Playing into the hands of the jihadis B Raman

13 08 2008
Source: rediff.com

India is still reeling under the impact of three rounds of serial blasts in quick succession in Jaipur on May 13, 2008, in Bengaluru on July 25 and in Ahmedabad on July 26. The police have been unable to make much headway in the investigations into the Mumbai suburban train blasts of July 11, 2006, in which 188 innocent civilians were killed and other terrorist strikes, which have followed one after the other in different parts of the country. The Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled states of Rajasthan, Karnataka and Gujarat have been as clueless in the face of this terrorism as the non-BJP ruled states.

There is a huge jihadi iceberg, which has been moving from state to state spreading death and destruction. We have not been able to locate this iceberg, trace its movement and destroy it. We don’t even know who are behind the so-called Indian Mujahideen, which has claimed responsibility for many of these terrorist strikes. They have had many failures in the form of unexploded improvised explosive devices — over 30 of them.

The conventional wisdom in investigation is that every failure by the terrorists takes the police one step closer to a successful identification of the terrorists responsible. Over 30 failures — over 20 of them in Surat in Gujarat — and yet we are as clueless as ever. Were these failed IEDs examined by a single team? What were their conclusions? No answer.

The so-called Indian Mujahideen [Images] had sent three e-mail messages claiming responsibility — two before the explosions took place and one after the explosion. It has been reported by The Hindu that one more message purporting to be from the Indian Mujahideen has been received by a newspaper warning of terrorist strikes in Godhra in Gujarat where a group of Hindu pilgrims travelling in a railway compartment were burnt to death by a group of Muslim fanatics in February 2002, which provoked acts of retaliation by sections of the Hindus all over the state.

We take pride in the fact that we are a nation of high-class experts in information technology. And yet, we have not been able to make any break-through in our investigation through an examination of these messages.

It is agreed by all analysts that one of the objectives of the perpetrators of these blasts in different states of India outside Jammu and Kashmir [Images] was to create a divide between the Hindus and the Muslims. Fortunately — thanks to the prompt action by the concerned state administrations and to the good sense of the two communities — the terrorists have not succeeded in this objective.

But what the terrorists have failed to achieve so far in other parts of India through their repeated acts of terrorism, the Government of India and the Bharatiya Janata Party have achieved for them in Jammu and Kashmir — the government through its shockingly ham-handed handling of a sensitive issue and the BJP by its cynical exploitation of the communal tensions arising from the government’s mishandling for partisan political purposes with an eye on Hindu votes in the next elections, which are expected before next May.

Ham-handed handling of vital national security issues has become the defining characteristic of the Government of India. We have been seeing it again and again since the Mumbai suburban train blasts of July 2006. Important decisions have been taken — whether relating to Pakistan or China or terrorism — without examining their implications for national security. Many sensitive issues have been handled in a shockingly inept manner — thereby giving the impression of its being a government of novices with very little understanding of such issues.

Nothing illustrated its ineptitude more dramatically than the casual manner in which it watched without intervening when the decision to transfer a plot of land to the ownership of a board for the maintenance of a Hindu shrine (Amarnath) in the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley was taken by the local administration headed by the Congress party without a proper examination of its likely impact on Muslim public opinion and its likely exploitation by the Muslim radicals, and then when the leaders of the Muslim community protested against it, it was cancelled without examining its likely impact on Hindu public opinion in the Hindu-majority Jammu division of the state.

The agitation launched by the Hindus of Jammu against the cancellation could have been justified if they had kept it confined to demonstrations and protests. Instead of doing so, they used the agitation for indulging in deplorable acts such as trying to disrupt communications with the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley and allegedly preventing the Muslim farmers of the valley from sending their produce of fruits to the rest of India for sale.

This was a dangerous turn in the agitation and was interpreted by many as an economic blockade of the Muslims in order to force them to concede the demands of the Hindus in relation to the transfer of the land. A similar situation was sought to be created in 1990 by the jihadis in the valley by preventing the fruit farmers and artisans from sending their produce to the rest of India for sale. The government of V P Singh, the then prime minister, immediately intervened and had their fruits etc flown from Srinagar [Images] to the rest of India at the government’s expense on special Indian Airlines flight. It also organised Kashmir trade fairs in Delhi [Images] and other parts of India and helped the Kashmiri farmers and artisans to bring their produce out for sale.

One would have expected the Government of India to have promptly acted in a similar manner to break the alleged blockade by the Hindus of Jammu. It did nothing of the sort. It kept fiddling as the situation went from bad to worse. Angered by government inaction, the fruit farmers, instigated by the Muslim radicals and jihadi terrorists, decided to take their produce to Pakistan Occupied Kashmir for sale. No government could have allowed this. The government’s efforts to stop this have led to instances of firing by the security forces on unruly mobs resulting in over 15 deaths.

One would have expected the BJP, which aspires to come to power in New Delhi after the next election, to exercise self-restraint and resist the urge to exploit the situation for partisan political purposes. The expectations have been belied. Its crude attempts to exploit the situation with an eye on the next election have added oil to fire and are threatening to take Jammu and Kashmir back to 1989, when the insurgency started. All the counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism gains of recent years in the state face the danger of being wiped out by the government’s inept handling and the BJP’s cynical exploitation of it.

In the situation as it is developing in Jammu and Kashmir, nobody seems to be interested in the national interest and in protecting the lives, property and economic interests of its citizens — whatever their religion. Partisan political interests have taken precedence over national interests.

Public opinion should force the government and the BJP to wake up and prevent a slide back to 1989. Otherwise, the Indian Mujahideen, whoever is behind it, and Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence will be having the last laugh.

B Raman

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THE RIGHT VIEW : This war involves us all

31 07 2008
Condemning blasts

A child during an anti-terrorism protest in Delhi. (AFP)

THE RIGHT VIEW : This war involves us all
28 Jul 2008, 1455 hrs IST, Tarun Vijay

Rahul’s Shashikala has got the headlines and her share of glory. Now is the time to focus on India. Beyond party lines and boundaries. He is young, charming and holds a position that makes a mark wherever he goes. Why can’t he take up the fight against terror, which is bleeding India? If L K Advani can go to Sonia for a book presentation and still remain in the party, why can’t Sonia come to Advani for a collective fight against terrorism? Is India smaller than the personal and political egos and fortunes?

When the ISI or HuJI or Lashkar were planning attacks on Indians, we were counting notes in sacks and fighting each other. Isn’t it time to at least have Sonia, Advani, Rajnath, Manmohan, Mulayam and Mayawati along with Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi to put their heads together and strategize a time-bound “eliminate terror” programme? For power sharing they come together – sworn enemies of yesterday become born twins on political platforms. To liberate India from the dreaded scourge of jihad and all other kinds of terror we feel shy and instead keep ourselves busy in attacking each other, facilitating the country’s enemies.

We are Indians first and stop blaming mussalmans and others for terror. I have a large number of Muslim friends and I know Muslim society in India is uniquely different and as patriotic as any other Indian. And they don’t need any certificate from any one. But at the same time we must not hesitate to recognize that terrorism in India is pronounced essentially Islamic in its character and the aim is to have a so called Nizam-e-Mustafa wreaking revenge against Hindus. The Deoband’s denouncement of terror is not enough. Their dictates must show an impact on Islamic terror outfits, otherwise its papers and faxes would remain nothing more than a crude PR exercise. It’s the bounden duty of Muslim leaders to make it sure and visible that those involved in jihadi barbaric attacks are condemned as un-Islamic and are practically declared non-Muslims like they have done with regard to many others in the past.

A nation’s collective will is the biggest weapon against fissiparous tendencies. The US and China have shown that. They too faced Islamic terror, but handled it with a resolve that got united support by the people and all shades of political colours. Indians can fight each other on a hundred issues of political programming or power grab. But on the question of our sovereignty and security we must stand united, as one – and it must be visible too. After all, where would all these leaders take their money and enjoy it if India doesn’t survive? Even to enjoy the loot they must have a station to leisure and be free of threats. To say this is too rude and crude, yet, seeing the Jaipur, Bangalore and Ahmadabad blasts, what can a citizen pray for? Security and a collective will to converge on national interest.

And for God’s sake if you can’t remove this home minister, appoint another capable minister for internal security with independent charge. It serves the interests of the UPA and Congress too. He is just incapable of holding that crucial position. It’s against national interest to keep such a non-performing person in North Block who becomes a source of demoralisation and incompetence to security agencies and law enforcers.

Intelligence must be strengthened and the present colonial structure of intelligence gathering has to be completely overhauled with a structure on the patterns of the FBI. Gujarat’s new law on terror is awaiting the Centre’s nod for the last four years. Why? Is tackling terror a partisan matter?

Israel is willing to help and now that the burden of the Left is removed, the govt must begin a long-term association with Israel to restructure our intelligence network against Pakistan and their hired goons masquerading as Islamists and befriending gullible locals to provide them basic support and shelter.

The terrorist can’t work in a vacuum. Hence the police and security network must ruthlessly deal with the local bases of the terror outfits without caring for the human rightists or the defeatist seculars lobbying for the terrorists. Like Punjab in Gill’s time, a group of daredevil police and army officers must be assigned to handle terrorism and given an autonomous status with powers to strike independently without awaiting a nod from the political masters. Let them tackle terror and leaders of all parties and ideologies can do the mass awakening campaign – instilling confidence in the general public and making them an active instrument in helping security forces to crack on terror network.

Let’s forget every other matter, temple or Setu or masjid or Church. Convergence to remove terror network should be our foremost offering to the gods and that should be our religious agenda too. If Muslims believe that Prophet Mohammad fought against injustice and against the forces of dark evils, let all those who follow Mohammad’s teaching come together to defeat inhuman cowards killing Indians in the name of some jihad. This may prove to be the biggest opportunity for a genuine Hindu-Muslim solidarity and can be followed with greater ideas. Being a Hindu I can request all the priests and Mahants and spiritual leaders who go to different parts of the globe for world peace and human happiness, to include in their puja “eliminate terror” preachings and make their followers a part of the terror-busting programme. This is the greatest yoga – call it Rashtra Yoga, yoga of the nation.

If there is a war in our courtyard we do not go to temples worshipping deities as the biggest deity is our nation and her people. Jihad is a Kargil in our precincts. Let the ashrams and the other high-class facilities for nirvana be converged on rousing the morale of the faithful against demons and Ravanas of today.

Vijaya Dashmi is not far – and let this year’s festival be celebrated together with all communities coming to show solidarity with the Indian people rising above religious boundaries to kill the demon of darkness. We are all descendants of Guru Gobind Singh and Shivaji and have produced Rani Laxmi Bai and Bahadur Shah Zafar and Begum Hazrat Mahal and Abdul Hameed. It’s the power of togetherness that wins a nation ultimately.

It’s time that cricketers and film actors join hands to create a national mood of solidarity. They owe it to their motherland. They are born Indians and have not come here just to make money and earn fame from some other planet. Once an Amitabh, a Shah Rukh, an Aamir, John and Sachin share a dais and say no to communal, divisive elements and urge all Indians to merge their divergences in one Tricolour, it will have a tremendous impact on the nation’s confidence and all governments will get a big power push to act decisively.

When people are dying like cattle, it’s disgusting to see media houses deeply engaged in thumka jhumka vulgarity and issues that do not represent the nation facing a terror war. They know we can win it, finally and without losing time. But the atmosphere has to be created for that and who can do it better than the media? Indian media has proved it wonderfully during Kargil; it’s no different now.

If this terrorism has been exported to our land, we have a responsibility to bury it finally with our hands. Victory shall be ours, without doubt. Let the Spirit de India rise and strike.

Is it all daydreaming? A naive, emotional outburst expecting unachievable goals? Doesn’t India belong to us all?

(The author is the director of Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation, a think tank of nationalist school of thought.)





India’s most wanted….

25 06 2008

From: http://www.rediff.com

May 13 was an important day in India’s fight against terror. Nine low-intensity blasts went off in the tourist city of Jaipur, killing 62 people. Places of worship and crowded areas were targeted. It was the day when India changed the questions it usually asks after a terrorist attack. No more why, how or who. From now on, it will only be ‘when and where next?’

The nature of terrorism has changed over the past three decades. Concentrated in the Valley for the better part of the 1980s, it moved to big cities — particularly Mumbai in the 1990s. Since the turn of the millennium, it began trickling down to the smaller cities.

As India searches for a way to combat this wave of terror — which agencies believe is being orchestrated by the Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence — here is a look at the country’s top ten most wanted men. The 10 names, by itself, neatly define terrorism in India: Some outfits born from India’s bloodiest phase of violence before the Kashmir Valley became a hotbed in the 1980s — the Khalistan movement.

Intelligence agencies say they are gaining capability to strike in India. Also a part of this list are past masters of all things crime and anti-national: the Mumbai mafia. These may seem like spent forces, but they are very much active and help the ISI in many ways, the intelligence agencies say.

Rounding off the list of India’s most wanted are the men of the moment: the face of terror in India as we know it today and a faceless man, a man who for all you know is now plotting the answer to those two questions: ‘When and where next’.

Click on the thumbnails for details

Rahil Abdul
Shahid Bilal
Dawood Ibrahim
Abdul Tunda


Tiger Memon

Lakhbir Singh Rode

Ranjit Singh Neeta

Paramjit Singh
Chota Shakeel
Ayub Memon




‘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’