I HAVE vainly looked through the Pakistan press or the writings of its columnists for a word of condemnation against the killings of Hindus in Doda or Jammu and earlier at the Amarnath pilgrimage. I can understand, if not appreciate, their attitude to the movement in the valley which is afire, unfortunately, more with fundamentalism than the Kashmeriyat. But the silence over the singling out of a particular community for point-blank shooting is ominous.
No political leader, not even Benazir Bhutto from abroad, has voiced any criticism or expressed their sorrow. It does not speak well of the nation, however angry it may be at India.
One is, however, sad to see the otherwise vibrant people weakening in sensitivity and losing their speech. When there are excesses against the minorities, there is hardly any protest. Time magazine reports that the Shias are leaving Pakistan in large numbers because the majority community, the Sunnis, does not take kindly towards them.
True, some accounts may be exaggerated but that does not diminish the overall concern. It is the lack of protest which is frightening. When people do not speak out against injustice, they lose the right to speak. They get inured to the ways of an unjust society. That is how the Nazism grew in Germany. Social Democrats considered it their patriotic duty not to say anything against the attack on "the enemy." And the ones to define the enemy were the Nazis themselves. I have met in Pakistan many people who have told me how fundamentalism is creeping into the well-to-do families. The shadows of Talibinism are lengthening.
It will be simplistic to assume that sectarianism, including its militants and terrorist expressions, is an aberration. The rot is deeper. Religion has been used to pursue authoritarian ambitions. Liberal Zulfikar Ali Bhutto did it when he declared the Ahmediyas non-Muslims. Zia-ul-Haq did it by creating a parallel Islamic judicial authority. And Pervez Musharraf is doing it by quietly encouraging the obscurantist elements.
The military junta has even gone further and it defends terrorism in the name of jehad or azadi because such slogans invoke the spirit of righteousness and zeal. It is no secret that the Islamabad establishment inspires and goads the perpetrators of terrorism on because it has come to believe that this is one way to deter or deride India. Musharraf's drive against religious militants has little meaning when it allows organisations like the Laskar-e-Toiba and Hizbul Mujahideen to operate from the Pakistani soil with immunity. Illicit weapons cannot be seized if the ISI has a different standard for the outfits of its choosing. As one Pakistani paper puts it: "The talk of deweaponisation continues while 'authorised,' well-oiled and fully armed bodies maintain their HQs in almost all major cities." It is understandable that people in Pakistan do not want to say anything against cross-border militancy, some because they fear the government and some because of the naļ
We belief that New Delhi will one day run out of stamina. Most outrageous are the killings of innocent people. If they continue on communal lines, they may have serious repercussions in India where secularism has taken deep root. But there are some fundamentalists on our side too. They are always looking for opportunities to communalise the atmosphere. Muslims at several places are already under pressure. Islamabad comes in for blame because the terrorists who are indulging in such killings and who are claiming the responsibility for them have their shelters in Pakistan.
Is this the unfinished agenda of partition which the Pakistani establishment refers to during the talks on Kashmir? Someone in the Pakistan press should expose the dangerous game which the Musharraf government is playing in creating a Hindu-Muslim divide. This can destroy the two countries.
The press in India brought the training of the LTTE by our army in the open. It put the government on the mat. It was a feather in the cap of the press. I know of many enterprising and courageous journalists in Pakistan who can expose the hoax of "political and diplomatic support" which, in the real sense, is the training and arming of militants. Journalists should at least see to it that the differences between India and Pakistan do not spill over and tell upon the relations between Hindus and Muslims.
I am not denying the killing of the innocent in Kashmir. This has, in fact, alienated the local population. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has taken up some cases. But the central and state governments are covering up most of the incidents. Even the J and K High Court's decision on hundreds of writs to produce the missing persons remains unimplemented. I wish the press and human rights activists were more outspoken and the government more responsive.
New Delhi is mistaken if it believes that more powers to the security forces in Jammu would stop militancy. The kind of draconian measures extended in Jammu have been vainly tried in Kashmir for several years. Successive chiefs of the army have said that the solution is political not force.
Had Home Minister LK Advani come before parliament for more powers earlier, he would have got them. All are tired of seeing the killing of the innocent day after day. The governments both at New Delhi and in Srinagar have been caught napping. But will the new measures help? What is the guarantee that they will not be misused? Such laws have been wrongly used in the valley before.
New Delhi has to expose the Musharraf military junta in the international arena, particularly how the Pakistan President hailed the murderers as freedom fighters! America, which is now more conscious of what India is pitted against, can be persuaded to at least name the terrorist organisations, if not the country from where they are operating.
We in India have to defend our secular ethos for which Mahatma Gandhi sacrificed his life. A Hindu fundamentalist shot him dead. We have also to ensure that while implementing new measures to fight militancy, the security forces are accountable. The centre would do well in extending the jurisdiction of the NHRC over the armed forces.
Keeping the society open while singling out terrorists is an arduous job. But this is the price which a democratic society has to pay to maintain the types of freedom enshrined in the constitution. A balanced approach is required. New Delhi has been tilting towards force much too much.
The core of the problem is the confidence of the people of Kashmir. They have to be won back. Planning Commission Deputy Chairman KC Pant, the interlocutor, has not been able to talk to many Kashmiri leaders. The Hurriyat, which must not be ignored, has not been brought into the picture. Maybe, a person like Dr Manmohan Singh, the opposition leader in the Rajya Sabha, will be more acceptable. But first New Delhi has to have a policy to make the people of Jammu and Kashmir feel that they are autonomous in their affairs. The Dalai Lama was misunderstood when he talked about self-rule.
Even otherwise, New Delhi has to open its political baggage. Farooq Abdullah's proposal for autonomy has not been accepted. The government must specify what is acceptable to it? At Agra, New Delhi's resourcelessness was exposed: there had been no prior preparation for the summit. The two sides should try again. And the BJP-led government should give up its esoteric approach and associate the entire nation with the Kashmir solution. A national problem must have a national solution.
This article was published in DailyStar of Bangladesh with the title 'Musharraf and the great divide' I hate to see this problem with religious perspective. But the press, fundamentalists in Pakistan are making this a religious issue.