Let There Be “Peace” – Can India and Pakistan Be More Friend, Less Foe?

  • India and Pakistan have not seen eye to eye since 1947.
  • Almost 70 years since Partition, not much has changed.
  • The two countries have a lot in common: culture, food, music, cricket and more.

Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s Poem Where the mind is without fear is a pre-independent poem in which the poet seeks complete freedom, a political and spiritual freedom:

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by Thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that Heaven of freedom, my father, let my Country awake!

India is a secular country, religious freedom is a fundamental right guaranteed under Articles 25 to 28 of the Indian Constitution.

When he wrote this poem, India was under British rule and people were eagerly waiting to get their freedom.

The policy of ‘divide and rule’ is seen as a mechanism used throughout history to maintain imperial rule. It identifies pre-existing ethno-religious divisions in society and then manipulates them in order to prevent subject peoples’ unified challenge to rule by outsiders. The British presence in India was run by the East India Company from 1600 to 1858 and was subject directly to the British Crown from 1858 until 1947 (the British Raj).

British rule always faced fierce resistance. This was visible not only in its many wars and the major rebellion of 1857-8, but also in countless acts of revolt, sabotage and assassination. The British and their client Princes frequently quelled dissent and imposed their will by force. Through Gandhi, India developed a tradition of political non-violence – but the British authorities responded even to that with brutality and repression.

Muslims in India, although considered a monolithic entity, they are in fact extremely diverse: a diversity which is not surprising if one looks at the geographical factors, past history and local traditions. In South India, for instance, Islam was introduced peacefully by sailors who settled on the Malabar and Coromandal coasts while often intermarrying with local women (Dupuis 1996, Gaborieau 2011). Then, as it was the case with Chrisitanity, Islam soon appeared to the lowest Hindu Castes as a way to escape their miserable fate. The process of conversions still goes on.

In North India, the atmosphere is different and often disquieting. Here Muslims are a bit resented as they are identified with those Turk and Moghul invaders who, along the centuries, descended from Central Asia and plundered India. Their Chieftains built great empires, the Sultanate of Delhi, then the Moghul empire, which fell only in 1857; under the enterprises of the British East India Company. As in the South, most Muslims are converts from lower castes. They have a very low status, and it is only a small “crust” of Muslims (ashraf) who can proudly refer to their foreign origins.

By and large, whatever the sects, schools and practices, most Muslims were Sunnis, except those whose princely rulers were Shias (twelvers) or those in the West who are Ismaeli Shias, and involved in petty or large businesses.

Last but not least, encompassing all these sects and schools, it should be remembered that there is an Islam “of the mosques” which is orthodox and somewhat militant, and an Islam “of the shrines” which is heterodox and extremely diversified (S.A.A.Rizvi 1978;Troll 199): this Islam was brought by Sufi saints and preachers of various tariqa (mystical orders), whose tombs are still visited by lakhs of devotees ( l lakh = 100,000). These tombs are definitely the place where Muslims and Hindus meet and pray together.  The shrine at Taragarh is a very important Dargah in Ajmer and this Shrine attracts Hindus as much as the Muslims. Anyone can pray here and many Hindus believe that a pilgrimage to Ajmer would fulfill their innermost desires.

Many Indian and other scholars have maintained that the British adopted a Divide and Rule strategy in order to strengthen the British Raj. Both communal conflict and Muslim separatism are seen as being created by this strategy.”Partition” – the division of British India into the two separate states of India and Pakistan on August 14-15,1946 – was the “last-minute” mechanism by which the British were able to secure agreement over how independence would take place. At the time, few people understood what Partition would entail or what its results would be, and the migration on the enormous scale that followed took the vast majority of contemporaries by surprise. Lord Mountbatten, the last viceroy was told by the British Prime Minister, Clement Attlee, in March 1947 to negotiate an exit deal with Indian leaders by October; if he could not, Britain would leave India with no deal by June 1948. The decision to grant this power to Lord Mountbatten, a naval officer nicknamed the “master of disaster” in the admiralty for his propensity to damage warships by precipitate action, was Mr. Attlee’s.

India is the birthplace of four major religions of the World – Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism and significant population of three other religions of the world – Islam, Christianity and Zoroastrianism – live in India. Indian Muslims constitute the third largest Muslim population in the World.

Neither Jawaharlal Nehru, the incoming Prime Minister of India, nor Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the first Governor-general of Pakistan foresaw the scale of the coming violence. Mr. Nehru told a journalist in 1946 that “when the British go, there will be no more communal trouble in India.” Jinnah said, ”Any idea of a United India could never have worked and in my judgment it would have led us to terrific disaster.” Mr. Jinnah had pushed for the Partition to create Pakistan, a homeland for Muslims, who would otherwise be a minority in a Hindu-dominated Superstate. He was backed by British imperialists, notably Winston Churchill, who believed Pakistan would prove a faithful friend to the West and a bulwark between the Soviet Union and a Socialist India. “Strict supervision and play them off one against the other,” says a character in an 1888 Rudyard Kipling story, The Education of Otis Yeere. “That,” he explains, ”is the secret of our Government.”

India is a secular country, religious freedom is a fundamental right guaranteed under Articles 25 to 28 of the Indian Constitution. The Preamble of the Constitution declares the country as secular as to guarantee every citizen equality without any discrimination based on religion. India is the birthplace of four major religions of the World – Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism– and home to a significant population of three other religions of the world – Islam, Christianity and Zoroastrianism. Indian Muslims constitute the third largest Muslim population in the World. A friendship is between two peers,” says Florence Isaacs, author of Toxic Friends/True Friends. ”There has to be a balance in a friendship for it to be healthy—not one person whose needs get met and another whose needs are overlooked.”

India celebrates its religious diversity by upholding religious freedom. No other country matches India in respect of such diversity and the commitment to preserver such a colorful mosaic. Hindus and Muslims live cordially together. Hindus voluntarily respect Muslims sentiment. This however is a counsel of perfection. There are nasty Hindus as there are nasty Muslims who would pick a quarrel for nothing. For these we must provide counsels of unimpeachable probity and imperturbability whose decisions must be binding on both parties. Public opinion should be cultivated in favor of the decisions of such counsels so that no one would question them. Soon after Partition, Muslims killed innocent Hindus and Sikhs– and Sikhs were unsparing in their killing of Muslims. These mutual killings weren’t resorted to by the killers to award punishment to someone found guilty of some crime, but for the simple reason that someone was either Hindu, Sikh or Muslim. Atal Bihari Vajpayee said:

The overwhelming public sentiment in India was that no meaningful dialogue can be held with Pakistan until it abandons the use of terrorism as an instrument of its foreign policy.

It is a conjectural aspect that sometimes it may break out here or there in a virulent form. Unless there’re is equivalence in treating Hindu majoritarian communalism and Muslim minority communalism, secularism is merely pseudo-secularism. It is precisely this demand for equivalence that is dangerous at the moment, for it ignores some fundamental distinctions between the two types of communalism. First, it equalizes what cant be equalized, for equality is not the equal treatment of unequal entities. And second, it participates in the increasing conflation of Hindu communalism with nationalism, Muslim Superstars of Bollywood, India, right from Muhammed Yusuf Khan [2] born in Peshawar, Pakistan, to Rajendra Kumar, born in Sialkot, British India (now located in Pakistan) to present heroes, especially the Khans of Bollywood refers to Indian film Industry heroes, whose surnames are Khan. The three Khans – Aamir Khan, Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan [1][2] The three although unrelated set a supreme example of India’s tolerance. Sania Mirza, former World No.1 in the doubles discipline, who won six Grand Slam titles in her career [4][5] married Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik. The latest to join the bandwagon is Pakistani cricketer Hassan Ali who wedded Indian girl Samiya Arzoo. Both Hindu and Muslims have a lot in common, climate, festivals, culture, food, sports and music binds them together. Language and music is very similar, Pakistani singers frequently sing in Indian movies. Indian movies are very popular in Pakistan but there are also several differences which make both countries unique in their own way.

There have been numerous attempts to improve the relationship – notably, the Shimla Summit, the Agra Summit and the Lahore Summit. Since the early 1980s, relations  between the two nations soured particularly after the Siachen conflict, the intensification of Kashmir insurgency in 1989, Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests in 1998 and the 1999 Kargil war. Certain confidence-building-measures – such as the 2003 ceasefire agreement and the Delhi-Lahore Bus service – were successful in deescalating tensions. However, these efforts have been impeded by periodic terrorist attacks. The 2001 Indian Parliament attack almost brought the two nations to the brink of a nuclear war. The 2007 Samjhauta Express bombings, which killed 68 civilians ( most of whom were Pakistani) was also a crucial point in relations. Additionally, the 2008 Mumbai attacks carried out by Pakistani militants resulted in a severe blow to the ongoing India-Pakistan peace talks.

…In November 2015, the new Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif agreed to the resumption of bilateral talks, the following month, Prime Minister Modi made a brief, unscheduled visit to Pakistan while en route to India, becoming the first Indian prime Minister to visit Pakistan since 2004. Despite these efforts, relations between the countries have remained frigid, following repeated acts of cross-border terrorism. According to 2017 BBC World Service poll, only 5% of Indians view Pakistan’s influence positively, with 85% expressing a negative view, while 11% of Pakistanis view India’s influence positively, with 62%  expressing a negative view.

...In August 2019, following the approval of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill in the Indian Parliament, which revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir [15] [16] further tension was brought between the two countries, with Pakistan downgrading their diplomatic ties, closing its airspace and suspending bilateral trade with India.Wikipedia

The United States was closely allied with Pakistan until the end of Cold war. Pakistan provided the bases for U-2 flights and a conduit for arms to Afghanistan rebels. The United States provided most of Pakistani military aid from 1954 to the 1980s. China is now the major military supplier to Pakistan. The United States has maintained cool relations with India because of its refusal to join the West during the Cold war, its pursuit of a non-alignment foreign policy and for its tight controls on American investment and business enterprise in India.

The real duty of the media is to educate, to cleanse the minds of people, take them out of the rut of narrow secretarian grooves of thought and perception, and to wash and scrap out communal feelings in order to invest them with feelings of amity and communal harmony. To bridge the gap and build mutual trust, bring about real rapprochement for advancing the cause of “common nationalism.”

India and Pakistan could take a lesson from Russia in this regard. Those who do know about the history of Russia will tell you that during the time of the Tsar the situation there was quite similar with communities spreading lies against each other. But the day Bolsheviks came into power in Russia, their whole situation changed. Since then there has been no reports of riots from Russia.  Now, every person is considered as human and they are not limited by their religious identities. Religion and politics should always be demarcated. Religion is the personal matter of an individual which needs no interference from other. All agree that religion should not enter politics because it doesn’t allow people to work together for a common cause.

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Madhavi Vudayagiri

Writing and reading has always been my hobby. I would never buy a greeting card to wish a family member or a close friend, instead I would compose a poem highlighting their qualities and greet them. Having been in the field of teaching, studying people is what I do best. Creative writing is my forte, in order to hone my creative gene, I acquired a diploma in creative writing. I love to probe people's minds and try and understand their thought process. This website seems to be just what I am looking for!

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