I have read Junaid Jahangir’s article ‘Pakistanis need to think more critically about ‘United India’ in the leading Pakstani portal thefridaytimes.com and wish to respond. Junaid has opposed the idea of Indo-Pak reunification, and I wish to respond
I have consistently been advocating for peaceful and voluntary reunification of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh ( like reunification of West and East Germany ) under a secular government led by modernminded leaders determined to rapidly industrialise and modernise our reunited country, and usher in an era wherein all our people can enjoy a high standard of living and decent lives. I have submitted that India and Pakistan ( and Bangladesh ) are really one country, sharing the same culture, and were one since Mughal times.
I have explained in several articles, many of which have been published in thefridaytimes.com, indicanews.com, and elsewhere that there was no communalism, i.e. Hindu-Muslim animosity and hatred before 1857. No doubt even before that year Hindus would go to temples and Muslims to mosques, but there was no animosity between them. Rather, they used to help each in time of need, and jointly participate in each other’s festivals, Hindus participating in Eid and Moharram, and Muslims in Holi and Diwali. Muslim rulers, like the Mughals, Nawabs of Avadh and Murshidabad, Tipu Sultan, etc were almost all secular,and used to organise Ramlilas and participate in Holi and Diwali
In 1857 the Mutiny broke out, in which Hindus and Muslims jointly fought against the Britishers. This so much shocked the Britishers that they decided that the only way to control and rule over India was divide and rule ( see in this connection BN Pande’s speech in the Indian Upper House of Parliament, which quotes the letters coming high officials in London to the Governor General of India asking him to divide the two communities in India and make them hostile to each other )
This nefarious policy of divide and rule was implemented systematically year after year and decade after decade, in various ways, mentioned in my article given below, that it culminated in India’s Partition in 1947, in which about half a million people were killed, and several million displaced.
Partition was done by the Britishers on the basis of the two nation theory, that Hindus and Muslims are two separate nations. I submit that this theory was bogus. If religion is the basis of a nation then Britain too should be partitioned into about a dozen pieces, Anglicans having one part, Presbyterians ( who are mostly in Scotland ) another, Roman Catholics another, Jews another, Hindus yet another, so also Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, etc.
Similarly, USA, France, Germany, etc will all have to be partitioned, since there are people of various religions living in those countries. Is this feasible ? Hardly any country in the world will be able to survive if this is done, because almost all countries have people of different religions. The very idea is ridiculous.
I submit that Partition was a vile British swindle, which had two aims (1) to keep Hindus and Muslims fighting each other even after Independence, so that united India does not emerge as an industrial giant ( of which we have all the potential ), like another China, and our industries do not become big rivals to Western industries, and (2) we become a big purchaser of foreign arms, so that the foreign arms manufacturers reap super profits ( India is perhaps the biggest buyer of foreign arms in the world ), spending huge money on these purchases instead of on the welfare of our people.’
Because of Partition we have been wasting our precious resources in hostility with each other instead of pooling them and developing our country.
Junaid Jahangir has raised the concern that if India and Pakistan reunite, ”Muslims can live so long as they conform to the majoritarian narrative”. In other words, in reunited India, Muslims will become second class citizens. He has referred to discrimination against Muslims and their persecution under the present political dispensation in India.
I agree that Muslims are being treated badly in India at present. But that is because we blindly adopted the British system of parliamentary democracy, under which the majority forms the government. This system is entirely unsuited to India, as the majority have backward, feudal mindsets, full of casteism and communalism, and would vote on the basis of religion and caste ( as it happens largely in India ), and that is what brought the BJP to power.
But there can be some other system under which minorities are not persecuted and discriminated against, and our leaders are modern minded people who do not tolerate religious partisanship or bigotry. What that alternative can be is to be thought out by patriotic modern minded people using their creativity.
Under such an alternative system, reunited India will definitely progress rapidly, and emerge as a modern industrial giant, with our people becoming prosperous and having a high standard of living and decent lives.
Today India and Pakistan share the same problems of massive poverty, unemployment, inflation, lack of proper healthcare and good education for the masses, etc. By pooling our resources, and under modern minded leaders, we can rapidly overcome these problems.
We have formed an organisation called the Indian Reunification Association advocating peaceful and voluntary reunification of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh under a secular government. I am its Chairman ( email@example.com ), its Chairman is Indervansh Singh Chadha, a Sikh based in Jalandhar ( firstname.lastname@example.org ), and its Gen Secy a Keralite Muslim Irfan Pullani ( email@example.com ).
We appeal to Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis to consider joining us in this historical endeavour.