Out of my mind: The other Independence Day

Jawaharlal Nehru thought Pakistan would not last very long and would eventually come back into the fold.

Written by Meghnad Desai | Published:August 17, 2014 12:19 am
Attempts were made to negotiate a truce with Taliban. Imran Khan was active in this move. All that has failed. Attempts were made to negotiate a truce with Taliban. Imran Khan was active in this move. All that has failed.

When Independence came, Lord Mountbatten insisted that Pakistan should become a nation a day earlier than India. This was because he wanted to be at both ceremonies. His ego had to exact a price. The principal participants did not quite understand what it meant to set up two separate nation states. Muhammad Ali Jinnah thought he could spend weekends at his house in Malabar Hill. Jawaharlal Nehru thought Pakistan would not last very long and would eventually come back into the fold.

Sixty-seven years on, one of the largest democracies among Muslim-majority countries is facing a crisis. It may be just a temporary blip, brought on by ambitious and impatient demagogues like Imran Khan, but it’s a serious challenge that is being mounted by the march of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf on Islamabad. To make matters worse, there is the religious element with the Pakistan Awami Tehreek, with Dr Tahir ul Qadri at its head.

The ostensible claim is that there was fraud in the 2013 elections. But then why wait this long to complain? The immediate quarrel can hardly be as serious as it has become. The real crisis is the Taliban challenge Pakistan faces in its North-West, and which goes to the heart of the existence of the country as an Islamic Republic.

Within the last two years, the attitude of Pakistan’s ruling party towards the US has changed. Once, the drone attacks on the Taliban were unwelcome. Pakistan authorities saw that as a violation of their sovereignty. Attempts were made to negotiate a truce with Taliban. Imran Khan was active in this move. All that has failed. Now Pakistan wants American drones to assist the army’s offensive against the Taliban.

After many years of an ambivalent relationship with the Taliban, Pakistani authorities have at last realised that the Taliban are not friends; they are rivals for power. The Taliban do not want friendship; they want the throne in Pakistan, as they do in Afghanistan. The Taliban are typical of  Islamist movements. They are more interested in capturing power in Muslim-majority states and undermining normal politics than they are in terrorising the rest of the world. It is therefore not just in Pakistan that they are making trouble. Across the Muslim world, westward from Pakistan till you get to the borders of Turkey and across the Maghreb, there are governments being torn apart and Muslims being killed by Muslims in thousands.

This schism in Islam, which has its roots in the encouragement of Wahhabism by Saudi Arabia, has now become cancerous. Over the past 40 years, it has destroyed country after country. Look at the trouble the ISIS is causing with its beheading of Yazidis and of Shias, the three-year civil war in Syria, the breakdown of authority in Iraq, the return of the army in Egypt, the anarchy in Libya, the activities of Boko Haram in Nigeria and in Kenya, to conclude that a Muslim has more to fear from his co-religionist than from anyone else.

Pakistan is at one end of this large regional crisis. If the Taliban are allowed to prosper, the Shia population in Pakistan will become extinct. The Western powers have lost the appetite for intervention. They did not intervene in Syria or when the Caliphate was proclaimed by ISIS. It is only now when the Yazidis are in mortal danger of a holocaust that there is some intervention. It may be called hypocritical that the West did not offer similar relief to the civilian Muslim victims of the multiple civil wars in Syria and Iraq. But after 9/11, there has been a distinct shift in Western sympathy for Muslims. This may be unfair, but is undeniable.

Pakistan will most probably survive. As Islamic Republics go, it is the most secular. It has a strong civil society despite its weak political one. Democracy has been a fragile plant in Pakistan. Now that it is flowering again, it needs help to survive. The question is: Why does the rest of the Muslim world not come to the rescue of its own people being slaughtered across the Muslim world?

Why are there no huge civilian protests about what is going on? Do people march only when America is at fault?

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  1. V
    Velamur
    Aug 21, 2014 at 9:41 am
    The crux of the matter is that moderate Islam is an oxymoron. Sooner the world realizes the better it will be for the humanity. Muslims, as they gain more and more political power will wage war against every one who does nt subscribe to the views of the majority, which appears to be , Sunnis at present. it is a pity that this impending genocide will not save the Shias and the ahmediyas and other minor sub sects in the Islamic fold for the simple reason that majoritarian Islam is intolerant of every thing except it's own. God help this world from this holocaust which is just waiting to happen. inshallah!!!!!
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    1. S
      subhasis ghosh
      Aug 17, 2014 at 7:16 am
      And where are our own home grown secularists, who froth at their mouths when France bans burqas in public, but who remain quiet when ISIS murders people from other religions? Are they any different from the Taliban in their tacit encouragement of groups who indulge in genocide?
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      1. C
        concerned indian muslim
        Aug 19, 2014 at 11:27 am
        It was a 0 dollar senseless question. Do you want muslims to dance around and tell that they are helping other muslims.
        Reply
        1. C
          concerned indian muslim
          Aug 19, 2014 at 11:31 am
          moon and star.. i think he got confused there with some other polytheist religion. Islam tells its followers to worship the God who has made the Moon and the Stars.The fact that the religion is still growing at the global scene may be an indication that you have incorrectly understood it. May be you have let your biases interfere in your rationale.
          Reply
          1. C
            concerned indian muslim
            Aug 19, 2014 at 11:28 am
            these home grown secularists are exactly where they were when Gujarat riots were taking place.
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            1. B
              Brijkhanna
              Aug 17, 2014 at 2:01 pm
              Lord Meghnad ertion about Nehru is true, then the History shall call Pt JawaharLal Nehru a DREAMER unaware of reality. The day stan believe in effective true friendship with India from that day STAN KA VAJOOD HI KHHATAM HO JAYE GA.For the peace of UNIVERSE if some of the countries have to be nuked by all NUCLEAR POWERS those should be STAN, SAUDI ARABIA, QATAR AND IRAN. THESE ARE COUNTRIES WHO ARE FUNDING, FINANCING AND SUPPYING TERRORISTS THROUGH OUT THE WORLD
              Reply
              1. S
                SSM
                Aug 16, 2014 at 11:37 pm
                Good questions at the end of the article… I think everybody knows the answers, but most are not wiling to say out loud.
                Reply
                1. G
                  Godfrey Pereira
                  Aug 18, 2014 at 3:23 pm
                  AT LAST: TWO QUESTIONS THAT MAKE SENSE. THANK YOU MEGHNAD DESAIThe question is: Why does the rest of the Muslim world not come to the rescue of its own people being slaughtered across the Muslim world?Why are there no huge civilian protests about what is going on? Do people march only when America is at fault?
                  Reply
                  1. N
                    Never Again
                    Aug 18, 2014 at 1:36 am
                    That's very preachy Mr. Author. Why do Hindus murder and rape those who belong to a different caste even though it is the same religion? Moderates Muslims have nowhere to go and they are in danger if they raise their voice. Agreed stan is in a mess of its own making but so will we be if we keep down the RSS/Dina Nath Batra path.
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                    1. L
                      Leo Frank
                      Aug 18, 2014 at 6:38 am
                      This reminds me of Robert Spencers' famous lines - "There is nothing called Peaceful or Moderate Islam". The fact is that this religion of Moon and Star was founded on violence, bloodshed and insane fanaticism. Coincidentally these are the very values which may ultimately cause a demise of this religion from the global scene.
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                      1. B
                        Bharati
                        Aug 17, 2014 at 8:29 am
                        "The Taliban are typical of Islamist movements.""Why does the rest of the Muslim world not come to the rescue of its own people being slaughtered across the Muslim world?"Because the Taliban/Wahabis represent the Islam of the Koran, and all Muslims know this, and to question the Loran is to invite death?
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                        1. M
                          murugu selvan
                          Aug 17, 2014 at 3:08 am
                          Mr. DesaiYou write 'As Islamic Republics go, it is the most secular'. Hope you know the meaning of secular. Since 1947, stan has almost entirely wiped out the resident hindus commmunity. May be you want to balance your argument by appeasing a little.
                          Reply
                          1. P
                            Prashant
                            Aug 19, 2014 at 4:27 am
                            The Taliban will never take over stan physically as stan army is too strong for them to be able to defeat however the mindset of the Taliban has taken over stan a long time back.stanis will not condemn Muslims killing Muslims because most of the Islamic world is dominated by Sunnis and it is Sunnis who are on rampage and not the other way around. Shias will continue to live in stan but the question is would they be the next Ahmediyas of stan? If yes, it is as good as being dead despite being alive.
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                            1. O
                              observer
                              Sep 5, 2014 at 1:43 am
                              may be the growing of the religion because of forcible conversions which are happenings since its inception ?
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                              1. R
                                Raj Raj
                                Aug 20, 2014 at 1:59 pm
                                You missed one big unifying factor in their society. It is the all-pervasive anti-india sentiment.This itself is a defining characteristic for stan's ideny. It unites them all. Though many will piously deny it - out of political correctness.Moreover, thanks to the americans messing up the war on terror drone attacks and other developments in the arab world, they are angrier now. Thus, reading between lines one senses that the pan-islamist state of turmoil may curiously yet synergise with the prior anti-India sentiment! That somehow this anger may well be channelised against India to avenge 1971. I don't expect this to change for the forseeable future.
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                                1. R
                                  ramesh Ramesh
                                  Aug 17, 2014 at 4:27 pm
                                  Why is a foreigner getting the opportunity to write for decades in the "Indian" Express?
                                  Reply
                                  1. s
                                    s.khan
                                    Aug 18, 2014 at 2:33 am
                                    Why Muslim governments are not coming to the rescue of muslims killed in largenumbers is a good question.It has been answered by W.B. Yeats: the moderates lack any conviction, the wickedare full of pionate fury. The liberals are grumbling but are clueless to counterTalibans or other extremists who are willing to kill or be killed. stan much belatedlyis taking action to exterminate them after wasting much time in hand wringing.
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                                    1. S
                                      Suren Singh
                                      Aug 17, 2014 at 10:27 pm
                                      If they come into our fold including Bangldesh then Muslims will be in majority in India. Nehru and his crutches do not understand the repercussions. What a blood bath,Desai Ji you have seen nothing Yet.
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                                      1. P
                                        Pradyumna
                                        Aug 17, 2014 at 8:33 am
                                        A million dollar question raised by Lord Meghnad at the end, "Why does the rest of the Muslim world not come to the rescue of its own people being slaughtered across the Muslim world?" If only there can be an answer to this for even the coming decades!
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                                        1. P
                                          Pradyumna
                                          Aug 17, 2014 at 3:38 pm
                                          No, taliban "used to " represent islam of koran, but it soon deviated with the phenomenon of suicide bombing etc. When political turmoil results, this is what it happens!
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                                          1. P
                                            Pradyumna
                                            Aug 17, 2014 at 3:40 pm
                                            haha...this is another million dollar question! Don't worry we are secular only by merely quoting the same, but in the name of Hindu we do so many things. Moreover Hinduism is not a religion, so practically we don't follow anything. If we think deeply this would make sense.
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