I am writing to you from the city of Karachi, in the Sindh province of Pakistan.
The names “Sindh” and “India” are derived from the word “Indus” which is a river that gave birth to the Mohenjodaro and Harappa cities’ Indus Valley civilization and a people, referred to as Hindus. Hindu was originally a geographical definition and not a religious one. This fact has huge ramifications for our geopolitical realities.
I have seen the Indus river’s source in the city of Skardu in northern Pakistan. I have been to Taxila, the city of Asoka, the great ruler of the Mauryan empire, whose emblem graces the Indian flag.
The school text I studied in the post General Zia-ul-Haq era, is dominated by the two nation theory and Islamic teachings. Yet the same text did not instill any hatred for the Hindus. I learned our history in school as a third grader, that the Muslims first arrived in Sindh in 712 AD. I was taught that it was an army led by the 17-year old Muhammad bin Qasim, who honored the widow of the vanquished Raja Dahir by marrying her.
The two nation theory is focussed on the political, not the personal. However, in Hindustan of 2022 the personal has become the political, when Muslim citizens are being torn to shreds, upon suspicion of eating beef and when the entire population of Kashmir is under siege.
We live in an era when the politics of “the other” dominates. In the US, President Trump was elected on a white supremist ideology. India voted for you as BJP’s Hindutva leader. Israel’s first kippah-wearing right wing hardliner Prime Minister Naftali Bennet was elected in 2021. India has tragically allowed a tunnel visioned anti-Muslim narrative to define its national ideology. This is in spite of the fact that Muslims are part of the national fabric of India and they cannot be removed from it.
The BJP’s initiatives to peddle a revisionist history is ironically the greatest disservice to the Indian nation and India.
When William Dalrymple-an author who gained international fame due to his writing on India and the Mughals-had to do research on the culture of Delhi, he had to come to Karachi, Pakistan to meet old school Delhi families like mine.
Indian Delhi is now a Punjabi city, whereas the erstwhile Delhiwalas language, culture, cuisine and traditions have been preserved in Karachi.
My city Karachi gave Mrs. Shabnum-a cinema superstar of yesteryears and a Bengali Hindu- a standing ovation, when she graced the Karachi International Literature Festival in 2019. In my city Karachi, Deepak Perwani, a Sindhi Hindu is a top fashion designer. We presently have Ms. Krishna Kumari Kohli, a Hindu Dalit lady in senate. A Hindu temple was ransacked in southern Punjab in 2021. Prime Minister Imran Khan promptly condemned the attack ,and ordered police action against those involved, and restored the temple within three days.
The Pakistani Muslim is not prejudiced against the Hindus, despite the two nation theory being the raison detre of Pakistan’s creation.
In our history, be it the Tughluks, the Mughals, the Abdalis, or even the Ghaznavis, there is no history of Muslism rulers violating their female subjects. When the violation of women did take place in 1947, it cut both ways and hence the burden of guilt and shame lay on both sides.
The Ottoman Turks were guilty of enslaving the women of their vanquished in what today forms Eastern Europe, and hauling them to Istanbul to be auctioned off. This fact alone has led to lasting hatred that bars the modern secular republic of Turkey from joining the European Union, despite Istanbul-formerly Constaninople-being the capital of the Eastern Roman empire.
The rape of its women has a tremsndous psychologicl impact upon a people. It temporarily subdues them through deeply felt humiliation and their helplessness in the face of it. However, it creates deep hatred that lasts centuries. It is a hatred that does not go away. It creates rifts that can never be undone. The iron fisted actions of the Indian army-including the rape of Muslim Kasmiri women-are the raison detre for Kashmiri disenchatment with the erstwhile secular Indian republic.
Nations are ruled by winning hearts, not by terrorizing the subjects. The irony is that India itself possesses the greatest example of this.
The glorious Mughal ruler, Jalaluddin Muhammad, was given the title of “Akbar” meaning the great, by the Hindus under his dominion. He married a Hindu Rajput princess Rani Jodha Bai
and made her the Queen of his Hindustan. Emperor Akbar remains the greatest Indian ruler to date, and he has been credited as the father of India’s pluralistic religious tradition by the Nobel laureate Amartya Sen in his book, “The Argumentative Indian.”
No Hindu Raja was disgraced during the Mughal rule in India, when Hindustan generated over 20 percent of the world GDP. Mughals ruled through nodal points, and this allowed them to create a culture, cuisine, language and the greater civilization now being globally appreciated. Narrowing the yin and yang of Hindus and Muslims of India to a narrow, embittered and hostile India-Pakistan narrative, is a huge disservice to the history of India.
Indian Muslims are Indians, not Pakistanis. They are not the enemy within.
Company Quartermaster Havildar Abdul Hamid is a Muslim recipient of the Param Vir Chakra, India’s the highest gallantry award of the 1965 Indo-Pak war. India’s nuclear program was desiged by the Muslim scientist who later became President Abul Kalam Azad.
Tipu Sultan is an Indian symbol of resistance to British colonialism.
The tomb of Emperor Shahjahan’s beloved queen Mumtaz, is the Mughal architectural marvel called the “Taj Mahal,” which was admired globally, as the world’s unique monument built for love, when rulers and conquerors historically only built monuments to glorify themselves.
The Muslim majority Kashmir popularized the term Cashmere as synonymous with luxury and quality.
Divesting from all these indigenous Indian symbols to weave a narrative of Hindu fascism, is a huge disservice to India, when it has gained commercial and economic significance in the world.
Facism is a code to self-destruct.
HIstory is replete with such examples. Germany’s Hitler destroyed the German nation with anti-semitism. South Africa was made a pariah nation due to its aparthied. Afghanistan under the Taliban, are in a major crisis desperate for help, but the world is suffering from compassion fatigue for them. Israel is facing academic, commercial and cultural boycotts by the world community as it increasingly grows insular in it’s world view.
On the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2016, Maj. Gen. Yair Golan, deputy chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces gave a speech saying he saw “revolting trends” in today’s Israel that he compared to Nazi-era Germany and Europe in the 1930s. He said: “There is nothing easier than to hate those who are different; there is nothing easier than to sow fear and terror; there is nothing easier than to behave like animals.”
Such mindsets are the harvest of decades of grooming the minds to hate.
The POTUS George W Bush had made a Freudian slip in 2001, when he said he would launch the crusades against the world of Islam. The establishment did not allow this narrative to build. The US leadership has always emphasized the freedom to practice one’s faith, and differentiated between terrorism and religious beliefs. This is what allowed the US to make giant leaps in technology and social media. Steve Job’s smartphones and Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook could thrive in an environment of harmony. They could never have blossomed in a country rife with communal tensions.
In Pakistan we have rejected the politics of “the other.” We elected Imran Khan due to his promise of justice. We opened up the Kartarpur border to religiously facilitate the Sikh community. We released Wing Commander Abhinandan as a gesture of goodwill.
A politician makes the nation slide a downward spiral by instilling hate and fear in them, which ultimately leads to their destruction.
A leader leads his nation to greatness by instilling the virtues of dignity, integrity, humanity and noble conduct. The writer is an independent researcher, author and columnist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Courtesy Daily Times, Pakistan)