September 3, 2002


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Koenraad Elst

Dr Hathaway's patronising conclusions

Part 1: A reply to Robert Hathaway

Impact of Gujarat riots

We may quote here without comment the following secularist platitude by Hathaway:

"So leaving aside the moral issue, it is essential that India's friends in the US speak out to condemn the injustice and hatred so prominently displayed in Gujarat, and to lend support to those Indians, of all religious beliefs, who are working to strengthen the forces of secularism, tolerance and multiculturalism."

Hathaway has two opinions about the consequences of the Gujarat riots for Indo-American relations. The first one belongs to Realpolitik: "Some have asked what impact the recent events in Gujarat will have -- should have -- on the new and healthier relationship that the US is developing with India. (...) Prior to the February 27 Godhra attack that touched off the bloodshed in Gujarat, this new and more sanguine relationship between the US and India was widely viewed by Americans as in the national interest. It remains so today; Gujarat has not changed this calculation."

In Pakistan, terrorists with links to the CIA-trained secret service ISI have recently killed Americans and allied French citizens posted there for purposes of the "war against terrorism", as well as a few dozen Pakistani Christians, deemed a pro-American fifth column. Yet, this has not led to any American reprisals against Pakistan. It would be odd if internal Indian troubles which have not hurt any American citizens or direct allies would jeopardise Indo-American relations.

And yet: "And yet, it is neither possible nor practical simply to pretend that Gujarat did not happen. The violence in Gujarat, and the steps the Indian Government might take in coming months in response to those events, could have a significant impact on American views of India, and hence, on political and public support in the US for a close and collaborative US-India partnership."

Here, Hathaway is clearly abandoning realpolitik and seeking a moralistic scapegoat, a pretext for keeping Indo-American relations in lower key than they ought to be if America meant business with its "war on terrorism". Why should America bring a moral hypersensitivity to bear on its relations with India when it has always turned a blind eye to Pakistani human rights violations, open and proxy aggression against India, open interference in Afghanistan, and unmistakable covert involvement in international terror? Clearly, morality or concern for communal harmony in a distant country is not what moves American policy-makers. Hathaway is cynically playing this up in order to justify the American refusal to take the side of the Indian victim against the Pakistani aggressor in the "war on terrorism".

At the recent meeting of the Indo-American Friendship Council (July 16), two spokespersons for the US National Security Council likewise refused to take the side of India against Pakistan. They picked up the quarrel in the middle, as if there could be a moral equivalence between democratic India and dictatorial-theocratic Pakistan, one of the world's prime sponsors of terrorism. Not that India is in such terrible need of American support, but America itself is in need of reliable allies, and at present American policy-makers are fooling themselves by assuming that General Pervez Musharraf is their friend and will deliver the goods in the struggle against the Taliban, Al Qaeda and his own Islamist militias terrorising Indians in Kashmir.

Cut the money supply

The practical bottom-line of Hathaway's paper turns out to be a plea for cutting off the flow of donations to Hindu charities such as the Ekal Vidyalaya scheme of village schools. US-based Indian Communists have recently opened a campaign against Hindu charities, and Hathaway offers to serve as their loudspeaker in Washington: "Credible reports have recently suggested that substantial sums of money are sent from Indians resident in the US, and from American citizens of Indian origin, to groups and organisations in Gujarat and elsewhere in India that are directly linked to the violence in Gujarat. I do not know if these accounts are true. But respected Indian journalists have uncovered disturbing linkages. If these reports prove accurate, then it is possible that such financial transactions violate US anti-terrorism statutes."

How does Dr Hathaway know that the reports which have reached his eye are "credible"? How does he know his sources are "respected" except in the purely conventional sense of enjoying prestige within the existing establishment? It is, at any rate, not hard to find out that these sources are extremely partisan, for they themselves aren't exactly keeping it secret.

At any rate: "It is probably advisable for the American government to hold an official inquiry into fund-raising in the US by groups implicated in the Gujarat violence, to ensure that US laws are not being violated. (...) Nor would such an inquiry be new or unusual. The US has acted in the past to regulate or even to ban fund-raising activities by groups advocating violence and ethnic or religious intolerance in other countries, as well as activities where fraud may be an issue."

Hathaway's concern goes beyond terrorism. Even non-violent religious bigotry should be curbed by American governmental action: "Responsible sources report that some US residents make financial contributions to overseas religious groups in the belief that these funds are to be used for religious or humanitarian purposes, when in fact the monies so raised are used to promote religious bigotry."

If Hathaway wants to thwart religious "charities" promoting both "religious bigotry" and "violence and religious and ethnic intolerance", he can start much closer to home. American Baptist and Evangelical groups are financing the propagation of Christian religious bigotry of the most obscurantist kind in India's Northeast and tribal belts. Much of this bigotry has resulted in armed separatism, terrorism and ethnic cleansing of tribes refusing to become Christians.

Hathaway patronising conclusion adopts a false formula of even-handedness: "An official US investigation into Gujarat-related fund-raising, voluntarily facilitated by the Government of India, would go far towards easing those concerns and further strengthening the new partnership between our two peoples."

The Indian people are not financing movements violently disrupting American society. By contrast, American citizens are financing Church activities in India which often shade over into armed separatism, social disruption of tribal societies and ethnic cleansing. The American state is arming Pakistan, and even if it were to fully stop arms deliveries to Pakistan, it still carries a legacy of having armed the Pakistani Army and trained the Pakistani secret service, agents of terror against Indian citizens and the Indian state. The guilt for keeping Indo-American relations unfriendly is entirely on the American side. If Dr Hathaway believes in a "new partnership between our two peoples", he had better advise his Government to investigate American private support to missionary-cum-terrorist subversion and to halt every form of American state support to Pakistani jihadism.

The Gujarat Riots
The war on terrorism

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