Skip to main content

Modi, Kashmir and Pakistan’s Dilemma


Modi’s surprise actions in Kashmir after repealing Article 370 was influenced by a worldview that has seized India, Hindutva, a rabid form of nationalism that is built upon a grand conceit. For Hindu nationalists, Islam is the problem and its place in any future India is for it to be subdued, depoliticised and chastened by the power of the state and the braying of the mob. It is a necessary doctrine Modi has encouraged to create a direction for his country to provide purpose and meaning for what many Indian’s today call its historical moment. Modi has attempted to patch together a ‘grand narrative’ about the country, as he aspires to develop India into a regional power. Like most ultra-nationalists, focussing upon a perceived enemy within and an enemy next door enables a national sentiment for national progression. In this regard, Hindutva shares a lot with 1930’s European fascism.

The mob lynching of Pehlu Khan, a 50-year-old dairy farmer from Rajasthan, just north of New Delhi, caught on camera and uploaded to the internet by those accused of murdering him may have horrified outsiders but in India, his attackers have been lionised. His six killers were filmed brazenly beating him to death whilst he pleaded for mercy. Last week, they were acquitted of murder on a technicality, the video had not apparently met the standards of forensic evidence. This was despite countless witnesses, two of whom were his sons, also beaten, and despite one of the assailants admitting to the murder to an undercover reporter. Around 50 have been lynched in the last three years by the so-called cow vigilantes, and hundreds have been injured.

My guest this week on The Thinking Muslim Podcast, Indian academic Fadl Hejazi, argues the impunity with which the killers conducted their mob justice was the certain knowledge that India’s state institutions would ultimately exonerate them. Since coming to office in 2014, Modi has systematically eroded the independence of state institutions. The judiciary, law enforcement, and civil administration have all been subverted by his call for national renewal and the need to chasten Muslims. Even more insidiously, this nationalism has created a media conformity that requires TV anchors and pundits to echo the message coming out of New Delhi or be branded as unpatriotic. The recent Pulwama and Balakot episodes just illustrates the length to which India’s media is ready to conspire with Modi.

Indian politics has since partition been dominated by the Congress Party, the party of its founder Nehru. This one-party domination collapsed in 1998 for a brief period when the BJP came to office and it seemed, for a while at least, that a new two-party system would replace the monopoly of Congress. When the BJP lost power in 2004 and Congress returned to dominate Indian politics for a decade, such views seemed premature. However, in 2014 under Narendra Modi, the BJP returned and today dominates the Indian political scene, winning a landslide electoral victory in April. This is in no small part down to both the Obama and Trump administrations barely concealing their support for Modi. For the Americans, the BJP government can be enlisted to side with it in its quest to counterbalance against its new global competitor, China. This is why despite his obvious power grab in Kashmir, Modi is feted around the world, moving from UAE to the G7 Summit in Biarritz, France, posing with the so-called great powers. Not only does this embolden Modi at home, but it also sends the clear signal that what happens in Kashmir, in terms of state repression, imprisonment, disappearances and worse is unimportant to powers that profess liberty for all.

The Afghan connection

The Americans for their part have remained muted over Modi’s mob justice and Kashmir land-grab. India’s strategic importance and that of the BJP remaining in government supersedes any consideration for justice. As discussed in our last programme, in the short-term, the Trump administration sees mediation on Kashmir conditional to full support from Pakistan over its Afghan dilemma. This support, at least from the US’s perspective, has until now not been genuine, accusing Islamabad of playing a double-game.

America’s longest war may be coming to an end, at least that is the hope of the Trump administration. For 18 years, the US has failed to bring the Taliban to heel, oscillating between failed troop surges and periods of diplomacy. The Bush administration began the war with grandiose notions of regime change and democratic transformation only to be swallowed into a quagmire about which most Americans had lost interest. When Obama came to office, he announced a troop withdrawal and a drawdown of US commitments as he attempted to refocus his attention to the Far East and the emerging threat from China, his so-called ‘pivot to Asia’. However, this intention to exit came with a troop surge, at one point 140,000 NATO ISAF troops were deployed to root out the militia group that had fought a successful asymmetrical war. By 2014 Obama’s failure was clear, the Taliban remained at-large and their power had not eroded. All Obama could do was engage in a face-saving exercise and publicly withdraw, rebrand the operation and keep a residual force of 9000 to supposedly undertake ‘non-combat’ roles. This facade was soon exposed, as US troops had to reengage, leading the Trump administration to accept the inevitable, the only solution was to negotiate a way out. However, like another failed war, Vietnam, it has to ‘leave with honour’.

The American delegation meeting with the Taliban in Doha

The American’s need Pakistan to bring all of the Taliban to the negotiating table and critically, apply pressure on the militant group to negotiate with the Afghan Ghani government. The Taliban thus far have flatly refused to speak to Ghani, preferring the optics of negotiating with the world’s superpower, without this the US presence in Afghanistan would be shown to be what it, in reality, is, the real political force in the country. Simply put, Trump needs the above two conditions to be met to ‘leave with honour’ and withholding diplomatic support to Pakistan over Kashmir allows it to apply pressure upon Islamabad. Its hope is Pakistan will get the message.

For his part, Imran Khan has to play the role of the resolute leader, taking to Twitter to castigate Modi and talking of Hindutva and false-flag operations.

Together with a failed Security Council special meeting sponsored half-heartedly by China, calls to take India to the International Court of Justice and, bizarrely, an effort to suspend Priyanka Chopra as a UN goodwill ambassador. These moves may play well to temporarily pacify an enraged public but does little to address the real problem, that of India’s occupation of Kashmir.

The Thinking Muslim Podcast can be downloaded on all Podcast Apps.


Popular posts from this blog

An advice to Muslims working in the financial sector

Assalam wa alaikum wa rahmatullah wabarakatahu, Dear Brothers & Sisters, We are saddened to see Muslims today even those who practise many of the rules of Islam are working in jobs which involve haram in the financial sector. They are working in positions which involve usurious (Riba) transactions, insurance, the stock market and the like. Even though many of the clear evidences regarding the severity of the sin of Riba are known, some have justified their job to themselves thinking that they are safe as long as they are not engaged in the actual action of taking or giving Riba. Brothers & Sisters, You should know that the majority of jobs in the financial sector, even the IT jobs in this area are haram (prohibited) as they involve the processing of prohibited contracts. If you work in this sector, do not justify your job to yourself because of the fear of losing your position or having to change your career, fear Allah as he should be feared and consider His law regard

Q&A: Age of separating children in the beds?

Question: Please explain the hukm regarding separation of children in their beds. At what age is separation an obligation upon the parents? Also can a parent sleep in the same bed as their child? Answer: 1- With regards to separating children in their beds, it is clear that the separation which is obligatory is when they reach the age of 7 and not since their birth. This is due to the hadith reported by Daarqutni and al-Hakim from the Messenger (saw) who said: When your children reach the age of 7 then separate their beds and when they reach 10 beat them if they do not pray their salah.’ This is also due to what has been narrated by al-Bazzar on the authority of Abi Rafi’ with the following wording: ‘We found in a sheet near the Messenger of Allah (saw) when he died on which the following was written: Separate the beds of the slave boys and girls and brothers and sisters of 7 years of age.’ The two hadiths are texts on the separation of children when they reach the age of 7. As for the

Q&A: Shari' rule on songs, music, singing & instruments?

The following is a draft translation from the book مسائل فقهية مختارة (Selected fiqhi [jurprudential] issues) by the Mujtahid, Sheikh Abu Iyas Mahmoud Abdul Latif al-Uweida (May Allah protect him) . Please refer to the original Arabic for exact meanings. Question: What is the Shari’ ruling in singing or listening to songs?  What is the hukm of using musical instruments and is its trade allowed? I request you to answer in detail with the evidences? Answer: The Imams ( Mujtahids ) and the jurists have differed on the issue of singing and they have varying opinions such as haraam (prohibited), Makruh (disliked) and Mubah (permissible), the ones who have prohibited it are from the ones who hold the opinion of prohibition of singing as a trade or profession, and a similar opinion has been transmitted from Imam Shafi’i, and from the ones who disliked it is Ahmad Ibn Hanbal who disliked the issue and categorised its performance under disliked acts, a similar opinion has been tran