(By Justice Markandey Katju) Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s acclaimed Lahore bus visit and the Lahore Declaration in February 1999 was followed by the Kargil War in May the same year. Similarly, Prime Minister Modi’s Lahore visit, with all its bonhomie, hoopla and fanfare was followed by the attack by militants on the Pathankot Air Force base and later on the Indian consulate in Mazhar-e-Sharif. There are many people who want improvement of relations between India and Pakistan. They say that if France and Germany can live as good neighbours after long years of animosity, why cannot we?
In my opinion such people are living in a fool’s paradise, and they forget certain basic facts. The very purpose of creating Pakistan was that there should be no peace but enmity and hostility.
Pakistan was created by the British as a theological state on the basis of the bogus two-nation theory—that Hindus and Muslims must comprise two separate nations, so that they may keep fighting each other. Thereby, two aims of the British were achieved:
1. Our subcontinent remains weak, and does not emerge as a modern industrial giant or a rival to the West, like China—even though we have all the potential with our huge pool of engineers, technicians, scientists, and immense raw materials.
2. India (of which Pakistan is really a part) keeps spending billions of dollars on arms purchases from Western manufacturers—money which could and should have been spent on the welfare of our people to reduce poverty, unemployment, malnourishment, lack of healthcare, etc.
So all this talk of “improving” relations between India and Pakistan is humbug and cant. There can never be good relations between India and Pakistan because once that happens, the very raison d’être of Pakistan will disappear.
How was Pakistan created? For this we have to delve into history.
Up to 1857, there were few communal problems in India. Most communal riots and animosity began after 1857. No doubt, even before 1857, there were differences between Hindus and Muslims, but they would help each other like brothers and sisters. Hindus used to participate in Eid celebrations, and Muslims in Holi and Diwali. The Muslim rulers like the Mughals, Nawab of Awadh and Murshidabad, Tipu Sultan, etc were totally secular; they organised Ramlilas, participated in Holi, Diwali, etc. Ghalib’s fond letters to his Hindu friends like Munshi Shiv Narain Aram, Har Gopal Tofta, etc attest to the affection between Hindus and Muslims at that time.
In 1857, the “Great Mutiny” broke out, in which the Hindus and Muslims jointly fought against the British. This shocked the British government so much that after suppressing the Mutiny, they decided to start the policy of divide and rule (see online “History in the Service of Imperialism” by B.N. Pande, in which letters from the Secretary of State for India in London to the British Viceroy in Delhi, asking him to divide Hindus and Muslims are quoted). All communalism started after 1857, artificially engineered by the British authorities. The British collector would secretly call the Hindu Pandit, pay him money, and tell him to speak against Muslims, and similarly he would secretly call the Maulvi, pay him money, and tell him to speak against Hindus. This communal poison was injected into our body politic year after year and decade after decade.
In 1909, the “Minto-Morley Reforms” introduced separate electorates for Hindus and Muslims. The idea was propagated that Hindi is the language of Hindus, while Urdu of Muslims (although Urdu was the common language of all educated people, whether Hindu, Muslim or Sikh in large parts of India up to 1947). The RSS and Hindu Mahasabha were created by the British to spread hatred of Muslims, and the Muslim League was created by them to spread hatred of Hindus (the Congress party was also created by the British through their agent A.O.Hume, and its leadership later taken over by their agent Gandhi, who—in my opinion—ensured that the genuine independence struggle initiated by Bhagat Singh, Surya Sen, etc was diverted to a harmless non violent direction so as not to harm British interests). The Aligarh Muslim University and Benaras Hindu University were set up to further this communal divide.
Our history books were distorted and falsified by the British and their agents to create animosity and hatred between Hindus and Muslims. Thus, Tipu Sultan, who was a thoroughly secular ruler, who used to give annual grants to 156 Hindu temples, was depicted as a bigot and oppressor of Hindus (refer again to History in the Service of Imperialism”).
All this vicious propaganda resulted in the partition of 1947, which created a fake, artificial theocratic nation called Pakistan (see my article “The Truth About Pakistan”).
Nation states arose in Europe around the 16th century because of the rise of modern industry. Modern industry, unlike the feudal handicrafts industry, requires a big market for its goods and a large area from where it can get raw materials. The creation of a state based on religion destroys the very basis of a nation, because it cuts off industries from markets and raw materials.
British imperialism created India as a big administrative unit. The British policy was to prohibit the growth of heavy industry in India; otherwise, the Indian industry, with its cheap labour, would have become a powerful rival to British industry.
When the British left India, they divided us so that we may keep fighting each other and remain backward and weak, and not emerge as a modern, powerful industrial state (for which we have now all the potential), and instead remain a market for their arms industries. This was the real reason for creating Pakistan.
I submit that Pakistan was doomed from its very inception; firstly, because there is such tremendous diversity in our subcontinent that only secularism can work here, and secondly, because a modern nation cannot be based on religion (because this will cut it off from its markets and raw materials).
If this theory, that religion can be the basis of a nation, is accepted then logically England should be partitioned into at least about eight states. The majority in England are Anglican Protestant Christians, but there are many Scottish Presbyterians and other kinds of Protestants, Catholics, Hindus, Muslims, Jews, etc. Similarly, France has a sizeable Muslim population (descendants of North African Arabs belonging to the former French colonies in North Africa) and Germany has many Turks. The French and German Muslims, and people of other religions too, should then be given separate states (if the two-nation theory is accepted as valid). Anyone can see that this will create chaos. Hardly any country can survive if this theory is accepted because in almost every country there are people of different religions. And in the Indian subcontinent secularism is all the more vital in view of the tremendous diversity here (because the Indian subcontinent is broadly a country of immigrants, as I have pointed out in my article “What is India?” and in this speech.
We can see the result of creating a theocratic state (Pakistan) in which chaos and religious extremism is prevailing so that many people cannot lead normal lives. Apart from the minorities (Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, etc), Ahmadis, Shias, etc are also persecuted, and intolerance and terrorism is the order of the day. In India, too, certain vested interests thrive on communalism. So secularism is the only policy which is suitable to our subcontinent.
I am confident that with the passage of time people, both in India and Pakistan, will realise the truth in what I am saying, and India and Pakistan (and Bangladesh) will reunite under a strong, secular government which does not tolerate religious extremism, whether Hindu or Muslim, and crushes with it with an iron hand.
Secularism does not mean that one cannot practice religion. It means that religion is a private affair, unconnected with the state—which will have no religion. What is Pakistan? It is Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan and NWFP. All these were part of India since Mughal times. When I meet Pakistanis, we speak in Hindustani, we look like each other, share the same culture, and feel no difference between ourselves. We were befooled by the British into thinking that we are enemies, but how much longer must we remain befooled? How much longer must blood flow in religious violence in Quetta, Karachi, Gujarat, Kashmir etc.? How much longer must our poor people pay to buy billions of dollars of foreign arms to fight each other?
Those who oppose the idea of reunification say it is only a pipe dream. But when Mazzini proposed unification of Italy his idea too was initially regarded as a pipe dream, but this dream became a reality later under Cavour and Garibaldi. Germany was united by Bismarck.
Many people say that we were divided in 1947, and much water has flowed under the bridge since then.
But Germany was united in 1990 after being divided for 45 years. Vietnam was united in 1975 after being divided for 30 years. China has not yet recognised Taiwan, though separated from it since 1945. Italy was united in 1861.
Many people say that we cannot unite because there is too much religious extremism on both sides. I submit that this extremism is artificially created, and will subside and disappear once we are reunited under a strong secular government which, while upholding religious freedom, does not tolerate religious extremism, bigotry or fanaticism, and crushes it with an iron hand. Most people want to live in peace and harmony.
I do not expect reunification in the immediate future. I am planting a seed which will take about 10 years to grow into a tree and start bearing fruits. But if the seed is not planted today, even after 10 years there will be no tree, and therefore no fruits.
I am giving an antidote to the communal poison, but since the poison was injected into our society from 1857 for 160 years (and is still being injected by some wicked vested interests) we have to keep giving antidotes for many years to neutralise its effect.