Bangladesh Rifles Uprising : A Jihadi Warning

28 02 2009

Source: DIKGAJ’s Blog

I began to write this post on the 26th of December last year, but held it as I thought it might appear too paranoid. Now the drama of the BDR uprising made me rethink that my earlier worry about the real strengths of the Jihadis within the Bangladesh state machinery and armed forces were justified. I have already written at some length about the general long term societal balance of forces within Bangladesh society. Here I have maintained that the forces of Bengali nationalism is slightly weaker than the forces of Islamic retrogression – and it has been so right from the post-47 start of the journey as part of Pakistan.

The immediate background of the BDR uprising could turn out to be a damp squib officially – it will be blamed on long-standing grievances, and “wayward” soldiers. But it takes a greater significance in the light of the recent urging by the emissary of Pakistan to the BD government to drop the proceedings towards war-crimes trials of the Rajakaras and the AlBadrs, Al shams for their atrocities during ‘71. On top of that the AL led government moves ahead with transit and trade agreements with India, a reasonable and pragmatic move on the part of Bangladesh as the country is even now crucially dependent on Indian imports of essential commodities. This draws immediate vehement protests by the nearly decimated BNP, as expected. Just like many political parties in Pakistan, a lot of political careers are made in Bangladesh by inflating up the “demonic” “Hindu” India. However, it is Pakistan’s palpable fear at possible re-exposure of Pakistan’s role in the ‘71 war of liberation that is significant.

Why does Pakistan have to be so paranoid about it ? It is already almost 40 years old – and could be passed off as a historical event, and not redounding on the current regime! There could be question of compensation and fear by a bankrupt Pakistan government. But financial compensation is a lesser worry, given the Pakistan government’s traditional expertise in moving money around meant for one purpose to fuel another pet agenda, and the fact that it can still milk the USA for some time into the near future. With the increasing acceleration of the Pakistani Army and the Taleban coalescing into a neo-Caliphate on the gray borderland between Afghanistan and Pakistan, the now overtly Jihadi Pakistani state can be worried that the war-crimes trials could damage and expose the true character of Jihadi Islam, to a population which has so far proved a safe haven for Jihadi terror to be launched on India. It is the ideological delegitimization that worries the Jihadis of the subcontinent, and the transit agreements could actually cover eventual move towards military agreements between India and Bangladesh to destroy the Jihadis themselves in the eastern part of the subcontinent.

I will primarily characterize this election as a four-cornered struggle for state power in which the forces in order of “strength” are (1) the military establishment (2) the Jamaat (3) the Awami League and associates (the so called “great alliance”) (4) the BNP +non Jamaat associates. The military as per my earlier analysis is in favour of Islamic consolidation of the state regime – in tune with the power base of the military command among the elite of Bangladeshi muslim society, whose prime feudal motivations of gaining and controlling “land” and dominance over society is best served under strengthened Sunni Wahabi authoritarian framework. The military has consistently reasserted its dominance over the state machinery whenever it had felt that its long term strategy of bringing Bangladesh closer to the Islamic axis centred in Saudi Arabia is being threatened – this was why it eliminated Mujibur and even its own – like Jia, or leftist “heretics” like Col. Taher. At present, the prime tool is the Jamaat. As I have mentioned before, the Jamaat will be the key political force which can be used by the military to serve its agenda. The Jamaat was allowed to suffer the least in the anti-corruption drive against the political establishment. To be fair, the military’s weakness for the Jamaat could be coming out of reasons very similar to those that kept the two major political groups also “strangely” weak towards the Jamaat – that all the political elite including the Jamaat share core social networks at the same level and that all the non-Jamaat political elite share political secrets as to activities during the 71 struggle as well as post-Independence that could be used by the Jamaat to manipulate them.

The Jamaat is the direct descendant of the philosophy of Moududi – the ideologue and founder of a strict Wahabi/Sunni interpretation of Islam whose core message therefore almost always inevitably landed up into the domain of cataclysmic confrontation with everything deemed “unIslamic and therefore anti-Islamic”. The top leadership has been accused persistently of war-crimes but they take pride in claiming that apparently none of these accusations could be proved – they can do so, as the Bangladesh military post-Independence ensured (with the help of factions within the “liberators”) that cases/investigations/charges were withdrawn and that the Jamaat were politically rehabilitated. The Jamaat has minuscule vote share, but displays an impact and influence on Bangladesh state power hugely out of proprtion to its apparent electoral strength. The Jamaat will be the most likely stable political Islamic group to receive Saudi and extended Islamic expansionist network support, and this Islamic axis will see Bangladesh and Jamaat’s role as crucial to its overall expansionist agenda of takeover of the subcontinent in the name of Islam. The Jamaat of course has now turned ultra-nationalist and pretends to fight “colonial aggression” which of course as conveniently for Islamic agenda is seen only in India which is portrayed as “Hindu/Kaffir”. Hiding under the ultra-nationalist slogans is of course the mother of all colonialism – the ultimate Jihadi Islamic takeover of not only Bangladesh but the entire subcontinent – an experiment already started by the Taleban in the west of the subcontinent. The recent Mumbai attacks is a signal that Islamic agenda for the subcontinent is intensifying and Indian “war posturing” will be used as a rallying cry and panic button to push further for Islamic consolidation in Bangladesh. (Mumbai Islamic message)

The Jamaat’s strength does not lie in numbers, but the social networks among the elite, the theologians and the international Jihadi and Sunni Wahabi fundamentalism – (1) the military has ensured that it suffered almost nothing in the anti-corruption drives and so will claim themselves as “pure” and untainted compared to the others – and is likely to be rewarded for this by the electorate (2) the various military regimes as well as political ones, by failing to try the culprits of war-crimes and infighting among the “liberators” has ensured that newer generations have far less concerns about what happened almost 40 years ago than other “more pressing” concerns (3) the Islamic propaganda machinery allowed to flourish under the pro-Islam military regimes as well as political forces have been able to increase the rate of Jihadi Islamization of the rural as well as a section of urban Bangladeshi youth – Islam holds several attractions for males especially – it promises all that they biologically desire, consumption, women and power – without having to make the hard effort of intellectual skills development required to compete in a modern knowledge based economy, or having to tolerate modern rights given to women over their sexuality or their bodies. (4) sections of the younger generations are likely to be relatively free of qualms about experimenting with an authoritarian Islamic system which of course at first they would like to believe would be along the lines of Malaysia or Iran- especially since the military has succeeded in discrediting the pre-existing political establishments. All these factors could have been instrumental in repeating the general pattern observable all over the subcontinent – of increasing radicalization of younger recruits who gravitate to the armed forces in Islam dominated countries.

The Awami League represents strongest electoral combine as of date but will have to reckon with the Jamaat. The BNP has taken a bad knock but will not lag far behind the Awami League, as the military would have strong connections with the setup and would like to keep it afloat as a second line of defence and the major political face of the Islamic agenda which will be led from behind by the Jamaat – this is simply a tactic to allow the Jamaat to grow and takeover.

The uprising was most likely to have been carefully planned, with sleepers trained by Pakistan and Jihadi organizations acting in careful coordination to use genuine grievances and liquidate the older generation of commanding officers – a group less likely to be submissive completely to the charms of the Jihadis. The core group has most probably now vanished, and been taken to safe havens maintained by the Jihadis in West Bengal under a tolerant Leftist regime. This was simply a warning, in showing that the force which is on the border of Bangladesh is out of control, and that the Jihadis still hold the keys of state power. It could not have happened unless key elements of the security apparatus allowed it to happen.

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Kashmiri separatists are isolated from reality Colonel Dr Anil A Athale (retd)

2 09 2008

source: Rediff.com

Colonel Dr Anil A Athale (retd)
September 02, 2008

The second part of Colonel Athale’s analysis of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir [Images]

Part I: Why Kashmir is up in flames

In a television debate, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah mocked a Jammu Muslim who supported the agitation. Little does he or others realise that the Muslims of Jammu have also suffered from the stupid government policy of appeasing the separatists and kicking the nationalists. Just one example should suffice. School teachers’ jobs in even remote Jammu regions go to Kashmiris from the valley. The teachers so appointed (at a good salary) are absent most of the time except on the first every month to collect their salary. The education levels among Jammu’s Muslims are abysmal. In a tehsil of Mendhar in Poonch district, for example, there is not a single graduate!

In Rajouri division, when I led a team of scientists ten years ago (in an attempt at bringing in horticulture technology to J&K to better people’s life), we were aghast to see a soil testing laboratory that had a clean look about it — all the equipment for soil testing was never used! This is the legacy of valley appeasement that the Jammu people revolted against.

The Hurriyat and other separatists, marginalised by the peace process, jumped into the fray, cried wolf and went back to the bad old days of shutdowns and marches to the United Nations office in Srinagar [Images]. A new innovation this time round was a call to march to and a threat to take their fruits to Pakistan. In a reversal of fortune the slogan of ‘Azadi’ (freedom) was replaced by the cry for merger with Pakistan.

Root causes of current unrest in Kashmir

The root cause of the present trouble in the valley is the fact that beginning in the 1980s the Sufi tradition of Kashmir has been on the retreat and in its place the virulent Waahabi/Deobandi Islam has become the dominant creed. Saudi money, the influx of mullahs from UP have dealt a death blow to the Kashmiriyat that took pride in tolerant Islam. The burqa, totally alien to Kashmir, made its appearance. Sufi shrines like the one of Baba Rishi at Tannemarg (on the way to Gulmarg) and Charar-e-Sharif were burnt down by the militants. Girls schools were destroyed and Ayesha Andrabi of Dukhtaran e Millat was emboldened to throw acid on girls daring to wear jeans. The State, such as it was, abdicated its responsibility and watched helplessly. This is the underlying cause of the present unrest — neither the use of force by security forces nor the so-called economic blockade.

The idea of Kashmiriyat today exists only in the minds of a lunatic fringe of candle carrying peaceniks and in the studios of politically correct television channels.

But it will be wrong on the part of the Indian State and even more for the Kashmiris to think that they can repeat the shenanigans of the early 1990s.

Changed geopolitics

The world, specially the West, has changed radically since 1989-90. The sole superpower was then in support of the Kashmiri cause, such as it was. BBC, the paragon of Western objectivity, repeatedly showed a clip of a toothless old Kashmiri woman shouting ‘We want Sharia’ in Kashmir. The US was bent upon teaching a lesson to erstwhile Soviet allies like India. Osama bin Laden was the blue-eyed boy of the Americans and Mujahids (Muslim religious fighters) were still basking in the afterglow of the victory over the Soviets in Afghanistan. The West had still to learn the disaster that awaited it by patronising the Waahabi creed.

The attacks on the US on September 11, 2001, changed all that.

One wonders if the Kashmiri separatists have noticed the absence of any comment from the West on the current happenings in Kashmir. Even the Pakistanis appeared surprised, though delighted, by the present happenings. The Pakistan Senate promptly passed a resolution condemning ‘excessive’ use of force by the Indians. It was comic since at that very time Pakistan was using helicopter gunships and fighter aircraft against its own tribals in the frontier area. The day the march to Muzaffarabad took place, over 50 Shia Muslims were killed in an attack on a hospital in Pakistan. Pakistanis were delighted that while Baluchistan and the tribal areas were in open revolt against the federal authorities, Kashmiris were clamouring to join them. Pakistanis were indeed grateful that at least someone in world thought that they were not a failed State.

But despite some noises, even Pakistanis seemed aghast at the movement in Kashmir. Thanks to the peace process and people to people contacts, most Pakistanis now accept the secular credentials of India. The average Pakistani is keen to establish trade, cultural and educational contacts with India.

Is there a way forward?

The valley Kashmiris’ outburst was and is like a reaction of a spoilt child who revolts irrationally when denied his demands. The reaction in Jammu was the first time ever that the valley people received a jolt. It is noteworthy that the troubles in J&K, of the separatist variety, are confined to Srinagar valley. It is the valley that is out of sync with the region and the world. There is no hope of any support to the irrational demands of a fundamentalist minority.

Neither the US nor UK wants another safe heaven for the Al Qaeda [Images] to come up in the subcontinent. Even China, which faces Muslim separatism, is wary. The Russians know what it is like to create another Chechenya.

Kashmiri separatists are isolated from reality. India must sit tight and not succumb to pressure tactics. After relative peace that Kashmir has got used to, let there be a dose of unrest for the Kashmiri to come to his collective senses.

Colonel Dr Anil Athale (retd) is the Chhatrapati Shivaji Fellow at the United Services Institution, Delhi [Images], and coordinator of the Pune-based Institute for Peace and Disarmament





‘There’s no greater place to live as a human being than the subcontinent’

13 06 2008

Inset: Author Tarek Fateh

‘There’s no greater place to live as a human being than the subcontinent’

June 12, 2008

The Atelier Club in downtown Toronto was packed to capacity recently for the launch of Pakistan-born Tarek Fateh‘s book Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State.

Fateh’s book argues that Muslims have been force-fed lies about their history for over a millennium — not by Islam’s enemies, but by its imams.

‘Islam came to free humanity from the clutches of the clergy. Instead, the religion of peace has become a prisoner of war, held captive by the very priesthood it came to eliminate,’ Fateh, founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress, writes in his book.

In an exclusive interview Rediff India Abroad Senior Editor Ajit Jain, the prolific author, broadcaster and columnist pointed out that in India “Muslims, who are 12 per cent of that country’s population, thrive,” while “next door in Pakistan and Bangladesh,” which are Islamic States, “Muslims suffer.”

Through the book — written despite death threats against him — Fateh wants Muslims to understand that their future lies in “models that are based in India, South Africa and Canada.”

Many Muslims say Islam was supposed to be a way of life but it has become a dogma. That it has been politicised.

In some unfortunate way, it is correct. All the differences within the Muslim community, or the wars and the civil wars that have been fought, have never been about piety but about politics.

What is the solution to the increasingly political overtones to the perception of Islam?

We have to stand up to them (fundamentalists) and expose the ideology of hate. In the Indian context, this is the choice between Aurangzeb on the one side and Dara Shikoh on the other.

We know the catastrophe that happened after Aurangzeb weakened the whole of the subcontinent in his efforts to do what the Wahhabis (an ultra-conservative branch of Islam with roots in Saudi Arabia) are now doing. Aurangzeb killed his brother (Shikoh) who was the crown prince, because he (Shikoh) was very close to Hindus and Sikhs.

It is known historically how Dara Shikoh in the 16th century with the help of Hindu priests learnt Sanskrit and — again, with their help — he translated (50) Upanishads and the Bhagawad Gita into Persian, followed on what Akbar the great started, Din-e-Ilahi.

The entire thing became such a huge loss to India. Because of Aurangzeb and Islamic war, the whole country became feeble and the British were able to take over the country soon after his (Aurangzeb’s) death.

Wherever Islam has become synonymous with violence and hate, Muslims have suffered tremendously. Of course, non-Muslims have also died by the hundreds, but the main victims have always been Muslims.

The traditional orphans of the Iran monarchs or the Indians recognised this was politics. This was not seriously about religion. Religion was merely a tool that allowed them to stay in power, whether it is Saudis or ayatollahs or in the Indian context, Aurangzeb, we had catastrophes, and repression, and secular Muslims had to fight political battles against these fascists.

Also read: The average Indian Muslim wants room to survive

Image: Hundreds of Muslim faithful pray at a mosque in Toronto, Canada, September 14, 2001 for the victims of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, DC

‘Mosques have become places of politics’

June 12, 2008

You are making a distinction between such Muslims and secular Muslims.

About 50 to 60 per cent of the Muslim population is illiterate or semi-illiterate. They are not interested in political power. They barely exist, whether they are in Bihar or they are in Mauritius. They simply want to survive. This gain is for 1 to 2 per cent of the Muslim population. Through political power, they can send messages out.

Who are they?

Primarily the Saudi royal family, the ruling ayatollahs in Iran — some ayatollahs are in jails in Iran — and clerics everywhere.

Look at the structures of mosques in Toronto, or elsewhere in Canada. These are large properties. The imam is employed by the board and in many cases takes over the entire structures. I know one organisation that has a property worth $15 million accumulated by the congregation giving cash. Where does this money go? Anyone who controls that amount of money is in politics. He can manipulate lawmakers. He can buy memberships into political parties. He can hire buses and send them to demonstrations. This is what’s happening.

It is in the interest of these people to keep Islam politicised so that they can be self-appointed leaders who can communicate with the Western politicians. The ordinary Muslim who is driving a cab or (is) even a physician doesn’t have time for all this nonsense. These guys are taking advantage of it.

I have suggested, therefore, that donations given to religious institutions by Canadians shouldn’t be in cash but by cheques or credit cards. The money from outside comes in cheques anyway, except there’s no way for anybody finding out what’s happening in the mosques, as there’s no accountability of where this money goes.

There should be a maximum limit that an individual can donate in cash. He should give a cheque or a credit card, beyond that cash. The mosque will never accept that because it is then traceable.

Mosques have become places of politics, which is dangerous. Some mosques are openly defying their charters as charities because they indulge in politics. Every sermon is political because they invite politicians to speak and instead of looking after the affairs of the community and serving their spiritual needs, they [mosques] have become places of bargaining with political parties.

How do you distinguish between an Islamist and a Muslim?

An Islamist is someone who believes in invoking Islam for a political agenda. A Muslim, on the other hand, uses Islam as a moral compass for his betterment and the betterment of his family. An Islamist is also a Muslim but a Muslim is not an Islamist.

India’s first education minister, Abul Kalam Azad, a most respected statesman in the country, was not an Islamist. He was against Islamists. Similarly, there are many ayatollahs in Iran who are in jails — as they are not Islamists.

Also read: ‘Muslim fundamentalism simply has not played a significant role in Indian politics’

‘Saudi Arabia, sadly, is a racist State’

June 12, 2008

Some people say the Islamic world is divided into the privileged class of Saudis and ayatollahs and the ‘second class’ of ordinary Muslims.

It is more than that. The Saudi Muslim does consider a non-Arab Muslim as inferior. Saudi Arabia, sadly, is a racist State. It has salaries based on the colour of your skin, where an Indian Muslim is discriminated more than an Indian Hindu because a Hindu doesn’t pray five times a day but a Muslim does.

It is purely commercial and racial. There’s no element of spirituality. They have Kentucky Fried Chicken right around the house of god. It is an insult to the faith what the Saudis have done. And ayatollahs have become millionaires who are buying properties in Canada.

If you live in Pakistan, why should you care what the Saudis think of you?

Because I care what white people think of black people in the civil rights movement. It is an insult to me as a human being not to accept when racism, sectarianism and hatred of other human beings is being dressed up in my faith. It is an outrage.

Is Islamism confined within the borders of Saudi Arabia and Iran?

It is happening in Canada. It is happening because of Saudi money. The Islam of Indonesia, Malaysia or Bengal, Bihar, Punjab is different as the spiritual faith there is completely depoliticiced.

You go to any Muslim cemetery in Canada — you will not see a single tombstone. Why? This is a culture that celebrates the Taj Mahal, and in Canada we are not allowed to put a stone on the head of a child or a parent or a grandfather. Who decided that? The Saudi funded imams. This is contrary to all Islamic traditions. Go to any other country and you can see beautiful mausoleums, but here in Canada the imams, through Saudi influence, the city councils, have decreed that cemeteries here will have no tombstones. This is all Wahhabi influence.

In your book you discuss the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam and the United Nations’ human rights declaration.

The UN Declaration of Universal Human Rights, enacted unanimously in 1948, allows freedom of choice of religion — which means no coercion (on) who should believe in what faith. In many Muslim countries, they have decreed that if you choose to convert from Islam to any other religion, you should be punished by death. Second is the equality of man and woman. Such laws cannot be created from the divine text.

So, we have these 57 countries, members of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, who are controlled by the Saudis. Their head office is in Saudi Arabia. They fund the entire organisation. So, nobody can object to anything they want to do. They are principally involved in keeping the Muslim world in the era of darkness. Many Muslim States argue that the UN Declaration of Human Rights is part of the Judeo-Christian traditions and so it shouldn’t be applicable to the Muslim world. It is astonishing.

In my point of view you are walking into a territory that’s divine, reserved for god. Who is someone to tell me I am coming to your house and so you should convert your faith or I will kill you? That’s what’s happening because the moment a Muslim says that I think there’s a problem here and what should we do, they issue a fatwa to kill you.

They expelled (Bangladeshi writer) Taslima Nasrin after pressure from Kolkata Muslims. It is horrible. It is a disgrace not only for Muslims but also for the Indian government to have done that. That woman had to run away and that shows how sometimes non-Muslims also become complicit, saying what do we care if one Muslim kills another Muslim.

mage: An aerial view of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Photograph: Abdel Monaem Al-Keiyi/AFP/Getty Images

Also read: ‘Who is the ideological mastermind behind the new Taliban?’

Trying to make Pakistan into an Arab country is never going to work’ June 12, 2008

If Muslims can live in peace and harmony in India, why can’t they live in peace and harmony in Pakistan, a country supposedly created for them?

The movement for Pakistan was never by the people that comprise Pakistan today. The movement for Pakistan was essentially by upper class Muslims of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh.

Right up to 1946, Balochistan and Sindh were not voting for the Muslim League. They were voting for the (Indian National) Congress party. Balochistan was an independent state and they declared their independence three days before India’s Independence. The coalition government headed by Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy in Bengal was the result of Direct Action Day of August 16, 1945, which led to the massacre — actually genocide — of Hindus in Noakhali (now in Bangladesh). It happened when in fact Muslims and Hindus there lived happily for hundreds of years.

Why would a Muslim find living in Pakistan problematic?

Because the idea that some sort of an Islamic state has to be created can never function. It will result in failure when you set impossible targets from the first day. That is the problem. Pakistan as a secular country, like (Mohammad Ali) Jinnah said in his opening speech, never functioned. It resulted in the cleansing of all Hindus and Sikhs from Punjab.

Punjab is primarily 60 to 70 per cent of Pakistan. It was left completely wounded and destroyed. It is only now West Punjab is reconciling with its close links with East Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. It was a living organism that was cut into two.

India was so large that it managed to take those wounds but Pakistan, being comparatively a smaller country, its heritage was linked with northern India. You are trying to make Pakistan into an Arab country. It is never going to work.

Image: An Indian bus driver is embraced by a Pakistani after arriving at the Wagah border post, March 24, 2006. The first bus bringing Indian pilgrims arrived in Pakistan on way to Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism. Photograph: Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images

Also read: Pakistan: Geopolitical epicentre of Islamist jihad

In the heartland of Punjab and Sindh, no one says a negative word about India’ June 12, 2008

Your thoughts on the India-Pakistan dynamics.

It is in the interest of the armed forces to continue to raise the bogey of an Indian threat to exploit the whole country. So, from 1954 they have dissolved the constitution, they have raped the country, they have created wars with India that nobody wanted. It is an open secret that what General Ayub Khan did in 1965 is exactly what Pervez Musharraf did in Kargil. There’s no evidence of India ever attacking Pakistan. The people of Pakistan are quite aware of this.

The fact is that the army can only keep control over a large share of Pakistan’s budget if it can continue to say that it is India that has its eyes on Pakistan and it will finish it off. That fear of India has been hammered to such a degree that it (the bogey of India) has been able to survive.

I believe the people of Pakistan are smart enough, and they have realised that their future is in friendship with India rather than Iran or Saudi Arabia. They have lived in these two countries. Indians and Pakistanis are treated in a shallow manner there.

When a Pakistani is visiting India, people won’t let you pay for your meal. The same is true when an Indian is visiting Pakistan. Canadian Sikhs are going to Pakistan to visit Nankana Sahib. They come back and say that they couldn’t believe it felt like home. In the heartland of Punjab and Sindh, you will not find anyone to say a negative word about India.

In India you might find people who are less aware of Pakistan but in Pakistan everybody knows that their brothers and sisters are Sikhs and Hindus who are on the other side of the border.

In my book I have stated my ancestors are Hindus. We migrated from Rajasthan to Punjab after a famine in early 1800 and we converted to Islam and our family settled there.

Despite different religion, people of Pakistan are smart and resilient. Sixty to 70 per cent of Pakistanis are Punjabis. So, as long as in Lahore and West Punjab there’s goodwill towards India, the army cannot continue to create this myth that India is going to attack Pakistan.

Do you think one day Pakistan and India will be like the European Union?

Absolutely. I am 100 per cent sure it will happen because of goodwill. It will happen because of the laws of nature, because we are one people. We have common cuisine, common culture, common language, common clothes, common sense of humour, common geography, common weather — except, some believe in Bhagwan, some believe in Khuda, some believe in Namokar Mantra, and some don’t believe in anything.

There’s no greater place on this earth to live as a human being than the subcontinent. India as a subcontinent is a marvel of god’s creation. There should never be a communal clash because so much of Islam and Hinduism have been together. We need to bring Kabir’s Bhakti movement back, which the British crushed in such a crafty manner that we were left paralysed.

Image: Indian and Pakistani flags at the Wagah border post. Photograph: Narinder Nanu/AFP/Getty Images

Also read: ‘If the LoC is opened, more harm will be caused to Pakistan’