Saturday Aug 24, 2019
No wonder why it is generally believed that religious extremism is a threat to society because it is easy to exploit the common man and adopt all kinds of means to enforce its philosophy without knowing the possible consequences. It becomes more dangerous when it also gets electoral support as in the case of India, where the former RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh] activist becomes the prime minister of world's biggest democracy and that too with more majority in its second term in the office, Narendra Modi. This, in itself, reflects where the Indian society is heading from Nehru's secular India to Modi's Hindutva.
Modi's nomination for the first time as Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate for premiership was his controversial role in Gujarat massacre of Muslims as well as his economic reforms. There was a division within the party over giving him such a position because of his extremist thoughts and some saner voices within the BJP had opposed his nomination. But, in the end, hardline mindset prevailed.
BJP's back-to-back successes in the elections were termed a failure of secular parties like Congress and its allies. In his first tenure, Modi backed by extremist groups of BJP, RSS and Shiv Sina spread the Hindutva ideology by targeting other religious minorities. Muslims, being the biggest minority, became its worst victim. They also exploited border tension with neighbouring Pakistan and its alleged cross-border terrorism. The BJP also successfully used a large section of India's electronic and corporate media to spread its propaganda against Pakistan and Modi, when nominated for the second term, became more aggressive and promised to make Jammu and Kashmir part of India, by abolishing Article 370 and 35-A, fully knowing the consequences.
Human miseries hardly matter when it comes to someone like Narendra Modi. If the Gujarat massacre could make him the prime minister of the world's largest democracy, what he did in Jammu after getting his second term never came as a surprise. He not only abolished 370 and 35-A but also used massive military force to crush Kashmiris’ resistance.
Today, he has not only become a security risk for world peace but also for Indian society after its latest brute action in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir, which has brought India and Pakistan close to a nuclear war. Even a pro-India US President Donald Trump has realised that Modi has gone too far in implementing his extremist philosophy.
Nuclear war is very much a possibility when the nuke button is in the hands of a man who has no respect and concern for human miseries. What he doesn't realise is a possible fallout of war on India, or maybe he is ready for the death of millions of people of both the countries.
Perhaps he thought that once he scraps Article 370 and 35-A, the world, after expressing some concerns, would accept India's position as the world accepted India's narrative of cross-border terrorism. But, this time reaction was different and almost all the world's human rights bodies, international journalists’ federation and leading world powers showed deep concerns over deteriorating human rights situation in the Indian occupied Kashmir.
Besides, the reaction within India also surprised Modi as not only the opposition parties described his action as the murder of democracy and Indian Constitution, but also many powerful independent voices blamed Modi for bringing country close to a nuclear war.
Hindutva ideology has completely divided India's decade's old secular society at all levels, from politics to culture, sports and even Bollywood.
No wonder why US President Donald Trump said that while Pakistan has done little to curb extremism, India did nothing. What Trump did not realise is the fact that the BJP believes in religious extremism and considers it as a reason for its success whereas never in Pakistan, any party with extremist mindset gets even 5 per cent of the votes.
Secondly, none of the mainstream parties here whether the PTI, PML-N or the PPP follow an extremist line, particularly in dealing with India.
Imran Khan, from day one when he was elected as prime minister of Pakistan, a year back till August 5, when India took this extreme step, made several attempts for talks with India. He personally went too far amid criticism within Pakistan. There is a reason why Imran did it, as he has the reputation of a man known for his anti-war narrative. He even faced criticism and once he was called ‘Taliban Khan’ for calling for talks instead of war with the Taliban.
But, those who know Imran as a cricketer also know that he has the ability to push his opponents on the defensive once he decides to go aggressive and this is what he has done after August-5 scenario.
So, Narendra Modi has a different kind of Pakistani politician to deal with now. Imran Khan is no stranger to the world and has a reputation of a clean politician. He is lucky that he has become prime minister at a time when Pakistan has almost won the war against terrorism and the US is already engaged in talks with the Afghan Taliban.
Yes, Pakistan has many problems and some of its policies of the past have put it in a difficult position in convincing the world that it has come out of its past policies. It has fought a gallant war against extremism and terrorism to an extent that its former presidents, army chief, former prime minister came under terrorist attacks. Yet, it defeated terrorism by launching a massive operation from Karachi to North Waziristan.
Thus, the politics of Narendra Modi has brought the situation to a point where war is an option, though a very dangerous one in which millions could die. Thus, the world has to play a role to resolve the long-standing and UN-recognised disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
Demanding the right to self-determination is a fundamental right accepted by all democracies. The beginning for peace can be made with the withdrawal of decision taken in regards to Article 370 and 35-A, and talks between the two countries, first through indirect and later through direct talks.
One thing is for sure, the world can't remain silent as Jammu and Kashmir, in all its manifestations, is a flashpoint for a nuclear war. Can we stop it particularly in the presence of the man in power in India, who has not only become a threat to the world, but also for India?
The writer is a senior columnist and analyst for Geo, The News and Jang
Originally published in The News