India voted National Democratic Alliance led by BJP’s Narendra Modi to power for its second consecutive term in the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections. Ever since that great electoral victory gained by managing a whopping 356 seat-share in the lower house, South Asia’s regional security has been going South. The ruling party BJP has begun enjoying unprecedented popular support among India’s Hindus that form around 80 percent of the state’s population. It is noteworthy to mention that parent organisation of the ruling BJP is RSS (Rashtrya Swayamsevak Sangh), a paramilitary volunteer organisation that believes in Hindu nationalism for India. The world is waking up to see a new India, which belongs only to Hindus and has no place for minorities, specifically the 200 million Muslims.
There’s a need to compare populism in Pakistan and India where things are in contrast. Pakistan voted for Imran Khan, in its 2018 General Elections, a cricketer turned-politician who has been expressing his desire to transform Pakistan on the basis of Medinan Model of an Islamic Welfare State. However, Khan is known worldwide for his firm stance on political settlements of disputes and his vision to see unrestricted trade with all neighbours including India. This desire was manifested by the Pakistani Prime Minister as soon as he took oath, inviting friends from across the border in his oath-taking ceremony. He also went on to share his desire to make peace with India in his very first address to the nation as the Prime Minister, stating that Pakistan was willing to take the first step for peace and would take two steps for every single step taken by India. His intent received little reciprocation in the power corridors in New Delhi however.
The India, we are witnessing today is a new India, contemporary Pakistan is not much familiar with. This very new India is a whirlwind transforming into a Hindu Rashtra, which has no place for the non-Hindus minorities and believes in expanding the territory of India, in order to include Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan in the first phase and then the rest of Pakistan in the later phase. Indian Senator belonging to the ruling BJP tweeted the aggrandisement plan which forms the very core of BJP’s vision of Akhand (Undivided) Bharat.
In other words, India has reverted to the pre-partition times, which forced Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan to adamantly stand for the establishment of Pakistan on the basis of Muslim Nationalism, an ideology that he initially did not adhere to at all. Pakistan is back to a time when it was not on the map, a time when its would be citizens were struggling hard against Hindutva.
It is an inescapable reality that today, Pakistan and India are perfectly locked in an ideological battle. Majority of India’s massive Hindu population is backing Modi in his Hindu Nationalist designs based on the writings of RSS ideologues. Hindu Nationalist political leaders such as M.S. Golwalkar, Veer Savarkar and Deendayal Upadhyaya rejected India’s secular constitution pioneered by Dr. Ambedkar. The two fundamental reasons behind rejection of the Indian constitution was that Hindu Nationalism rejected the Western Model of the constitution which was a colonial legacy and that it defined nation with respect to territory, in stark contrast to Hindu Nationalism which defines Indian Nation in terms of Hindu religion. Thus, Hindu Nationalism, the ideology followed by Modi’s BJP does not believe in its essence, in granting nationality of India to Non-Hindus.
This brings us to the point of debate where recalibration of the role of Pakistan in the region is necessary. The saffron extremism and expansionism is strengthening Pakistan’s ideological boundaries and its significance as a state shielding more than 200 million Muslims against a most probable new holocaust to be launched by India’s extremist Hindus. Pakistan is also the last hope of the more than 20 million people of the dispute territory of Jammu and Kashmir. They look up to Pakistan not because it is the only obstacle in India’s neo-colonialist expansionism in South Asia.
There are times coming when more than 200 million Muslims in India will also be forced to look at Pakistan for their survival. The right-wing in India has been preparing for a mass extermination of the Muslims of India and Narendra Modi has been its best investment in terms of reaching that goal. Modi has a historical record, that to the right wing, is a feather in his cap. He facilitated a genocide of the Muslims of Gujarat, being the chief minister of the state, back in 2002. More than 2000 Muslims had perished in days owing to a massacre launched by Saffron extremists.
Pakistan, a country based in the concept of ‘sovereignty to Allah’ with more than 96% Muslim population, has no escape from the role it is entitled as the saviour of Muslims in this part of the world. No matter which government rules Pakistan, the hearts of people of Pakistan always go out to the Muslims of Kashmir and Muslims of India. The bond between Muslims of India and Muslims of Pakistan has always existed but has never been able to project strength because the Muslims on the other side have had hopes in India. All such hopes are now being shattered, one after another, by Narendra Modi’s fascist regime. In a recent move in the Indian state of Assam, Modi Government has been wrapping up a Citizenship Documentation Drive that is set to deprive around 4 million Muslims of their citizenship of India. The New York Times has published a comprehensive report on the move. And this, is only a beginning, of what’s written on the wall, for those who can read it.
“Beyond this, Mr. Modi’s government has tried to pass a bill in Parliament that carves out exemptions for Hindus, Buddhists, Christians and people from other religions — but leaves out Muslims.”The New York Times, August 17 2019.
There has not been a single day in the history of Pakistan when Islamabad was not to consider the threat from the East. This security-centred approach is not akin to Joseph Stalin’s based on System Survival Theory which had more to do with the leader’s political ambitions. Rather, Pakistan’s assessment is rooted in a history replete with India’s actions before and after the establishment of Pakistan, which cannot be elaborated here and are a matter of a separate write-up. With the ascension of Hindu Nationalism to the power corridors in New-Delhi, the threat matrix in Islamabad has raised alarms. Pakistan needs to stay alert on all three fronts, i.e. Diplomatic, Military and Political. The vigilance has to be so strong as to deter the Indian ambitions and for that, mere-lip service will not do the job. While there has been no declaration of a war between India and Pakistan, a war has already begun and there is nothing much which can be done to avoid it.
India-Pakistan confrontation is a a power equation which, in its entirety, is generated by the ideological rift between the two states. Both Pakistan and India are ideological states, with India being undeclared in this regard and this is what the Pakistani strategists must never overlook. This write up is also a wake up call for those ‘experts on South Asia’s regional security’ who believe Kashmir is a geo-political dispute and whose resolution would solve the fundamental problem existing between Pakistan and India. It is time to realise that Kashmir is neither a struggle over territory, a fact unexpectedly endorsed by the American president Donald Trump recently. Kashmir is not the problem rather a glimpse of that very fundamental problem between Pakistan and India and that is the clash of the opposing ideologies, i.e. Muslim Nationalism and Hindu Nationalism.
About The Author
Abubakar Farooqui is the brains behind Rationale 47. He Studies International Relations at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. His areas of interest include National Security of Pakistan and International Politics, particularly of Afghanistan and Middle East. He tweets @AbubakarTweets
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the original author and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views of Rationale-47.