Friday, July 14, 2006

Every country deserves to defend itself

This week, since the blasts in Mumbai, there seems to be a shift in public opinion in India about our relationship with Pakistan. I was shocked to read an interview with a SIMI (Student's Islamic Movement of India) activist. She was a medical student and said something to the effect that muslims will not stop jihad until the whole world was brought under Islam and that she was willing to take up arms for the cause. I think of myself as a very open minded person, I have muslim and Pakistani friends who are very dear to me and I never had or will have any doubts about their humanity. However, in the future when I meet a new person, I think I will be guarded. What are the muslims in India complaining about? They have preferred minority status although they are 12% of the population. They have their own minority schools and colleges and also have access to admission in other institutions through quotas. (Brahmins who are 5% of the population are being discriminated against)
If they think that their community is suspect everytime an incident like this happens, it is not without reason. There has been a pattern of such violence by terrorists who affiliate themselves with this religion and community. I am not saying the community is to blame, the common muslim in India or Pakistan is just another ordinary person motivated by his self interest of survival. However, when banned organisations such as SIMI which were started to educate and enlighten the community according to its founder, have openly extremist members the whole community's agenda becomes suspect.

I believe at this stage India should do the following:
1. Indian muslims who believe they are being treated unfairly by the country should be allowed to move to any muslim country of their choice.
2. Indian Pundits and hindus in the disputed Kashmir valley should be brought to Srinagar or within Indian borders. Give PoK to Pakistan. We do not lose a lot and maintain the tourist section of the state.
3. Hindus in Pakistan who complain they are being unfairly treated there should be sent to India.
4. Organisations such as RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal should be banned.

I do not know why for 59 years India has been disputing over Kashmir. The terrorist threat is driving tourists away anyway and the amount of money spent cleaning up after terrorist attacks (everyday in Srinagar and Kashmir valley), could be put to better use. Economically it would be the smartest thing to do.

1 comment:

Ali Hasanain said...

The activist who you quote is being ridiculously unislamic. Islam is SUPPOSED to be a religion of peace, and the precedence set by those who gave us this religion is one of live-and-let-live. It's a completely alien concept for me to think of a decent muslim being behind the bombing: it was the most inhumane and patently unislamic thing to do. It's unfortunate and repulsive that they are coloring the opinions of progressive, liberal non-muslims.

However, I disagree with some of your proposals. There are something like 125-175 Million Indian muslims, if I'm not mistaken. Even a small fraction that thinks of itself as being unjustly treated would run in the tens of millions. Redrawing property rights, and relocating would be both tedious and abrasive, and likely to lead to the same sort of recriminatory violence our countries had 59 years back. There are far fewer Hindus in Pakistan, but they too are around 1-2 Million, which is not a trivial amount. Besides, I believe that the existence of a sizable minority is helpful: if there was a decrease in the size of a minority, it's clout would decrease dispropotionately, and it would be less likely to have it's interests guarded, be it a Hindu in Pakistan, or a Muslim in India.

Lastly, I'm not sure either India or Pakistan have the right to give up or take back Kashmir: a vote on a three-way choice between India, Pakistan and Independence would probably be the morally best way to go, though to dream of such a solution may be living in a fool's paradise.