By Tufail Ahmad, New Age Islam
21 Jan 2016
According to a tweet by Pakistani journalist Omar R. Quraishi, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told the World Economic Forum in Davos on January 21: "Once we normalise relations with India and resume the composite dialogue, there is immense potential for trade with it."Certainly,India-Pakistan dialogue is a necessity for the Pakistani people's own progress, but it is not a necessity for India, definitely not a priority at this point in time. Talks with Pakistan are counter-productive to India's national interests, hurt the goodwill between the peoples of the two countries and damage India's standing in the international community. This is what the terrorists and their creators at the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of the Pakistani military wish to achieve and they do achieve.
Pakistan chose to separate from us in 1947 and should be encouraged to stay that way. In fact, if Pakistan were to formally become a part of Saudi Arabia or even China, it will serve India's national interests well and will securitize the liberty of Pakistani peoples. There are two types of states in the international state system: rational and irrational states. Rational states are those which are accountable first to their own people, and then to their neighbours and the community of the states. Some examples of such states are India, Britain and the U.S. Irrational states are those which are accountable to religions and ideologies first and certainly not accountable to their own people. Some examples are Saudi Arabia, North Korea and Pakistan.
So, if Pakistan wants to become a respectable member of the international community of states, here are test-case measures Prime Minister Nawaz Sharifcan initiatefor the benefit of the Pakistani people. One, introduce reforms in the Pakistan constitution to allow all Pakistani citizens – i.e. Christian Pakistanis, Hindu Pakistanis, Sikh Pakistanis – to become constitutionally eligible to be the head of the Pakistani state. At present, the Pakistani state is a jihadist state which legally forbids non-Pakistani citizens from becoming the head of the state. It does so because it says Islam does not allow non-Muslims to lead a state. This interpretation of Islam is not only offered by the Islamic State (ISIS), Al-Qaeda and the Taliban but also by Islamic clerics across the world. Once Pakistan permits all its citizens to become head of the state, it will cross a major bridge towards humanity.
Two, because Pakistan is a jihadist state, it has taken upon itself to offer an interpretation of Islam that suits the Islamists, the soft versions of jihadists. For example, Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto enacted a legislation to bar an entire class of Pakistani citizens from calling themselves Muslims in 1974. To suit the jihadists, Ahmadi Muslims were practically declared infidels as a result of this legislation. Ahmadis cannot utter Islamic words of salutation, cannot call their worship places mosques, cannot call themselves Muslimsand cannot greet other Muslims by Islamic terms. By this legislation, the Pakistani state has initiated a form of slow genocide of Ahmadis in Pakistan who are being discriminated, hunted and attacked. Nawaz Sharif can win a Nobel peace prize if he can annul this 1974 legislation against Ahmadi Muslims.
Three, Pakistan has a set of blasphemy laws, which forbid anyone from disrespecting Prophet Muhammad, other Islamic figures and the Quran. One of these laws is: Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code which allows for death penalty. The existence of this law has led to discrimination against non-Muslim Pakistanis as well as ordinary Pakistanis. The Section 295-C is an attack on freedom of speech, a necessary principle of modern democracies. The government of Nawaz Sharif presents itself as a democratic dispensation and therefore it is incumbent upon it to initiate reforms in the country's blasphemy laws. Such a measure will empower the Pakistani people and open up their minds to alternative ways of listening and thinking.
For India-Pakistan relations to prosper, it will be necessary for the Pakistani state to carry out basic reforms in the above three areas. This is because the problems that emerge in the relations between the two countries are rooted in Pakistan's identity. Since Pakistan was created in the name of Islam, it has gone on to subjugate its people to the state religion. While spirituality should be welcomed in the life of common people, organized religions colonize ordinary people's minds and prevent them from thinking rationally, critically and meaningfully. In Pakistan's case, this has become troublesome because the ISI – which creates, nurtures and uses jihadist organizations – has assumed the role of an ideological guardian of the Pakistani state. The ISI is the most powerful jihadist organization that acts as the adversary of peace in South Asia.
It is true that India-Pakistan trade could lead to economic prosperity of the peoples of the three countries: Pakistan, Afghanistan and India. But that is an ideal position against which the ISI works round the clock. The ISI's ideological proposition is this: if we were to live in peace with India, why there was a need to create the state of Pakistan? The ISI views Pakistan as an Islamic state which was born because it was incompatible with India. As a result, each time there are talks between India and Pakistan, the ISI sponsors terror attacks on Indian interests. The ISI launched the largest jihadist war in Kargil in 1999 when Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was signing a historic goodwill accord in Lahore; the ISI began preparing for the 2008 terror attacks on Mumbai when Pakistani military ruler General Pervez Musharraf was pressured by the U.S. to hold talks with India. There are numerous examples from this pattern: talks lead to terror attacks.
Early this month, the ISI launched attacks on the Indian Air Force (IAF) base in Pathankot because Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi landed in Lahore – on December 25, 2015 – to pay a visit to his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif. When Modi was in Lahore, I tweeted: "After Modi's Lahore visit, I will watch if there are terror attacks on Indian targets in Afghanistan or inside India." The IAF base was attacked; the Indian Consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif was attacked. It's not that I was making a big forecast. The pattern is well known to observers of Pakistan. My worry was this: what new advice any security expert on Pakistan did give to Modi at this time? With an agile mind in the National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Modi does not need to look beyond.
The Indian “sickularism” – which is basicallybogus liberalism and political correctness rolled into one – survives by undermining India's national interest, by encouraging the tormentors of India's people, by aligning with India's enemies. To understand this phenomenon, India's “sickular” writers and journalists never support India's friends and allies such as the United States, Afghanistan and Bangladesh – to name a few. But this class of writers and journalists authors numerous articles every week to support Pakistan. Such writers and activists routinely invite Pakistani activists to India, but will never invite truly liberal Bangladeshi writers and editors. Even the Indian editors who are Bengalis will love a Pakistani visitor, never a blogger from next-door Bangladesh.
At this point in time, talks with Pakistan help the cause of ISI-sponsored Pakistani terrorists as well as the cause of India's “sickularist” writers and politicians. Such talks are harmful to India's national interests. In fact, it can be argued that talks are not a necessity for India. It does not mean that Pakistan will stop sending jihadists into India. The “sickularist” writers who argue that India cannot progress without peace with Pakistan must be told this: economic progress is a function of open minds, not bilateral relations. Also, learn from Israel, which fights its tormentors every day and progresses economically. Over the past few decades, India's economic progress has happened despite Pakistan's best nefarious attempts against India.
India must downgrade all relations with Pakistan. Indians must play kabbadi with Pakistan, but high-voltage politics of cricket and ghazals must be stopped forthwith. If you can hold talks below the Joint Secretary level and achieve concrete objectives, what do you achieve by sending India's Foreign Secretary, the External Affairs Minister and the Prime Minister to Pakistan? Just to show off, or to win a Nobel peace prize? India loses nothing by not holding talks with Pakistan. It does also not mean that all ties with Pakistan have ceased. Kashmiris travel across the Line of Control one day per week without passports; Pakistani and Indian trucks enter each other's territory four days per week. Indians and Pakistanis do travel across the border. Pakistani ghazal singer Ghulam Ali is the toast of towns across India. Indian diplomats need to spread this message globally, learn some brinkmanship, and above all speak loudly.
Tufail Ahmad is Director of South Asia Studies Project at the Middle East Media Research Institute, Washington DC. He contributed this article to NewAgeIslam.com.
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