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July 26, 1999

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E-Mail this column to a friend Varsha Bhosle

Sharpening the saw

Sharpening the saw" is said to be one of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People; they can apply to a nation, too. The allegory is to a guy vigorously sawing away at a tree with a blunt blade: If he keeps using the same blade, he'll be where India is: No-progressville. All he's gotta do is pause... think... and sharpen.

Of course, Einstein said it earlier, better, and, with a thrust: "We cannot solve problems with the same thinking we used when we created the problem."

Ok, even if we didn't create the tree, it needs to be cut, and with an altered approach. But, thing is, we *did* create the tree...

India's tree is the two-nation theory. It is the foundation upon which the division of India was based, and it was the rallying cry for the justification of Pakistan. It continues to serve some purposes in Pakistan today: the introduction of Islamic laws, the transformation into an Islamic Republic, the manufacture of history and, most significantly, the "liberation" of "Islamic" Kashmir from under the dreadful yoke of Hindu India.

The theory postulates that Hindus and Muslims of India are two separate and distinct nations. The motivation and ideological implication behind this declaration were fully played up by the Muslim leadership which felt that the rights of Muslims couldn't be safeguarded in Independent India unless Muslims were accepted as a separate people. This status would allow Muslims to be represented at all talks concerning the future -- in negotiations on the codes of India, powers of legislating bodies, division of power between the centre and states, and the construction of a Constitution. This participation as representatives of a nation -- rather than as a minority group -- was considered necessary for Muslim leaders to become effective negotiators.

What began as a movement for recognition as equals for transaction purposes, quickly turned into a political movement. In a matter of years, the two-nation theory became the base upon which the demands of Muslims came to rest. Given the lack of progress towards developing a constitution that could keep the "two nations" satisfied within an unified structure, the distinct-identity demands shifted towards a call for Partition....

Fifty years thence, after we've lived through the appearance of nationalistic movements based on language, ethnicity, race, caste and religion, it's hard to see how the two-nation thinggie can hold in Pakistan or India. The struggle of Bangladesh, the nationalistic tones of various regional parties, the strife between sects of the same religion, the caste struggles -- all rubbish the theory.

But, what Mohammed Ali Jinnah was adamant about then, the likes of Tahir Mahmood and sundry "secularists" are now: No uniform civil code, "ensure at least 100 seats for minorities in the Lok Sabha", the Waqf Act, subsidies for Haj, calls for khilafat ignored by the otherwise-watchful activists, etc, etc... The implication still is that Indian Muslims are a nation within the Indian nation. There can be no merging as Indians under one law...

Yes, Pakistan was created for Muslims. But, Indian Muslims *chose* India. And they themselves must sharpen the saw to hack at the separatist tendency among their kind: It exists -- don't even try to deny it. My sharpening my saw is useless -- it's abused as Hindutva...

Take the instance of immigrants. Abroad, they have to forge a new identity for themselves, individually and as a community. Their identity is always tied to their religion and culture, but it isn't the same as it was at home -- it has to address the new community directly and to situate itself within that milieu; like, Hanif Kureshi, Balti Chicken, Bhangra-Rap. Identity does not and cannot rest on religion alone -- that's its beauty. Immigrants mix old ones to create complex new unities. But through it all, there's an underlined fact -- ALL follow ONE law of the land.

Indian Muslims are not immigrants. Then how do they condone khilafat? They are Indians, and they have to take that into account first -- Haj can't be more essential than elections! And, the rest of India has to consider that a substantial number of citizens are native Muslims -- with no other home. It's time to deconstruct the two-nation theory and look for modern alternatives to define the "separate" identity. To sharpen the saw. We created a problem then, and the same old thinking is only aggravating it.

It was Amberish's frightening report on the Islamisation of the Pakistan army that set me on this train of thought. Nothing wrong in Pakistan's Muslim soldiers quoting from the Quran -- but to use it to exhort against "the anti-Islamic Kafir army" is... well... why I say that pinkos of the Indo-Pak Friendship Association, who advocate that India "allow" Kashmir to join Pak, should be lined up against a wall and shot.

What these people are *still* advocating is the two-nation theory: In their minuscule minds, Kashmir is "Muslim," ergo, it should go to Islamic Pakistan...

Still, I'm not afraid of these thoroughly denuded people. What scares me is the support that ISI operatives get from certain Indians -- for it's linked to the two-nation thing. Some would say that Indian apostates are only the poor, lured by the lucre Pakis offer. Meaning, Islam plays no part in their treachery. I don't buy that. And I don't buy that because Muslims are a blindly pious people -- they can't rationalise religion. (Sure, when it come to crime, women, booze, music, it all flies out of the nearest window, but what the hell, boys will be boys).

On September 25, 1997, Syed Liaqat Ali, a Pak-trained Kashmiri militant, was arrested at Delhi airport. In turn, he identified his handler, Major Tanseer Alam of 116 TA Battalion (Para) -- of the Indian army. Classified documents detailing weapons placements, movement of senior army officers, and anti-insurgency operations in J&K were recovered from him. Alam confessed to obtaining documents for Ali, and his involvement in espionage activities for the ISI.

Nineteen ninety seven's 28 bomb cases -- of Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and UP -- were solved with the arrest of two Bangladeshis and two Indians: Haroon alias Raju, Moosa alias Viplab, Kamran alias Asif, and Shakeel. All were ISI-trained, police commissioner T R Kakkar said. However, the mastermind, Abdul Karim alias Tunda, is still at large in Bangladesh. These are the people we liberated... What bound the Bangladeshis with the Indians and Pakis...?

On April 1998, Haridwar's police arrested Naeem Ali of Haldwani (UP) from Hari ki pauri, the main ghat for the holy bath. Two bombs, two revolvers and a dagger were recovered from him. Naeem admitted he had come to Haridwar to disrupt the Mahakumbh Mela. He had been trained by the ISI. Not a religion bee...?

In February 1999, the Mumbai police arrested three Indian ISI agents, identified as Manna Husain, Sayeed Abbas Zaidi and Rasheed Ziyaee. Additional Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria said they had recovered documents, including Pakistani passports, and revolvers. These spies were hired by Iqbal Mirchi in October 1998. They then flew to Dubai to meet Anees Ibrahim and Khayum; their brief was to engineer communal disturbances in Bombay and Delhi. When arrested, they were busy recruiting youth for their "cause." Iqbal Bhai and Anees, too, were Indians once.

On June 2, two gun-runners, Abdul Sheikh alias Azizuddin and Aqueel Ahmed, were arrested in Lucknow. They confessed to be ISI agents on a mission to commit subversive acts before the election in India. Azizuddin has been identified by Mumbai police as Sattar, an ace hit-man of the Chhota Shakeel gang. His crimes include the murder of BJP leader Nand Raj Gaur. Sattar admitted he received training at ISI headquarters after he fled India. The two have admitted that Lucknow was a transit for dumping weapons smuggled from Nepal. Following interrogation, the crime branch arrested three Indians in Bombay: Tariq Parveen, Mansoor alias Mota, and Usman, from whom banned weapons were recovered.

On June 15, the UP police arrested Zafar, an Indian army deserter, at Kanpur -- while he was making a call to Karachi from a public call office. Two Indian passports, with different names, classified maps of army establishments, info on army and VIP movements and strategic installations in UP were recovered from his rooms. Investigations revealed that Zafar made myriad calls to Bombay, Delhi and Lucknow, with bills exceeding Rs 100,000 a month. The Etawah-born Zafar served his last posting in Kashmir before disappearing across the border. Why would a Bhaiya do this for Pakistan?

On June 16, 24 kg RDX and 63 firearms were seized from 5 intruders and their Indian contacts of Lakhpat village in Bhuj. The stuff was consigned for Bombay's dons and had been sent by ISI sympathisers Al Ana and Haji Saleh of Pakistan. Interrogation revealed that local contacts had set up a meeting of the ISI agents with the goombahs of Sarkhej-Juhapura area of Ahmedabad.

On June 18, the Mumbai police arrested four associates of an ISI agent and seized classified defence documents which they were faxing to Karachi from an STD booth. Interrogations led to the arrest of the Pune-based ISI agent Sayyed Desai, a Pakistani married to an Indian. His four Indian cronies are: Abdul Samad Valimohmed Hingore, owner of the STD booth and trader in garments; Mahmad Shahnawaz Mohmad Faiyaz, a garment hawker; Imtiyaz Razak Dalal and Afzal Dawood Darvesh, exporters of gutka. Sayyed Desai disclosed that he had received 18 months of intensive training in espionage in Pakistan. Documents on Dehu's ammunition depot, and Indian and Pakistani passports were seized from him. Would established traders betray the country for only money...?

On June 30, two people were arrested while trying to pass on vital information to Karachi on phone. The youth arrested at Jaisalmer told the police that he'd been trained by the ISI for a special mission and that he had tunneled under the border fencing into India. The Jaisalmer police immediately booked Pakistani spy Jafaria Chuda under the NSA. Chuda, prime accused in the Jaisalmer spying case, had escaped from custody some months ago and was re-arrested after a sustained manhunt. The Jaisalmer police arrested seven more Indians that week.

The previous government of Rajasthan, under Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, had sent a list of proposals seeking amendments in the Foreigners Act, the Passport Act and the Official Secrets Act to the home minister. Advaniji had endorsed the proposal. But the Congress then took charge: The proposal is yet to be implemented...

The deaths of 29,151 civilians and 5,101 security personnel; 4,730 explosions; 2,78,601 persons rendered homeless; 51,810 kg RDX and 61,000 weapons smuggled; Rs 20 billion of loss to property -- lie at the door of Pakistan's ISI. But that's not the issue at all. It is the nature of suars to eat dirt...

My problem is this: 7,125 -- is the number of Pakistani and foreign saboteurs caught. 19,800 -- is the number of ISI-trained Indians nabbed. Why? What inspires them to turn to Pakistan?

Therefore, sharpen the saw. Pakistan can't export terrorism if there are no importers here. Indian saboteurs are the tree *we* need to saw. The 50-year-old Nehruvian "secularism," the protected status given to minorities, the defanging of anti-terrorism laws, the shielding of Muslim illegal immigrants, the acceding to "hurt sentiments" -- has proved to be a BLUNT blade. A rabid nationalism is the only cure.

Culturally, Indian Muslims aren't so different from Hindus at all. But, if the Quran is *all* that they will venerate, and hence reject purely political mechanisms that bring about true secularism and unity in a country -- then the tree will only grow. And then, the others will sharpen their saws... And then.... mayhem...

Varsha Bhosle

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