Failed political grammar
By Sandhya Jain
Implicit in media coverage of Shri L.K. Advani'sresignation as party president is a critique of the RSS as intolerant of positive talk about Mohammad Ali Jinnah and the reality of Pakistan. Since the BJP leader had gone to Pakistan to further peace talks initiated by the NDA government, it may be pertinent to examine if there is merit in reservations expressed by sections of the Sangh Parivar.
To begin with, can the diplomatic dialogue between India and Pakistan be dubbed a ?peace process? merely by opening the border at multiple points in disregard of our security interests? Particularly questionable is the claim of a change of atmosphere (fiza) across the border, from which India will receive commensurate security benefits.
Shri Advani'snative Karachi was engulfed in Shia-Sunni violence at the time of his visit, causing cancellation of his proposed visit to Hyderabad in Sindh. The renewed violence against the Shia community comes barely weeks after Gen. Musharraf procured a ?unanimous? fatwa from the Ulema declaring religious violence within the country as un-Islamic. Given the high level of intolerance amongst Islamic sects, genuine tolerance by Pakistan of a predominantly ?Hindu? India seems difficult to conceive. Anyone doubting this has only to look at the continued ethnic cleansing of Hindus by erstwhile East Pakistan, in active collusion with Pakistan'sISI.
A striking aspect of the BJP president'svisit was his inability for a significant dialogue with major Opposition leaders. Former Prime Ministers, Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto, live abroad, and a strictly pre-planned itinerary would have deprived him of valuable inputs from ordinary Sindhis who could speak to him in his mother tongue. He thus got no first-hand feedback from troubled provinces like Baluchistan, much less from aggrieved minority groups.
The issue of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, too, can hardly be settled in the simplistic terms attributed to the deceased head of the Ramakrishna Mission, whose organisation was closed down despite Qaid-e-Azam's?secular? speech. Although Westernized in many respects, Jinnah was sufficiently Islamic to resist the notion of a popular democracy in which Muslims would submit to Hindu leaders. His personal culpability for the horrors of 16 August 1946, which forced Partition, cannot be undone by a solitary speech in the Pakistani Constituent Assembly. The speech may have been an attempt to woo the international community on behalf of his fledgling and bankrupt nation; it could equally have been a belated recognition that those populating the nation he created were not the same as those who fought for it. The fate of the Mohajir (refugee) community is too well known to need recapitulation.
Given the high level of intolerance amongst Islamic sects, genuine tolerance by Pakistan of a predominantly ?Hindu? India seems difficult to conceive. Anyone doubting this has only to look at the continued ethnic cleansing of Hindus by erstwhile East Pakistan, in active collusion with Pakistan'sISI.
An equally enduring legacy of Jinnah is the problem of Jammu & Kashmir. We normally blame Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru for being bamboozled by Lord Mountbatten and taking the issue to the UN when the Indian Army was on the verge of reclaiming all territory. This is true. But the architect of this crisis was Jinnah who, disregarding his quest for a secular country as enunciated to the Constituent Assembly, was determined to wrestle this Muslim-majority region from ?Hindu? India.
This is the genesis of the Kashmir problem, and the Pakistani perspective on the state remains unchanged to this day. For Pakistan, a solution acceptable to the people of J&K means that the Muslim majority must be allowed to bring the region into Pakistan. The Indian position, as articulated by Parliament and recently by Shri K.S. Sudarshanji in his famous ?Walk the Talk? interview, is that J&K is an irrevocable part of India and only the return of Pak-occupied Kashmir remains on the agenda.
It bears mentioning that the Hurriyat delegation arrived in Pakistan while the BJP leader was there, and Gen. Musharraf scored a propaganda point by saying that their arrival without Indian passports proved that Kashmir was disputed territory. Unfortunately, the former Deputy Prime Minister did not demur. It is now imperative that the BJP clarify if the party stands by Shri Sudarshanji'sviews or accepts Shri Advani'sstatement that a solution must be acceptable to all communities?Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and migrant Kashmiri Pandits. This is urgent as there is some confusion whether talk about the unalterable reality of history and two separate sovereign nations implies that India is ready to give up PoK.
Actually, the trip was ill-fated because neither the BJP nor the RSS leadership was taken into confidence regarding the proposed visit to Jinnah'smausoleum. The inauguration of the restoration of the historic Katasraj temple turned out to be a trap by the savvy Pakistanis to moot the idea that Gen. Musharraf be invited to inaugurate a mosque in India. They meant, of course, the Babri non-mosque, an issue on which the BJP leader was already disarmed, having called its removal the saddest day of his life.
Pakistan thus got away with the claim to be the leader of the Muslims of the sub-continent, while Hindus were rendered leaderless. In the past, the Congress party strenuously resisted this contention, but there has been a subtle change after the ascent of Smt. Sonia Gandhi, as witnessed in her failure to resist a Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Hind demand for communal reservations in Parliament.