National and International Issues

India’s Drift Toward Fascism

BJP and RSS have a similar modus operandi as that of Nazi Germany, resulting in the alienation of Kashmir's Muslims. What is surprising is the jarring silence of the international community on the atrocities being carried out.


A major ideological transformation is taking place in India that has serious regional and global consequences. Following in the footsteps of Hitler who had identified the Jewish people both with Bolshevism and a kind of cosmic evil, the BJP-led government of India seems to treat the Muslims in Kashmir, and in India in general, with sheer contempt. Nazism had declared the Jews – whatever their educational and social achievements – inimical to the Germans, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) considers Muslims in a similar vein. Just as Nazism attempted to reconcile the conservative, nationalist ideology with a socially radical doctrine, BJP is trying to merge its version of socialism with a highly biased and conservative version of religious ideology. By whipping up religious frenzy and mixing it with nationalism, it aims to move India forward – albeit a largely negative one that poses a threat to its own minorities and neighbors. It gives an impression that the state believes in the inequality of people and judges them on the basis of their religion and narrow vested interests. 



Moreover, by trampling on human rights and showing disrespect to anyone opposing its policies, it is challenging the very basics of correct national conduct. A glaring example of this conduct is the way Babri Masjid was destroyed, giving a clear impression of how passions were exploited and frenzy created for political gains. The radical wing of RSS in all these years has gained considerable prominence. Ever since Narendra Modi has been the Prime Minister of India, he has transformed the entire social and political structure of India and promoted fear and anxiety among the Muslims of India and deliberately foisted the policy of extreme antagonism towards Pakistan. It has tried to influence the thinking and behavior of the military and political segments against Pakistan. Being the most ardent supporter of RSS, he has promoted the philosophy, and its ability to shape multiple security threats has major implications for Pakistan. Those who understand the working of RSS are of the view that it is by far one of the most powerful organizations and political forces in India today. The authority and power that its leader commands are certainly among the top few in the country. And by virtue of the millions of volunteers and a wide network of affiliates and organizations that it has, allowed it to acquire a central position in India’s political and social structure. These developments have given rise to a dangerous form of Hindu nationalism and in turn, the politics of Hindutva. These actions betray Modi government’s intentions of promoting an environment where one who is strong can push the weaker communities to oblivion, suppressing different religious institutions and pushing the agenda of a uniform Hindutva country. What is surprising is that the international community, so vocal otherwise in pointing human rights violations, is mostly silent apart from a few Human Rights (HR) institutions that have compiled detailed reports. The secular character of India for which at one time its people used to take pride in, now its leaders boast of converting it to a Hindutva driven state. It is also in such sharp contrast to what the earlier leaders of India – Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru – had visualized. This warped frame of mind and aggressive behavior is reflected in its policies toward Pakistan and its South Asian neighbors in general. Its worst demonstration is the inhuman dealings with its own Muslim population and those of Kashmir in particular. 


Following in the footsteps of Hitler who had identified the Jewish people both with Bolshevism and a kind of cosmic evil, the BJP-led government of India seems to treat the Muslims in Kashmir, and in India in general, with sheer contempt.


It wants to browbeat Pakistan for supporting the cause of Kashmiri people and not accepting India’s hegemony. The very raison d'être for the creation of Pakistan was to have an independent homeland for the millions of Muslims of India. There can be no compromise on this fundamental issue. Pakistan would never abandon its support for the valiant struggle of the Kashmiris and their quest for freely exercising their option to join either India or Pakistan in accordance with the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions, or any agreement that all the three parties would be willing to adhere to. It is not possible for Pakistan to yield to change that violates this undertaking and betrays the pledge to its people. Whereas, India, during the last 74 years, has been tightening its grip on Kashmir through unilateral legislative measures that have no international standing. It is using the most harsh and coercive tactics, increasing the suffering of Kashmiris. Peace and restoration of normal relations with India will remain unrealized unless an honorable solution that guarantees the rights of the people is not agreed upon. However, Pakistan has always demonstrated its willingness for a cooperative and neighborly relationship and expects that India would agree to a just and honorable solution to the Kashmir dispute.


This warped frame of mind and aggressive behavior is reflected in its policies toward Pakistan and its South Asian neighbors in general. Its worst demonstration is the inhuman dealings with its own Muslim population and those of Kashmir in particular. 


The U.S. overlooks the human rights violations in Kashmir for expedient reasons. Whereas the Human Rights Watch and similar government and non-governmental organizations have published detailed scathing reports on the human rights violations and treatment of Muslims in Kashmir. India’s huge market and its potential as a counterweight to China prevents the U.S. and the West from taking a critical view of its human rights violations. Russia, China and other socialist countries have their own problems of human rights and generally stay away from commenting on human rights issues. India’s leadership is so arrogant that it has been brushing aside any criticism from non-governmental organizations.
India, by strategically aligning with the U.S. to counter China’s growing influence in Asia and globally, has created another complex dimension to the India-Pakistan relations. India has been procuring latest weapon systems from the U.S. on the pretext of building deterrence capability against China, but could well be directed against Pakistan. 
The U.S. is also showing greater flexibility in the transfer of technology to India. In terms of the support that it enjoys in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate is fairly close to what is given to Israel. All these factors are emboldening the BJP government and RSS’ Hindutva radical agenda. The most disconcerting factor is that the few voices of moderation and sanity are being muzzled. 
However, considering that President Biden has been very lukewarm towards Pakistan, it could further embolden Modi to be more hostile in his dealings with Pakistan. Apparently, the U.S.’ indifference toward Pakistan is due to the fallout of its military failure and strategic setback in Afghanistan, which obviously has no relevance with Pakistan. It would be unfortunate if this is how the U.S.-Pakistan relations would evolve for our leadership has always maintained that it desires friendly and cooperative relations with the U.S. and does not consider the strategic relations with China as an obstruction. But the chances of better relations with the U.S., at least in the foreseeable future, are very remote. 


In a sharp contrast to the provocative and extremely hostile policies of India, Pakistan’s leadership has demonstrated that it is willing to engage with India provided that the human rights situation in Kashmir is addressed. 


Prime Minister Imran Khan, and all political parties, have been very positive in engaging with India and expecting that it would move towards a resolution of Kashmir dispute. The military leadership supports a peaceful resolution of the problems and realizes the benefits of it. Peace efforts have been made several times in the past, on occasions even raising hopes of détente, but were short-lived. Whether the present alignment of India with the U.S. and that of Pakistan with China be another obstacle is yet to be determined. Strained relations with India do have a fallout on our relations with other countries of South Asia. Its bigger economy and greater international clout make South Asian countries lean on India even though they hold some genuine grievances against it. The previous Afghan government, being under the influence of India, remained hostile toward Pakistan.
The present state of relations with India is rather grim and there is no interaction between the governments and even among think tanks with hardly any prospects of improvement. Travel between the two countries more or less stands suspended. The only positive development has been that of the ceasefire on the LOC and international border that has been holding for nearly two years. This has given the people living close to the border respite and greater freedom to move around without the fear of being hit by the enemy.
In a sharp contrast to the provocative and extremely hostile policies of India, Pakistan’s leadership has demonstrated that it is willing to engage with India provided that the human rights situation in Kashmir is addressed. What India and the world has to realize is that Kashmir, besides being a problem between Pakistan and India, is a serious humanitarian catastrophe that affects the lives of 20 million Kashmiris. Most political parties and people seek improvement in relations with India and expect both sides would show a level of flexibility in their approach so that a way forward can be found. It is evidently clear that the fruits of normalization will be highly beneficial to both countries and the region altogether. In essence it will change the entire paradigm from confrontation to cooperation. For this, India has to take the lead and move towards solving the Kashmir dispute. Both countries will have to move away from the harsh rhetoric and look towards the enormous benefits it would accrue.


The writer is a retired Lieutenant General from Pakistan Army and an eminent scholar on national security and political issues.
E-mail: [email protected]
 

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