By: Fazal Mehmood
During the British raj, the borders of India with other countries were the longest in the world, until Whitehall decided in 1940 to punish the Congress Party for being less than enthusiastic about a war fought by Churchill to preserve the Empire. The resulting British mistrust that free India would ever be a future ally made Whitehall geographically reduce India to below its natural size. Bits and pieces of the subcontinent were lopped off in the 1940s, before removing the Union Jack from what is now Rashtrapati Bhavan.
While the Founding Father of the PRC, Mao Zedong, brought into his new state territories that in the past had seldom been under the rule of Beijing, in India the saintly Mahatma Gandhi and his followers were satisfied with what was left of the country after the British broke it up before handing over charge to the natives. Lord Mountbatten became the first Governor-General of India just four years after he caused the deaths of four million human beings in Bengal and Bihar because of a famine caused by his refusal to allow ships to be used to transport grain to the dying in these two British-administered provinces, rather than to British troops in the region and to the UK itself.
However, forgiveness is second nature to the saintly, as is complete trust even in those whose record left little hope of such faith being merited. The Mahatma’s unending efforts at winning over Jinnah resulted in both the Congress Party’s own ministry in NWFP and the Baloch kingdom of Kalat (whose ruler wished to accede to India but was publicly dissuaded from such wish by V.P. Menon, who remained loyal to Mountbatten) were abandoned without contest to M.A. Jinnah by the Congress leadership.
Before the Khan of Kalat could accede to India, Balochistan was invaded and occupied by Pakistan, while the Congress ministry in the NWFP was dismissed and a puppet government installed to silence from Delhi. Even a man as wedded to non-violence as Abraham Lincoln had taken to the gun when confronted with the division of his country, but in India, although it was militarily possible for India to take control of the whole of Kashmir, and subsequently move into the NWFP and Kalat, nothing of the kind seems to have been contemplated by those who replaced the British on 15 August 1947 as the occupants of the plush homes and offices dotted throughout the Lutyens Zone.
Only in Modi 2.0 has there been public expression at the highest policymaking levels (in the person of Home Minister Amit Shah and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar) that the Government of India is determined under PM Modi to recover Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Given this change, there is reason for hope that both in the matter of the Pashtuns (who have the right to a unified Pashtunistan formed out of the Pashtun territories arbitrarily torn apart by the Durand Line in 1893), as well as the right to freedom of the harassed and humiliated Baloch, India will no longer remain paralysed while the depredations of the Wahhabi army in Pakistan continue.
Whether in Syria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan or in other countries afflicted by the effects of even temporary Wahhabi triumphs, there is a need to redraw colonial-era maps in a manner that meets the aspirations for self-determination of peoples long suppressed. While India got cruelly divided by a British government resentful of the nuanced position of the saintly Mahatma on the war between the Axis and the Allies, Pakistan under the Churchill fan Jinnah was patched together in a manner incapable of longevity. “East” Pakistan was not the only faultline in a state whose reason for existence is acting as the force that can hold India down. Since 1947, the Sindh, Pashtun and Baloch territories have been overrun by the only ethnic group that matters where governance in Pakistan is concerned, and these are the Punjabi Wahhabis. This group controls much of the land and business in Sindh, Balochistan and the Pashtun lands within Pakistan. The Punjabi Wahhabi retains dominance through the Pakistan army, which is a force dedicated to the preservation of their supremacy.
Given that the nightmare of the generals in Rawalpindi is the prospect of friendly relations between Beijing and Delhi, it comes as no surprise that Prime Minister Imran Khan, in an effort to muddy the atmosphere ahead of the 11-13 October Modi-Xi summit, will meet President Xi Jinping in Beijing just three days before the Chinese leader meets with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India. Given his interest in good relations with India, it is unlikely that Xi will pick up Imran Khan’s bait and elucidate Islamabad’s point of view on recent events to PM Modi. It is not yet known whether President Xi will follow the example of President Donald Trump in Houston and publicly show his affection for the winner of both the 2014 as well as the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, but it is obvious that a Chinese focus on Kashmir would affect the overall mood of the summit, and impact what could be breakthroughs in commerce and other exchanges. Should the wishes of GHQ Rawalpindi prevail and Kashmir be emphasized by the Chinese side, it would be opportune for Modi to bring his close friend Xi up to speed on the numerous human rights violations taking place in Pakistan, beginning with the disappearing of Christians, Sikhs and Hindus in the country, and moving on to the Archipelago of Terror maintained by the Pakistan military.
The recital would include a list of the terrorists and terror groups that enjoy the hospitality of the Pakistan military, a Wahhabi force on which China has at great cost to its own interests lavished more than $120 billion (present value) and counting in the way of resources. The Chinese are well aware of the vagaries created by colonial rule, including on boundaries, so they should by now have realised that the present boundaries of Pakistan are unsustainable, not simply from the viewpoint of international norms of justice, but administratively. Sindhis, Pashtuns and Baloch are going to be increasingly high decibel in demanding their rights, and need to find a supporter in India, a country that in the past assisted and encouraged freedom fighters such as the African National Congress three decades before other countries did.
China is spending tens of billions of US dollars in a futile effort at rescuing Pakistan from falling apart, but the reality is that the primary responsibility for such a situation vests with the Pakistan military, the very institution that the PRC is now the only major international bulwark of, together with Turkey under the neo-Wahhabi Recep Tayyip Erdogan. During Modi 2.0, hard choices will need to be made by India on economic and military matters. These cannot be fobbed off in the manner often resorted to by Jawaharlal Nehru, of avoiding action on a problem through a volley of high-sounding phrases. The impending meltdown of Pakistan; the retreat by the US from the battlefield in Afghanistan despite the Taliban having control over less than 6% of the population of that country; and the ongoing Wahhabi effort to replace the ruling dispensations in the GCC with groups loyal to the Muslim Brotherhood, are just three of the reasons why action, and not simply saccharine words, is needed if India is to protect the interests of itself and its friends, including within Pakistan, Afghanistan and the GCC. INAV