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Hilal English

23rd March: A Felicitous Decision

March 2023

Pakistan’s history denotes the struggle of our forefathers in the creation of Pakistan, where today, the Muslims live independently, practicing an Islamic way of life and the constitution granting equal rights to the minorities unlike India, where the Muslims are facing an existential threat to their identity under the Hindutva-led BJP government. 

History holds a great significance in nations’ lives. There are certain days or marked events in the history of nations that carry the utmost significance. These days are linked to the very existence of the people carrying the same identity and hence celebrated in order to review the importance attached to them. 23rd March is one such day in our history which is celebrated as ‘Pakistan Day’. On this day in 1940, our forefathers decided to fight for one separate homeland where believers of all faiths would live freely. Perceptibly, they were compelled to take this decision because of the prevalent situation in India at that time, as the minorities, especially the Muslims were not allowed to practice their rights freely. After independence, India projected itself as a secular state throughout these years, yet the claim was fake all along, which was exposed by the current Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government. Viewing today’s India where all minorities are unsafe, the decision by our forefathers on March 23, 1940 merits to be lauded overwhelmingly. 
In the recent history, various mass movements were instigated that brought changes to the lives of the people of particular areas. These movements were based on political, religious, ideological and economic narratives that affected the life of a sizeable number of people in the region. The Indian Independence Movement, Pakistan Movement, Iranian Revolution and the Anti-apartheid Movement in South Africa are a few examples from the recent history, which have brought substantial changes to the people of the respective areas. All these movements and campaigns were launched against the prevalent unjustified rules and regulations imposed, depriving the people of their rights in general or of a community in particular. It is certain that whenever injustice is prevalent in a society, people are encouraged and motivated to come out and seek course correction. 
India of today is not the one epitomised by their forefathers. A secular, democratic and non-aligned India had been the vision of Gandhi and Nehru. Politically, India is being seen as following a strictly centralised system in which decision-making is sacrosanct to the ruling party’s interest, ignoring the political accommodation in general. The BJP, out of 300 seats, currently has no Muslim Member of Parliament (MP) in Lok Sabha. There are only 27 Muslim MPs out of 543 seats in Lok Sabha parliament. BJP exercises such a biased status which actually leads to policy formulation in direct support of the ruling party, especially when it comes to the economic policy. It is but one factor that the effects of impressive economic growth of India are not trickling down to the common people. As regards to the polarisation, especially with respect to the religiously motivated political views, India is treading a dangerous path. Hindu extremists are hell-bent on establishing their hegemony against all sorts of minorities who are suppressed from even voicing their concerns. This has generated a culture of political hate and anyone not siding with the BJP’s bigots is cursed. An air of fear surmounts the India of Gandhi and Nehru. The news of torturing, beating and scathing opponents is a routine in today’s India which is breeding further hatred among the masses. The clear political division and the atmosphere of dread affords space for the secular and politically moderate forces. 

Hindu extremists are hell-bent on establishing their hegemony against all sorts of minorities who are suppressed from even voicing their concerns. This has generated a culture of political hate and anyone not siding with the BJP’s bigots is cursed. An air of fear surmounts the India of Gandhi and Nehru. The news of torturing, beating and scathing opponents is a routine in today’s India which is breeding further hatred among the masses. 

The decades-old Indian claim of non-alignment is also seen tarnished today when the country openly sides with the U.S. in geopolitics. This partnership pattern is a clear indication of its terrified response to China, especially after the 2017 Doklam standoff and 2020 Ladakh confrontation. Aligning itself with the geostrategic thought of the U.S. in the Indo-Pacific and the Gulf, India is on the verge of losing its sovereign identity. It has garnered all the elements of antagonising its powerful neighbor, China with which it has over $100 billion mutual trade. This policy decision is a disregard to the economic benefits that India can accrue regionally and has put its profit on stake. It can be observed that during the tenure of BJP government, there have been mega movements against the government’s policies. For instance, mass protests by Sikhs, farmers, doctors, Kashmiris as well as protests against Agnipath scheme, Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) are a few to name. Each mega protest showed how fractured the Indian society stands today. 
The situation is thus ripe for mainstream national political parties in India to fill in the vacuum being created by BJP and instil course correction. Indian National Congress (INC) has of late started Bharat Jodo Yatra (Unite India March), a foot march that commenced on September 7, 2022 from Tamil Nadu to Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) covering a distance of 3750 km. There could be multiple objectives that the INC must have gauged as dividends of this march. The INC for decades has not arranged any such political expedition and mass mobilisation while in order to remain viable in the politics, these are but a compulsion.
In order to give further boost to the effects of Bharat Jodo Yatra, the INC announced another campaign with the name of ‘Haath Se Haath Jodo Abhiyaan’ (Hand in Hand campaign). It was planned that a letter by Rahul Gandhi along with a charge sheet against Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be handed over to the people in a door-to-door campaign. The concept of this additional campaign highlights that India was suffering with division among its societal ranks on the basis of caste differences and religious beliefs. 

‘Hindutva’ bias has reached to an extent where even old and traditional Muslim names of cities are being replaced with that of Hindu versions. This is indicative of the extreme animosity that RSS and BJP carry against the Muslims. Imagine had Pakistan not been created, what would have become of the Muslims of this side. They would be the sufferers of an equal magnitude.

One thing is very clear that today the Indian society is much fragmented and fractured from its inner core. There are injustices that have, over the time, grappled the Indian society with such a force that the political parties consider it an appropriate time to orchestrate mass movements and mobilise people on the streets selling their narrative. Today, the Indian society is standing on a pedestal where it was when Pakistan Movement was started by All India Muslim League (AIML). Today, Muslims are the most oppressed community in India with no voice in the power corridors. ‘Hindutva’ bias has reached to an extent where even old and traditional Muslim names of cities are being replaced with that of Hindu versions. This is indicative of the extreme animosity that RSS and BJP carry against the Muslims. Imagine had Pakistan not been created, what would have become of the Muslims of this side. They would be the sufferers of an equal magnitude. 
We, the Pakistanis, should be grateful to our forefathers who could visualise today’s situation 75 years ago and saved us from the torments of Hindutva that would have been waiting for us in the offing. Pakistan is a country that was, from its conception to inception, meant for liberty, independence and freedom for all its inhabitants. All may not be well in our country too, but by and large, we are far better than the Indian state of affairs. We may have isolated incidents of targeting minorities, but such happenings never enjoy state’s patronage. The state of Pakistan has always come out strongly against any such action or reaction. We have a glaring example of Indian state falling into the trap of prejudice, partiality and preference in favor of Hindutva, thus marginalising other minorities. This is akin to cracking the mantle of unity that any nation needs when difficult times fall upon them. We must refrain from reaching such a situation at any cost. We should cherish Pakistan Day and relish the decision made by our forefathers. We also need to preserve the strong fabric of concord on the basis of which Pakistan was perceived and founded.

The writer is a Communication Strategist at the Institute of Regional Studies.
E-mail: [email protected]