We wrapped up the debate on 1971; as I quipped I had been forced to “Defend the Indefensible. Most of the audience who spoke up did so in our favour (the audience was very mixed).
I found this an interesting debate because it was extremely difficult subject area; I could have argued for either side but it so happened I was slotted into “Team Pak”, which frankly suited me.
My “Pakistaniyat” is surging at the moment after Iran, Queen of the East, was slighted last week. I’ve realised Pakistan is the Persianate Shield and a stalking horse for our Turanian civilisational-complex. Once we cede the Satrap on the Indus; all chaos follows.
So this debate, which was rather serendipitous since it was only a matter of “timing” (I had gone for Chaat & Chat and then got drafted/enlisted myself in the debate) chimed with my own awakening Pakistani identity; dormant for so long.
However this does not change my pro-Hindu anti-Islam convictions (contradictory much I know). The latest controversy at Majlis is that the old logo had Vande Mataram on it, to which the Pakistanis are objecting to.
I’m extremely upset about this since as a Briton I’m rooted in a love for tradition. If the Majlis logo had Vande Mataram when it was founded in 1891 then it must continue the same tradition.
There are understandable concerns about VM’s anti-Muslim bias but Pakistanis must transcend the tit-for-tat mentality. Otherwise I will be making a move to change the name of Majlis to something neutral like “South Asian Gathering.” The Persianate culture did not come to India peacefully but forcefully and if we Pakis are to take on historical slights at every opportunity then we must also accept the dismantling of our shared culture.
VM is a rousing anthem about an ancient people waking up to defend their Motherland. It is a historical fact that those invaders included the Muslims and therefore just as God Save the Queen has some problematic verses so will VM. It doesn’t mean that we have to deny it but rather accept and understand the context in which it arose.
As a Kaffirstani I dislike the intense Pakistani attachment to Islam. Pakistanis must learn now to slice away this reflexive association and start immersing ourselves in a Hindu cultural framework. Just because India destroyed Babri Masjid and assault Allahabad does not give Pakistan any permission to destroy Hindu temples or rename Lakshmi Chowk. In fact Indo-Islamic culture has always been syncretic and Pakistan must embrace the Indian as well as the Islamic.
Cambridge as a South Asian Hub
Incidentally I was the first speaker of the first debate, in over 30 years, of a 128 year old Society that was extremely influential in the politics during the Raj.
As an aside Cambridge has always been a hub for South Asian politics unlike Oxford; Allama Iqbal, Chaudhary Rahmat, Nehru, Rajiv Gandhi are all associated with the college. I imagine this has to do with Cambridge’s more “radical” politics as opposed to Oxford being more conservative and establishment driven.
What I enjoy about Majlis is that it chimes so well with my online interests in BP and BC (BrownCast). A decade (patchy at times) of BP gives me a rather deep familiarity with the minutiae of South Asian contemporary politics and history..
The arguments on 1971
I made two arguments (we were limited 5 minutes each) and I got a bit carried away so I thundered them (at heart as a Kaffirstani, I’m quite the chameleon in my relentless need to blend in I take on lots of different roles):
(1.) The cause for a Just War. India did not sufficient explore diplomatic or international consensus. India as an “aggressive power”; 1948 Hyderabad, 1963 Goa and of course 1971 East Pak.
Furthermore the need to establish some greater consensus was not geniune as the Soviet Union was trying to avoid conflict a month before.
(2.) The nuclearification of the Subcontinent stemmed immediately from 1971 (December 1971 the war was lost, Jan 1972 Pakistan began the nuclear program).
I’ve heavily condensed my two arguments but I was only meant to deliver the main thrusts.
I was followed by my very good friend MJ, who’s a brilliant postdoc physicist (he’s Indian Hindu but his ancestors are from Dhaka). He structured his arguments as follows:
(1.) India was forced to act on its principles and help midwife the Bangladeshi people to freedom.
(2.) The genocide of the Bangladeshi people (he prefaced his remarks with gonimoter maal).
Following that we had some other argument (3 Prop, 3 Opp including ourselves) however my second Prop focused on the “hypocrisy” of Indian foreign policy.
To cut a very long story short I do think the Prop carried it because we did not contest the need for Bangladeshi independence but rather drew upon the reasons for Indian interference in 1971.