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Home > 2022 > Sri Lanka, Pakistan, India: Hate brings ruination | Faraz Ahmad

Mainstream, VOL LX No 17, New Delhi, April 16, 2022

Sri Lanka, Pakistan, India: Hate brings ruination | Faraz Ahmad

Friday 15 April 2022, by Faraz Ahmad

Sri Lankan politics has turned 180 degrees with the Sri Lankan Buddhist haters of the Tamil minority, who celebrated and danced on the streets of Colombo when the majoritarian Buddhist regime of Mahinda Rajapaksa wiped the Liberation of Tamil Tigers of Eelam (LTTE) out from the northern Jafna province, after capturing alive its leader Velupillai Prabhakaran in a net, tortured him mercilessly and humiliated him thoroughly before killing him.

Even the Tamil civilian population was not spared, men were tortured and killed and women molested and raped by Sri Lankan forces, all the while publicising what treatment they were giving to the Tamil minority population. That was Mahinda Rajapaksa’s unique selling point (USP).

Rajapaksa became so drunk in his victory and the mandate the majority Buddhist population accorded him that he put his entire family at the head of the Sri Lankan government. Because the Sri Lankan Constitution restricted the number of terms one can enjoy in a particular office. He put his brother Gotabaya at the head of Sri Lanka. Today the same Sri Lankan Buddhists are out on the streets of Colombo demanding removal not just of Gotabaya but the entire Rajapaksa family for ruining the Sri Lankan economy and having brought the generally prosperous and thriving Sri Lankan Buddhists on the brink of hunger and deprivation, something the Tamils have been facing for several decades and more evidently since the liquidation of LTTE and death of Prabhakaran.

The crux of the matter, which seems to have downed upon the Sri Lankan Buddhists only now 14 years after killing Prabhakaran and fully subjugating the Tamil population is that hate only brings ruination. Today with no food, no petrol no hope the Sri Lankans—Buddhists, Tamils, Muslims, Christians all stand together outside the Presidential palace shouting, “Go, Gota go.” Today the Sri Lankan government is begging its lenders not to press it to repay US dollar 51 billion loans. On the other hand it is desperately reminding Pakistan to urgently extend the loan and financial aid worth millions it had promised, showing what economic bankruptcy Rajapaksas have brought to a prosperous country like Sri Lanka. How long this bonhomie and camaraderie between the people facing such ruination will last is anybody’s guess, considering centuries old distrust and suspicion the racist Buddhists hold against the Dravidian Tamils. But one hopes that the eventual realisation may dawn upon them that hate gives birth to violence and brutality and violence only disrupts socio-economic growth of nations. That peace and camaraderie is pre requisite for growth and development.

Accompanying my parents, I went to Pakistan for the first time in 1965 as a teenager to visit my father’s immediate family settled there in Hyderabad, Sind. Cycle rickshaws had already been scrapped and replaced by auto rickshaws all over Pakistan. Piped Sui Gas was reaching even lower middle-class houses at just Rs seven a month. With no meters, there was no restriction on how much to use. There were beggars a plenty, yes. But none without slippers in their feet or any rags on their person. Ilaco House was a fancy multi storeyed residential apartment complex in Karachi’s posh Sadar area with lifts and a large compound in the service area with parking lot where children, girls in skirts and boys Goanese Christians, Ahmediya, even Hindus, all cycled around on their little bikes or simply ran around playing games. You couldn’t make out whether you were in Bombay or Karachi, my father who had lived both in Bombay and Karachi for some years, commented.

When the right-wing parties led by cleriks under the umbrella coalition called the Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) with the active support and encouragement of the Army, started the movement for ‘Nizame Mustafa’ (the Islamic order imparted by Prophet Mohammad) the then Prime Minister of Pakistan Zulfikar Ali Bhutto temperamentally a secular person, initially tried to withstand the pressure. On the one hand he conceded certain demands of the cleriks about declaring Ahmediyas or Qadianis as non-Muslims, on the other he spoke in a mammoth public meeting to a huge applause “Haan main sharab peeta hoon, kisi ka khoon to nahin peeta hoon (Yes I drink (alcohol) but not somebody’s blood)” When the mullas became insufferable, his lieutenant Ghulam Mustafa Khar dragged out the mullas by their beards from the Shahi Masjid of Lahore.

But Bhutto was deposed and later hanged by his Army chief General Mohammad Ziaul Haq who put Pakistan’s 1973 Constitution, a largely secular document till then, in abeyance and instead brought Sharia and blasphemy laws imposing upon the country his Wahabi variety of Islam, not acceptable to even the majority of Sunni Muslims, leave alone Shias, Ahmediyas, Christians and Hindus, who formed the vote base of Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). So Zia enforced separate electorate. Contemptuously dismissed the Westminster model of democracy as too western for the Muslims. Instead he introduced Majlise shoora (Advisory Council) and assumed the title of Ameerul Momineen, meaning the leader of the faithful, a title first bestowed on Hazarat Ali. He ushered in the Jihadi terror through Madrasas financed and sponsored by Saudi Arabia at the instance of the United States of America (USA) to counter the rise of communism under the Khalq and Parcham parties in the neighbouring Afghanistan. Zia enforced his infamous tyrannical, anti-minorities Blasphemy law in 1984. In the name of confronting communist Soviet Union in the West and India in the East he launched his project of preparing the wahabi madrasas terrorists, trained by Pakistan’s armed forces in handling weapons giving rise to innumerable such outfits even 34 years after Zia died like the Lashkare Toiaba of Hafiz Saeed and Masood Azhar’s Jaishe Mohammad. The roots of hate have grown so deep in Pakistan’s body politic that Lashkar-e-Toiaba, Lashkare Jhangvi enjoy full immunity because they target Pakistan’s minorities, including Shia Muslims at will, Pakistan created the Taliban for Afghanistan but that grew into Tehrike Talibane Pakistan (TTP) an indigenous Taliban targeting Pakistani Muslim population, seeking to destroy the modern administrative machinery.

Imran Khan a cricketer and a sort of playboy, marrying thrice along with other alleged liaisons as well, became Pakistan’s Prime Minister backed by the Pakistan Army on 18 August, 2018. Having trapped PPP chief and former Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on doubtful corruption cases thus disqualifying both from occupying any high office, because they started asserting as democratically elected independent administrators, the field was left open for Imran, a demagogue. But he still did not secure a clear majority in the National Assembly of Pakistan and formed his government with the help of ultra conservative right wing Muttahida Majlis–e–Amal (MMA), meaning the "United Council of Action") a political alliance consisting of conservative, Islamist, religious, and far-right parties of Pakistan.

Consequently an apparently moderate Imran Khan taking a married woodoo woman as his third wife, in the run up to the elections, became the biggest supporter of the Taliban and Talibani terror. On March 4 this year a suicide bomber entered the Kusha Kisaldar masjid of the Shia sect in Peshawar, blew himself up and killed more than 60 Muslims bent in prayers. In fact throughout Imran regime the ghost of Islamic terror loomed larger than even earlier. So by later March, according to the Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies, the country witnessed 52 terror attacks this year alone killing 155 people.

Naturally then the economy of Pakistan has been in doldrums since General Zia usurped power. He of course openly flaunted and encouraged narcotic drug trade growing opium in Afghanistan, smuggling through Pakistan to the rest of the world and buying arms and financing terror with this ill-gotten wealth and in the process pocketed millions of dollars. But Islamisation took its toll on the prospering Pakistan economy. And by the time Imran, on the support of Mulla-Army establishment assumed office in August, 2018 this process had become irreversible. But Imran swearing by a clean administration, condemning his political rivals as corrupt made tall claims how he would punish all the looters and get Pakistan back on its rails. (Sounds familiar? Should be. After all he seems to have taken his lessons on demagogy from none other than our Prime Minister Narendrabhai Damodardas Modi, who finds no parallels in this art. But the banks don’t listen to this. So the State Bank of Pakistan, equivalent of Reserve Bank of India, is virtually mortgaged to the International Monetary Fund and poor Pakistan, a sovereign nation has no sovereignty over its bank. The IMF rejected Imran Khan’s request to draw money from the State Bank of Pakistan. Can anything be more humiliating for a country or its elected Prime Minister? Not in my knowledge? But this is an outcome of incompetent demagogues being voted to power who have no idea beyond their wild personal ambition and aspiration. According to one report, Pakistan is now under a debt of US dollars 116 billion. Out of this it owes at least 7 billion dollars to the IMF alone; 11 billion to Paris Club; 12 billion bonds to Eurobonds and Sukuk; 17 billion to China; 33 billions to multilateral donors and the remaining 42 billion dollars to several other entities like the OIC and G20. Pakistan’s external debts year wise were: 2017—$ 86 billion; 2018-$ 93 billion; 2019-$100 billion; 2020-$ 110 billion and 2021-$116 billion, according to a report of November, last year.

The crux of the matter is that a country is bound to go down the drain on socio-economic parameters and there is no way it can avoid economic ruin, if it lets loose hate mongers and blood thirsty mobs on hapless poor; mobs who are fuelled by a burning desire only to destroy as we see them here in India act more aggressively since the campaign to the elections to UP and other four states began and accelerated with greater speed after the BJP’s all round victory in all the four states they were in the reckoning and a defeat of the Congress in all four, where it stood a chance.

After the victory of that saffron clad Uttarakhand Thakur Ajay Singh Bisht, for a second five-year term as UP chief minister, flaunting his new avatar as Bulldozer Baba, an apparently mild but wily chief minister of neighbouring Madhya Pradesh Shivraj Singh Chauhan also drew inspiration and now proudly flaunts his new nom de plume Bulldozer Mama (Bulldozer maternal uncle) for demolishing the houses of poor Muslim victims of saffron goons. Next round of state assembly polls are due in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh end of this year. Then next year end comes the elections to Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh, Rajasthan and Mizoram. BJP’s tested and tried victory mantra is polarisation through provocation of Muslims. This Ram Navmi on April 10 was an appropriate occasion to let loose the saffron brigade in motorcycle processions with police protection to abuse, mock, loot, assault Muslim men, women and children in the name of celebrating the last day of Navratri in all the poll-bound states The idea was to provoke Muslims to react and when in some areas they could take it no more and perhaps responded, they were rounded up as in Khargone, Madhya Pradesh and their houses and shops razed to ground by Bulldozer Mama while those who plundered and set these afire, under the inspirational leadership of that venomous, infamous Kapil Mishra, specially invited from Delhi, are strutting around thumbing their nose. Police claims he was not in the town but some distance away announcing on Ram Navmi day, “ek, ek ko ghar mein ghus ke marenge. (Will enter their homes and kill each one). Every day the atrocities on hapless Muslim population is increasing. The law enforcement agencies are behaving only as hand maidens of the ruling BJP. The higher courts are just sitting and watching like Bhishma Pitamah.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi reacted to this violence with state complicity thus: “Hate, violence and exclusion are weakening our beloved country. The path to progress is paved with the bricks of brotherhood, peace and harmony. Let’s stand together to secure a just, inclusive India.” But who is interested in progress? If we go by the Modi government performance at the Centre and his fellow chief ministers in the majority of states ruled by the BJP, it is amply clear that they neither have a perspective nor any inclination to pay any attention to development and economic progress. All that matters is to win elections by hook or crook and usurp power.

Since Modi became the Prime Minister in 2014 the economy has gone to dogs. Two successive RBI governors Raghuram Rajan and Urjit Patel left in 2018 because of differences between the Governors and the Government over financial matters. In late October, RBI Deputy Governor Viral Acharya fired what appeared to be a broadside against attempts to undermine the bank’s independence. "Governments that do not respect central bank independence will sooner or later incur the wrath of the financial markets, ignite economic fire, and come to rue the day they undermined an important regulatory institution," he said, because of reports that the government wanted the RBI to allow ailing state-owned banks, groaning under bad loans to Modi’s favourite swindlers, to resume lending to small businesses. It also wanted the regulator to lower interest rates to inject much-needed liquidity into the economy. But more than that the government wanted to access the RBI’s surplus reserves in a bid to stimulate the economy with a big public spending spree to woo voters before the 2019 elections. And it did by appointing Sakti Kant Das whose knowledge of banking institutions left much to be said. The Modi government, whom Imran Khan hugely commended after all succeeded in selling off one of the most prized possessions of the country, the Air-India only recently, while Pakistan has been trying to do the same to its national carrier the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) once one of the most sought after by air travellers for its comfort and catering, but failed so far.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in its latest report on Human Development indices (HDI) judged India as placed at 131 rank out of 189 countries on its list in the Modi era. On the Global Hunger Index (GHI) India ranked 101 out of 116 assessed in its recent report. Incidentally since Modi came to power India has consistently been going down. For instance the data released shows that from 2011 to 2014, which means till the UPA government went out of power, India’s ranking improved every year and since Modi came it has only gone down. For instance in 2011 India ranked 67 out of 122 countries; in 2012 the figure stood at 65/120; 2013—63/120; 2014—55/120, which is remarkable, perhaps because of the much mocked and ridiculed MNREGA introduced at the instance of UPA chairman Sonia Gandhi which saved a whole lot of rural households from deprivation and starvation during lean season. Then came Modi and though, as he said, he did not totally scarp MNREGA, despite mocking it in Parliament, his government surreptitiously delayed and curtailed the allocation for MNREGA. Result: In 2015 India suddenly fell down drastically from 55/120 to 80 /117. It has since been going down the path each successive year according to this data: For instance in 2016 the figure stood at 97/118; 2017—100/119; 2018—103/132; 2019—102/117; 2020—94/107 and 2021—101/116.

The prospect of India going down the Sri Lanka, Pakistan path is now so crystal clear if we continue on the road of communal hatred and violence. After all the over 20 crore Muslim population, by 2011 Census, constitutes the largest blue collared work force in the country. Recently one BJP leader in Karnataka came up with the demand to ban and oust Muslims also from fruit and vegetable trade. Already on social media we have right wing messages to stop buying vegetables from Muslims, stop Muslims from food business, don’t go for a hair cut to a Muslim barber. The list is so long, it is impossible to reproduce it here. And at the end the sender asks the receiver to add more areas from which Muslims should be banned. It is futile to expect this government and the ruling BJP to put an end to this because they are winning elections on the strength of this hateful campaign. But what about our constitutional institutions? Will all those ensconed in glass houses remain unscathed for ever?

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