INDIA SPLITS: After Six Decades Of Separation – Time Does Not Seem To Have Healed India-Pakistan Relations

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In 1965, Pakistan launched a full attack on India. In this war approximately 4,000 Pakistanis and 3,000 Indians were killed. I personally suffered this aggression. I lost two of my college-mates; they returned home from war in body bags.

By Dr. Suresh Kurl

[The third of a three part series on the partition of India exclusively for the LINK ]

They say nothing remains the same for ever; time changes everything and time is the greatest healer. If that is so, it has been more than six decades since India and Pakistan separated, but neither have we changed nor feel healed. All these years, we have lived in fear. There are people in both countries, who believe that Pakistan being an Islamic Republic is hard-wired against the Republic of India. The chronology of our armed conflicts seems to support this thinking.

In 1948, the Muslims of the Poonch region of Kashmir, with the help of the Pathan tribes of the North-West Frontiers, launched a holy war against the Dogra Hindu maharaja, over threw him and proclaimed that region of Kashmir, Azad Kashmir.

“Force is all-conquering, but its victories are short-lived,” how visionary of Abraham Lincoln to see it and how blind of Pakistan to ignore it. How short sighted was that aggression? Since then neither India nor Pakistan has not had a sound sleep with both eyes closed.

In 1965, Pakistan launched a full attack on India. In this war approximately 4,000 Pakistanis and 3,000 Indians were killed. I personally suffered this aggression. I lost two of my college-mates; they returned home from war in body bags.

The 1970-1971 Indo-Pak war took the lives of about 8,000 Pakistanis, 3,000 Indians and about 300,000 to 3,000,000 East Pakistanis civilians. Out of the ashes of this destruction emerged a new nation, Bangladesh.

In 1984, like a poor gambler who does not know when to fold and walk away, Pakistan started a proxy war with India, flooding Indian Kashmir with insurgents. In 2001, bombs exploded around the Indian Parliament. India held Pakistan responsible for this bombing. In 2006, terrorists bombed a commuter rail in Mumbai. India held Pakistan responsible for the deaths of the innocent passengers.

On July 7, 2008, “the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence helped the Haqqani network attack the Indian embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. …Fifty-eight people were killed and more than 100 injured in a suicide bombing.” (Bob Woodward: Obama’s Wars, 2010; pg. 5).

On November 27, 2008, Pakistani insurgents bombed the Taj and Oberai hotels, a railway station, a restaurant and a Jewish center in Mumbai. “When the gunfire ended, the body count totalled 175, including six American citizens. The siege had been organized by a group called Lashkare-Taiba (LeT), which means the Army of the Pure… One of LeT’s primary goals is to over throw India’s control of Kashmir, a Muslim-majority province that boarders Pakistan…Its broader mission involves founding an Islamic nation across South Asia. (Bob Woodward: Obama’s Wars, 2010; pg. 45).

On July 13, 2011, three bombs exploded killing 17 innocent people in Mumbai. Though no one had admitted responsibility for this crime it is alleged that this bombing was the handy work of Indian Mujahideens, a local chapter of terrorist groups.

Pakistan has neither accepted to date nor will it ever accept responsibility for these armed conflicts, but it makes no difference to me. The fact remains; wars have occurred repeatedly and lives have been lost on both sides.

The citizens whom I have known for a long time in North America see things differently. They wish our countries could live in peace with each other, especially when India is the home of the second largest Muslim population in the world (first being Indonesia).

Though India could not be called a perfect model of democracy, at least yet, we know it is trying hard to fit the framework thought out by some internationally accepted political philosophers, who lived and died acting it. Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, John F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King Jr., all were assassinated for democray.  Nelson Mandela spent 28-years in prison and Aung San Suu Kyi 21-years under house arrest for democracy. Many times I have wondered is democracy just a fiscally expensive form of governance, or is it Cannibalistic? If latter is true then I must add Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (1975), Joop den Uyl, (2002), Benazir Bhutto (2007) and Salman Taseer (2011) to the list, who also died for democracy.

I admit India during her democratisation has made serious mistakes that cannot be forgiven–the 1948 assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, the most heinous crime committed against, on, in and around Har Mandar Sahib, and then, prior and subsequent to the assassination of Mrs. Gandhi, thousands of Hindus and Sikhs killed each other between 1984 and 1987, which was followed by the assassination of Rajeev Gandhi in 1991.

Then in 1992, more than 2,000 people were killed during the Babri Mosque riots in Ayodhya. In 2002, 59 Hindus pilgrims were burned to death in a train car in Godhra (Gujarat), which resulted in retaliation against Muslims, who were judicially held responsible for the burning. Violence begets violence; hundreds of Muslim men, women and children lost their lives and property subsequently.

India has suffered its moral degradation in other forms also:  selective abortions, bride-burning and honour killings. As a child, I had never heard my parents ever talking about so-and-so killed their little girl or aborted her before she was born. But as an adult, when I read about parents killing their little girls, born or unborn, my heart bleeds. A recent research paper authored by Professor Prabhat Jha at the Center for Global Health Research in Toronto, Canada, says that millions of girls have been aborted over the last three decades.

In my books, these aborted little babies were not worthless creatures. They were mini Durgas, worshipped every year, twice a year on Durga Ashtami days. Besides, over three decades, thousands of young women have accidentally burned themselves, or have fallen off the roofs.

Since independence, corruption has risen sky high widening and deepening the gap between rich and poor. Once, in response to Mahatma Gandhi’s concern about corruption in the British Government, Pundit Nehru assured him, “Bapu, dont worry. After some days we will be free from English people and then we will hang all corrupt people to lampposts at Chandni Chowk.” This commitment of Pundit Nehru raises three issues for me. First, if he were still alive he would have run out of lampposts for hanging corrupt people. Second, how come two of his homemade prime ministers neglected the commitment their family elder had made to the people of India? Third, what is PM Man Mohan Singh doing about it? He ought to know that since independence India has lost over $460 billion because of companies and rich illegally funnelling their wealth overseas. BBC knows it.

“The world is a   dangerous place not because of people who do evil, but because of good people who do nothing about it,” says Albert Einstein. Mr. Einstein! I have news for you. India is not yet out of good people. Anna Hazare and his followers are doing something about it. One of them is Kiran Bedi, my favourite.

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Dr. Suresh Kurl is a South Asian Community activist, a retired Registrar of the BC Benefits Appeal Board and of the National Parole Board.

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