Dr Jay Dubashi
Islam is an itchy faith—It is always itching for something—a riot here, a spate of assassinations there. It is also always trying to pull down governments, even those that are reasonably well run, as was Egypt, before the so-called Arab spring hit it like a hurricane. And now Egypt too is gripped by turmoil which may well end up in a civil war, as have most Islamic countries which thought their governments were not good enough for them. From Tunisia in the west to Pakistan and Indonesia in the east, all the Muslim Arab countries are up for grabs, each outdoing the other in brutality as the casualties mount and families, deprived of their homes, scurry out in search of shelter and food.
Pakistan is no exception. It used to be a South Asian country, now it belongs to the Middle East, not South Asia. I have always said that there is no country called Pakistan: What you see on the map is a mirage. The country has neither geography nor history and is perpetually at war with itself and with its neighbour, and since it has no identity, it has no soul, and all its institutions, including the army, are self-serving bodies, answerable to no one but themselves, and have no connection with the state. It is a kind of country that lives from day to day, depending on who drives it, sometimes the generals, sometimes politicians, and is often used for entirely private purposes.
This is true of almost all Muslim countries, including countries like Turkey, which me thinks of as well-established. There was a time it was run by generals as a secular outfit, but the generals fell out of favour with their Prime Minister, who posed initially as a secular man, but is now showing his true colour and the country is being gradually pushed into an Islamic mould, just as in Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood came from nowhere to impose itself on the country and strangle its secular institutions.
There is not a single country in the Muslim world that is at peace with itself and has accepted secular institutions and secular constitutions. Egypt, an ancient nation, with a history going back to pre-Christian years, held reasonably free and fair elections a year ago, but even before the ink dried on its secular constitution, it fell foul of its so-called President who used the levers of power to sabotage the constitution and impose on it the dictatorship of his party. Net result was something akin to civil war which has already taken a toll of thousands of people but the Brotherhood is still not prepared to yield and compromise, and has prolonged the hostilities to breaking point.
In Syria, almost as ancient a country as Egypt, there is a civil war going on, with as many as 100,000 dead and missing and over two million people seeking shelter in neighbouring countries. The Middle East is virtually on fire, as it always been, as it refuses to come to terms with the modern world and is determined to go back to the Middle Ages to be ruled by maulvis and other religious paraphernalia that is incompatible with the requirements of the 21 century.
All those who think that India can ever come to terms with its neighbours like Pakistan, and even Bangladesh, do not known or do not care to know the reality of Islam. In Muslim countries, Islam comes first and everything else afterwards, and, if I may to add, democracy at the fag end. Muslims, and therefore, Muslims countries unlike citizens of other countries, are Muslims first, and everything else afterwards.
Mohammed Morsi, a civil engineer by profession, pretended to be a great democrat before he took over as president of Egypt. Within months, probably days, he began showing his true colours. He removed all previous governors and appointed his own, all of whom were Muslim Brotherhood men. He tried to pack the army with his own officers and the civil service with his own—Muslim Brotherhood—men. And when this was discovered, he cried foul and so the troubles began.
His people now say that this was undemocratic and Morsi should not have been removed from his post. The Islamists do not even known what democracy is. It is true that Morsi was elected President—though some people doubt this—in a free poll, but that does not mean he can have his own way in other things. Democracy has its discipline and its limitations. You are not being democratic if you reject them.
Pakistan now has a new Prime Minister, elected “democratically”, if you accept elections in Pakistan as genuine. I don’t. I don’t accept anything in a Muslim country as genuine. Nawaz Sharif may have been ‘elected’ Prime Minister in a due process. But a “due process” in a Muslim country maybe entirely different from a due process in a genuine democratic country.
Within hours of Nawaz Sharif’s election, guns started booming on the other side of the LoC, and they have been booming ever since. Is Sharif so powerless in his own country that guns can boom on his side without his assent? Pakistani authorities say that it maybe the work of terrorists. Is the Pakistani administration so helpless that terrorists can play about with guns without its permission? This means that there is no effective administration in Pakistan. Thus Sharif is helpless in his own country and the “remote” is in somebody else’s hand.
If so, why should we talk to him, let alone negotiate with him? How can we be sure that Nawaz Sharif is indeed the Prime Minister of Pakistan, and we are negotiating with the right man in the right place? How do we know that he is indeed the man to talk to, and there are no other men in other places with long strings manipulating the puppet in the front parlour?
Talking to Pakistan is therefore a waste of time, which is precisely why the Pakistani government, such as it is, is making so much noise about talks. I have said so many times, here and elsewhere, that there is no country called Pakistan, that it is only a figment of some credulous people in Delhi, and even if there is something called Pakistan on the map. Nawaz Sharif may or may not be the man to talk to. A man who signals his coming to “power” by beheading his own men is hardly the man we can trust. And what is the use talking to a man that maybe a General’s shadow or a puppet on a string?