February 23, 2020
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War Is A Zero-Sum Game

Pakistan should realise that it doesn't really help any reasonable vision of its own future well-being to keep bleeding India

War Is A Zero-Sum Game
Illustration by Saahil
War Is A Zero-Sum Game

By regularly killing Indians—in Uri or South Mumbai—if Pakistan is trying  to finish the unfinished agenda of Partition or avenge the creation of Bangladesh or generally be a cussed neighbour, it should realise that it doesn’t really help any reasonable vision of its own future well-being to keep bleeding India. One, it is impossible to re-enact Partition. It is not just the Kashmir Valley, almost every district of this country has Muslims. Another division over religion is neither feasible nor conceivable. The very notion of a religious partition is an archaic, bloodthirsty call to empty the entrails of the subcontinent. To insist that Kashmiri insurgency is not tied to (or part of) a divisive, communal, Islamist project—one that flows logically from that old theory—is to make a fool of the poor pellet-fodder of the Valley.

Sure, there are those who abhor the idea of India on both sides of the religious divide: those who killed Gandhi and those who forced Kashmiri Pandits into exile are united in their hatred for a shared destiny and a harmonious coexistence bet­ween the majority and the minority religious communities. Just as Muslims have every right to lead a dignified life in Muzaffarnagar or Meerut, Shias and Sikhs and Buddhists and Hindus have a right to live happily and unfe­ttered in the Valley. The mob that lynched Akhlaque in Dadri and the mob that threw a policeman into the Jhelum were equally practising majoritarian violence and imposing the politics of majoritarian might.

If Pakistan is seeking to fulfil Gen Zia’s dream of dismembering India, it is again a zero-sum game. India did not create Bangladesh. The people of East Pakistan had revolted against the folly of a forced religious unity over cultural, ethnic and linguistic disparities. A religious identity for a nation, whether Hindu or Muslim, precludes all modern, liberal values of a progressive democratic dialogue between disparate groups. However much they deny it, our present separatists are actually collaborating (with the Pakistani ‘deep state’) in carving out an Islamic religious identity while forcing Kashmiris to abandon their cultural and linguistic ethnicity. These secessionists seem only too happy to be ruled by the West Punjabi military-intelligence establishment simply because they belong to the same religion. But is this what the people of Kashmir want?

Even if the answer from the crowd on the street is yes, it can only be treated on a par with the ek dhakka aur slogan of another mob that brought the Babri Masjid down. Hindutva expansionists espousing Hindu rashtra and the Islamist secessionists seeking a separate Kashmiri nation should understand that Hindus and Muslims are conjoined twins of this subcontinent’s history; Ishwar-Allah is a hyp­henated reality here, which atheistic apologists of religious secessionism ought to learn to respect and not to dissect and denigrate. And it is imperative for the Indian State to exercise restraint because talking too much about death—by way of revenge—is to invite more deaths. India as a growing, aspirational society cannot afford to let Pakistan trick us into a death trap of war. Non-state actors should be countered by more efficient non-state actors. Meanwhile, let us talk about life and peace. Few conjoined twins survive surgeries.

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