By CrystalHeart Kazmi (Imran Owais)
Cell/Whatsapp +971 55 8094119
The writer believes in taking sides, that of the truth, not of his faith or motherland. Because the first casualty in hatred, even before a single drop of blood is shed, is the truth… to some, this writeup may appear skewed in Pakistan’s favor, but trust me, it isn’t. It is no more than the plain and obvious truth. I have touched upon weaknesses of both sides, more on India’s because I see them that way, not because India isn’t my country, but only because I do see gaffes and mistakes being made and as a sincere friend to Indians consider it my duty to apprise them of the same.
Pulwama – pulling to war
Instead of blood red roses, Valentines’ day 2019 came with a bloody surprise for India: Pulwama attacks in Indian Kashmir, where 40 Indian CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) were killed / martyred in a vehicle based suicide bomb attack. In no time, India apportioned the blame on a Pakistan based organization called Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) which according to the Indians was behind the cowardly attack. This was the Indian version of the story. The Pakistani version as spelt out by the PM and DG ISPR is one of disillusionment and anger at being labelled for a crime without proof, and even aroused to war.
The division of hearts
August 14, 1947 divided India into two parts – Hindu dominated India and Muslim dominated Pakistan, though ironically an equal amount of Muslims as in Pakistan reside in India too. Never in the history of mankind has a nation been divided on the basis of faith. But here we are, literally divided since 1947. This division has cost people their rationality on both sides to varying extents. Anti India rhetoric is as popular in Pakistan as are anti Pakistan chants in India. It comes across as an apocalyptical blood sports of sorts, where apparently sane and educated men and women hurle verbal tirades for the most incomprehensible reasons. After all Hindus and Muslims lived more or less happily together for more than 700 years – and while the advent of the British did teach them table manners, English and perhaps a different outlook on life then making expensive and expansive tombs of their rulers’ lovers.
The British, as they hurriedly left much of Asia and Africa post World War 2, did so sowing the seeds of hatred between a people who were in the balance living harmoniously for centuries despite differences in faith and cultures.
Aftermath of Independence
While Pakistan became an “Islamic Republic” post General Zia’s rule, India claimed secularism oft refuted by the likes of Gujarat Violence of 2002 and lately Cow Vigilantes – ironically both supported by India’s current Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, who to his credit favored decentralisation in governance, though his development effort was skewed in favor of his vote bank in Gujarat than equitably across India.
Modi’s position is rigid on the long standing Kashmir Conflict to which India never agreed to the UN’s proposed solution of a plebiscite – which is the core of the matter. Denying a people the will to decide their future will certainly cause rifts between the rulers and the ruled, a rather short story of Kashmir. No doubt Pakistanis support Kashmir with its roots in the impartially recognized pro Pakistan sentiments in Indian Kashmir, which has more to do with cultural and ethnic bonding then religion alone.
For had religion been the driving factor, Pakistan would have had a very different treatment record with the the then East Pakistan now Bangladesh, or the Mohajirs of Karachi who claimed alienation, the dissatisfaction in Balochistan, KPK and even Southern Punjab – seething internal issues with fellow Muslims.
Similarly in India, the assassination of their late PM Indira Gandhi was a clear sign of the strength of the Khalistan movement, many say that BJP’s weakest link is in the huge South of India! Thus by any magnitude India faces more intense and diverse structural integrity issues, purely due it’s four times larger size, than Pakistan does and also due rigidity in even accepting problems. For unlike India, Pakistan government and military addressed the grievances of the people in Karachi, Balochistan and KPK. India seems to hide it’s head in the sand when it comes to Kashmir or Khalistan, to no avail, and the real reason behind unrest in those areas.
Independence has also given rise to toxic nationalism and fundamentalism on both sides. Pakistan, to it’s fair credit, after the Afghan War with partners in the US and the MidEast, plunged deep into extremism of all sorts, however, post General Musharraf, all COAS’s have primarily fought and largely uprooted at least the militant wings of extremism at a huge loss of life to the army and LEAs’ – in contrast India, as described above, is not even battling Cow Vigilantes or Hindu Extremists, whether in Gujrat, UP or Kashmir or other places at any level! Hindu extremism or Saffron Terror seems to be en vogue in BJP’s india.
India today is perhaps comparable to Pakistan of the 80s – while fundamentalism rose unchecked, and the state legitimized it.
Pakistan, though not officially secular, can boast of fair and reasonable minded Army Generals like the much admired General Tariq Khan who was behind the strategic and tactical annihilation of Taliban along with his worthy fellows like General Kayani, General Raheel Sharif and the current Chief Gen Bajwa, they all favored rationality over “blind faith” a telling lesson perhaps for the Indians in handling unchecked extremism at home. By leaving the “Hindu” cap at home, just like our Generals left the “Muslim” cap at their homes and fought like good soldiers any who spread hatred or weakened the writ of fair governance in the name of religion.
More real than faith – Poverty
India ranks 103/119 on the Global Hunger Index while Pakistan is 3 notches lower at 106. Officially almost half the population is at or below the minimum subsistence level of poverty, unofficially, 98% of India and Pakistan lead a life that will send shivers down the spine of any developed country’s national.
Thus today both nations are at loggerheads with each other, name calling and blaming has been the order of the day and after Pulwama, there is every likelihood of a bloody war that will ultimately leave the impoverished masses relieved of a meaningless existence.
While India is gung ho in war fever, from tomato wars, to venomous remarks which they swiftly throw back at Pakistan – I would, as a fair and reasonable person above all, state that Imran Khan, the charismatic sportsman and sporty Prime Minister of Pakistan and General Asif Ghafoor, DG ISPR both have clearly resonated two messages, first, that if India provides proof, they would act on the Pulwama murders, and in fact they have even, without India’s cooperation, in the larger regional anti terror interest taken recent action against JeM, and they also want resolution of the outstanding Kashmir issue; the second message is that any aggression by India will not be tolerated by the smaller neighbor but replied with ingenuity, which leaves one’s imagination to “all options on the table” scenario – which could, in turn, mean our worst fears come true of two nuclear capable nations going to war! In contrast one sees abuse on the rise against Muslims in India today, in and outside Indian Kashmir.
I sincerely and earnestly see the need for Indian leadership introspection, Mr Modi, a strong nationalist, may inspire the average, poor and illiterate Indian to emotions and anger, may even win a re election, but at what cost and risk? If a war indeed breaks out over Pulwama, it will be the 98% poor on both sides who will suffer immeasurably. Their lives are miserable as we speak, their deaths will remind us of the Holocaust, Hiroshima, Nagasaki or the Bubonic Plague.
There are far too many good people in India, and now is the time for them to raise their voice, the Sikhs are speaking out, so should saints like Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of the Art of Living and the common man and woman in India.
The Clouds of War over India and Pakistan are filled with blood, our, the people’s blood, we may be Hindus or Muslims, Christians or Buddhists, Sikhs or Atheists, Gay or Straight, whatever, whoever, we are, our ends will be a despicable and sad chapter in the exploits of humanity against one another. This is the time for unity in peace than in a stark raving mad desire for bloodshed.
A fair view, about the writer
Born to parents whose home was India, UP / Allahabad for my dad and Lucknow for my mother, both migrated and settled in Pakistan, and taught me loyalty to my motherland.
Yet, as I grew up, I am proud to state that above all, I am a fair and reasonable global citizen who was born in a Muslim household in Pakistan – but can easily identify with any good human being, anywhere in the world. However, I have, to the best of my abilities always fought for and upheld the truth then nationalism or religious affiliation.
The truth requires us to see both sides of the situation. Today, when people write about India and Pakistan, they invariably take sides based on their own country of residence, and if someone criticises their government they are automatically labelled “traitors” – and to be fair, some of them may be free and open thinkers, and some may have preferred financial or other gratifications to pursue the “enemy’s cause at home.”
However, between these two extremes of nationalistic zealots who unthinkingly, perhaps some even unknowingly and absolutely insensitively spread hate (as beautifully depicted in Delhi 6, Rang de Basanti and Rajneeti and sometimes with more hatred as at Agent Vinod or Naam Shabana where the fire of division is given more fuel) one finds between these two extremes a small group of rationalists and logical thinkers who tend to see beyond the obvious hate and disdain, into common cultural bonds and a combined positive legacy of coexistence spanning several centuries.
I have formed political parties for the poor of the world, GadhaParty and for the fairer sex, WomenAreVotes and frequently speak on motivation, good (lean) governance, fair law and order, end to religious extremism, peace and anti any form of hatred, at the Rotary Clubs – and all over the world to individuals or groups, in person or on any media. I am not just another talker or writer, I walk my words on the fine line of accountability.
By CrystalHeart Kazmi (Imran Owais)
Cell/Whatsapp +971 55 8094119