Islamabad, 18 August 2019: The recent Indian Supreme Court verdict on Babri Mosque must not be seen in isolation, rather by keeping in view the bigger picture. The change in J&K status and new citizenship law reiterate that Indian secularism is merely a ploy for political gains. The real face of India is one with a vigorous presence of RSS for the past 70 years, which is gaining more power under the present regime, and this is a sign of things to come.
The message emerged out of the seminar titled ‘Babri Masjid, Saffronized India and the Concerns’, which was organized by Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), Islamabad. The session was addressed by Ambassador (r) Zamir Akram, Pakistan’s former permanent representative to the UN, Dr Mujeeb Afzal, professor, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Amir Abdullah Abbasi, Advocate High Court, and Khalid Rahman, Executive President, IPS.
Reflecting on the current situation in India, Zamir Akram said that the Babri Mosque verdict was another proof how the rise of Hindu nationalism was affecting the country. The verdict has set the precedence for RSS Hindutva hardliners to pursue more such issues for which they have already exhibited their intent publicly. The formation of RSS in the early twentieth century was based on Hindu nationalist ideology and the organization very much forms the core of BJP. The Babri mosque issue was politicized by BJP back in 1996 as well when it became the largest party in the Lok Sabha. The Indian government was in a position to stop the demolition of the Babri mosque in 1992 as police and paramilitary forces were standing by, but they did not intervene out of fear of antagonizing Hindus, choosing rather to succumb to the pressure put on by aggressive RSS goons.
The former ambassador said that the Indian secularism conceived by Gandhi and Nehru was actually a political necessity as it was the only way to hold a diverse country of such huge size together. The reality ever since has been quite different. Where its constitution calls India a social secular republic, the country has only been functioning as an upper cast Hindu state. That bubble is now starting to burst and beginning to expose the hypocrisy that lies underneath.
Zamir Akram added that the Hindutva hysteria is only expected to grow in the near future. Modi will keep building on his Hindutva mythology as he has nothing much to show for his tenure. India has been fudging growth and other figures for political gains but in reality the country is slowly entering into a period of economic difficulty. Pakistan must have no ambiguities or illusions in understanding the Indian designs for targeting the Muslims as well as Pakistan itself. The Indian army has already started speaking in the language of Hindutva, and Pakistan must remain prepared to answer an increasingly hostile neighbor at its borders, he added.
Dr Mujeeb Afzal echoed Zamir Akram’s viewpoint, stating that RSS continues to dictate BJP even today as every general secretary of the party from the district level to the center is being nominated by the extremist organization. The present phase in India is turning its self-proclaimed secularism to Hindu majoritarianism, and this is amply reflected in their electoral rolls where about 70-80% of the elected candidates belong to the Hindu elites. The overwhelming diversity in India is also a cause for fear for the Hindu elite, he said.
Amir Abbasi earlier delivered an analysis of Babri mosque case from a legal perspective. Presenting a brief history of the mosque starting from 1528, he first gave insights on how the controversy began, before covering different stages of the legal battle as well as the points raised over the issue from both sides. The advocate also highlighted several glaring contradictions and loopholes in the judgement passed by the Supreme Court of India, maintaining that the case has exposed the true fabric of Indian politics, effectively validating the two-nation theory in the process.
Khalid Rahman, while concluding the session, maintained that what is happening in India today presents an opportunity to devise and practice proactive diplomatic strategy. He said that one must not forget that we are living an era of bad global governance, where decisions are not made following any rules or principles but on the basis of national interests. There still persists a lot of talk on paper about international laws as well as morals, ethical and humanitarian values, which is something that needs be exploited in our strategies effectively. If the strategy is compelling enough to reshape the global public opinion in favor of actual values by overpowering economic interests, then the public opinion does have a potential to influence the decision-making of its state.