B L Saraf
Some days back Pakistan PM, Imran Khan, issued a statement alleging that minorities in India are being targeted by the extremists groups and warned that such an agenda “is a real and present threat to the regional peace.” He took to the twitter to launch the charge in the wake of alleged inflammatory and provocative speeches made against the minorities at an event in Hardiwar, Utrakhand. He called upon the international community ” to take note and act.” Last month, Pakistan Foreign Office summoned Indian Charged Affairs and conveyed its concern over the alleged hate speech made in Hardiwar conclave.
Imran, for that matter anyone from the Pakistan establishment, is the last person to make a comment on India’s settled policy of secularism which it has been following since the dawn of independence. His rant is nothing but “Devil quoting Scriptures”. He is the protégé of the elements in Pakistan which are detested world over for the violent and sectarian political game they play. Khan survives on their tender mercies. No wonder he had to give in to the fanatical Tehriek e labbiek (TEL) and release their thousands of workers held up earlier, including the head, Saad Hussain. They were arrested following protests that erupted on the appointment of new ISI Chief. Imran Khan presides over a regime whose main constituents revel in honoring even the murderers. Who can forget the rousing reception, with profuse showering of rose petal, accorded by the Bar Association Lahore to the assassin of the then Governor of Punjab province, Salman Taseer, whom he was duty bound to protect. Felled Governor’s only fault was that he spoke in favour of the poor Christian lady, Aisya Bi, who faced allegations of having committed a nonexistent crime of blasphemy.
Pakistan Prime Minister must know that it is not what the fringe in India says that poses threat to the” peace in the region”. The horde of armed mercenaries his establishment exports to our part of Kashmir to create mayhem are, by their avowed sectarian policy and the belief in violence, real threat to the peace and stability of the region. Imran Khan should stop shedding crocodile tears for Indian Muslims, rather be sincere to his country’s defense policy unveiled lately, which lays emphasis on economic development and good neighborly relation, and speaks of “no war with India for the next hundred years.”
We may leave Imran Khan to his rants and ravings but we will be doing great disservice to our heritage and culture if we fail to appreciate a concern , poetically , expressed by another Pakistani, Fahmida Riyaz. Making a reference to the dismal situation her country has gone-and is going through she, in a lament expressed in a poetical vein, cautions us that we are on the verge of treading her country’s inglorious path and in veiled way exhorts us to retract steps :
Tum bilkul hum jaise nikley
Voh murkhta voh ghumand
Jis mein hum ney sadian ganwandi
Akhar pohnchey dwar tuhari
Arey badhai bhuat badhai
Addressing us Indians she says -Loosely translated it would read: You have come out exactly like us: the foolishness and hubris which wasted our centuries; has at last reached your door; stay felicitated – immensely
No doubt India’s secular moorings are firmly rooted in the heritage and indelibly enshrined in the Constitution yet on occasions fringe elements -with the tacit support of some in the mainstream political establishment – ignite tremors which have a potential to cause cracks to these traditions. Alleged Hardiwar cry to purge motherland of the “undesirables ” and actions of a few to “purify the land of pure ” don’t go well with the pluralistic ethos of our great nation and the glorious image which makes India shine in the galaxy of countries, dotting world map. Sectarian and hate loaded cries don’t add feather to India’s cap. Such actions are , on one hand, fraught with the danger to rip apart society and ,on the other, have grave implications on our national security. Some Armed forces Veterans have put it succinctly in a letter addressed to the President and Prime Minister. While expressing anguish on the Hardiwar development their note of caution on the national security front is palpable ;
” In view of the current situation on our borders, any breach of peace and harmony within the Nation will embolden inimical external forces.The unity and cohesiveness of our men and women in uniform, including the CAPFs and Police forces, will be seriously affected by allowing such blatant calls for violence against one or the other community in our diverse and plural society.”
The need of the day is that often made elaboration of India’s pluralistic ethos and references to the secular practices enshrined in the Preamble Of the Constitution must come out of the realm of rhetoric and take head on what, unfortunately, we have been witnessing for some time now . This being the election season every section of the society and the instrumentalities of the State like Police, Judiciary and, more importantly, the Election Commission, have to be on guard to check the menace of hate.
It does no good to the nation’s reputation to be in the global headlines for all the wrong reasons.The world still sees India as a progressive, democratic and a pluralistic nation which is ruled by the Constitution . Our soft power characterized by religious and linguistic diversity and richness, Ayurveda, Yoga, tourism, specialization in the fields of medicine and engineering, Bollywood etc help drive the impression. People may dismiss the hate speeches as an act of the fringe. But if the undesirable activity goes on unchecked and is not reprimanded by the men in authority in Delhi same people will soon be forced to realize that, in India, the ‘Fringe’ has metamorphosed into the ‘Vanguard”. That will be calamitous for us-as the nation.
It is heartening to note that the Supreme Court has taken cognizance of the development that happened in Hardiwar. But, primarily it is duty of executive to stem the rot that is about to set in. The people at the helm must, therefore, start acting tough on these stray elements, lest we step in to the world of radicalization. In this regard, any inaction on our part would unwittingly grant “Sainthood ” to the “Followers of Hate” living across the Western border. And, there will be very little left in our moral armoury to challenge them.
(The author is former Principal District &Sessions Judge)
B L Saraf