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The Israeli Relationship – Moralistic, Geopolitical & Palestine Considerations Analysed

Published July 5, 2017 by vishalvkale

This week, just yesterday as a matter of fact, our Prime Minister landed in Israel  – the first ever Prime Ministerial visit to that nation from our side. This is a seminal event; yet, it was saddening to see some voices being guarded, as opposed to openly welcoming this move. In a democracy, it is perfectly fine if you don’t support the ruling party, having voted for the other side; it is accepted as well as expected that you criticize – but when the Government does something laudable – you should welcome it.
This move by the NaMo Government stands in that list; a fully laudable move, one that we would do well to welcome, leaving our apprehensions aside for the time being. On that other hand – this is not a time for chest-thumping either; let us reflect what this move means for us as a nation, and analyse the pluses and the minuses of this new equation. Whatever else we look at, this is not the time for misguided moralistic analyses – Geopolitics is not a field that lends itself to excessive moralization, to be honest. You have to be extremely hard-nosed and practical in Geopolitics.
THE MORAL OBJECTIONS
These stem from the Israel-Palestine issue; and the hard-nosed Israeli response. I feel for the problem, to be honest; but I have to admit with deep regret that they aren’t Indians – and Indian interests have to be placed first. I don’t say I like the way it is being handled – but there is little we can do, beyond a point. We aren’t the world police – and neither do we want to be the world policeman either. The onlyway to look at this problem is from a Geopolitical angle; not a right-and-wrong angle.
Further, it is surprising to note objections being raised basis Palestine, and in some cases China: I do not recall many voices questioning our relationship with the USA, which actively sends arms and aid to Pakistan, and which was the original provider of weapons to our enemy, leading from the Afghan conflict. The continuing support from the USA to Pakistan is a matter of documented record – and yet  few people raised a question as we went closer to the USA. Where were these moralizing objections then?
Not only that, Is the USA’s record crystal clear? Want that we should go into its highly chequered and ugly history? Or perhaps the innumerable times it stopped India, or tried to, from achieving its justified goals? I respectfully submit that The USA has a far uglier record than the Israelis who actually are saints by comparison. Remember the Iraq Fiasco? Where are those WMDs? And yet, we welcome closer ties – because it is the primary world power, and a much-sought after relationship?
I don’t recall as many questions being raised on the impact of our relationship with the Russians as we came closer to The USA. Why is that? So, it is OK if you go after an aspirational relationship with the premier world power, forgetting our long standing support from Russia? That is something that has required far more serious thought, and has been handled very adroitly by all Central Governments we have had; let us give them credit for that. Thus, cant we cut slack for our Government and our Diplomatic forces that they can handle Israel and Palestine with equal aplomb?
Yet, when we come to Israel, we get instant moralization. Where was this moralization when The USA is involved? Its human rights record is ugly beyond mention – yet, no controversy. Where was this moralistic stance when we moved USA-wards, forgetting that it was Russia who has always stood by us? When has the USA ever stood for us in Geopolitics? Almost never historically! What’s good for the geese is good for the gander – you cannot ignore moralistic issues in one relationship, and apply them in another. You have to apply the precise same standards in each case.
GEOPOLITICS
More serious are the Geopolitical objections, which to be perfectly frank – deserve a serious reading, and merit a reasoned response from us. To summarise, these are India-Iran; Arabs; NRIs in the Middle East; and the Israeli-Chinese relationship. We need to look at all of these in an informed debate : a dispassionate analysis of these is required, shorn of ideological baggage. Some of these frankly are fantastic, like the NRI problem or how our NRIs will be treated due to a relationship with Israel – that is just stretching things too far. The Arab world also has relations with Israel!
First, India is seeking alternatives to OPEC actively, trying to reduce the dependence on it for Oil. Second, some Arab nations are anyway fedup with Pakistan due to terrorism, and that is a huge point in our favour. Third, The Arab World is itself giving overtures to Israel – Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia to be specific. We are also building relationships with The Arab World, who can also see our impact in Afghanistan. So, why on earth shouldn’t we build a relationship with Israel?  Fourth, Iran has seen our support to them in the face of The USA – and our diplomatic forces can be expected to handle the delicate relationship balance. That leads to Fifth – the Israel visit comes after a visit to the Arab world!Thus,  If we can balance USA and Russia, we can certainly be expected to balance Iran and Israel, that much seems to be certain. Let us not sell ourselves short.
Now, the Israeli Chinese Relationship. Why on earth should this make us uneasy? First of all, Israel is but of three major defense partners of ours, alongside the USA and Russia. We have hedged our bets, not being dependent on any one partner. Sure, a lot more needs to be done, but the direction is right. Second, Israel had supported us in 1962 against China. While that is no guarantee of the future, it is nevertheless a significant factor. It actively supported our Armed  Forces as well as our anti-terror efforts many times after that as well, including as recently as in 1999 during the Kargil conflict. Third – we are perfectly fine with having a relationship with USA, which is supporting Pakistan openly – but use a different yardstick to judge the India and Israel relationship! That is amazing!
PALESTINE
Finally, on Palestine, I accept that we have been a long-standing supporter of the cause.  But we need to understand that we need to look out for ourselves first. We are in a world with rapidly re-aligning geopolitical relationships. In such changing times, we need to change with the times, and respond to the challenges being raised. A strategic alignment with Israel is a given, as we have many common points and mutual areas of interest. This is not present in the Palestine relationship.  Furthermore, there is no other reason to be reticent; we will have to trust our diplomatic corps to play the balancing role, That is the need of the hour. There is no such thing as a perfect strategy – it is always give and take.
CONCLUSION
This does not include the many areas of trade and scientific commonality that we enjoy with Israel – which is only just one more added incentive for closer and more open relations with Israel. From my opinion, my point of view, it sounds slightly hypocritical to talk of our relations with The USA is one voice, and analyse the Israeli relationship along diametrically opposite tones. In this, I stand solidly with the Government praisers – well done, NaMo Government. You have taken a splendid step for the reasons outined above. That said, it has been a collective effort- it has to be said that all political parties have stood by this relationship for years and nurtured it actively.


Selected References : 

Trump & India : A Reality Check

Published May 6, 2017 by vishalvkale

The election of Trump as POTUS had got the right wing in India in a celebratory mode; there were hopes of this event having a positive impetus on the Indo-US relationship. This hope was, at the outset, a wildly optimistic hope, given that Trump was elected on a protectionist rhetoric, a message of bringing jobs back to The USA; this was, however, ignored in the larger light of his views on terrorism as well as other factors, which seemed to indicate good tidings.
In the approximately 100-odd days since his taking over as POTUS, however, early indicators have given enough reason for the more optimistic among us Indians to become far more realistic; Trump as a President has done exactly as he has promised – which is admittedly a surprise even to me. Frankly, on one side, it is good to see a politician walking the talk in the USA. That said, the other side of the equation has given rise to many, many deep rooted questions which need answering for us.
His focus on creating Jobs in the USA are beginning to give results for the Americans; good for them. But, it has come at a cost. In a connected world, any movement either side in any place will have an attendant cost side on some other side. And in this, we are on the other side, as more Jobs in America mean lesser Jobs in India, as visa rules tighten up, and Indian companies are forced to invest in the USA not just in infrastructure but in hiring as well. This means, as per at least one article, loss of jobs in India, to the ratio of 4:1. This makes perfect sense, given the per capita difference and wage rules difference.
From this one example alone, it can be seen that the coming of Trump is nowhere near being exactly a great thing for us Indians, at least not in the business atmosphere. Now whether it is a bad thing remains to be seen; just cause it isn’t good doesn’t automatically mean it is bad. It depends on a variety of sectors {I have taken but one example} as well as on our response on the diplomatic and business fronts. That is something that we shall see in the fullness of time. But for now, there is enough reason for us to become realistic, stop eulogizing Trump and the USA, and analyse dispassionately.
Having said that, there are early indicators of rising stress in some other areas as well, where either disputes are pending, or where the Trump administration is showing signs of toughness. Taxation in startups and corporates is one such area that comes to mind; the USA reviewing nations with which it has a trade deficit is another area of potentially rising stress. Note that early last month, The Trump administration launched  a 90-day investigation of countries, including India, against which the US runs a bilateral trade deficit – just another example.
Just think of this for a moment; a rich country, doing its best to profit for itself, at the cost of a poor country. Think of the amorality of this hard move. You can call it business all you want – but if you knowthat your move will harm a country with which you are trying to be friends, I am pretty sure that a middle path can be found, so long as there is genuine desire on both sides of the equation. India has shown its desire to be friendly; now the ball is in the the US court to respond. I am not hopeful! Not only is this amoral, it does not sound a very friendly move on the part of the USA!
If that isn’t all, this – aah – trend of moves that have the potential to disturb India doesn’t stop at trade. It extends to the Geopolitical and Strategic levels as well, where there is a lot more clarity needed on direction as on date. So far, the USA has not only shown no indication of acting against Pakistan, it has in fact done the reverse,  trying to re-hyphenate India-Pakistan, offering to intervene in our bilateral matters. More recently, it gave indications of cutting aid to India, while keeping Pakistan untouched!
Put it all together – and the reality stares at you. India-USA are as far apart as they were before; yes-  there are possibilities of great relations, a potential which was absent earlier. Agreed, and granted. But the very real differences in world view, economic realities and priorities, internal realities, and geopolitical differences mean that we need to keep our eyes peeled, and our options open; we need to ensure our interests are protected. And this is where the right-wing can help by stopping the rhetoric!

REFERENCES:

  1. Delhi Solar Policy plans to solve energy crisis; here’s how solar panels will power your homes     
  2. Trump card: Delhi to get tough if US blocks Indian exports
  3. Solar energy subsidy: After attempts for amicable solution fail, India drags US to WTO dispute settlement body
  4. India rejects US offer to mediate with Pakistan
  5. US plans to gut aid to India but continue with $200mn to Pakistan
  6. Every American Infosys hires in US will lead to loss of 4 jobs in India

Book Review – Tanzeem by Mukul Deva

Published February 9, 2017 by vishalvkale

The one I missed… this is a book I read more than a couple of years ago, and forgot to review it then. As luck would have it, I dug deep into my pitaaraa two days ago, and thought of re-reading this one to check up on how exactly Iqbal ended up. The immediate stimulus was a twitter conversation with the Author himself. And so it was that I found that this excellent book was spared my attention in the list of books reviewed, which is a real pity; I would rate this as being among the Author’s very best. If any of you haven’t already read it – do so; you will not regret it.
THE PLOT
Image result for tanzeem mukul devaThis is the 4th book of the Lashkar series; and this one is all about Iqbal from start to finish. A shattered Iqbal comes out of Blowback with hatred and revenge the only two alternating emotions in his heart; a heart burning with one desire, and one desire alone. And a mind filled with alternating thoughts of Tanaz, and the man / men who were ultimately responsible for her condition… the combination of the mind and the heart propels Iqbal towards his goal, his purpose, and gives him resolve. And his resolve, his goal? The destruction of the entire people behind the most sordid Saga of his life.
Alongside this overpowering emotional state, is the realization that his personal enemies are also his national enemies; the patriot in him does not lose sight of this reality. He is keenly aware that something big is being planned by the Pakistanis and the terror machine; only this time – he wants to go after them alone. The current book is that story – the story of his infiltration into the vicious terror machine. The entire book is built around this one theme…
THE REVIEW
As is usual for a Mukul Deva book, this is, once again, a hurtling, breakneck speed and incredibly fast-paced story, written in his signature style. And, again as usual, this story is also completely unique in every respect; different from Lashkar, or Salim Must Die, or even Blowback in this very series itself; to say nothing of the other fiction titles of this author. And as a tribute to his skills, let me add that despite this complete difference in the books of the series, the books represent and make one complete fully connected story; the story of Iqbal. For that is what the Lashkar series is all about – the story of one man, one incredible man – Iqbal.
There are two or three things that need to be highlighted in this story. The first aspect is the shocking attention to the scenes of brutality,  including torture – the attention to detail as well as the way they are woven into the story so as to make them not just integral to the story, but also central to carrying the story forward. The second aspect is the graphic descriptions and narrative style that is used to  both capture your attention and build up speed and tension. The beauty is that the story doesn’t lose out on the pace due to the graphic details included.
The third, and as per me, the most critical aspect of this book is the history lesson that it tried to create for the reader. The entire 44 page section dealing with the Ameer’s flashback tells a history lesson that achieves two objectives : firstly, it creates a complete character sketch in the readers’ minds of the principle antagonist,  taking you deep into his psyche and behaviour. Secondly, It uses contemporary history which is certain to capture the attention of the target audience, which is largely Indian; and gives what I regard as a history lesson {almost – let us not lose sight that this is a work of fiction. That said, I took the trouble of cross-checking some 6-8 facts in this section – turned out completely accurate in every respect} in the background to the Af-Pak regions’ headlong rush into disaster.
It also makes for a slightly emotional read for us Indians, as this “aid” to Pakistan was diverted towards fighting India. You could feel a tinge of stunned shock at the clear US stupidity of acceding to Zia’s demand for what tantamounted to unrestrained control of the aid package. Anyone with even a small tiny iota of intelligence should have known that this would be diverted to fighting India! But let us move on… I hope now at least the great USA realizes is folly, its stupid and naïve support of Pakistan through – aah –  aid! This does not make for an easy read for a Western reader; the USA has been, quite literally, taken apart for its role in Af-Pak, as has Russia and its role. This is not a novel that projects either in a positive light; by and large. Even in the climax, it forcefully underscores the USA’s shortcomings, as it is the Indian forces who are in complete control of the operation.
To summarise, this book once again rates an easy 5 stars out of 5. And, as you turn the last page, you realize with more than a tinge of regret that this is the last time you are reading of Iqbal, and of Force 22. I still believe there is a scope of a couple more based on Iqbal; and I am certain that the author can build a new series around Force 22, making them a series as avidly followed as Lashkar was, and the current Ravinder Singh Gill series is. There is tremendous potential for these two story ideas; I hope Mr Deva is reading these words… 

One Nation, One Voice

Published July 26, 2016 by vishalvkale

ONE NATION, ONE VOICE
The recent events in our nation have lead to a rather interesting, and frankly disheartening & depressing scenario of some people in the media and the public asking questions of the Government of India as well as sadly, The Armed Forces; or critically examining our shortcomings and our flaws or perceived flaws both. It is not my point that these institutions cannot be questioned; but the timing of these questions leaves a lot to be desired for. Neither am I advocating ultra-nationalism or fanaticism, or making any observation for or against these two approaches.
THE MEDIA
Given the furore in some sections that I have seen, as well as sporadic comments on social media – let me be also crystal clear – nothing in this article is to be construed as an anti-Indian point, nor is there anything contained herein that is in support of anything even remotely anti-Indian. When I state that institutions can be questioned {given that we are a democracy}, before we start the blame game, we perforce have to consider the presence of internal mechanisms of redressal as are there in both the Government as well as the Armed Forces.  
It is the role of the Media to question the Government, to lead change and to engender a positive force on the Government that keeps it accountable to the people; this is does by providing information to the people so that they can be informed and can form opinions basis facts and data that are balanced and fair. This I whole-heartedly accept; not only do I accept this, I wholeheartedly support the role of the Media in a democracy.
THE PEOPLE
There is even a case for sporadic, interested, fair and patriotic individuals {and groups} to openly question the government, make petitions, approach the courts and all the rest that a functioning and vibrant democracy entails. The presence of all of these in our lovely India is a source of immense pride for all of us Indians, that is also beyond debate. Further, the above is not an indictment of any specific entity or individual – just a general observation in theory.
I am not making a case for gagging of the people in any way or form; we are a democracy – and any such move would not be successful in a nation where democracy has now taken deep roots till the last person and city & village in India. The very thought of gagging 1.27 Billion people is ludicrous on the face of it, and quite frankly impossible to achieve; any attempt towards that would be capital folly, as no doubt everyone realizes quite clearly. Given our diversity, there will always be a cacophony of voices emanating from our people who have diverse challenges, dreams and ambitions.
VIBRANCY OF OUR DEMOCRACY – AND THE MEDIA
The point here is simple : it is the role of the Media to communicate these diverse opinions, challenges, voices, problems, objections etc to the larger public in as coherent a voice as possible; it is also through the Media that the Government also, in some ways, keeps abreast of the overall public mood.  No one is arguing with that so far as I am aware; these are absolutely vital functions that a vibrant and rich democracy needs to breathe, grow and eventually enrich its people.
THE INFORMATION AGE
But beyond all of this, it needs to be kept in mind that The Media is also a very powerful force in the modern information world, with its rapid flow of information and its hyperactive social media. Examples of its power are evident in every of the world in shaping and influencing opinion, conveying an image etc. This places an onerous responsibility on all segments and sections of the Media {including Social Media} – one that needs to be kept in mind.
ONE NATION, ONE VOICE
It needs to be understood that times of stress are different from normal times; times of stress need a very different and highly calibrated response from The Media. Fine – this also applies to Social Media; but that is impossible to implement at least so far as I am aware; you cannot expect that from Millions of individuals. When the nation goes through trying times, especially times with an obvious foreign hand of intervention and terrorism involved in it – the equations change quite dramatically.
One cannot deny that there is a very, very high chance {certainty?} that these recent stressful times have been stoked by our kindly, peaceful, sweet, gentle, ‘democratic’  neighbor. Indeed – the evidence of this is present in our history as well as recent events. What should the response be in such a charged atmosphere? How do we prioritise our statements, responses and focus in these trying times is the key aspect that needs to be appreciated
Do we go the complete fair route and question the Government and its actions in such an atmosphere? Is this approach even fair? Again, I admit that any Government must be questioned in a democracy; this is the basis of democracy and is its foundation stone. Or do we keep silent – or should we mute our critical examination in light of the stress? Given the external factor involved and the complicated nature of the on-ground reality as well as the sacrifice of our patriots and our  citizens, is this constant questioning of the Government, or analyzing internal factors to the stress, really advisable or indeed accurate?

I respectfully submit that in such times, it would be an excellent idea for the Media to speak as one- as one nation, one voice. This does not mean blind support to the Government – as I pointed out above, that isn’t democratic, or indeed advisable. That just means that we allow the situation to settle, allow all facts to emerge – this will allow a much clearer image to emerge. This will also be a powerful force multiplier to our Armed Forces and to the Government which is already fighting a hard fight on the external front with our perpetually sick neighbuor! 

The Biggest Threat – USA or Pakistan?

Published February 1, 2015 by vishalvkale

The USA – Friend, Threat Or Foe? Some voices tend to typify the USA as a foe or a threat, and my own articles have been largely critical. An article a few months ago { Biggest Threat} in a leading daily carried a survey that showed The USA as the biggest threat to world peace.. Let us look at the other side of this issue, and examine the relationship in the light of cold logic. 

First, threat. I am no fan of the USA, anyone who has read me knows that. I am a die-hard nationalist Indian, who loves India beyond description {as most people do their nation}, and who sees the USA as something less than nice;  but even to me – the claim of the USA being a threat to the world  sounds a bit far-fetched. The USA as a threat is a bit of a stretch, even for my highly critical imagination. A victim cannot be called a perpetrator; a fool or naive maybe, or a person who made a strategic error : but threat?

The biggest threat to world peace cannot be the person who is trying to maintain world peace; credit where credit is due. Coming from a critic of the USA, this is saying something. That the means adopted by this peacemaker are all cockeyed does nothing to take away the basic premise. Furthermore, this has no link with the issues of Trade; if you were to ask, the biggest threat to real free trade / fair practices to India, I would state The USA each and every time. But that is trade, and each nation has a right to protect its turf, howsoever amoral may the approach be.  This is not about trade – it is about Geopolitics. 


THE GEOPOLITICAL SITUATION
The Geopolitical situation in the world has 2 hotspots : Ukraine, which is a mild political issue, a creation of misbegotten policies on both sides, and is localised to one region with little chance of getting into a world issue unless the USA pushes needlessly; and The Middle East, or more specifically Islamic Terror. The third one – India/Pakistan, the West’s favourite bugbear, is in reality no threat all, for the perfectly simple reason that Pakistan knows fully well that it cannot take on India in straight honest hard combat and win; that is a manifest impossibility. 

A strike from our side would decidedly have a significant downside. The key aspect here is the overall geopolitical situation, which is not in our favour. A unilateral attack from our side can only lead to international intervention due to the Nuclear bugbear, which is exactly what Pakistan wants. Doing that would be playing into Pakistani hands. Personally, I am sure that the Nuclear threat is just a bluff : we are certain to give a disproportionate response. That would mean certain obliteration for Pakistan. Second, it would leave Pakistan’s owner & master the USA with no option but to participate in the response, and step in. For Pakistan, it means complete destruction and/or dismemberment. That is 100% assured. 


And that is what is Pakistan’s play is : it is buffing. And those geniuses in the West are too smart to see through this, the biggest bluff ever perpetrated by any nation. I would request people here to watch state department interviews on youtube – Pakistan is always viewed as a strategic location. Always and everytime. This is blinding the West to the reality; the grand bluff. A master play by a genius – credit where credit is due. Hence, every time there is tension on the border, everyone from The Western Media to The Western Leaders begin their nightmare scenarios, forcing intervention.

{This analysis taken from  my article :India, Pakistan and The West}

That only leaves the Middle East, and more specifically Islamic Terror, which the USA is trying to fight. That much is the truth. I need not state much on that; the inroads being made by Islamic Terror are known by all. Please note that this is a threat that is not limited to the borders, but rather has the capacity to reach into the innermost and most secure and safe civilian locations within our towns, cities, homes and offices.  From our POV, that the steps taken by the USA or The West at times go aginst our interests does not make them a threat; it only means that we have to strengthen our own response, and ensure that the other side understands the error of their strategy. This can only be through negotiation and discussion. 


THE BIGGEST THREAT?
Pakistan, period. It is a known fact that Pakistani Armed Forces are in cahoots with the terrorists, with deep and systemic links to terror organisations both India-specific and world-focussed. Pakistan is also home to rabid fundamentalism {not my words, words to this effect have also been stated by some forward-looking and worried Pakistanis} for ex :”

The common belief in Pakistan is that Islamic Radicalisation is a problem only in FATA, and that  madrassas are the only institutions serving as Jehad factories. This is a serious misconception. Extremism is breeding at a ferocious rate in public and private schools within Pakistan’s towns and cities. Left unchallenged, this education will produce a generation incapable of co-existing with anyone except  strictly their own kind. The kind of mindset it creates may eventually lead to Pakistan’s demise as a nation-state… “ :  Pervez Hoodbhoy, in Newsline,  January 2009




This is a nation that has nuclear weapons; is highly unstable; with an economy in deep trouble, and no genuine efforts to repair the same; with a fundamentalist population; is a known recruiting and breeding ground for terrorists; with deep, systemic and well-thought-out and supported contacts with terrorist bases and organisations; is increasingly anti-Western; has a  modern & professional Armed Forces; with deep cultural, religious and other contacts with the entire Islamic World. That they have become like this due in part to Western {particularly US } handling does not excuse them from the sins they have or will commit. 

For more specifics, read this : The War On Terror : India Versus Pakistan


That the USA and the entire West are wrong in their handling of Pakistan is beyond debate; that they have created this entire problem is also beyond debate; that does not make them sinners, only erroneous in their approach. That we understand Pakistan better than anyone is also no surprise, for the perfectly simple reason that Pakistan itself is a mirage, with no basis in history, culture or reality – an imagined never-never land. Pakistanis are, after all, howsoever much they may deny it, Indians. That is an inescapable fact. 

How to handle this? I dont know. Going to war with them is not the solution, neither is ostracizing them. Pakistan cannot be wished away; best would be to help Pakistan build its own identity by strengthening moderate forces within Pakistan, and evolving an identity different from India. But that is another story, not relevant here.


The War On Terror : India Versus Pakistan

Published January 21, 2015 by vishalvkale

The War on Terror, and the US-Pakistan leading it, has always been a topic of intense interest and debate in India, for obvious reasons. This is usually considered as one singular situation, when in reality there are two distinct parameters at play. This is a geo-political problem with socio-cultural undertones, with roots deep in the past, going back to before independence. While geopolitical strategies may be new, the mental attitude and societal approach of The West is a function of its history, just as our societal approach is a function of our history.

This is an exceedingly complicated multi-layered problem, built on a long legacy of injustice to entire peoples, constant interference in their affairs, wanton bloodshed without reason, and founded on a platform of a culture that the West has no conceptualisation of – the desires, the dreams and self-perceptions, and the past of the Islamic world. This did not happen overnight; it required a series of events over a long period of time. 

Terrorism arose because of the combination of two unrelated factors : the pulls-pressures and self-examination within Islam emanating from its fall from political pre-eminence in the 1800s, and the interference in Islam through the Western powers in the runup to and during the cold war. Without this interference, this would not have happened. Be it the middle east or Pakistan, the problem is the same – unwanted people poking their noses. Being an Indian, I know the Pakistan story inside out, and in addition have a better than average understanding of the ME, the story – if not identical – is comparable. Without the external stimulus, chances are that the direction would have been totally divergent… sad, but now we may never know. 

It is a known fact that Pakistan is a creation of the Great West, the archival documents in various national libraries leave no room for doubt. The MOMs of various major players between 1930s and 1940s are crystal clear in this regard. The only way to achieve this was sowing discord in 2 communities. This was done with remarkable aplomb. As I noted in one of my previous articles, Islam was in the throes of a deep self-examination, and Western games at this point drove a deep schism into it.


To cut a long story short, there was good and justifiable reason for deep discontent within the Islamic belt; this would have subsided, with time – had it been allowed to. The forces let loose in the 2nd half of the 19th and the first half of the 20th centuries drove a massive change: fundamentalism, as beautifully picturised by Pakistan’s descent into chaos from the early 1950s {1954 to be precise, if memory serves me right} 

Into this maelstrom, came free weapons, and active politically motivated channelisation into Jihad during the Afghan problem, built on the foundation of constant unilateral support to Pakistan and its dictators right since 1947. Fact of the matter is that in the 1980s, these terrorists were heroes for The USA and the West, who continued on this unholy strategy despite the manifest problems it created in India. 

The Afghan issue started due to the Russian Phobia, and the cold war; the introduction of weapons could only be through Pakistan. Be it Oil, or be it any reason, Pakistan is strategically ideally located in the part of the World, and is virtually indispensable. And this is borne out by History, with support to the idea of Pakistan pre-dating independence, as shown by the post-war papers dating from 1945. The strategy laid out in those papers was exactly how things played out in the 1950s. 

The current geopolitical situation is no better, at least from an Indian perspective. The Western powers’ predilection with Russia, and its constant baiting, has already led to a powder-keg like situation in Ukraine. Meddling in countless nations in order to ‘create’ “democracy by supporting secessionist movements in the ME is another factor. Palestine is a third critical factor. And in all of these, Pakistan assumes importance in Western eyes, due to both its strategic location as well as its hold on terrorists. The West assumes {an assumption based on a complete myth, as usual} that it can force Pakistan to play ball, and thus lead to a semblance of peace and control. 

Further, prejudices running into centuries dont change. A glance to the mid 1800s will show Russia has always featured as a threat to Western interests in western perceptions, even when they had no intention of doing anything. In 1854, those who have read me before will recall my article – we had approached the Russians for help during planning for the First War Of Independence. The record shows clearly the existing deep seated distrust even on those days, as evidenced by the events in the 18th and 19th century. This distrust runs deep, and will not change, and has been a constant feature of the past 5-6 decades as well.


That is one. Next, the Middle East. That is also now a massive problem for Uncle Sam and the UK; they are stuck, plain and simple. Damned of they do, damned if they dont. Again, that is why they think they require Pakistan. {Note my words, please; very carefully}. Which means, Pakistan will keep getting weapons, which in turn means that Pakistan will continue to arm terrorists, with the attendant problems for India. Pakistan needs to keep the area aflame; without that, it fears a relapse into nothingness. But that is another story, one that I shall take up later on. 


It is for these reasons the USA has no intention of reigning in Pakistan. Neither does anyone else. The reason is simple : India has no utility whatsoever {Thank God for that!} to The West from a strategic perspective; locationally, we could not have had a more useless geographical positioning. Pakistan is situated at the joint of the Karakoram and Hindukush ranges, with a straight pass into Afghanistan, and is connected integrally to the Middle East. It is also closer to the old Western Bugbear Russia. Add to the the close contacts with terrorists as seen in the above paragraph. 

Next, the overt Islamisation of the entire region has meant, sadly, that areas that were once relatively unconnected, have now risen in one whole again. The West, with its lack of understanding of 100% of all things Eastern, blundered. They used the Religion card; we knew better. Our past experience had taught us not to use the Religion card; and certainly not in arming religious Islamic Jihadis, having seen them up close innumerable times. Further, we knew well enough that Islam in danger has always been an exceedingly powerful cry, capable of uniting the entire spectrum. 


And that is what happened, as things went ahead in their Russian-centred stupidity, it introduced an element that was not recommended : it gave ignition to the fundamentalist elements within Islamic society. Pakistan, as you have seen in my earlier articles, is a western creation. Creating Pakistan let loose these elements; they were further emboldened by Zia, and Western support to Zia. 


Add to this potboiler, Free Arms, and a licence to do anything. This created oceans of discontent, as disaffected and ruined families in first Afghanistan and then Iraq took to violence. Palestine was already aflame; this completed the circle. They {The ME} had no option; none whatsoever. They were caught in a deadly trap between 3 powers. As it became apparent to all Islamic groups, regardless of political dispensation, awakening happened… the spark was already lit…  only problem was, this awakening took them in a direction that led to disaster! 


All it required was one additional event for the explosion to take place. Continuing western interference in more than a few middle eastern nations, combined with internecine issues in the region, provided it. Islam in danger + intervention + real injustice to the people + politics + internecine disagreements is a very heady concoction. To this deadly mixture, some genius had already added Weapons. Result? Explosion! That is what happened… we could have told the West that is precisely what happened; perhaps we did. Maybe that is why the Ex-British PM observed in deep and genuine regret that The West blundered bigtime, that they should have listened to India. 


This would not have happened had we had a genuine and effective UNO, instead of the what we have now, a whore and a keep of the USA and the Western Powers. It is a foregone conclusion that without the intervention, while the ME would still have issues among themselves, would not be a world threat. And now that the scourge is at the Western doors, they are aflame and a-rage, as now for them it is an issue not of politics, but of self-defence. And that is where things stand as on date on this war on terror…


Conventional wisdom tells us that possibly the worst we can do is now ally with the West over this; we have fought hard, bled in rivers for the past 30 years, and have finally, finally driven the scourge back against its own creators, by the simple expedient of fighting back hard, and without showing any mercy; combined with a peace building inclusive internal agenda, which ensured that no ignition happened internally. This, combined with a genuine democracy, and fairness, alongwith landmark laws, approaches to the community and continued fairness {by and large} has meant internal peace for us, proving that the problem is not Islam, but politics. Had Islam been the problem, India would have been aflame as well. 


Question is, will this peace continue? And is a solution possible? And is our non-interventionist approach correct in the light of the overall geopolitical situation? Your guess is as good as mine on that, we civilians can only analyse and theorise on that. Only one thing is certain : we have to maintain our fierce strategic independence what may, and not get pulled into any particular block. And vest our trust in our Government and our security agencies, who have done an excellent task so far, all things said and done. 

Secularism : Modern India and Pseudo-Secularism

Published December 4, 2014 by vishalvkale

This is the second and concluding part of the article series on Secularism. The first part can be found here : Secularism
In the first part, we have seen the development of the two principal communities : Hindus and Muslims, albeit in a shortened and simplified manner. We noted the developments of the period 1757 – 1947, and their combined impact on the Indian society. At this juncture, let me clarify I used these two communities for the perfectly simple reason that the entire debate focusses most on these 2. For the adherents of other faiths, let me assure that I hold no bigoted views or assumptions, or that I hold their views in a lesser degree of importance, as I hope to make clear in this article.

From the above shortened historical perspective we can see that in 1947, and for sometime thereafter, there was no question of doing anything but what our leadership did. It was the need of the hour, and a justified response to the situation. Indian Muslims are Indians – need I remind everyone of Paramvir Abdul Hamid? 

The birth of Pakistan itself was on the basis of suppression of Muslim rights, and way of life, tenets etc. Had the reverse been done, in howsoever well-intentioned a motive, it would have fanned the fire, just after independence or at anytime after it. Therefore what you call pseudo-secularism is actually true secularism, whereby the majority community did in no way hamper Muslims in the practice of their religion. Had this not been allowed, it would have strengthened the case for the secessionists who went to Pakistan, who would then demonstrate that Muslims cannot co-exist with Hindus. 

If some segments were, in 1947 – as is an established fact – feeling the need to protect their culture, shouldn’t the state provide it to them? Besides, that served to satisfy discontent, reassure that they were safe in a united India based on common adult franchise. Not doing so leads to discontent, and future trouble. Keep in mind that in 1947, this was the precise factor that led to partition, What other response was feasible, other than affording them protection? None! 

I have pointed out in detail how and why the steps taken by Panditji were spot-on accurate;  how on earth was it possible, just after the 1947 riots, to do anything else, thereby giving further strength to the anti-national sentiment? It was manifestly impossible! We are looking at it from a majority perspective, which is not admissible! India needed Panditji and his mature and balanced handling, due to which we avoided the pitfalls… 

This response was responsible for building the strong and vital India we see today – a land where everyone is free to follow his or her religion with full state protection… That is why I stated that the Historical perspective is needed to understand this. 

The very basis of Pakistan was Islam in Danger in a Hindu India! The moment we would have tried to ride roughshod over the sentiments of the minority community, we ran the risk of  creating an opportunity for external forces to foment trouble. This way, we could assure the minorities that they lose nothing in a Majority Hindu nation; they are free to follow the tenets of their religion! 

We may not agree with their practices – but it is their religion! We, as outsiders to their religion, have no locus standi on this. They are Indians, who have sacrificed for the nation as well. If a segment of the community needs a comfort and protection for a separate set of personal laws within reason, where is the issue? This is not appeasement, it is democracy pure and simple! It is also smart, as this prevents any chance of anyone fomenting trouble.

The next key question is, has the situation changed enough to warrant a shift from the status quo, by steps such as a shift to a Uniform Civil Code, to take one pertinent example, an example that is repeatedly quoted by people?  

To that, my response is, how can we the Majority Religion determine that? This is something that can only be ascertained by gauging the feelings of the Minority Community! Which is why I stated the minority perspective, and gave no credence to the majority perspective, who have no locus standi on this issue. 

Put the entire picture together : from that, it becomes eminently clear that what some people state is manifestly impossible. If even a few disaffected elements are created, if even a minor fisiparous tendency is created, then we have the potential of trouble on our hands. This in no way means that the status quo is great, or that nothing should be done, as I deal with later!

While some segments of Muslims in India are ready for a UCC, this is certainly not shared by all. And these are not matters that concern Hindus, the best we can do is stay out of it, and trust the Government and The SC to sort it out! Intervention by unrelated majority community is not the need of the hour! 

As recently as July 2014, some elements of the All India Muslim Law Board had strenuously objected it. While some elements are in favour, there are others who are not in favour. This is a complex matter, which can give rise to needless tensions – given that there is no consensus. Simply put, this is a matter of faith for Muslims, Christians, Buddhists etc, and Hindu intervention is not required. We are a democracy, they are citizens, and we have a Government, a legal framework and a constitution to safeguard these matters and direct them. 

As regards the other nations, not just Muslims but other minorities are also regularly rubbed the wrong way. As regards Muslims, note that terrorist – home grown variety- is now a reality everywhere, with Muslims from all countries being a part of it; this is now a major red flag worldwide. 

Except India, which has remained at peace, and has had only a few sporadic incidents, like the one from Thane. We dont need a ham-handed so-called reform movement in these times; we need mature careful and considered handling… Again, given the international and security perspective of a rising Islamic fundamentalism, do we want to give rise to reasons for disaffection within our own nation, at a time when we are winning the battle by keeping our nation calm? How then, do we proceed should be the key question!

This is a matter of Muslim Minorities, and the Government. And the fact is that some sections of the minority community are not ready for it. Do you want to enforce it, and leave open the door for external elements to exploit the resultant feeling of hurt? As it is, the community in general is under stress due to increasing violence and fundamentalism across the world. 

There is a vast difference between actions undertaken on a majority community and a minority community; you cannot equate the two! Not in an atmosphere like the one we currently have, with a nosey neighbour watching our every move, and not with the history of partition. Even without this, we have enough trouble. Even though it is possible that the majority of Muslims might favour it {I dont know this, just a supposition}, the fact remains that this is a classic sign of majority intolerance. We have to show our tolerance, and let things settle themselves by the concerned minorities. 

There are elements within the Muslim community that do not accept the Uniform Civil Code; to say nothing for other religions. This is best left out of the public discourse, and limited to the Government and the Courts to sort it out, discussion with the concerned community leaders and schools like Deobandh etc so that the general people are behind them. People like you and me, who are from the majority community have no locus standi on this matter. We are not welcome; this is not a matter where we should intervene. This is a matter that can arouse needless debate and claims-counterclaims… 

Furthermore, given the vast difference between Sanaatani thoughts and Muslim thoughts, it is far better for us to keep silent. The norms, societal and religious expectations and basics are at complete variance; and are nearly incompatible in their details. Sanaatan Dharm is massive, to be frank; and accommodative; that is why interventions in it were acceptable, and did not create much of an outcry beyond the ones you and I mentioned. It is not as per our practices to enforce change, which is what you suggest tantamounts to. And this also classic secularism; no enforcement of religious dictums from above. Sure we would like to move to a UCC; in fact, there are voices from among Muslims themselves that are calling for it… but it is for them to call for it in a secular atmosphere, not for the majority community to dictate! Both views are before the courts : for and against, indicating the difference within the community. 

And though it pains me to state so, but they are not Sanaatan Dharmis, who are accommodative; they are of an entirely different thought process and religious norms – a religion, some of whose constituents might just take otherwise to intervention. We as the majority community had better keep out of it; we have no locus standi on it. Let the Courts and The Government decide, alongwith the concerned minority communities! That is classic secularism, one which understands the differences between communities and governs accordingly!