Question of the Day?

Setting aside my personal views entirely.

Why is Partition a bad idea but Indian independence a good one?

Why is Jinnah a villain but Gandhi & Nehru not?

Does Pakistan have an original sin that it can’t account for?

The reason I ask is that we need to come to BP to examine our preconceptions constantly otherwise what is the point of wasting our collective time.

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61 Replies to “Question of the Day?”

  1. it isnt so much that it happened, it is in how it was carried forward and ideas that are emanating from it. It also has to do with universalist pretensions of liberals . Muslims could rightly have said so that they do feel constrained and will be unable to flourish to full in view of their religio-cultural aspirations and having new state would help them and if people were really interested in peace, they should respect this. Gandhi, nehru and in general liberal view is one of universal pretension. You cant get people with fundamentally different views to be married without fights breaking out.Liberals cant see or accept this to be true and as a result eventually more fights break out. And everytime they can pass themselves off as being morally superior than thou, when infact their impractical universalist liberal monopoly is what led to these fights in first place.

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    1. Good point Bharata-

      Let me ask u this. Pakistan is built on the Indian Muslim nationality (so is Bangladesh even if it is avowedly secular but it is a republic for Bengali Muslims though I can’t comment as much).

      When we define Indian; do we mean language, race, culture, history, religion or a composite?

      I want to move into my questioning/learning format than statements because as I grow older I realise I know jack shit (and more vulgar it seems)

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      1. In practice it is largely due to Hindu majority,nothing else is common. That was what partition was about. Accepting this however leads to insecurity among minorities and liberals, so once again they carry forward universalist pretensions leading to further anxieties. And mind you, they havent taken responsibility for partition. No, it is hindutva at fault when in fact they had very little power, same with muslim league and jinnah. Jinnah wasnt very popular in 1940’s, It was Gandhi who went to him and gave him a boost once again(according to some). In a way, it is shocking, if they really believed in their ideas, they would have never allowed partition or concede to demands of jinnah, would have allowed civil war because this is what west would have done in order to defend their ideas. Gandhi/nehru did not, so they are neither here nor there.

        Liberalism of west means to risk full scale civil war to defend their ideas and world view, Lincoln did this. The costs of liberalism are very high. Unfortunately the west spent all its blood to give themselves the coherence they have now. If we are to follow that path of west, violence might be ahead, if we dont then we shall in perpetuity be half this and that, imperfect poorly governed state where people neither have security, wealth or freedoms. If not even that, then who knows.

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      2. “Why is Partition a bad idea but Indian independence a good one?”
        Partition was supposed to solve the allegedly intractable “Hindu-Muslim” problem by creating 2 states. That was never discussed in detail . Something like that would need 5 to 10 years of discussions from all angles and all kinds of people, yet it never took place.
        The result is there to see – what was the local police station of issue of Hindu-Muslim differences to be dealt with by lathi-charge and tear gas shells became international issue under the shadow of nuclear bombs. In Pakistan, the idea of democratic polity has been held in disdain since Pakistan was created under a fear that Muslims would be swamped by a Hindu majority in an ordinary democracy of universal franchise. That fear of democracy in Pakistan has led to the suppression of Bangladesh in 1971 and continued interference and hegemony of military in civil administration. Partition has also given rise to suspicion of minorities as potential nation-breakers in all countries. Indian Independence is a good idea so that India finds it’s place in the world, conducts it’s own affairs within and outside it’s borders and makes itself free from economic and cultural exploitation of Britain. Self-rule is any day a better idea than political slavery.

        “Why is Jinnah a villain but Gandhi & Nehru not?” It is not my question ; Jinnah was an opportunist , that does not make him a villain . I don’t expect everyone to pay obeisance to G-N style of politics or their personalities. Sometimes victories lead to far more problems than defeats and you chew more than you can digest , unless you know what are you going to do with victory. That is what happened to Jinna and Pakistan

        “Does Pakistan have an original sin that it can’t account for?” I dislike thinking along semi-religious lines.

        Deal with what you have in front of you instead of pining for what may have beens and if-onlys

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  2. Partition was a great idea & but it should have been carried out in a proper manner, that would have allowed the people to think clearly about Indian subcontinent’s history instead of the convenient historical narratives which we now find everywhere which are blinded by ideological blinkers.

    Secondly why partition was a great idea ? Because more than Muslims Hindus & other communities needed sometime to think about their identities & to respond to the ‘religious identity’ problem that has been created due to Orientalist narratives.

    Also read Ambedkar’s book – Pakistan or partition of India by B. R. Ambedkar {He clearly outlines the major fault-lines among 2 communities & why partition is good for both of them}.

    Hinduism itself started linking the different ideologies during 14th century even though Brahmins & Sharmanas have been ever present in Ancient India. Clear distinctions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism etc. only took shape in the later parts of foreign rulers {aka during Colonial period specially}.

    For reference check – Unifying Hinduism by Andrew J. Nicholson

    Check this paper – https://www.academia.edu/2399492/Doxography_and_Boundary-Formation_in_Late_Medieval_India
    Note – The transmission of knowledge in one direction but not in other direction because Indians back then did not have any understanding of what is religion rather they were fighting the battle of ideas & it took them centuries to move from that tradition to forming an organized religious narrative. Muslims took interest in understanding the Indic religious works for 2 reasons – to govern & to convert by proving their superiority in theological matters.

    // Why is Jinnah a villain but Gandhi & Nehru not? //
    Because Gandhi & Nehru both had been able to somewhat stem the Colonial interests back then but Jinnah became their most prominent instrument in following through their plans.

    // Does Pakistan have an original sin that it can’t account for? //
    The question itself highlights one thing – The Abrahamic shadow on thought process. What does one mean when someone uses the term “Original Sin” ? It is essentialy an Abrahamic concept.

    Yes the real sin of Pakistan is rooted in it’s non-acknowledgement of accepting the Hindu-Buddhist past which shows in it’s narrative where it tries to balance out the older identities as “Jahiliya or Jahils” in favor of “Mohammadean ancestors”.

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  3. I think this question is actually rather pointless (Sorry Zach). Partition happened because of contingent events in the 1940s (lack of political compromise/personality clashes among Nehru, Jinnah, Gandhi etc). The Lahore Resolution of 1940 did not ask for a separate country but some kind of autonomy. As late as 1946, Jinnah accepted the Cabinet Mission Plan. If he was serious about getting a Muslim country, he would not have been so ambivalent about it. This is why Ayesha Jalal says Pakistan was a bargaining chip. Congress called his bluff and basically told him to go to hell. They thought “Pakistanis” would come crawling back in 10 years. Nothing that caused so much loss of life and created so many refugees can justifiably be called a “good idea”. Perhaps if the British had not advanced the date and carried it out in an orderly fashion, we could have achieved the same ends without the ethnic cleansing that happened in Punjab.

    It is my opinion that Congress rather than the League is really responsible for Partition. But somehow in the Indian narrative it is Jinnah and the Muslims who “vivisected” the motherland. In the Pakistani narrative, it is Jinnah who “freed us from Hindu Raj”. How does one reconcile these narratives?

    But the reason why I say this question is pointless is that it is now purely of academic interest to historians. Pakistan exists (and now so does Bangladesh). The vast majority of Pakistanis don’t want some kind of reunification. We have a Muslim-majority country and we are ruling ourselves. Bangladeshis are ruling themselves.

    What I think we need to do is move on from the past and look to the future. We need to get to a state where we can behave like normal countries and look out for our collective interests. South Asia is a mess and both countries need to work together to fix it. Our current love/hate relationship (mostly hate at the moment) is pathological.

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      1. So, Ayesha Jalal is the person best placed to explain this (and it’s been a long time since I’ve read her work, particularly her study of QeA entitled “The Sole Spokesman”.) As the title of the book implies, QeA had ego issues and regarded himself as the “Sole Spokesman” of the Muslim community or “nation” as he had started calling it by then. He regarded Maulana Azad as a “traitor” and a “Congress Muslim” because Maulana Azad foresaw that dividing British India on the basis of “religion” would lead to further divisions later. Which it did of course. One the “bania” was removed from Pakistan, we turned on the Bengali, the “enemy within”. With them gone, it is perhaps the turn of the Shia sect. A nation formed on the basis of “othering” people will always find someone new to “other”. This at least was Maulana Azad’s theory. The current rulers of India are also bent on “othering” Muslims and we see the results everyday.

        As for why the “Ambassador of Hindu-Muslim Unity” turned into the “Father of Pakistan”, that requires a much more detailed look at events from the 1920s to the 1940s. I am not a Historian. What I remember from my university courses was that there were certain fears of certain sections of the Muslim community (The British had perhaps over-emphasized religion as THE category as opposed to language, province, etc–the politics of divide and rule) and to address these fears Mr. Jinnah had suggested separate electorates, weighted representation, stuff like that. These compromises were rejected by INC for their own reasons (some valid some invalid). So finally Mr. Jinnah just said “OK, Muslims in British India are a nation and as such we need a share in the division of power”. And this led to a certain kind of politics. Our Colonial Masters were eager to leave by that time and they suggested the Partition Plan, which Mr. Jinnah reluctantly accepted. The genie had been let out of the bottle and couldn’t be put back in. Events had taken on a life of their own. The Hindu Mahasabha (that era’s BJP) also played a very nasty role in thwarting compromise formulas between ML and INC. Compromise formulas could have been found and many were discussed over the decades. Cabinet Mission Plan being the last of them.

        We did not have to get to the point of cleansing Pakistan of Punjabi Hindus and Sikhs. That was not an inevitable outcome. If anything is Pakistan’s “original sin”, it is that ethnic cleansing. Of course, East Punjab was basically ethnically cleansed of Muslims, so it’s not as if the same thing was not happening on the other side. Ethnic cleansing happened in Bengal as well, but Gandhi went on a hunger strike so the extent of it was controlled somewhat.

        This is of course a very partial explanation. But I’m trying to be very neutral and not “Pak-nationalist” at all. Jalal is one of the most well-known scholars on this era. India’s Jaswant Singh also wrote a famous book in which he blames Congress and not the League for failure to compromise.

        But again, I think these are now questions for Historians. For Pakistanis, it is much more important to settle the direction in which we want our country to go: Jinnah’s “cultural Muslim” Pakistan or General Zia’s “Islamic” state. Indians need to decide if Nehruvian secularism is to be thrown out and a “Hindu Rashtra” is created. Of course, I have certain views on what they should decide, but that is ultimately a question that Indian citizens need to settle at the polling booth. As a Pakistani, I have no say in that decision.

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        1. Secular politics and constitution is here to stay in India. BJP had been in power on and off from 2000 they’ve never changed the constitution. Of course there are lunatic fringe elements who create much noise and get even more attention, but they can’t alter the secular democratic framework even though quality of discussions is greatly lowered

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    1. // We have a Muslim-majority country and we are ruling ourselves. Bangladeshis are ruling themselves. //

      This is exactly what creates problems in India with regards to Secularism & minority rights. If Hindus & other minorities would have flourished in these new states {Pakistan & Bangladesh} the narrative of right wing would not have gained traction easily. Also the fact that many nations have Islam as state religion & favor it over other religions yet the region that has most diverse beliefs is expected to uphold “Freedom of Religion” framed from Abrahamic religious debate, which has not shown any concern about other belief systems of the world.

      Secondly the intermingling of law & religion in “secular majority Muslim states” like Malaysia, Aceh {Indonesia} etc. resulted in further strengthening of narrative of Muslim taking over the world.

      Big rallies in support of radicalized groups or leaders, Dawah camps misrepresenting other religions & so on. It creates a situation where non-Muslims simply have to assert their identities because of assertiveness of Muslims, these reactions & counter-reactions resulting in the kind of extreme reactions we are seeing all over the world.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_criminal_law_in_Aceh

      Also search about – Islamization South East Asia {Notice common trends of Islam’s expansion from History & compare them to politics of modern ‘Muslim Majority’ regions}

      // We need to get to a state where we can behave like normal countries and look out for our collective interests. //

      I concur but it is not possible till Muslims mend their ways, start accepting the historical facts or start honestly engaging with Non-Muslims of the world.

      See the change in attitude in the Islam’s most treasured nation –
      https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/saudiarabia/8303974/Analysis-Saudi-Arabias-war-between-god-and-archaeology.html
      https://www.google.co.in/search?q=Saudi+archeology&client=opera&hs=FAi&source=lnms&tbm=nws&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiz3u6cz87aAhVIN48KHYpzAcEQ_AUICigB&biw=1709&bih=882

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      1. It was the founders of the Republic of India who framed the nation as a secular state. The founders of Pakistan framed it as a “Muslim” state . Again, “Muslim” state and “Islamic” state are two very different things–this is what I would call Pakistan’s identity crisis and Zach uses the (less kind) term “psychosis”. If the majority of India’s voters want a “Hindu Rashtra”, by all means create one. But the dismantling of Nehruvian Secularism is not Pakistan’s fault. There are certain push and pull factors intrinsic to India.

        Remarks about Muslims “mending their ways” are in my opinion not helpful and smack of a kind of bigotry. That’s all I’m going to say about that. But I do want to note that Saudi has its own problems–none of which are the fault of Pakistan. As for Saudi being Islam’s “most treasured” nation: Yes, the two Holiest Mosques are in that country, but many “liberal” Pakistanis deeply resent the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the impact that that country’s version of “Islam” has had on Pakistan. That is a whole another discussion which I don’t want to get into with you. Suffice it to say that I would hope India as a secular state and a democracy holds itself to higher standards than a country which is run on Sharia and is also an autocratic kingdom. If you want to be the Hindu version of Pakistan, which is also supposedly a democracy, go for it. But “liberal” Pakistanis always looked to India as a model of what we could be. It would be shame if India starts adopting the worst aspects of the majoritarianism next door. But the decision is ultimately that of India’s voters.

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        1. “But the dismantling of Nehruvian Secularism is not Pakistan’s fault. ” – are you sure about that? Hasn’t Pakistan’s gung ho behavior for the last seventy years contributed towards it? We live in an interconnected world. One state’s behavior impacts on other states. Particularly the neighborhood. Pakistan does not have a good reputation in the world for being a responsible and mature state. It’s reckless revisionism brought lots of grief to itself and others.

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          1. Pakistan’s behavior is deeply troubling in many ways but it would be unfair (in my opinion) to give it so much importance in the decline of Nehruvian Secularism. The RSS has been a presence in India since 1947. The Mahasabha existed even in the days of the Raj. Certainly the current BJP administration holds secularism in contempt. This has to do more with who they believe is truly Indian rather than with Pakistan in particular.

            That at least is my analysis. You are free to disagree.

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          2. >“But the dismantling of Nehruvian Secularism is not Pakistan’s fault. ” – are you sure about that? Hasn’t Pakistan’s gung ho behavior for the last seventy years contributed towards it? We live in an interconnected world. One state’s behavior impacts on other states. Particularly the neighborhood. Pakistan does not have a good reputation in the world for being a responsible and mature state. It’s reckless revisionism brought lots of grief to itself and others.

            Well we’re assuming that Nehruvian Secularism existed in the first place and that it thrived until the what? The early ’90s? Indira Gandhi was courting Hindu nationalists way before then. India has always upholded Hindu culture and values above others which is exactly why cow slaughter has been banned in many states for what can only be religious reasons. Lets first do away with this myth of India being a Nehruvian secular state under Congress before the nefarious BJP came along and subverted India.

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          3. // India has always upholded Hindu culture and values above others which is exactly why cow slaughter has been banned in many states for what can only be religious reasons. Lets first do away with this myth of India being a Nehruvian secular state under Congress before the nefarious BJP came along and subverted India. //

            Yes religion was the factor for Beef ban but you need to look into it on the basis of period & politics of that period.

            General overview – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cattle_slaughter_in_India

            https://scroll.in/article/820818/its-easy-to-see-why-the-right-wanted-this-book-about-indians-beef-eating-history-to-be-banned
            Book – Myth Of The Holy Cow by Dwijendra Narayan Jha
            https://archive.org/details/TheMythOfHolyCowJha

            https://scroll.in/article/812645/read-what-ambedkar-wrote-on-why-brahmins-started-worshipping-the-cow-and-gave-up-eating-beef
            Book – The Untouchables Who Were They and Why They Became Untouchables ?
            Book by B. R. Ambedkar
            https://archive.org/details/TheUntouchables_1948

            http://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-holiness-of-the-cow-and-controversy-over-beef-eating-in-ancient-india/

            One of the founding figure of Hindu Right’s views about Cows –
            https://scroll.in/article/763503/read-what-vd-savarkar-wrote-care-for-cows-do-not-worship-them

            Political opportunism –
            https://scroll.in/article/759574/holy-cow-our-bovine-protectors-are-milking-an-old-script-with-new-hypocrisy
            https://thewire.in/law/unveiling-indias-long-history-of-hypocrisy-on-cow-slaughter-laws
            http://indianexpress.com/article/explained/directive-principle-not-right-how-cow-protection-became-part-of-constitution-4683383/
            https://www.news18.com/news/india/how-the-cow-issue-cropped-up-in-constituent-assembly-debates-1642405.html

            The religious overtones are there because of political opportunism & the history of beef politics goes back to ancient India but it’s modern use is all about politics & power in the garb of religious belief, for e.g. In constituent assembly debates you can see the shift from economics to religious overtones.

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        2. // Again, “Muslim” state and “Islamic” state are two very different things //

          I understand & that’s why i used the term Muslim because of those regions having a large Muslim population but not having Islamic laws instead having secular laws for the large period of modern world.

          // There are certain push and pull factors intrinsic to India. //

          And i was simply trying to bring them into the picture.

          // Remarks about Muslims “mending their ways” are in my opinion not helpful and smack of a kind of bigotry. //

          Well that’s your interpretation of that line even though i expanded upon it in the rest of the sentence.

          Yes even i don’t want the secularism in India to recede but in an identitarian world it is necessary to play ‘Identity Politics’ & that’s the fault line I was trying to bring into focus.

          http://www.pewforum.org/2017/10/03/many-countries-favor-specific-religions-officially-or-unofficially/

          I have already mentioned about the lack of Non-Abrahamic perspectives & the general disregard of those traditions in large part of academics which is bringing about the kind of Identity politics we are seeing in India. If we won’t acknowledge & discuss these underlying problems the solution will always remain illusive.

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          1. I was a student of English Literature. That is what my degree is in. Talking about people “mending their ways” is condescending and can only be interpreted as bigoted. You may say you are not bigoted but that is the impression one gets from a close reading of those words. You may rephrase them if you wish. If you say “Some of my best friends are Muslims” I will lose all respect for you.

            If your contention is that Hindutva is a reaction to Islam, I will disagree with that analysis. Hindutva is a toxic political ideology bent on claiming Hindus as the “sons of the soil” and “othering” everyone else. The Mahasabha existed before Partition. Sorry, Hindutva is a problem for you guys, just as Islamism is a problem for us. Shashi Tharoor has taken down Hindutva brilliantly. India needs more men like him.

            India’s huge advantages over Pakistan were the lack of military coups and the robust secularism. If India wants to destroy Pandit Nehru’s legacy (as it seems Lord Voldemort is bent on doing), it will turn into a Hindu Pakistan and that would be a really sad outcome for all South Asians.

            That’s all I have to say on this subject. Engaging with the Hindu Right is not good for my mental health. Thanks.

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        3. “othering” is common to all -isms. What you are missing here is a single monolithic Identity {Hinduism internal divisions} blocks like the ones we see among Abrahamic believers & now it is certainly happening here among Hindus to some extent as a counter reaction to the ‘conversion factor’ & Identity politics , name one Abrahamic nation where a whole region’s belief has been converted ? & now check the Nagaland & Christian conversion drives in North East of India. All beliefs differ regionally but having a central core with particular interpretation does help in Othering of all non-Abrahamic belief systems by Abrahamic beliefs.

          Using terms like “condescending” has not helped neither Muslims nor non-Muslims. So while you are free to see my position like that i am seeing your position as the condescending one because any form of religious or other reform does require one to accept the common social threads & the problems they entail which you are not willing to do so.

          So you mean to say that just because of singular person India had democracy ? I guess you are forgetting all the people who are required to indulge in the democratic process & no democracy works in isolation or without people. If all these people were not willing to suspend their ‘old’ beliefs in favor of new system aka Westminster system after India’s independence would there have been democracy ?

          I guess just because Indians have certain viewpoints your accusations of Indians or me being ‘Hindu right’ is not othering, condescending & hypocritical.

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          1. No, it was not because of “one person” that India had democracy. But secularism was Pandit Nehru’s legacy. If the Hindu Right of that period had had its way, your country would have been declared a Hindu Rashtra just as Pakistan very quickly became the “Islamic Republic of Pakistan”.

            I judge you to be a member of the “Hindu Right” because you say things like “Muslims need to mend their ways”. If you are not a member of the Hindu Right and do not vote for the BJP, please feel free to clarify. If you voted for Lord Voldemort or his party, I have nothing further to say to you. Please feel free to destroy your country. It doesn’t effect me. I’m a Pakistani-American. I feel for India’s Muslim minority though with people like the current regime in power.

            Hindutva is as terrible as Islamism is my bottom line.

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          2. // No, it was not because of “one person” that India had democracy. But secularism was Pandit Nehru’s legacy. If the Hindu Right of that period had had its way, your country would have been declared a Hindu Rashtra just as Pakistan very quickly became the “Islamic Republic of Pakistan”. //

            Isn’t it hypocritical to claim that democracy was not because of one person but secularism was ?

            Let me rephrase the question, In India for the most part since Independence whenever the term ‘Secularism’ was used it was to invoke a feeling of – “Sarva Dharma Sadbhava or Sambhav”, now what’s the source of this teaching Or is it because of Nehru alone ? So if secularism in India used historical religious teaching then should it be termed as Nehruvian Secularism ?

            http://www.epw.in/engage/article/have-nehruvians-misunderstood-Nehrus-Views-on-Religion

            Yes i understand what Nehru’s legacy is {he averted the danger of theological state or as you like to say ‘Hindu Rashtra’} but the way his legacy gets presented has political undertones which tries to dismiss all other sources of social change & it includes beliefs which essentially allowed him to do modernization changes.

            Well i am not the only one about asking Muslims to change their ways or for Islamic reform & if i am wrong then why the Saudi prince is bringing in changes ? Why there are calls for reform among Islamic intelligentsia ? What people like Majid Nawaz is calling for ?

            What’s France trying to do in the name of “Reform Islam” ? Why nations have imposed ‘Burka Bans’ ? Why there are constant calls for Islamic reform by national leaders ? If these calls are not for “Mending the ways {along with enforcing the ways in some cases}” then i don’t know in what other ways you are interpreting these words.

            Blindly following every ideology is as dangerous as Islamism or Hindutva & for your info I vote NOTA.

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          3. France’s “burqa ban” is deeply illiberal but then the French understanding of “Secularism” or laicite is different from how secularism is understood in the United States. The US is a secular state yet Muslim women are allowed to wear hijab. It is between them and Allah (SWT). In my opinion, neither should any one be forced to wear hijab nor should any one be forced to take it off. And I grew up in an upper-middle class Pakistani family where the women usually did not even cover their heads with their dupattas, but wore them around their necks as part of the outfit. My paternal grandmother, who was originally from UP, wore saris all her life.

            The Saudi Prince is a Muslim and the leader of his country. If he wants Saudis to change their ways, that is up to him. There are calls within the Muslim community for reform. That’s fine. But for a non-Muslim to say we should “mend our ways” is deeply offensive. You wouldn’t like such a generalized statement as “Hindus should mend their ways” would you? Perhaps your interpretation of English is different from mine (English happens to essentially be my first language for all intents and purposes).

            I am done engaging with you on this issue as this conversation is no longer productive.

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          4. If i have offended any person in anyway then i am sorry.

            I am done too but you should re-read the thread if you find that line that offensive & since you raised various other questions i have tried to answer them & pose other related questions which it seems that you are not interested in answering. Anyways till next time…… bye & take care.

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  4. Since this post is about Partition, I am posting a link to a theater review I wrote of a “A Tryst with Destiny”, a play produced in Washington, DC in 2012 that was written by a local Indian-American psychiatrist. Some of the issues covered in this comment thread are addressed in the piece. Those who are interested can read it.

    https://kabiraltaf.wordpress.com/2018/04/23/a-tryst-with-destiny-reflections-on-the-partition-of-india/

    This will probably be my last comment on this particular thread because I feel that we Indians and Pakistanis have rehashed Partition over and over again and it is not done much to change views in either country. At this point, this job would be better left to scholars who are objectively equipped to assess the evidence and reach conclusions. For most of us, nationalism or patriotism or whatever gets in the way of objectively looking at history (myself included)

    One book that those who are really interested in this subject should read is “Midnight’s Furies: The Deadly Legacy of India’s Partition” by Nisid Hajari ( 2015). I read it right when it came out (on vacation ironically, it’s not really a beach read) and it was interesting though like many books written by those of Indian origin, I felt it was a bit unfair to Jinnah and the League (but again I have certain Pakistani nationalist biases, which I recognize). Otherwise, it is a straightforward historical work which includes footnotes and bibliography. There’s nothing wrong with it. There is also the classic “Freedom at Midnight” written some decades ago. But personally, I feel it’s time to move on from 1947. I’m more interested in the future of Pakistan rather than whether the country should have existed in the first place.

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      1. If there was an “original sin”, it applies equally to both the new dominions. Both sides of Punjab were ethnically cleansed. Something similar happened on both sides of Bengal except Gandhi threatened to fast unto death, which stopped the rioting.

        Ethnic cleansing is never good. But making a country of your own based on some logic (however flawed in retrospect) is not inherently wrong.

        Anyway, for me, Pakistan is my identity. I don’t want to be an Indian.

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  5. Partition was a good idea, the original #Paxit, terribly executed.

    There is no “original sin”. The fact that the Pakistani state is culturally Islamicate (or Persianate or whatever) it complety ok. Nothing sacrosanct about Bharat Mata.

    What is a problem though is the tendency of some in Pakistan (from even before its inception) to see the place as some sort of last refuge or redoubt of the Ummah – a Muslim Israel of sorts. This over-engineering is patently silly, brings more harm than good and makes evolution of Pakistan into a modern Westernized Islamicate welfare state that much more difficult.

    I would urge you to read Venkat Dhulipala’s excellent and exhaustive research on the debate on Pakistan in the pre-Partition Urdu newspapers, pamphlets and magazines in “Creating a New Medina”.

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    1. “Nothing sacrosanct about Bharat Mata”–Thank you. So we can now stop hearing about how the “Muslims” and specifically Jinnah “vivisected” Mother India? We have been blamed for this for 70 years now. Let it go.

      No one book can explain Partition. But please forgive me if I find Dr. Ayesha Jalal (who has been around a lot longer than Dr. Dhulipala) a lot more credible. Dr. Jalal has taught at Harvard while Dr. Dhulipala teaches at the University of North Carolina–Wilmington. Dr. Jalal received her Ph.D from the University of Cambridge in England, which surely ranks higher than The University of Minnesota, where Dr. Dhulipala received his doctorate.

      “The Sole Spokesman: Jinnah, The Muslim League and the Demand for Pakistan” has long been considered the authoritative book on this subject.

      https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/the-sole-spokesman/53629540A69011A6E2719E347AA80E91

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      1. Also, comparing Pakistan to Israel is fundamentally flawed. Israel did not exist in 1947 when Pakistan was created. At that time “Israel” was still Palestine. The Partition of British India was agreed upon by the ML (representing the Muslims), INC (representing the Hindus) and the colonial power. The borders were drawn by the colonial power and have roughly been adhered to since. Israel invaded what the UN had designated as land for the Palestinian Arab state. Since 1948, Palestine has become smaller and smaller– almost ceasing to exist. Pakistan is not Occupying anyone’s land under International Law (despite what Indian nationalists think about AJK and G-B). Pakistan has defined its borders. Israel, to this day, refuses to do so. Comparing Pakistan to an apartheid state (which most people except hard core Zionists acknowledge is an apartheid state) is frankly rather offensive.

        The only similarity is that Israel was founded as a “Jewish homeland” (for Jews from anywhere and everywhere) and Pakistan is the homeland of the Muslims of British India (we don’t take Muslims from the rest of the world and automatically give them Pakistani citizenship). That’s where reasonable comparisons end. India is not Palestine. If any place is Palestine, it is the Kashmir Valley.

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          1. Disputed territory, pending a plebiscite in the entire erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir Princely State. That was the official position at the UN. I think now the International Community has decided it is an India-Pakistan bilateral issue. Pakistani diplomats have failed completely to “Internationalize” the issue.

            India calls AJK + G-B “Pakistan Occupied Kashmir” (POK) and shows it all as part of India on any map that enters their country (even Google Maps in India). Pakistan calls “J &K”, Indian Occupied or Indian-held Kashmir. However, we mark it as Disputed Territory on our official maps.

            The Indian Parliament passed a resolution sometime ago demanding “POK” back. Good luck to them I say. Wake up and face reality.

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      2. Regarding this silly Dhulipala v Jalal you’re alluding to, I don’t like measuring dicks esp those of others. I have no academic credentials in history and have both Jalal’s and Dhulipala’s books on my shelf at home. I do not read a pointless contest into them, and I’d be an idiot for doing so simply because I lack the training to do so even if there were. I take it you aren’t a published historian either …

        I quote Dhulipala’s book as an in-depth study of pre-Partition Urdu literature on Pakistan. Even Jalal would say it is a great resource for that literature, even though (I presume) she wouldn’t agree with Dhulipala’s conclusions. That’s standard academic disagreement for you.

        Don’t make it into a Dhulipala v Jalal because it isn’t. And have the humility to learn from people rather than quote their CVs.

        PS: Why do I sense that if Jalal and Dhulipala weren’t of different religions (at least nominally) the above comparison wouldn’t have been made?

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        1. Ayesha Jalal is married to a “nominal” Hindu. So your P.S. is beside the point.

          It’s just that Dr. Dhulipala is a relatively new guy with one book to his credit and Dr. Jalal has been doing this work for decades.

          I’ll leave it at that.

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      3. It doesn’t mean Dr. Dhulipala doesn’t have anything worthwhile to say just because he didn’t do the Ivies..

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  6. By the way, the debate on the comment page regarding secularism is really pointless. The problem of Indic* states has always been of the lack of Rule of Law and lack of institution building.

    Babri-demolition, Bhinderanwale episode and defilement of Harmandir Sahib (consumed the mother), handling of Tamil crisis and LTTE (consumed the son), Naxalbari episode and subsequent violent Left-wing extremism in E India etc are all ultimately because there was never a critical mass of Indians serious about the right process and procedure, but more interested in ad hoc tinkering based on short-term interests leading to terrible consequences.

    Indic people can have a Muslim state and a Hindu state and a Sikh state and a Christian state all they want, but these are mere utopian delusions being chased by a people who don’t get what’s really wrong with them. I sense this thread is going to become another Indo-Pak slanging match soon, so best of luck to the keyboard combatants.

    I’ll bow out now and get my popcorn.

    *Indic = short-hand for culturally Indic (e.g. majority Indo-Aryan speaking) as opposed to politically. This is like how France is Latinate, but not actually politically subservient to Italy. If anything the reverse is true these days 😉

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    1. You are using “Indic” very differently than your predecessor on this site and one of our now (ex) contributors, for whom “Indic” basically meant “Hindu”. You guys need to try to at least keep your definitions consistent.

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      1. Indic for me is no more than short-hand for language. I can use geography, i.e. Indic = West of Indus. That will capture most people I’m talking about.

        I really am least bothered which religious-nationality any people subscribe to. English Anglican, Spain Catholic, India Hindu .. big deal.

        My point is where Indians (or Pakistanis etc) fuck up is their almost total lack of any rule of law. They can’t stick to laws and procedure irrespective of what the end goal is. What results is vigilantism, thuggery, massive overkills, general shoddiness (even of their living spaces) and technological backwardness etc.

        Pakistani elite borrowed this rule of law on the cheap from their military. Indians tried to be “creative” and did a hotch-potch of commie statism, Fabian socialism and License Raj. That lack of procedure, more than any other thing else, makes India (and Pakistan) the sorry place that it is.

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        1. The question is, why did it happen so?. Its because of lack of philosophy. Political philosophy, that politicians and their voters can create laws that are often contradictory and add up to confusion. Its like idiots discovering they can make laws not recognizing the need for principles. And the consequences of violating those principles.

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        2. I agree with you on rule of law.

          I think religious majoritarianism and forcing your religious views on others is a problem in both countries (more so in Pakistan).

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  7. @mir,

    ///Well we’re assuming that Nehruvian Secularism existed in the first place and that it thrived until the what? The early ’90s? Indira Gandhi was courting Hindu nationalists way before then. India has always upholded Hindu culture and values above others which is exactly why cow slaughter has been banned in many states for what can only be religious reasons. Lets first do away with this myth of India being a Nehruvian secular state under Congress before the nefarious BJP came along and subverted India.///

    This comment is truly delusional, considering if this were true, it would be a really funny way of showing to support and uphold Hindu cultural values . You do realize that had nehru wished so, constitution would itself have reflected this more thoroughly as in pakistan, same with Indira Gandhi who introduced “secularism” into constitution under emergency.

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    1. Mir has a point.

      Even in the 1940s, Mr. Jinnah believed that Congress was a party of “soft Hindutva”. This was why he believed that only the ML represented Muslims.

      The locks of the Babri Masjid were opened under Rajiv Gandhi’s government (if I recall correctly). It’s not as simple as “Congress=good” and “BJP=bad” Though if that were the only choice one had, I would choose Congress every time (total disclosure).

      As recently as last month, Sonia Gandhi made some statement that in order to win Hindu votes, Congress needs to disassociate itself from Muslims. If this doesn’t show how far to the right even the so-called “centrist” party has moved in India, nothing does.

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  8. Zachary,
    I think people sometimes disagree about the answers because they have not thought of looking at X from a different viewpoint, but in other cases they disagree because their fundamental aims and ideals may differ. In other words, there may be no way to bridge this gap completely just by asking someone to think “if Indian independence is a good thing, why is Pakistan a bad idea”. For example, I would say Indian independence is a good thing because Indians should run their affairs, but Pakistan is a bad idea because it is ideologically, geographically and historically unsound and encourages the process of endless civil war between Muslims and others in India.. And then the argument started 🙂
    That said, we are still not wasting our time if we can learn new things, and learn WHY others seem to think differently. But having learnt new things and learned why our opponents say what they say, we may still be opponents.

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    1. That’s true; I’m interested in different perspectives without it spiralling into an endless brawl.

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  9. Yes, Hindu nationalism always existed since 19th century, so Pakistan’s antic has nothing to do about its gaining commanding strength in late 20th century.
    German nationalism and antisemitism always existed in Germany for hundreds of years, so Versailles, Great Depression have nothing to do about Nazi’s coming to power.
    Anti-immigration, racism always existed in Europe, so the terrorist attacks, waves of immigration have nothing to do about the full spectrum dominance of the right in European politics.
    And Finally
    Extremism in religion, conservatism and religious violence always existed in the Muslim world from Morocco to South Asia, so Western aggression against Middle East has nothing to do with spate of terrorism, conservatism and violence engulfing the Muslim world.
    There is no ebb and flow in history no contingent causes. As the famous song says
    “We didn’t start the fire
    It was always burning
    Since the world’s been turning
    We didn’t start the fire”

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    1. Well, I didn’t say “Pakistan has nothing to do with Hindu nationalism”. It is quite plausible that had India not been violently partitioned, this type of Hindu nationalism that we see today may not have existed. Muslims would have been one third of United India’s population. Some sort of modus vivendi would have been worked out.

      But this is all counterfactual. It’s quite possible that the more Muslims there were, the more virulent the Hindu nationalists would have gotten.

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  10. H mahasabha was formed in 1915 response to muslim league about a decade earlier 1906. syed ahmed shah invoked 2 nation theory before savarkar. (ram guha) Also a fact. It is strange that people are upset about Hindu nationalism when pakistan as an islamic state already exists.

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    1. Do you want India to go down the path of Pakistan? Ask yourself that question. That’s why people are worried about Hindu nationalism.

      It hurts me to say this as a Pakistani, but Pakistan went down a very self-destructive path trying to decide who is “Islamic” enough and who isn’t.

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      1. No. The “self destruction” is in letting vigilante mobs decide who is Islamic enough. The state’s process and law enforcement takes a back seat.

        English Common law has Blasphemy statutes too, but rendered toothless in courts and English people can be trusted for not organizing gangs to impose them.

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        1. Look I am a Pakistani. I love my country. It hurts me to say this, but the state’s process is messed up enough without the vigilantes.

          It was the National Assembly which declared a certain community that self-identifies as Muslim to be “non-Muslim”. I can’t say any more here. I live in Pakistan. I’m sure you understand the need to be circumspect.

          Your comparison with English Common Law doesn’t make much sense. In Islam, blasphemy is a very serious crime, making one “wajib-ul qatal” (liable to be killed). I don’t think the English take the C of E that seriously.

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          1. They don’t now.

            Blasphemy was as serious in Christianity. They grew up after a lot of blood-letting. Maybe Pakistan would too.

            Re you being in Pakistan: bonne chance!

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          2. I know blasphemy was serious in Christianity. But they had a reformation and states like the UK are now more or less secular, despite the Queen being the head of the Church of England.

            Pakistan is officially “The Islamic Republic of Pakistan”. When Governor Salmaan Taseer spoke about simply amending the blasphemy laws (not getting rid of them, but making them harder to abuse), he was murdered by his own bodyguard. Perhaps you don’t truly understand how big a deal insulting the Prophet (peace be upon him) is in most Muslim countries–not just Pakistan.

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      2. we cant go there because we are polytheists, not monotheists. Maybe a bit like japan for some time and cool down , that would be the worst scenario. For example, atheists wouldnt find much hate here.

        As to your situation in pakistan, take all precautions. We recently found that few Bangladeshis came to India to kill some Indian bloggers. Every one needs to take precautions.

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        1. I try not to get involved in public debates on Islam. Secularists can’t win those anyway because the mullahs can always say “but you can’t quote Quran. You haven’t read it in Arabic”. Arguing with them on the basis of human rights is a waste of time.

          Pakistan is a strange country. We all have to be very outwardly pious and “Muslim”. Inside our houses (especially among the elite) we basically live like we are in New York.

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