By Justice Markandey Katju
March 02, 2013
“Dekho mujhe jo deeda-e-ibrat nigah ho, Meri suno jo gosh-e-naseehat niyosh hai.”
– Mirza Ghalib
According to reports, Pakistani cities - Karachi, Quetta, Peshawar, etc - are rapidly becoming killing fields, with bomb blasts and gun firing a regular occurrence, and ethnic violence between Sunnis and Shias, and persecution of minorities escalating. Nobody knows that when he steps out into the streets of these cities whether or not he will return alive. A beautiful metropolitan city like Karachi is becoming, if it has not already become, a Jurassic Park.
Mr Shamshad Ahmed, in his article, entitled “May You Live Long, Katju!”, published in The Nation on February 26, 2013, has said that the present situation in Pakistan is due to “a failure of governance, not of the nationhood.” I respectfully beg to differ.
In my opinion, the present violent strifes and disturbances in Pakistan are the logical and inevitable result of creating a theocratic state in this subcontinent and, hence, the only solution is the reunification of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh under a strong, secular, modern minded government, which does not tolerate religious extremism and bigotry, whether Hindu or Muslim, and crushes it with an iron hand.
To explain my point, I have to delve into history. As explained in my article, “What is India”, in my blog: justicekatju.blogspot.in (as well as in the video on the website: kgfindia.com), India (in which I include Pakistan) is broadly a country of immigrants like North America. The ancestors of 92 to 93 percent people living today in our subcontinent were not the original inhabitants here, but came from outside, mainly from the northwest (the original inhabitants being the pre-Dravidian tribals). People migrate from uncomfortable areas to comfortable areas, and India was a paradise for agriculture, with level land, fertile soil, plenty of water for irrigation, etc. It is for this reason that India has so much diversity - so many religions, castes, languages, ethnic groups, etc because each group of immigrants brought their own language, religion and customs.
Hence, the only policy that can work in our subcontinent is secularism and equal respect to all communities and sects. This was the policy of the great Emperor Akbar, whom I regard (along with Ashoka) as the greatest ruler the world has ever seen. At a time when the Europeans were massacring each other in the name of religion (Catholics massacring Protestants and vice versa), Akbar, who was far ahead of his times, declared his policy of Suleh-e-Kul, i.e. universal toleration of all religions, and it is because of this policy that the Mughal Empire lasted so long. It was Emperor Akbar who laid the foundation on which the Indian nation is still standing, his policy being continued by Jawaharlal Nehru and his colleagues who gave India a secular constitution.
Up to 1857, there were no communal problems in India; all communal riots and animosity began after 1857. No doubt even before 1857, there were differences between Hindus and Muslims, the Hindus going to temples and the Muslims going to mosques, but there was no animosity. In fact, the Hindus and Muslims used to help each other; Hindus used to participate in Eid celebrations, and Muslims in Holi and Diwali. The Muslim rulers like the Mughals, Nawab of Awadh and Murshidabad, Tipu Sultan, etc were totally secular; they organised Ramlilas, participated in Holi, Diwali, etc. Ghalib’s affectionate letters to his Hindu friends like Munshi Shiv Naraln Aram, Har Gopal Tofta, etc attest to the affection between Hindus and Muslims at that time
In 1857, the ‘Great Mutiny’ broke out in which the Hindus and Muslims jointly fought against the British. This shocked the British government so much that after suppressing the Mutiny, they decided to start the policy of divide and rule (see online “History in the Service of Imperialism” by B.N. Pande). All communal riots began after 1857, artificially engineered by the British authorities. The British collector would secretly call the Hindu Pandit, pay him money, and tell him to speak against Muslims, and similarly he would secretly call the Maulvi, pay him money, and tell him to speak against Hindus. This communal poison was injected into our body politic year after year and decade after decade.
In 1909, the ‘Minto-Morley Reforms’ introduced separate electorates for Hindus and Muslims. The idea was propagated that Hindi is the language of Hindus, while Urdu of Muslims (although Urdu was the common language of all educated people, whether Hindu, Muslim or Sikh up to 1947). All this vicious propaganda resulted in the partition of 1947, which created a fake, artificial theocratic nation called Pakistan.
Nation states arose in Europe around the 15th century because of the rise of modern industry. Modern industry, unlike feudal handicraft industry, requires a big market for its goods and a large area from where it can get raw materials.
The creation of a state based on religion destroys the very basis of a nation, because it cuts off industries from markets and raw materials. British imperialism created India as a big administrative unit. The British policy was to prohibit the growth of heavy industry in India; otherwise, the Indian industry, with its cheap labour, would have become a powerful rival to British industry.
When the British left India, they divided us so that we may remain backward and weak, and not emerge as a modern powerful industrial state (for which we have all the potential). This was the real reason for creating Pakistan.
I submit that Pakistan was doomed from its very inception; firstly, because there is such tremendous diversity in our subcontinent that only secularism can work here and secondly, because a modern nation cannot be based on religion (because this will cut it off from its markets and raw materials).
Mr Shamshad Ahmed has written in an email to me that I should try to bring the two countries closer, instead of challenging the very raison d’etre of Pakistan. I replied that I do not believe that there are two nations, there is only one nation, that is India, and Pakistan is part of India. Pakistan was created in pursuance of the wicked British policy of divide and rule and the bogus Two Nation Theory, whose whole aim was to make Hindus and Muslims fight with each other. I am confident that with time people, both in India and Pakistan, will realise the truth in what I am saying, and India and Pakistan will reunite under a strong, secular government that deals with religious extremism, whether Hindu or Muslim, with an iron hand.
Secularism does not mean that one cannot practice his religion. It means that religion is a private affair, unconnected with the state that will have no religion.
When I meet my Pakistani friends (and I have lots of them), we speak in Hindustani, we look like each other, and feel no difference between ourselves. We were befooled by the Britishers into thinking that we are enemies, but how much longer must we remain befooled? How much longer must blood flow in religious violence in Quetta, Karachi, Gujarat, etc.
Mr Shamshad Ahmed wrote in his email to me that he doubted whether any Pakistani newspaper would publish my article challenging the very existence of Pakistan. I replied that I did not care whether it would be published or not, but I will not deviate from what I believe is the truth. In Sanskrit, there is a saying, “Satyamev Jayate”, which means “truth ultimately triumphs”. And as Nietzsche said in “Thus Spake Zarathustra”: “What matter about thyself, Zarathustra! Say thy word and break into pieces!”
Justice Markandey Katju is the chairman of the Press Council of India and former judge of the Supreme Court of India.