.”
This was a false theory of history on Jinnah’s part. Recent events demonstrate the trend towards European unification as opposed to subdivision, because the common interests greatly outweigh what divides the various diverse peoples of Europe.
However, having once made up his mind, Jinnah politicized his two-nation theory successfully, using fear tactics with the British:
“The present artificial unity of India dates back only to the British conquest and is maintained by the British bayonet; but the termination of the British regime, which is implicit in the recent declaration of His Majesty’s Government, will be the herald of an entire break up, with worse disaster than has ever taken place during the last one thousand years under the Muslims. Surely that is not the legacy which Britain would bequeath to India after 150 years of her rule, nor would the Hindu and Muslim India risk such a sure catastrophe.”
At the 1940 Lahore convention, the Muslim League resolved that the areas of Muslim majority in northwestern and eastern India should be grouped together to constitute independent states – autonomous and sovereign – and that any independence plan without this provision was unacceptable to Muslims. The Lahore Resolution was often referred to as the ‘Pakistan Resolution’.
Without any concrete ‘dispute’ between Hindus and Muslims, the logic that prevailed was that Muslims require segregation of political and social life in order to be in compliance with the demands of sharia. The Two-Nation Theory was a manifestation of the doctrine of dar-ul-islam versus dar-ul-harb.
Divergent Post-Independence Directions
India was built on an entirely different worldview, inspired by the same ideals as the United States, as is evident from the Preamble to its Constitution:
“WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:
* JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
* LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
* EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;
* and to promote among them all
* FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the [unity and integrity of the Nation]; …”
In sharp contrast, the Constitution of The Islamic Republic of Pakistan has the following Preamble:
“Whereas sovereignty over the entire Universe belongs to Almighty Allah alone, and the authority to be exercised by the people of Pakistan within the limits prescribed by Him is a sacred trust; …”
After Jinnah, Pakistan became increasingly radicalized and Islamicized, in many ways more extreme than the founder’s vision. For instance, the Ninth Amendment in 1985 caused Article 227 to read:
“All existing laws shall be brought in conformity with the Injunctions of Islam as laid down in the Holy Quran and Sunnah, in this Part referred to as the Injunctions of Islam, …”
The Ninth Amendment explains that the “objects and reasons” for this Islamicization are “so as to provide that the Injunctions of Islam shall be the supreme law and source of guidance for legislation and policy making and to empower the Federal Shariat Court to make recommendations for bringing the fiscal laws and laws relating to the levy and collection of taxes in conformity with the said injunctions.”
Once there is a State religion that has a strong orthodoxy, the State must also interpret the religion. For example, the Ahmadiyya sect of Muslims is considered heretical, because it recognizes a 19th century man born in India to be the new Prophet of Islam. In order to preserve the purity of the interpretation of Islam, the Pakistan Federal Government has constitutionally prohibited the group from calling themselves Muslim, even in the use of everyday Islamic greetings. This was implemented in the Second Amendment of Pakistan’s Constitution in 1974, which reads:
“A person who does not believe in the absolute and unqualified finality of The Prophethood of MUHAMMAD (Peace be upon him), the last of the Prophets or claims to be a Prophet, in any sense of the word or of any description whatsoever , after MUHAMMAD (Peace be upon him), or recognizes such a claimant as a Prophet or religious reformer, is not a Muslim for the purposes of the Constitution or law.”
This Constitutional provision is now enforced in various application forms of the Pakistani government, such as the following passport form on the home page of its embassy in Washington, DC. In item 14, the form asks for the following Declaration:
a. “I am a Muslim and believe in the absolute and unqualified finality of the Prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him) the last of the prophets.
b. ‘I do not recognize any person who claims to he prophet in any sense of the word or of any description whatsoever after Muhammad (peace be upon him) or recognize such a claimant as prophet or a religious reformer as a Muslim.
c. “I consider Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Quadiani to be an impostor nabi and also consider his followers whether belonging to the Lahori or Quadiani group, to be NON-MUSLIM.”
As further examples of Islamization, the Law of Pakistan calls for amputation of hands or feet for many property crimes. Consumption of alcohol by Muslims in any quantity whatsoever is punishable by flogging.
Under Pakistan’s Islamic laws, adultery and fornication are punishable by stoning to death. The law on rape (zina-bil-jabr) has a very chilling effect on women who are raped because: The crime is rarely proven because it requires that four adult Muslim males of ‘good reputation’ must appear as witnesses to the act. (One is left wondering why four men ‘of good reputation’ would be watching a rape.) If the charge fails, then the woman who has brought it can be punished for false accusation (qazf) or, more commonly, for adultery (zina) herself because through her charge she has admitted her own involvement in an illicit sexual act. For instance, in 1991, around two-thirds of the 3,000 women imprisoned in Pakistan were being held on such charges — the victims of rape prosecuted for illicit sex!
Islamic texts are being introduced into Pakistani military training. Middle ranking officers must take courses and examinations on Islam. There are even serious attempts under way to define an Islamic military doctrine, as distinct from the international military doctrines, so as to fight in accordance with the Koran.
An eminent Pakistani writer, Mubarak Ali, explains the chronology of Islamization:
“The tragedy of 1971 [when Bangladesh separated] brought a shock to the people and also a heavy blow to the ideology of Pakistan… More or less convinced of their Islamic heritage and identity, Pakistan’s government and intelligentsia consciously attempted to Islamize the country… The history of Islamization can be traced to the Bhutto era…”
“General Zia-ul-Haq [another great friend and ally of the US] furthered the process to buy legitimacy for his military regime. The element of communal and sectarian hatred in today’s society are a direct consequence of the laws that the dictator had put in place… He made all secular and liberal-minded people enemies of the country. They were warned again and again of severe consequences in case of any violation of the [Islamic] Ideology of Pakistan.”
“Nawaz Sharif added his own bit, like mandating death penalty to the Blasphemy Law… With the failure of the ruling classes to deliver the goods to the people, religion was exploited to cover up corruption and bad governance… The process of Islamization not only supports but protects the fundamentalists in their attempts to terrorize and harass society in the name of religion. There are published accounts of the kind of menace that is spread by religious schools run by these fundamentalists…”
Khaled Ahmed describes how this radicalization of Pakistan is continuing even today:
“In Pakistan… every time it is felt that the ideology is not delivering there are prescriptions for further strengthening of the shariah… Needless to say, anyone recommending that the ideological state be undone is committing heresy and could be punished under law… The Council for Islamic Ideology (CII) is busy on a daily basis to put forth its proposals for the conversion of the Pakistani state into a utopia of Islamic dreams. The Ministry for Religious Affairs has already sent to the cabinet of General Musharraf a full-fledged programme for converting Pakistan into an ideal state… We have reached this stage in a gradual fashion, where these state institutions have become directly responsible for encouraging extremism…”
This hole is so deep that General Musharraf, while promising to de-radicalize Pakistan, must reassure his people not to fear the ‘threat’ of secularism. He recently clarified it as follows:
“No-one should even think this is a secular state. It was founded as the Islamic Republic of Pakistan…”
While America still has enormous racial inequality 150 years after the abolishing of slavery, the important point is that it is committed to racial equality. Similarly, despite many flaws in India’s pluralism, the State is committed to it. What counts is a commitment to steady improvement. India has had one of the most aggressive and ambitious affirmative action programs in the world. The results, while far from perfect, have produced many top level Muslim leaders in various capacities in India, and a growth of Muslims as a percentage of total population. But in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Hindu population has decreased from 11% in 1947 to around 1% today, as a result of ethnic cleansing.
Pakistan’s Identity Crisis
The problem for an educated Pakistani is to figure out when and where his history started. If it is to be 1947 in the geographical area that is now Pakistan, then there is very little past for him to build an identity. If it is to be from the time of Mohammed, then his history is outside his land. If it is prior to that, then his history is largely a Hindu-Buddhist history, a past he wants to deny.
He must invent history to answer the question: Why was Pakistan created? Mubarak Ali, a prominent Pakistani scholar, explains the predicament:
“Since its inception Pakistan has faced the monumental task of formulating its national identity separate from India. Partitioned from the ancient civilization of India, Pakistan has struggled to construct its own culture; a culture not just different and unique from India, but one appreciable by the rest of the world. The overshadowing image of the Indian civilization also haunted the founders of Pakistan, who channeled their efforts in making the differences between India and Pakistan more tangible and obvious.
“The fundamental difference between India and Pakistan was based on the Two Nation theory, strengthening Pakistan’s Islamic identity.
“…The University Grants Commission of Pakistan made Islamic Studies and Pakistan Study compulsory subjects at all levels of the education system, even for the professional students. … This gave the government an opportunity to teach the students its own version of history, especially the Pakistan ideology, which is described as something like this: “The struggle was for the establishment of a new Islamic state and for the attainment of independence. It was the outcome of the sincere desire of the Muslims of the subcontinent who wanted Islam to be accepted as the ideal pattern for an individual’s life, and also as the law to bind the Muslims into a single community.
“In asserting this identity, Pakistan is in a state of dilemma…”
If Pakistanis were seen merely as Indians who converted to Islam, then they would seem no different than the Indian Muslims, who are equal in number to Pakistan’s total population, who are better educated and economically placed, and who enjoy greater social freedom than their counterparts in Pakistan. Hence, the very existence of Pakistan as a separate nation rests upon constructing an identity for itself that is radically different from India’s. But you cannot build a nation on a negative identity.
One might say that a birth defect of Pakistan was its lack of a self-sufficient positive identity. Such a positive identity would neither be a negation of India, nor be an imperialistic claim of authority over all dar-ul-islam of the subcontinent. Kamal Azfar, a Pakistani writer, explains the dilemma:
“There are two concepts of Pakistan: the first empirical and the second utopian. The empirical concept is based on solid foundations of history and geography while the utopian concept is based on shifting sands. Utopia is not an oasis but a mirage… Samarqand and Bukhara and the splendors of the Arab world are closely related to us but we do not possess them. Our possessions are Moenjodaro and Sehwan Sharif, Taxila and Lahore, Multan and the Khyber. We should own up to all that is present here in the Indus Valley and cease to long for realities not our own for that is false-consciousness.”
This obsession to be seen as neo-Arabs has reached ridiculous extremes, such as Pakistani scholars’ attempts to show that Sanskrit was derived from Arabic. Even Persian influence on Indian culture is considered impure as compared to Arabic.
Pakistan’s un-Indian identity easily gets turned into anti-Indian rhetoric. In short, hatred for India has been required to keep Pakistan together, because Allah has not done so. Pakistan is largely a garrison state, created and sustained using the Hindu-Muslim divide.
A secure Hindu seems to be incompatible with what the Pakistani thinks a Hindu should be. Especially any ‘Hindu’ success feeds its Hindu-phobia.
Pakistan’s positive identity building projects are using multiple strategies. The following are three of the major historical myths being spun by Pakistan, to secure legitimacy for its separate existence.
Myth 1: Pakistanis = Descendents of the Indus Valley Civilization
The most aggressive identity engineering project is the theory of Pakistanis depicted as the 8,000-year-old people of the Indus Valley. This civilization is presented as different from the Ganges Valley civilization. The Indus and Ganges are depicted as the ancestral homelands of Pakistanis and Indians, respectively. Hence, they have always been separate people. Given this model, Pakistan’s Indus Valley researchers are encouraged to show the links to the Middle East civilizations of Mesopotamia, so as to bring Pakistan and the Arab-Persian worlds into a single continuous historical-geographical identity since the beginnings of recorded history.
The following article titled, Separating Urdu from Sanskrit, published in the Urdu newspaper Jang, explains the construction of this theory of an 8,000-year-old Pakistan:
“Pakistani intellectuals have been looking for the roots of their separate identity in the remote past for the last two decades. They are not satisfied with the two-nation theory propounded by Iqbal, according to which religion was the basis of nationhood… They want to show that… the Indus and the Gangetic valleys have always been home to separate civilizations. Being the heir to the Indus valley civilization, Pakistan is a geographic entity whose roots go back to time immemorial…
“Hitherto, the generally held belief has been that Urdu came into being as a result of social contacts between the Muslims who came to India during the middle ages and the native population. So the language was taken to be a crossbreed of Turko-Persian-Arabic vocables with the local dialects. This is, in a nutshell, the view held by such eminent linguists as G.A. Griesson and Sir Charles Lyall, to mention only two. This theory presupposed that these dialects themselves were based upon, or rather were a by-product of Sanskrit.
“Khalid Hasan Qadiri [a new identity developer]… reaches the conclusion that Urdu has its roots in the languages of the Munda tribes who were the inhabitants of the Indus Valley in pre-Dravidian periods…. In this way we are led to believe that the Urdu language has a very well-defined and clear-cut grammar, absolutely different from Sanskrit in every respect. The very basic philosophy governing the grammatical structure of these two languages is totally different. And by any stretch of imagination one cannot state Urdu to have emanated from the sacred language of the Hindus. Grammatically speaking Urdu owes nothing to Sanskrit. Hence it cannot be grouped with the Aryan language either. It clearly belongs to some non-Aryan group of languages. And this view is supposed to give us some solace.”
Myth 2: Pakistanis = West Asian Races
Using a more recent beginning point, there is a popular construction of Pakistanis as Arab-Persian-Turk ‘immigrants’ (with a few occasional ‘jihads’ against the infidels). Here, Pakistanis get racially differentiated from the ‘native’ Indian Muslims. (A different version of this scenario says that Pakistanis are Aryans originally from lands around Turkey.)
These theories encourage rampant Arabization of Pakistani culture. Arabization is to Pakistanis what Macaulayism is to many Indians. The difference is that Macaulayism has afflicted only the top tier of Indian elitists, whereas Arabization of Pakistan pervades all strata of Pakistani identity. For instance:
* Girls are discouraged from wearing mehndi, because it is seen as a Hindu tradition, even though it has nothing to do with one’s religion per se.
* The kite flying tradition during the festival of Baisakhi, celebrated for centuries in Punjab as the harvest season, is now under the microscope of Pakistan’s identity engineers for being too Sikh and Hindu in character, and not Arab enough.
* Emphasis is placed on being un-Indian so as to assert this new identity wherever possible.
Pakistan has these internal conflicts between its Middle Eastern religious values on the one hand, and its Indian cultural values on the other. In this internal struggle, the Islamic values based on Middle East culture are conquering the indigenous values of the people. Much of the neurosis is about this destruction of one’s past identity.
Myth 3: Pakistan = Successor to Mughal Empire
This is the most ominous model of all from Indians’ perspective: Pakistan is depicted as the successor to the Mughal Empire. The post-Mughal two-century British rule is seen as a dark period of interruption that is now to be reversed by returning to the glory of the Mughals. Under this return of the Mughals, Hindus would be second-class citizens, in the same manner as they were under the Mughals.
Many Pakistanis would like Mughal Emperor Akbar’s model, under which Hindus were tolerated and even respected, although Muslims enjoyed higher status.
But most Pakistanis are said to prefer Emperor Aurungzeb’s model, under which Hindus were oppressed and forced to convert, and Islam was asserted in ways that were not different from the Taliban’s policies. This glorifies aggressiveness and Islamic chauvinism. Such an imperialistic identity has also led to a leadership claim over India’s Muslims, even though they outnumber Pakistan’s entire population and enjoy greater prosperity, freedom and culture.
This schizophrenia makes Pakistanis very insecure. To avoid this quandary, they quickly slip into talk of a pan-Islamic identity, hoping to escape the irrational construct with which they find themselves burdened.
It is relevant to point out that Muslims are required to point towards Mecca five times daily in prayer. Psychologists would call this “creative visualization,” a form of subconscious programming. Are loyalties taking shape deep within one’s psyche, towards the Arabs, the owners of Mecca?
What is the effect of being told since childhood, in chauvinistic and triumphant terms, of Islam’s heroic plunder of infidels, and its inevitable conquest of the entire world? What is the consequence of glorifying Ghazni and Aurungzeb as is done in Pakistan’s public school textbooks?
Khaled Ahmed explains the neurosis resulting from such dogma:
“The difficulty lies in the inability of the Muslims to mould their original revealed message to modern times by applying logic and rationality to the ancient case law. There was a time when this was done but the era of taqleed (imitation) has been upon us since the medieval period. Under colonial rule, many Muslims thought of introducing reason in the science of understanding the Holy Writ, but today no one in the Islamic world tolerates any deviation from taqleed even when this taqleed varies in practice from state to state. All Muslim states are unstable either because they have enforced the shariah and are unhappy with it, like Pakistan, or have not enforced it and are unhappy that it has not been enforced. For Muslims the question, ‘What kind of state do we want?’ is a rhetorical one, because for them it has already been answered.”
Most shocking is the prevalent Hindu-bashing on Pakistani state television and in state school textbooks. A common theme is to depict Brahmins as cunning and wicked, and to mock at Hindu beliefs. By contrast, the state run media in India is extra careful to be sensitive. Private Bollywood has many Muslims in dominant positions and a pluralistic ethos is very much projected.
One of the most popular songs sung by Hindus is Ishvar, Allah tere nam, meaning Ishvar and Allah are God’s names. I have not come across Hindus being concerned or even conscious that they are giving Allah recognition as equal to Ishvar. But most Muslim friends refuse to participate in any such song, as it would violate the injunction against respecting other deities.
A friend recently told me that in her corporate office on Wall Street, she has been a close friend of a Pakistani woman executive for many years. They bring lunch from home, and have shared each other’s food regularly. But one day, my friend casually remarked that the lunch she brings is after doing puja and offering some as prasadam. The Pakistani woman refused to accept her food ever since. She had no qualms about saying that eating such a meal would be a violation of her Islamic faith.
Pakistan, assuming the leadership of dar-ul-islam, is trying to expand the territory of Islam. Militancy is a relatively recent export of Pakistan, a sort of last resort out of desperation. The ‘Kashmir issue’ is Pakistan’s identity crisis externalized towards an outside enemy, so as to find a meaning for itself. The citizens of Pakistan have been galvanized into a neurosis to Islamize Kashmir on behalf of Allah.
The Need to Decouple
The economic directions of India and Pakistan are entirely different: the technology education emphasis in India, as compared to the madrassas in Pakistan where Islamic identity is the primary curriculum.
India is one-sixth of all humanity. It deserves its own space in the world’s mind, and should not be reduced to one of eight countries lumped into a single ‘South Asian region’ just for simplicity and convenience. Pakistan should be let loose to discover who it wants to be, without being bothered about India.
The Garland Making Worldview
“Be like a garland maker, O king; not like a charcoal burner.” –Mahabharata, XII.72.20
This famous statement from the Mahabharata contrasts two worldviews. It asks the king to preserve and protect diversity, in a coherent way. The metaphor used is that of a garland, in which flowers of many colors and forms are strung together for a pleasing effect. The contrast is given against charcoal, which is the result of burning all kinds of wood and reducing diversity to homogeneous dead matter. The charcoal burner is reductionist and destroys diversity, whereas the garland maker celebrates diversity.
Garland making and charcoal burning represent two divergent worldviews in terms of socio-political ideology. The former leads to pluralism and diversity of thought, whereas the latter strives for a homogenized and fossilized society in which dogma runs supreme.
India represents a long and continuous history of experimentation with garland making. A central tenet of dharma is that one’s social duty is individualistic and dependent upon the context:
* To illustrate the context-sensitive nature of dharma, a text by Baudhayana lists practices that would be normal in one region of India but not appropriate in another, and advises that learned men of the traditions should follow the customs of their respective districts.
* Furthermore, the ethical views applicable also depend upon one’s stage in life (asramadharma).
* One’s particular position in society determines one’s personal dharma (svadharma).
* The dharma has to be based upon one’s personal inner nature (svabhava).
* There is even special dharma that is appropriate in times of distress or emergency (apaddharma).
Hence, anything resembling a universal or absolute social law (sadharama) is characterized as a last resort and not as a first resort – a fallback if no context can be found applicable.
Combine this with the fact that social theories (called Smritis) were not divine revelations as was the case in the Abrahamic religions, but were constructed by human lawmakers who were analogous to today’s public officials. Hence, all Smritis are amendable, and indeed are intended to be modified for each era and by each society. This is a very progressive social mandate, and to freeze Indian social norms is, in fact, a travesty based on ignorance.
This pluralistic social theory is deeply rooted in indigenous religions. In the Bhagavadagita (IX. 23-25), Krishna proclaims that the devotees who worship other deities are in fact worshipping Him; and that those who offer worship to various other deities or natural powers also reach the goals they desire.
Dr. P. V. Kane has researched ancient India’s pluralism, and concluded emphatically that there was no state sponsored religious exclusivism. In particular, Kashmir’s history of garland making spans several millennia. Its identity was not based on any religion. Kashmiris of all religions lived in harmony, and Kashmir was the incubator of Kashmir Shaivism, much of Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, and Sufism. Kashmir’s survival as a garland making culture is a crucial challenge to the future of pluralism in the world.
The ‘Kashmir Issue’
No fruitful discussion can begin with ‘the Kashmir issue’ as though it were a stand-alone real estate dispute.The root problem between India and Pakistan is not ’Kashmir’. Neither is it about Islam’s theology nor its internal social practices. Rather, it is the clash between worldviews resulting from the external projection of Islam – dar-ul-islam versus dar-ul-harb. This manifests as Pakistan’s two-nation worldview versus India’s pluralistic worldview.
The validity and success of either worldview necessitates the defeat of the other:
* For, if Pakistan’s worldview were right, then Muslims everywhere require their own country in order to live as good Muslims. This would mean that Indian pluralism would have to fail, and Indian Muslims would need their own separate nation as well.
* On the other hand, if India’s worldview were right, and Indian Muslims lived happily in a pluralistic society, then the very foundation of Pakistan’s existence would become unglued and there would be a call for re-unification.
If both India and Pakistan were to adopt a common worldview, there could be a stable peace, regardless of which worldview it was:
* If both adopted the two-nation theory, there would be exclusive and separate nations for Muslims and Hindus, respectively. The practicalities of implementation would be horrendous, given the massive and dispersed Indian Muslim population. But each would eventually become homogeneous internally.
* If both adopted the one-nation theory, they would re-unify.
I disfavor the first choice, because it would set a horrible precedence for humanity at large: If India were to fail as the world’s oldest surviving garland making civilization, it would mean that any geographical region of the world with a significant Muslim minority, even with a small population (such as Kashmir’s), would eventually demand separation from the dar-ul-harb. Given the empirical fact of a faster birth rate than the rest of the population, Muslims everywhere would sooner or later have the same kinds of fights with dar-ul-harb as in Bosnia, pre-partition India, Philippines, Kashmir, and so forth.
Partitions into Muslim nations could never be complete until there were no others left. Such a theocracy would be the ultimate charcoal burning social structure.
This would eventually become the biggest nightmare for the United States, China and other countries, given their own demographic trends.
The second scenario may not be politically acceptable to Pakistan. This leads us to the hard question of reformation.
The Hard Question
Rather than pretending that these problems have “nothing to do with religion,” or fearing that it would be politically incorrect to address this issue, non-Muslim thinkers and liberal Islamic leaders should brainstorm the following question:
Under what socio-political mutual understandings could it become attractive for Muslims to live in integrated harmony with non-Muslims, even where the Muslims are a majority or a significant minority?
In other words, let’s negotiate a framework for Islamic pluralism, separation of mosque and state, and democracy.
The West’s failure to understand this clash of worldviews, and its continued approach to Kashmir as theproblem in isolation, could end up creating another Palestine-like unsolvable crisis. This crisis would be worse, and involve massive populations and nukes.
There needs to be a paradigm shift in defining the problem. India should take the moral, intellectual and diplomatic high ground to debate: one nation (pluralism) versus two nation (exclusivism) theories. In other words, the real issue is garland making versus charcoal burning.