6th Think Tanks Forum of the Islamic Countries


Congratulatory message to the people of China from Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed


Chairman PCI talks about China's 19th Communist Party Congress and the importance of Belt and Road Initiative


Books by Mushahid

Resilient, Robust and Rejuvenating

Date : 14-08-2017

Resilient, Robust and Rejuvenating

Seventy years after emerging through a democratic struggle for self-determination through the ballot box, Pakistan, probably the Muslim World's freest democracy, is learning from three abiding reminders of the relevance of history.

First, the prescient words of the founder of Pakistan and the greatest Muslim leader of the 20th Century, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammed Ali Jinnah. In his first interview with an American journalist, after the independence of Pakistan, he told Margaret Bourke-White of LIFE magazine (published as a cover story in January 1948), 'Pakistan is the pivot of the world, placed on the frontier on which the future position of the world revolves.’

These words ring true today, 70 years later, as Pakistan through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), is today the pivotal player, the bridge between South and Central Asia, promoting a new regionalism driven by economy and energy, ports and pipelines, roads and railways, eventually encompassing 3 billion people, over 40 percent of the world's population.

Second, the Kashmir cause, to which Pakistan has an abiding and enduring commitment, like 70 years earlier, refuses to 'go away' and is central to lasting peace, security and stability in the South Asian subcontinent, notwithstanding efforts of India to the contrary. The popular, spontaneous, indigenous and widespread uprising of the Kashmiri people shows renewed resistance and rejection of the repression of India’s military occupation.

Third, 70 years after independence, the Two Nation Theory that guided the quest for freedom for the Muslims of India, has been vindicated by Modi's India and its unmistakable Hindutva stamp on India's erstwhile 'secular' polity, reinforced with the Hinduisation of the Indian state and society and state-sanctioned pogroms against minorities.

The most-telling comment on this state of affairs that Pakistanis find relevant 70 years after independence is by two close relatives of India's founding fathers.

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru's niece, Nayantara Sehgal, wrote in The Guardian of August 5, 2017: ‘The menace of partition is again upon Indians, this time through the intention to impose Hindu nationhood. To foist a Hindu identity is senseless beyond belief. Lynch mobs kill Muslims, reminiscent of the lynching of blacks in America's Deep South. On this anniversary of the partition of India, another partition stares us in the face.’

Writing in The Economic Times on September 19, 2016, Rajmohan Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, said: “A de facto plebiscite already seems to have taken place there. Kashmiris appear to have voted with untiring throats, with eyes destroyed or deformed by pellets, and with bodies willing to fall to the ground for what the heart desires. And the vote seems to be for azadi.”

During a Pakistan-India Media Dialogue in Washington on July 24, 2017 hosted by the Atlantic Council think tank (with former Information Minister of India Manish Tiwari) and an earlier one hosted by the Harvard India Conference in February 2017 in Boston (where Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Omar Abdullah and Air Marshal Kapil Kak also spoke), I made it clear that without a Kashmir settlement based on implementing United Nations resolutions, talking of peace and normalisation in South Asia is like staging 'Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark!' It won't work and it won't be enduring. India cannot be exempt from the March of history, just as the past superpowers like the US and USSR weren't!

Pakistan and India also need to have a strategic stake in each other's future through economic cooperation, and I invited India to rejoin the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project (which India backed out under American pressure in 2006, but Pakistan rejected US pressure) as well as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, with Kashmir as its key component given the geographical location, which would help in providing a conducive environment for peace in South Asia.

Why, after all, if India can be part of the US-supported Turkmenistan Afghanistan Pakistan India (TAPI) pipeline, can't it be part of IPI and CPEC?

The main problem in South Asia is that 70 years later, India doesn't realise that size doesn't necessarily equal strength (examples: Cuba-US and Afghanistan-USSR), and unless India discards its hegemonic aspirations (witness blockade of Nepal, incursion into Myanmar, failed attempts to isolate Pakistan and the current standoff with China over Bhutan), one fifth of humanity, residing in South Asia, will remain mired in conflict, contention and confrontation.

India at 70 is a major disappointment, the self-proclaimed world's 'largest democracy' being transformed into an intolerant, exclusivist, state driven by bigotry and religious extremism, a total negation of Gandhian principles and Nehruvian ideals.

In the realm of foreign policy too, India is going against the tide of history, particularly the resurgence of Asia in the 21st century, the 'Asian Century'. While regional pattern is being driven by corridors, cooperation and connectivity, India has been promoting conflict and confrontation.

The way forward is what the Quaid-e-Azam enunciated 70 years ago that the model for Pakistan-India relations is the 'relationship between Canada and the United States, two neighbours living in peace' based on sovereign equality, reciprocity and non-interference in each other's internal affairs.

(Mushahid Hussain Syed is the Chairman of Pakistan Senate’s Committee on Defence and former Information Minister)

Rising Kashmir: http://risingkashmir.com/news/bonhomie-that-eludes-70