Opinion

View From The Neighbourhood: Understanding India

View From The Neighbourhood: Understanding India

Humra Niazi tries in an article in The Express Tribune on October 20, “to read the Indian mindset” vis a vis Kashmir. Like many other columnists writing in Pakistan’s print media, Niazi sees designs of demographic change, even ethnic cleansing, on the part of the Indian state — equated without caveats to the current government — in Jammu and Kashmir. The “adversary” appears to be both India and the “RSS mindset”, and the sheer diversity of opinion and debate over Kashmir in this country is given short shrift.

After lamenting the lockdown in the Valley, and the alleged violation of human rights there, Niazi outlines what she believes is the plan of the RSS: “The RSS game could well be ‘distraction’. This could be very unwise. The Indian Army Chief, Rawat, recently stated that 500 infiltrators are waiting to infiltrate into India. Pakistan’s Foreign Office strongly rejected this fake news.”

Then, the article asks, “why is there no such concern reflected about the danger of a nuclear war in this part of the world?” It then seems to talk to the world community of the dangers of an “unstable India’: “The present government in India has an extremist mindset — something that should not be a characteristic of a nuclear country.”

The article also calls for the international community to take “positive action” against India’s “atrocities” in Jammu and Kashmir.

Pakistan for Peace

Last week, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan visited Tehran and met with President Hassan Rouhani and Ayatollah Ali Khameini, before going on to visit Saudi Arabia. Dawn’s editorial on October 16, taking off from the visit, argues for Pakistan to play a greater role in mediating the conflict between the two West Asian powers. The argument is not so outlandish, given that historically, there was a time when Pakistan did enjoy a certain clout in the Islamic world as well as the fact that “Pakistan is in a unique position” to act as a bridge between the two countries: Both Shias and Sunnis call the country home and it shares a border with Iran and has close ties to Saudi Arabia.

“On the other hand, should things go awry, Pakistan will be among the first victims of instability. The religious factor means that sectarian passions will be inflamed, while violence in the Gulf, not far from this country’s waters, will have a debilitating effect on the national economy, as will the spiralling oil prices,” according to the editorial.

Abrar’s death

The brutal torture and killing of Abrar Fahad, a second-year student at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, by the Chhatra League, the students’ wing of the ruling Awami League, has the country mortified. Abrar was killed allegedly because of a Facebook post in which he criticised the deal between India and Pakistan during Sheikh Hasina’s four-day visit last month.

In an article in The Daily Star, Sudipta Saha and Yamen Hoque, Bangladeshi scholars in the US, ask questions of the country’s polity and society, and are forceful in their arguments: “Over the last few years, Bangladesh has witnessed a number of murders of bloggers, writers and activists. They were specifically targeted because of their progressive, liberal and free-thinking beliefs — beliefs that they were not scared of sharing with others and engaging in the sort of dialogue that a majority of people in Bangladesh are uncomfortable with.”

The apathy towards the killing of dissenting, liberal voices bothers the writers: “Let Abrar’s death not be in vain, and not just for reforming the role of student politics in our country. Let it also provide light to the dark corners of our mind-set.”