The lament of pseudo-secularists

By K.N. Pandita

The word “secularism” is of western origin. It emerged from the concept that the church is separate from the state. The parameters of democracy set forth by western political philosophers established that religion was a personal matter and should not be allowed to shape the political ideology of the people. Those who believed in it and also practised it were called secularists.

However, the connotation changed for the Indian nationalist leadership and the Congress ideologues who led the fight against colonialism. Finally, it went into the framework of the Indian Constitution and indirectly urged the Indian nation to compromise with the changed import of the word secularism. Congress was in no position to ask for separation of the church from state. The reason is that Islam does not accept the separation of religion from the state. It considers religion as the cornerstone of an Islamic State. The Congress did not envisage India becoming an Islamic state after the colonial rule ended; it focused on a non-religious state. Most of the Indian Muslims were supporters and sympathizers of Congress. Hence, it was obvious that the Congress would care for the sentiments of the Muslim segment and not interfere in their viewpoint of relationship between the church and the state.

This was something of an unwritten understanding between the two. Those Indian Muslims who did not reconcile to the unwritten understanding left India and formed an Islamic State called Pakistan. As a result of these developments, Indian Muslims began to be called secularists meaning those who reconciled to a state that is not Islamic in a literal sense but does not interfere in religious affairs of its Muslim population. Unfortunately, Indian constitution fathers gave unnecessary importance to religion by creating the concept of religious minorities within the Indian nation. This opened the Pandora’s Box called “Indian secularism”.

The Congress, thereafter, went on trumpeting that the Muslim minority was in threat of losing its identity, culture, political clout and what not in India and that Congress would champion its cause by considering them a special category of citizens. This was the beginning of giving a vicious meaning to “secularism” which may be called Indianization of Secularism. The driving force behind Congress’ thrust was carving a vote bank.

The parliamentary election of 2014 somehow exploded that myth and Congress feels it has lost its dependable constituency. The loss happened not because of any special and extraordinary promises made to the Muslim community by the winning party (BJP) but because of the realization dawning upon the Indian Muslims that their welfare is closely connected to the welfare of the Indian nation as a whole. That is what BJP’s slogan of “ghar wapsi” really meant. Yogi Adityanath’s election as MLA from a constituency in UP with sizable Muslim vote is a clear indication that realization has dawned upon the Muslim community of India that it must stand on its own legs and shun the unsolicited crutches offered to it.

Now that parliamentary election 2019 is around the corner, and Congress is on the horns of a dilemma of how it would reach the Muslim constituency, it is reviving the old tricks, especially in segments where there is a considerable concentration of Muslims. A more amusing antics employed by Congress is that of prompting former J&K Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah to go to Lucknow and sing the dirge for the imagined death of “secularism” of Congress’ definition. What are Dr Farooq’s credentials to raise the lament and in Lucknow? He talks in hyperbole just because he cannot walk the talk. He cannot forget that his party (NC) was an ally of BJP at one time and his son held a ministerial post in Vajpayee regime. Was BJP then secular and is it now communal?

Farooq laments that there is name changing of places and it is an attack on “secularism”. Where was this secularism when more than 2000 villages in Kashmir Valley were renamed with Islamic orientation in recent years under NC rule? Where this secularism was when Hari Parbat became Koh-i-Maran, Shankaracharya became Koh-i-Suleyman, Anantnag became Islamabad and Ompora became Muhammadpora? Where was secularism when Sharada, the a thousand yea old phonetically scientific script for the Kashmiri language, was abandoned and Arabic script was adopted, which is phonetically unsuitable? Which secularism does he talk about when in his own state and during his coalition government with Congress entire Hindu community of four lakh people continues to live in exile and his theory of secularism does not permit him to talk or plan for their return and rehabilitation. Dr Abdullah goes to Lucknow to preach secularism to his audience there but he will not go to downtown Srinagar and tell the people there what calamity the borrowed gun has brought to them and their future generations.

Farooq has no credentials to castigate Modi government on the self-styled charge of destroying secularism. Let him name a single right of the Muslims or any other religious minority of India that has been violated by the Modi regime and let him name a single right of the exiled Hindus of Kashmir which his government (when he or his son was heading it) has been promoted. Farooq is a senior leader and he should have resisted falling in the trap of Congress machination. J&K Governor is reported to have said that all leaders from Kashmir come to him with Pakistan agenda but it is only Dr Farooq who does not speak of Pakistan. This is despite the fact that at one time Farooq announced that he would be walking behind the Hurriyatis. The fact is that no leader of Kashmir but Farooq Abdullah has the vision of what would have been the fate of the people of the state if it had become part of Pakistan. We are amused why a leader of this vision should accept to become the spokesman of Congress or the Mahaghatbandan and become a detractor of Indian Muslims at a time when they are very close to turning a new leaf of the social history of post-independent India. My pain is that why Dr Farooq despite the vision he has refuses to shed fallacious theories aimed at seeking support from political obscurantisms.

Is Imran riding the tiger?

By K.N. Pandita

For three days there was shut down, disruption of law and order, rampage and unleashing of violence and anger in the length and breadth of Pakistan following the radio broadcast of PM Imran Khan. He tried to his agitated compatriots a sane and sensible advice in the context of the Supreme Court’s verdict on Asia Bibi case of blasphemy. Continue Reading…

Letter to the Editor

Daily Excelsior

Kindly refer to ‘Rahul Gandhi- Not the next PM’ by B.L. Saraf (DE Oct 30). The Congressites who have directly or indirectly left open the question of the driver behind the wheel are staunch family loyalists. Continue Reading…

Pakistan Constitution and Human Rights: inherent contradiction

By K.N. Pandita

UN Secretary General, now on a visit to India, pontificates that India should take care of human rights in Kashmir. It shows he is not well informed on the history of Kashmir issuer or is under pressure from Pakistani and Islamic lobby. The right thing for him to do was to visit Pakistan and go deep into the human rights situation in that country. Let us summaries it for his quick reading and understanding. Continue Reading…

Good will dialogue before political dialogue

By K.N. Pandita

As India announced cancellation of the proposed foreign ministers’ sit together on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session, Pakistani media has gone berserk in bringing accusations against India that she is not interested in contributing to peace process in the region. The Pakistani media hype is meant to convince the world community and perhaps the US as well, that India is the source of disquiet in the region. Continue Reading…

Convergence of the strongest and the largest

By K.N. Pandita

The US high power delegation led by the Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, and including the US Army Chief, has just concluded its visit to India. The two countries are moving towards closer cooperation in their efforts for regional and global peace and development. The US lately recognizes that the strongest and the largest democracy in the world should have convergence on approach to many regional and global problems with terrorism at the top of them all. Continue Reading…

The US-Pakistan relations at crossroads

By K.N. Pandita

A fracas over a telephonic message from the Secretary of State Michael Pompeo to Imran Khan on 23 August only added to the already strained relations between the US and its former South Asian ally. Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi contradicted the content of the call. The State Department had said in readout that during the call “Pompeo raised the importance of Pakistan taking decisive action against all terrorists operating in Pakistan”. Islamabad refuted the US readout as incorrect, saying that this “issue of terrorism” was not discussed. However, when questioned by a reporter, the U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said there would be no correction in response to Pakistan’s complaint. “I can only say we stand by our readout,” Continue Reading…

Imran is bidding for “New Pakistan”

By K.N. Pandita

We cannot help looking somewhat askance when we are told that Imran Khan wants to make a “New Pakistan”. There is mystery in the term “New Pakistan” about what it actually means? In his first speech after he was sworn in, Prime Minister Imran Khan focussed on very disquieting current financial situation of his country. The narrative is superscripted by what stance IMF will adopt once Pakistan approaches it for a massive bank loan to retrieve its collapsing economy. Continue Reading…

Is PM Modi going to Islamabad?

By K.N. Pandita

Observers are speculating Modi’s participation in the oath-taking ceremony of Pakistan Prime Minister-designate on 11 August in Islamabad. Will Imran Khan invite SAARC leaders? Will he invite Modi also? Will Modi agree to go to Islamabad if invited? These questions are widely debated in political circles. Continue Reading…

Some Reflections on Pak General Election

By K.N. Pandita

On 25 July, Pakistan completed the third general election to the National Assembly. In the run-up to election campaigning, brutal unleashing of violence in Baluchistan and KP leading to hundreds of deaths and wounded marred the sanctity of election. Continue Reading…

Bloody beginning of Pak elections

By K.N. Pandita

Writing sadly about the bloodshed of the previous week in Baluchistan and Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, the widely circulated Dawn of Pakistan made a meaningful comment. It wrote, ”If there were any doubts that Pakistan still remains vulnerable to terrorism, the past week has put an end to them.” It is polite but irrefutable admission that willy-nilly terrorism is allowed to remain entrenched in Pakistan. Three separate attacks in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa and Baluchistan have claimed 150 lives and over 200 persons are wounded. Among the dead are Awami National Party leader Haroon Bilour and Baluchistan Awami Party candidate Siraj Raisani. Continue Reading…

Indo-French bilateral partnership: New approach

By K.N. Pandita

Prime Minister Modi visited France soon after Emmanuel Macron’s election in May 2016. Prior to him three Indian Prime Ministers had visited France since 1980. Not all formal visits of the heads of government move beyond the established protocol and patent rhetoric. Continue Reading…

Politics of vandalizing statues

By K.N. Pandta

Installing statues of distinguished persons is an old practice beginning with the ancient Greeks. From there it spread to Europe. There is no desk-book criterion for identifying a person whose statue is raised. Continue Reading…

The US and Pak-based terrorists

By K.N. Pandita

The US is showing no relent in its reproach of Pakistan for allowing safe haven to terrorists – individuals as well as organizations – operating in Afghanistan. There are many individuals involved in raising and transferring funds, and providing logistic support to terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda, Taliban and LeT that are either based or have their hideouts in Pakistani. Pakistan army and intelligence circles including some senior bureaucrats are well aware of these antics. At the end of the day elusive Osama bin Laden was captured in a house just few kilometres away from the GHQ in Rawalpindi. Continue Reading…

Ghazavatu’l-Hind: A Matter of Faith

By K.N. Pandita

These days, top leadership of Pakistani religious extremist organizations like Jaysh-i-Muhammad, Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, Tahiru’l Qadiri and others has become vociferous about Ghazavatu’l-Hind meaning the Indian crusade. They whip up anti-India hysteria while addressing huge crowds. The common theme of their claptrap is that the way of liberating Kashmir is through an armed crusade of India. Destruction of India is their war cry. Continue Reading…

The roots of Afghan war

By K.N. Pandita

A US official spokesman said that the Saturday devastating attack in the centre of Kabul city was planned and executed by Taliban and the Huqqani Network. 103 people were killed and hundreds wounded. A UN observer called it” massacre”. Taliban and Haqqani Network have intensified attacks and bomb blasts in recent weeks and months in Afghanistan. Continue Reading…

South Asia: Re-alignments on the anvil

By K.N. Pandita

In bilateral relations, there are no permanent friends or foes: there are only permanent interests. US-Pakistan relations almost reached nadir when President Trump; twitted “lies and deceit”. Nobody had anticipated that relations between Pakistan – a country once more aligned than allies – with the US would sink to such depths. Continue Reading…

Trump–Pakistan jihad love

By K.N. Pandita

The news has come that Pakistan has imposed a ban on Hafiz Saeed-led Jamaat-ud Dawa and Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation from collecting donations. Pakistani media have given wide publicity to this news in print and in electronic media. Since some years the organization and its chief have been actively collecting donations in the name of ‘crush India.’ Continue Reading…

Trump’s new security strategy

By K.N. Pandita

Addressing his nation from the Ronald Reagan building in Washington, President Donald Trump has enunciated his administration’s new national security strategy. The strategy paper identifies four vital national interests, or “four pillars” namely (a) Protect the homeland, the American people, and American way of life; (b) Promote American prosperity; (c) Preserve peace through strength; and (d) Advance American influence. Continue Reading…

Cannibal of Mumbai carnage walks free

By K.N. Pandita

Acquittal of Hafiz Saeed by Lahore High Court is a slap on the face of the US and the UN. They have classified Saeed’s organization JuD as a terrorist group and forefront organization for terrorist outfit LeT responsible for 26/11 Mumbai attack in which 166 innocent persons including six American nationals were killed. Continue Reading…