In his path-breaking speech in the Red Fort on the occasion of 70th Independence Day, Prime Minister, Narendra Modi brought out the baffling issues of Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK), Gilgit and Balochistan in recognition of the people of these areas who have thanked him for raising their concerns. Modi said that “terrorism is glorified in the other side”— Pakistan. “When children were killed in terror attack on a school in Peshawar (about two years back), there were tears in our Parliament. Indian children were traumatised. This is the example of our humanity. But look at the other side….”, said the Indian Prime Minister. He also asked the international community to judge the behaviour of India and Pakistan in the context of terror atrocities in each other’s country.
In his 93-minute address to the nation, Narendra Modi became the first Indian Prime Minister who raised the issues about the areas in the control of Pakistan. Notably, he delivered this address in the backdrop of his recent remarks during an all-party meet on Kashmir in which he sought to expose “the atrocities committed by the neighbouring nation” in Balochistan and the areas of Jammu and Kashmir under it.
While Modi maintained silence over what he felt about the people of Jammu and Kashmir, an Indian state suffering the worst situation today, he expressed deep gratitude to the people of Balochistan, PoK and Gilgit for their warm regards and high expectations from him, based on the messages he received on Twitter. One can recall that Modi broke his silence on the Kashmir unrest on 9 August in his saying that “Kashmir wants peace and whatever Kashmiris want for betterment of their livelihood, the Centre will provide." But one wonders if this will remain a sheer rhetoric. Merely making a statement against the Pakistani terrorists and saying: "Some people are causing Kashmir a lot of harm” will not suffice. The government will have to dialogue with the people of Kashmir whose majority is still anchored in the Indianness.
However, the straightforward questions that Modi as the Indian Prime Minister has raised from the ramparts of the Red Fort hitting out at Pakistan for “glorifying terrorism” are worth deliberating. He put up these questions in the backdrop of Pakistan declaring Wani a "martyr":
“What kind of terrorism-inspired life is it? What kind of government is which is inspired by terrorism? The world will need to understand the double standards".
The most deplorable evidence of these ‘double standards’ is that Pakistan was formed in the name of Islam and on the basis of “Nizam-e-Mustafa” (the Prophetic system of governance). But its constitution, many of its civil laws and the unabated brazen violation of human rights are antithetical to the true essence of Nizam-e-Mustafa. The shocking state of affairs of religious minorities in the country is an open secret. Not even Muslims are safe. Basic human rights as enshrined in the Prophet’s constitution (Nizam-e-Mustafa) are brazenly violated day in and day out in Pakistan.
In fact, the self-styled Nizam-e-Mustafa of Pakistan is far removed from the constitution that was peacefully and justly enacted by Prophet Muhammad in his state of Medina. His written constitution (called Mithaq-e-Medina or the constitution of Medina) is a historical document of how people of different faiths peacefully coexisted and ushered in one nation (ummah), united and integrated. The actual Nizam-e-Mustafa in Medina — the Prophet’s state — was a written agreement fostering the clauses of universal brotherhood, pluralism and peaceful coexistence of all religious communities. Among the hallmarks of the Prophetic system of governance were unity in multiplicity, social justice, equality, reconciliation, compassion and mercy for all mankind. But in Pakistan, there has been a blatant strike on all these universal and egalitarian clauses of the Prophetic governance since the partition of India, resulting in the creation of this utterly “un-Islamic” state.
On 15 August, 1947, India achieved the independence from the British imperialists and we began to breathe the air of freedom. This independence, of course, brought us decent life and basic human rights which are now accorded to us in India. However, the unfortunate aspect was that just a day earlier, on 14 August, a large part of India's west and east were divided into the Western and Eastern Pakistan. Further divided in 1971, the western part remained Pakistan and the eastern part became Bangladesh. Today, a large population of Pakistan and Bangladesh which comprises Muslims is being misguided into a self-styled understanding of Nizam-e-Mustafa. This indoctrination has caught the imagination of the young and gullible Muslims with impressionable minds. Captivated in this ferocious psyche, the religious zealots among the young people in Kashmir indulged in an ethnic cleansing of the valley. Throughout history, scores of the Kashmiri Pandits had to face a turbulent time hearing the separatists’ exclusivist slogan: "Yahan kya chalega, nizam-e-mustafa" (Sharia rule will prevail in Kashmir). This pan-Islamist slogan is still being heard in various parts of the valley, as a consequence of the ongoing radical indoctrination backed by the Pakistani extremist outfits. Even on the eve of the Independence Day, the Srinagar airport witnessed a sloganeering bout chanting aloud with great gusto: "Yahan kya chalega, nizam-e-mustafa ", as a report in The Times of India dated 15 August, 2016 tells us.
This situation in Kashmir, given the historical background of Pakistan’s creation in the name of Islam, gives rise to the question in many minds: Is the Kashmir issue a political affair or a Pan-Islamic mission?
Fortunately enough for Muslims in India, they have been imbued in the broader notion of democracy and secularism which they don’t view as incompatible with their faith. Unlike the jihadist ideologues in Pakistan, an overwhelming number of Muslim thinkers and ulema, who were among the founders of Indian democracy, evolved a pluralistic Islamic narrative in the independent India. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad — the first education minister of India and an avid activist of the freedom struggle — was also a pioneer of the Indian democracy.
Today, India is looked upto as the world's largest democracy. Every citizen and every faith tradition has equal rights. Going by the articles 25 and 26-27, every person has equal right to the profession and practice of his/her religion and conscience. In India, one can practice and propagate one’s religion without any discrimination. But the anti-pluralism Islamist theology which the state of Pakistan is based on, does not allow certain faith traditions to flourish in the country. The ground reality is that the religious minorities like Christians and Hindus and even the Muslim minorities like the Shia Hazaras are targeted on the basis of their faith and creed, and are killed at the hands of the Pakistani religious terrorists roaming freely in the country. In lieu of the implementation of Nizam-e-Mustafa, they are seeking to establish an anti-pluralism theocracy throughout the region.
Given this, the PM Modi’s assertion that India will not yield to terrorism and violence is welcome. In his address on the Independence Day, he gave a timely and mandatory message to youth of Kashmir; to return to the mainstream by shunning the path of violence.
It is now left to the ideological discretion of the Kashmiri people — whether they choose the Indian democracy or the self-styled Nizam-e-Mustafa of Pakistan.
The author is a scholar of Comparative Religion, Classical Arabic and Islamic sciences, cultural analyst and researcher in Media and Communication Studies. Views are personal. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org