Sunday, November 30, 2008

What if...?

CIP asks an important question in the comments:

Would there be Islamic terrorism today if Israel didn't exist and India had held and abided by the promised referendum in Kashmir? Maybe so, but the targets would almost certainly be much different.

CIP was answered amply in the comments. Here is my answer. I cannot speak about Israel, but the answer is yes.

To address one thing first - the accession of J&K to India was precipitated by invasion from Pakistan; the referendum in Jammu & Kashmir was necessitated by Pakistan's invasion; and a precondition of the referendum was that Pakistan would vacate that aggression - which never happened.

Let us also note that the leader of the National Conference, Sheikh Abdullah, the largest popular party in J&K at that time did not like Jinnah, and was more in favor of independence than accession to Pakistan (or India). For a variety of reasons, independence was not a viable option.

But let us say J&K peacefully slipped into the hands of Pakistan in 1948. Would there be terrorism today?

My answer is an unequivocal yes. The reason is that Hinduism remains a fundamental challenge to the Islamic worldview. We are "polytheists" and "idolators" and "rule over" (not "try to live in secular equality with") a huge number of Muslims native to India. Pakistan was a creation explicitly made with the assumption that Muslims cannot live as equals with Hindus, and a common refrain in Pakistan is "if we're to be secular, modern, etc., like India, then why did we create Pakistan?". We pose an unsolved ideological challenge.

The logic of Partition - that Muslim majority areas had the right to secede from the whole that was British India - led to non-Muslim majority areas within Muslim majority provinces also seceding and remaining with India. This was a great disappointment, a "moth-eaten Pakistan". Until the debacle of the 1965 war, a popular slogan in Pakistan was "Hans ke liya Pakistan, ladke layenge Hindustan" (Laughing - as in child's play - we took Pakistan, fighting we will take Hindustan.)

At seven times the size, India would continue to be a "threat" to Pakistan; Pakistan would continue to seek strategic depth. This would mean both trying to make Afghanistan a puppet state, as well as seeking a fifth column in India. Pakistan's inherent contradictions would have continually led it to become more "Islamic". E.g., being "Islamic" meant imposing Urdu on everyone. Nothing to do with India or Kashmir; Jinnah started off on the wrong foot when he inaugurally told Banglas that Bengali would be a second-class language in the new Pakistan, and that was the first step that ultimately led to the split-up of 1971. But this misstep was a product of his Islamic ideology, not something forced by India. Further, the failures of Pakistan are continually diagnosed as having resulted from them not having been Islamic enough. The inability of Pakistan to formulate a Constitution for almost a decade after Independence was due to fights over Islam, nothing to do with India. The anti-Ahmediya riots that ultimately led to their first military dictator were over Islam.

Again, CIP, I challenge you - you can accept that an ideology can be pathological - e.g., Soviet Communism. Then why is it so hard to accept that a particular religion-based ideology can be pathological? Sure, you want ample evidence, we can provide that. Given the need to deconstruct Pakistan, these pages will present you a lot of evidence in the coming days.


You brought up Bill Ayers in the conversation. As per Bill Ayers today, the Weather Underground never meant to and never did kill anyone. Listen to him here:

I don't know if Ayers is truthful, but killing is most definitely the intent of jihadists. Slitting of the throat is their preferred method of execution. Ayers would be most unhappy to be compared to these.


I posted this link once on your blog; it is a lot of heavy reading unfortunately. But it outlines the problems in pre-Partition India that the creation of Pakistan was supposed to solve. The so-called solution has mostly not worked.

Postscript: contingent history is actually very hard. I had to think about - what if there had been no Cold War? What if the geological facts of the Middle East (regarding petroleum) had been different? What if Chiang Kai- had won in China instead of Mao Tse-Tung? Do I have to consider all those also in the contingent history of a Pakistan to which J&K peacefully acceded?

PPS: question to CIP - was the Cold War inevitable?


CapitalistImperialistPig said...


I agree that contingent history is hopeless, except as a sort of thought experiment. I always appreciate your educational posts, like this one, since I know you are very expert on these matters.

Let me disagree a bit on one point however. Ideologies can be dangerous indeed. I tend to agree with Jared Diamond that religions were created as war banners to unite one group against others. This is clearly true of the Hebrew war god who became the God of Jews, Christians and Muslims. He is a nasty intolerant character, and his followers are notorious for their many slaughter of unbelievers, many of whom have been each other.

At the moment though, Christians are not particularly terroristic in most parts of the world (Africa and the Balkans being recent exceptions). Most religious conflicts have an economic subtext.

For the most part, Christianity has accepted a philosophy of tolerance, at least for the moment. Can Islam do the same? One can hope so.

The thing is that many religions and ideologies have these militant elements built in, but change and adaptation is possible. Or, if it isn't, the future looks bleak.

BTW, it's not true that the Weather Underground never killed anybody. Ayers girlfriend was killed by a bomb that two other members (also killed) were constructing. Ayers and his wife adopted another member's children after their mother was convicted of murder in connection with a bank robbery. And who killed the physics grad student in Michigan?

Arun said...

I dunno much about Ayers, except a few newspaper articles and that Fresh Air interview where he was impressive.

That is besides the point. I know e.g., that some Mumbai senior police officer who was fighting these terrorists had a name like "Hassan Gafoor" which is hardly a Hindu name. Indian life - movies, music, sports, armed forces, politics, etc., etc. - are filled with Muslims and they are an integral part of India. Don't get me wrong about that.

But there is no denying the existence of this strain of Islam nor the fact that it is this strain that led to the Partition of India, subsequent wars, terrorism and so on. In sixty years it has not been able to define itself in its own terms, but only in opposition to India.

There is an old story illustrating that mind set. A Hindu converts to Islam and is very enthusiastic about his new religion. At every step of the way he keeps asking the mullah what he should be doing?

One night, the cat gets at the glass of milk that the convert had a habit of drinking at before going to bed. The poor man was now worried - can he drink the rest of the milk or not? So he asks the mullah, and the mullah says - whatever you used to do as a Hindu, do the exact opposite. And so the guy drinks the milk.

It is this Pakistan as "not-India" that is part of the problem. That is why I still remember this (online) book : years after reading it. Not for its content, but because it is mostly about Pakistan without reference to India. It is worth reading, btw, to widen one's perspective.


Arun said...

PS: Jinnah's secularism is a myth, it consists of basically one speech on Independence Day Aug 14, 1947. My sister and I purchased the entire available collections of Jinnah's speeches, which start from 1937 or so, ten years before Independence. We've read through most of them. That is the basis on which I make the claim.