Pakistan needs to speed up its efforts to highlight before the world the essence and scope of the Hindutva philosophy and the danger it presents to the region and the world, writes Aslam Shad.
Ever since India abolished the special status of occupied Kashmir by scrapping Articles 370 and 35A of its Constitution on 5th August 2019, the Hindutva philosophy has once again come in the limelight. Pakistani media and journalists, in trying to explain the Hindutva philosophy to the masses, have claimed that the philosophy is based on the complete dominance of Muslims and other minorities by the Hindus.
But this is only the partial truth. The philosophical expanse of Hindutva goes well beyond the subjugation of minorities.
The ideology is based on broad territorial ambitions. It propagates not only the complete domination of India but the whole of the South and South-East Asia and the littoral states of the Indian Ocean. The proponents of Hindutva not only draw upon the grandeur and glory of the empire that was founded by Chandragupta Maurya (321-297 BCE) that covered almost all of India, but also believe in the spread and hold of Hindutva onto Cambodia, Vietnam and Indonesia (Bali).
Importantly, under Hindutva, the word ‘Indian Ocean’ signifies that the ocean as such and every area around it belongs to India as it – in one way or the other – did in the olden days. So, the philosophical reach of Hindutva is far more than what is traditionally understood.
An important question being asked is why Pakistan is Hindutva’s main target despite the country’s all-out attempts to sort out all possible issues with India across the table through the process of give and take.
When seen in the context of the broader ambitions of Hindutva, it becomes clear that the diehard followers of Hindutva believe (and rightly so) that the only real stumbling block in the way of the fulfilment of their outreach is Pakistan. That Pakistan too is nuclear and has the close backing of world’s second most powerful super-power (China) makes the country the biggest challenge to Hindutva.
If Pakistan was not nuclear or did not enjoy China’s close support, Hindutva would have expanded into major chunks of Asia and Africa, and enabled India to control trade routes of the Indian Ocean along with its chokepoints at Oman, Indonesia etc.
This is the third time in history that an ultra-nationalistic Hindu movement propelled on the basis of the Hindutva philosophy is attempting to impose its rule over the sub-continent.
The first attempt was after the death of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb (AD 1707). This was at a time when the Mughal Empire was in a decline. At one point, the Marhattas from the south virtually took over Delhi, making the Mughal King a puppet in their hands and extended their rule onto Punjab through their governor Adina Beg Mirza.
But then came Ahmad Shah Abdali (also known amongst Pushtuns by his popular name: Ahmad Baba), the founder of present day Afghanistan who smashed the Marhattas and dealt a severe blow to their power and authority.
The second golden opportunity arose when it became crystal clear that Great Britain would not be able to hold onto India after its participation in the First and Second World Wars. The Hindu leadership under Gandhi and Nehru thought that being in absolute majority, Hindus would rule the whole of India after independence.
During the process of negotiations and even before that, when their governments were established in the provinces, they made it abundantly clear that Muslims would have to accept a subordinate position to Hindus. This nefarious attempt on their part was stifled by Quaid-e -Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah who saw through the game and made them speechless while pleading the case of Pakistan at high level meetings attended by the top notch from amongst the Hindus, Muslims and Sikh leadership besides the colonial elite of Great Britain.
Once their dreams were shattered, the Hindus, in league with the English, agreed to a truncated Pakistan, being definitive that it would fall apart in six months to a year’s time. To their utter disappointment, Pakistan not only remains on the world map as a sovereign entity but is a power of Asia with strong geo-political and geo-strategic clout.
The present debacle created by Modi is the third attempt in the same direction. India chose the timing of integration of Kashmir in its territory because of the following reasons:
(i) Pakistan is weak financially, hardly having any economic muscle to counter India;
(ii) India has the backing of USA, Israel, European Powers and all others whose financial, economic, and trade interests are tied with India;
(iii) China would be able to do nothing as it is caught up in trade war with the USA
(iv) the Muslim World is disunited and would prefer its economic ties with India over their relationship with Pakistan
(v) the Kashmiris can be subjugated by deploying the army in Indian Occupied Kashmir for an unlimited period of time.
So far, India appears to be succeeding at least for the time being. What happens next is difficult to caption in words. However, one thing is clear: as in the past at two occasions, this time as well, India has overplayed its hand in a rather crude and obnoxious manner. History is witness to the immutable fact that arrogance, coupled with the orchestration of hatred amongst population, has never gone unpunished at the hands of nature.
In this age of social media when news spreads all over the world at a brisk pace, it would be next to impossible for India to subjugate its whole Muslim population, keep Kashmiris under indefinite curfew and defy all norms of justice, fair play and the parameters laid down in international law.
But herein, a lot depends on the way Pakistan acts and reacts, the way it sustains and projects the issue at different world and regional forums and, above all, how it surmounts its own financial woes and emerges as a force to be reckoned with.
So far, the way the Pakistani leadership has handled the matter at the foreign policy front is quite commendable. However, the need of the hour is not only to maintain the ongoing momentum but to highlight before the world the essence and scope of the Hindutva philosophy and the danger it presents to the region and the world.
The author is a former Member of the Federal Board of Revenue, Pakistan, who writes on mostly unknown
facets of history. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org