By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
In April 1986, a group of Sikhs got together in Amritsar and declared what they called the independent state of Khalistan. At this time, I wrote an article in the Hindustan Times, captioned Acceptance of Reality. This article was about both Punjab and Kashmir. Addressing the people of Punjab and Kashmir, I wrote that the ongoing movements for an independent Punjab and an independent Kashmir could never succeed. They were tantamount to breaking one’s head against a boulder. Nothing could be gained from such movements, except, of course, for some broken heads and worse. I advised the people of both regions to be realistic, to accept the status quo and to focus their energies on positive purposes instead.
The Sikhs realized this soon enough, and ended the violent militant movement for Khalistan. The Kashmiris, too, will certainly come round to this path finally, but only after much suffering and devastation, I fear. The reason for this difference is that the Kashmiris have given their suicidal policy the alluring name of ‘Islamic martyrdom’.
In this regard, I would like to share a personal experience. In early 1992, two well-educated Kashmiri Muslims came to Delhi and met me. They were not members of any militant group, but yet they were staunch supporters of the Kashmiri militant movement. Not being militants in the practical sense of the term themselves, at the intellectual level they certainly were what could be called consummate ‘ideological militants’.
In the course of our conversation, I told these men that their self-styled ‘Kashmir movement’ was not at all proper or acceptable on any count. Nor was there any meaning in Kashmiri independence. It would spell nothing but disaster. But the men passionately supported the ‘movement’, claiming that very soon it would gain a ‘glorious success’. Then, they wrote in my diary the following words:
The Kashmir that will emerge after separation from India will, God willing, be an Islamic Kashmir.
After this, I said to the men, ‘What you claim is nothing but baseless wishful thinking. You people will very soon come to know how unrealistic your views are.’ Then, I front of them I wrote the following words in my diary:
Suppose Kashmir separates from India, the independent Kashmir or Pakistani Kashmir that will emerge will be a devastated Kashmir. The choice for the Kashmiris is not between Indian Kashmir and Pakistani Kashmir, but, rather, between Indian Kashmiri and a devastated Kashmir.
Many years have passed since this incident took place. The developments over these many years fully prove that what the two so-called Kashmiri mujahids claimed was nothing but false and baseless wishful thinking. On the other hand, whatever I, with God’s grace, had said on that occasion has become an undeniable reality. Events over the years have proven that in today’s circumstances, Kashmir’s welfare lies not in the creation of an independent Kashmir or in becoming part of Pakistan. On all counts, Kashmir’s welfare lies in being part of India and for the Kashmiris to abandon their confrontational approach and adopt the path of peaceful construction and progress.
Those in Kashmir who are engaged in what they think to be a jihad movement call themselves as ‘lovers of Islam’ (or what is called in Urdu as Islam Pasand). My advice to these people is to become realistic (or Haqiqat Pasand in Urdu) before becoming Islam Pasand. The fort of Islam stands on firm ground. No fort—whether of Islam or non-Islam—can be built on the foundations of wishful thinking.
Avoid Political Confrontation
‘A wise man is one who knows the relative value of things.’
Judging by this saying, it appears that among the leaders of Kashmiris there is perhaps no one at all who can be called wise. They may know something about their people, but not a whit about the dire consequences of their actions.
This issue can be understood in the light of a Quranic verse. The Quran explains that when the Prophet Solomon sent a letter addressed to the Queen of Sheba and demanded that she submit, she sought the advice of her courtiers. The couriers said to her that they possessed military strength, and so there was no need for them to submit to anyone. But the Queen replied to them, the Quran (27: 34) says, thus:
‘Surely, when mighty kings invade a country, they despoil it and humiliate its noblest inhabitants—these men will do the same […]
A very important fact is indicated from what the Quran says here. And that is that in confronting a powerful ruler, one must think carefully of the consequences of doing so. If the consequences will prove negative, then confrontation must be avoided. Experience proves that confronting a powerful ruler is always counter-productive. It leads to destruction on a massive scale. This devastating consequence of political confrontation is always certain, no matter who the ruler one confronts is.
Confronting and fighting against a powerful ruler must be avoided at all costs and under all circumstances. If some people ignore this and directly confront such a ruler, it is pointless for them to later complain about loss of life and property. They ought to know that the destruction that they suffer is a price for their having confronted a powerful ruler. Those who take to the path of armed confrontation against an existing government have necessarily to pay this heavy price. It is simply impossible in this world that a certain group commits a mistake and the price for it is paid by someone else.
Kashmiri and Pakistani ideologues have brought out numerous writings with such titles as The Wounded Kashmir, The Wounded Valley and so on. These writings talk about how the Kashmiris are being oppressed by the Indian Army. Such writings are quickly disseminated across the world. Yet, in practical terms, they have no positive result or benefit at all. All these kinds of reports are simply pointless screaming and complaining.
The responsibility for the fact that all this demanding and demonstrating of theirs has proved absolutely ineffective is to be shouldered entirely by the Kashmiris themselves. It is no one else’s fault. There is a great lesson for these Kashmiris in the incident about the Queen of Sheba in the Quran as mentioned above. The Queen adopted a wise policy that avoided the possibility of destruction and oppression by the army. But in contrast, because of their unwise approach, the Kashmiris invited the Indian Army to pounce on them and to make them a target. This is tantamount to inviting a raging bull to attack oneself. What the Queen of Sheba did was just the opposite—she avoided the raging bull. This, in one sentence, is the summary of the entire Kashmir story.
The beginnings of a solution of the vexed Kashmir problem is for the Kashmiris themselves to recognise their mistakes, and, learning a lesson from the example of the Queen of Sheba as described in the Quran, to prepare an appropriate plan of action to reconstruct their lives. There is simply no solution other than this.
What Wisdom Demands
According to a Hadith report contained in the Sunan Abu Dawud, the Prophet advised Muslims not to adopt the path of violence, or else, he said, their conditions would become even more severe. The veracity of this statement is clearly evident today in every Muslim country where people have adopted violence to attain their objectives. This has happened in Kashmir, too.
The culture of violence that has gripped Kashmir has had no beneficial consequence at all. On the contrary, the destruction that it caused has been so enormous as to be simply indescribable. It has devastated Kashmir’s economy and educational system. It has led to the death of over a hundred thousand people, with many more being injured and crippled for life. It has played havoc with moral values. The Kashmiriyat in whose name this militant movement was launched was itself destroyed. This culture of violence forced huge numbers of capable and highly-educated Kashmiris to leave Kashmir and shift elsewhere. Kashmir’s tourist industry, which played a major role in the state’s economy, was decimated. In short, this movement, launched in the name of the Kashmiri people, produced no benefit whatsoever for the common Kashmiris, although it has certainly benefitted the self-styled leaders of Kashmir.
The Quran (57:23) tells us in clear words:
[…] [Y]ou may not grieve for what has escaped you […]
This Quranic verse tells us of a law of Nature that God has established in this world. According to this law, every person and every community has to experience some form of loss, at some time or the other. No person or community is exempted from this law of Nature is concerned, for this is part of God’s creation plan. In other words, this is God’s law, and so it is impossible for anyone to change it.
But, along with this, there is another law of Nature—that in this world, opportunities never cease. Here, whenever one opportunity is lost, at once another one emerges. Hence, wisdom demands that we should forget our lost opportunities and, instead, should make use of the new ones that are available to us. This is precisely what the Kashmiris should do today.
Exploitative leaders thrive on fanning people’s sense of being denied or deprived. On the other hand, true leaders lead movements that are based on achievements rather than denial or deprivation. They point out to people openly-available opportunities, not closed doors, and in this way help chart a new future for their people.
Peace and Justice
You can live in a state of perpetual peace, but definitely not in a state of perpetual war. But perhaps the leaders of Kashmir have no knowledge of this well-tested fact of history. They have kept up with their completely pointless war, which has now assumed the form of suicide-bombing. Little do they know that the Japanese resorted to suicide-bombing on an even more massive scale in the Second World War but that this tactic completely failed. Not a single ruler in history, no matter how powerful, has been able to maintain a state of perpetual war. How, then, can the weak people of Kashmir hope to keep up their pointless war forever? What is bound to finally happen is that the Kashmiri militants will one day tire of fighting and will be compelled to call off their war. But the right way would be for the Kashmiris to adopt a wise policy and end this devastating war on the basis of their own decision.
Once, I talked with an educated Kashmiri Muslim. I said to him that what Kashmir needs most today is peace. He replied that the Kashmiris, too, want peace, but, he added, it should be peace with justice. A peace that did not go along with justice, he argued, was beneficial only for oppressors but not for the oppressed.
I answered him, saying that this was the gravest misunderstanding—a misunderstanding that shared by all the Muslim leaders throughout the world. Peace, I said, is defined as the absence of war. This is a correct definition. Peace can never be established along with justice. Rather, if peace is established, it creates the atmosphere needed for efforts to promote justice. This, I mentioned, was in accordance both with reason and Islam.
When the Prophet Muhammad entered into a peace treaty with the pagan Quraish at Hudaibiyah, he secured from this only peace, not justice. However, this peace then created balanced conditions. The Prophet worked in these conditions and later also secured justice. Justice is never apart of peace. The two cannot be had simultaneously. Rather, justice is always secured only after peace is established, by using the available opportunities, rather than directly from peace.
The leaders of the Kashmiri militant movement constantly and unanimously repeat one point. And that is that they want that the Kashmir issue be resolved in accordance with the resolutions of the United Nations, or, in other words, that a referendum be held in Kashmir. The meaninglessness of this argument, from the legal and logical points of view, was made clear to the whole world when the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, announced in Islamabad that the United Nations’ resolutions had now become irrelevant.
Here I would like to point out a matter of principle. And that is that one can secure one’s rights only on the basis of one’s own strength, and not through someone else’s. It is simply unrealistic and wishful thinking to expect the United Nations’ resolutions to be acted upon in today’s context.
This Is Not an Islamic Movement
Kashmir’s Muslim militants term their war as an ‘Islamic jihad’. This is completely erroneous. The un-understandable silence of the ulema on this point has only further convinced these Kashmiri militants of their claim. The fact is that the present war in Kashmir is most definitely not a jihad. Those who are part of this war definitely cannot get the reward for participating in jihad.
Just as there are certain conditions to be observed in Islam for offering prayer or namaz, so also there are certain conditions for jihad in the path of God ((jihad fi sabil Allah). The war in Kashmir does not fulfill these conditions. A jihad requires a regular amir or leader. It also requires a Muslim territory that can serve as its headquarters. Also, necessary prior preparations must be made for jihad. Jihad is not fought for land, power, or wealth, but for establishing God’s Word. And so on.
The fact is that the Kashmiris’ war does not fulfill a single of these conditions. The present war in Kashmir can be called either a guerilla war or a proxy war, and neither of these has any relation whatsoever with Islam. Guerilla war is un-Islamic because in Islam, jihad is the task of the ruler, not of members of the general public. Proxy war is un-Islamic because a Government that engages in such a war does not openly announce it, while an open announcement of war is a necessary condition for an Islamic war.
If this reality is kept in mind, the ongoing futile war in Kashmir conveys this message to the Kashmiris:
You must, without a single moment’s delay, end your war because this war will cause your destruction, both in this world and in the Hereafter. You are bound to face devastation in this world because you are fighting without the necessary preparations. And your devastation in the Hereafter is because in the name of jihad, you are fighting a war that, according to Islamic principles, is simply not a jihad.
A movement for political independence is not an Islamic movement. Rather, it is wholly a communitarian or nationalist movement. There appears to be no harm if such a movement is launched in the name of nationalism, but if such a movement is carried on in the name of Islamic jihad, it will certainly become a wrong movement.
Not a single prophet launched any movement in the name of their country’s freedom or political freedom, even though most of the prophets lived at a time when conditions were exactly the same as those that prevail when political leaders launch movements for freedom of their homelands. For instance, at the time of the Prophet Joseph, a pagan foreign family ruled over Egypt. Yet, Joseph did not launch a political movement of this sort in the country. Such a movement was launched later, after Joseph’s demise, and it was led not by his companions but, rather, by what could be called the national leaders of the country.
If the Kashmiri Muslims want to make their movement an Islamic one, it is incumbent on them that, first of all, they must completely end the present form of their struggle. They must admit that they have been carrying on what is completely a national or communitarian movement which they have wrongly given an Islamic label. Accordingly, they must completely distance themselves from this. No such movement can ever earn God’s help.
Kashmiri Muslims often lament that they are being crushed on two sides—by the Indian Army, on the one hand, and by militants, on the other. They also claim that when their so-called jihad was started, a number of good people were involved in it but that it has now gone into the hands of wrong people.
This claim is totally wrong. The fact is that this is the inevitable consequence of guerilla war, always and everywhere. Guerrilla wars are started by what seem to be good people, but later on, wrong or bad people inevitably join it, because they find in these movements a convenient shelter—in the name of, say, ‘Islamic jihad’ or ‘national liberation’—under which they can engage in killing and looting and claim this behaviour to be legitimate.
So, this sort of pretext is not going to be of any benefit whatsoever for the Kashmiris. They have to admit that launching their guerrilla war was a mistake from the very first day itself. In situations like this, admitting one’s mistakes, rather than blaming others, is the very first step that one must take.
The Politics of the Possible
In life, one is sometimes provided with a second chance, but one must know how to make use of it. For instance, the first chance, as it were, that India got after it won its independence was to emerge on the world map as a united country. But this was not in its fate, and so the leaders of the country availed of the other opportunities that they had before them. Pakistan faced a similar situation, too. The Pakistani leaders dreamt that East and West Pakistan would jointly form a large country, but in 1971-72, when Bangladesh was created, they lost this first chance. Thereafter, the Pakistani leaders tried to use the other available opportunities to build their country.
The same holds true, in different ways, in the case of every other country. Each country has, in some way or the other, lost its first chance. But, availing of the second chance—other available opportunities—they have been able to gain a new lease of life.
This holds true for Kashmir, too. The leaders of Kashmir had a political dream for their land prior to 1947—this was, in a sense, their first chance. But they lost this chance with the Partition in 1947. And so now, the proper and possible way out for the Kashmiris is to use their second chance—the existing opportunities—to build a new Kashmir.
The leaders of Kashmir dreamt of an independent country. This did not seem impossible. But the decisive developments in the conditions after 1947 rendered the emergence of an independent Kashmir on the map of the Indian Subcontinent impossible. Now, what is possible, given the existing conditions, is that Kashmir should be part of India under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. Till now, Kashmiri leaders have been engaged in the politics of the impossible. Now, recognising practical realities, they must engage in the politics of the possible.
The only proper advice for the Kashmiris is that they must forget the past and learn to live in the present. They must seek to build their lives within the possible parameters of the present, not according to some past scheme that has now, for all practical purposes, become imaginary and simply notional.
If with regard to Kashmir Pakistan were to adopt a policy of admitting existing realities, it would nothing new for it. After all, prior to this, Pakistan had to adopt this very policy with regard to Bangladesh (the former East Pakistan). And so, it has no excuse as to why it cannot do the same with regard to Kashmir.
The Kashmiri Muslims have certain plus points, which they have not really seriously thought about so far. One of these is that if they join India, they can gain the status of being part of a country that has among the world’s largest Muslim populations, even larger than Pakistan and Bangladesh. This is such a plus point for the Kashmiri Muslims that if they are aware of it, they can gain the greatest blessing of life: that is, confidence and courage and the complete absence of feelings of inferiority.
Because of the wrong guidance of their incompetent leaders, the Kashmiri Muslims have lost their first opportunity, but their second opportunity is still available to them even now. Using this second opportunity, they can acquire all that they want.
It is the good fortune of the Kashmiris that when, after seeming to have lost their first chance or opportunity, they were entering a new phase defined by their second chance, there was such a dramatic transformation in global conditions that the entire world was turned into a global village. Because of this, the question of changing political systems became an issue of relatively little importance. The new conditions have made it possible for anyone living anywhere on the face of the earth to establish global communications. Even if some people do not seem to form part of the political class or to have political power, they can still obtain all the benefits that in earlier times could only have been enjoyed by those who were part of the governing apparatus.
Singapore and Japan illustrate this point very clearly. They are, in times of size, small countries, and yet they are enjoying the benefits of global possibilities and potentialities. The Kashmiris, too, can avail of these in the same way, but only if they use these potentialities in their favour wisely.