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Reunification of India and Pakistan

Vinod Kumar



Defending Deendayal Upadhyaya's pet theme of Akhand Bharat, which was adopted by the Jana Sangha later, Mr Advani, speaking at a RSS function in Delhi on January 25, 2000 said what was then sought was not an invasion of Pakistan by India but a free union of the two countries when the people on both sides realised that the partition of 1947 was a blunder. He added: "We cannot rule out this possibility in the future. Maybe, the people of Pakistan will realise like the people of East and West Germany did and got united by breaking the Berlin Wall after a long period, when it was inconceivable that such a thing could occur."

Ever since the reunification of East and West Germany, it has been a common refrain among people and politicians in India and abroad "if the two Germanys can reunite, why can't India and Pakistan (and Bangladesh) do the same." Some believe "Pakistan like East Germany is a product of the Cold War. It will eventually be integrated with India." Others say: "Political barriers are coming down in the world, why shouldn't we lower our barriers too."

It is true that the idea of Akhand Bharat is very attractive and has great emotional appeal to most Hindus. But just because the two Germanys reunited, India and Pakistan should reunite too is no argument. Instead of being emotional, we should look analytically at the causes of partition and the long term ramifications of re-unification.

Are "political barriers really coming down?" While the two Germanys reunited many countries like Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union fell apart. Twenty nine years ago Bangladesh separated from Pakistan. The two Koreas are still separate. With the fight for secession of Bosnia and Kosovo just over, the fights for the secession of Chechnya and Kashmir are still in full swing. A quick count of the countries today and fifty five years ago would confirm that the "political barriers" are not really coming down.

Now let us look at the case of two Germanys and compare them with India.

The two Germanys were separated as a result of the second World War when the Soviet Union took control of the eastern part and the Allied forces of the western. The Soviets imposed communist regime and the West free market democracy. What separated the two Germanys were the two different political ideologies and the forces of the Soviet Union and the West. Now what reunited the two Germanys? After the collapse of the Soviet Union, communism lay dead. The ideology and the military force that had separated the two were no longer there. The Germans had always been one people -- racially, ethnically, religiously, linguistically and politically. They were reunited when the ideology and the force that separated them was dead and gone. They were bound together by a common bond and it is no wonder that they came together again.

Why was India partitioned? Why was the nation split? Many put the blame on the British for their "divide and rule" policy. That is misguided version at best. Long before the British there were already two separate Indias living side by side, mostly in confrontation – Hindu India and Muslim India. To blame the British for the partition of India is intellectual hypocrisy at the least. If anything, by their secular rule and institutions, they tried to bridge the divide.

The causes of India’s partition run much deeper. Muslims after having ruled India for six centuries were loathe to be reduced to a minority status in a democratic secular India. And Hindus after having tasted the lack of abject subjugation, under the British, were not willing to be relegated to that status again. The British rule had brought a rejuvenation among the Hindus. Their ancient culture had been rediscovered by the British. And they were proud of it.

On the political level, the rejuvenated and democratically inclined Hindus were willing to forget the past and share the powers on the basis of equality with the Muslims as Indians but on a psychological level the anguish lingered. Muslims on the other hand were not willing to forget their past glory and psychologically they could not accept to share power with the Hindus they had ruled for centuries, as equals.

Hindus wanted the British to leave India. Muslims loathe to see Hindus come to power wanted the British to stay. Moreover, ideologically too they were poles apart. Hindus are idol worshippers; for a Muslim "idolatry is worse than carnage". The two religions stand at opposite ends of the spectrum.

No one could have put it better than Mr. Jinnah did in his interview with Beverly Nichols in 1943: "You must remember that Islam is not merely a religious doctrine but a realistic and practical code of conduct. I am thinking in terms of life, of everything important in life. I am thinking in terms of our history, our heroes, our art, our architecture, our music, our laws, our jurisprudence....... In all things our outlook is not only fundamentally different but often radically antagonistic to the Hindus. We are different beings. There is nothing in life which links us together. Our names, our clothes, our foods -- they are all different; our economic life, our educational ideas, our treatment of women, our attitude to animals... .... we challenge each other at every point of the compass." He went on to say: "To yoke together two such nations under a single state, one as a numerical minority and the other as majority, must lead to growing discontent and final destruction of any fabric that may be so built up for the government of such a state."

It is clear that the partition was not imposed on India by outside forces like it was on Germany. It happened because of the heartfelt desire and commitment of the Muslims of India not to live with the Hindus. As poet Iqbal, spiritual founder of Pakistan had said, for Muslims "The Only Fatherland is Islam." Deny as one might, but the truth is that no two societies, nations or cultures are more antagonistic and diagonally opposite to each other than the Hindus and the Muslims -- not even the capitalists and the communists. The differences and antagonism between the two are more deeply rooted than what are evident on the surface or commonly accepted. Jinnah, initially an ardent supporter of Hindu Muslim unity, had realized that any rapproachment between the two was an exercise in futility unless one gave in completely to other's ways.

There is no parallel with the two Germanies; neither in their separation nor in the causes for their reunification. Separation was forced upon Germany and reunification happened only after one of the ideologies that separated the two had been removed. In the case of India and Pakistan, the separation was ingrained in the basic ideology of the two parties and fought for -- not imposed. As long as the two ideologies are healthy and alive, any talk of reunification is like burying one's head in sand. Not only Islam -- the raison d'etre of Pakistan (and Bangladesh) -- is alive, it is ever more aggressive, uncompromising and fundamentalist.

To talk of reunification and change of heart specially when a bloody separatist movement is going on in Kashmir is not only irresponsible but a stark reminder of lack of realization of reality.

Instead of reunification like Germany, India should be looking at the Soviet Union or Yugoslavia.

Why did the Soviet Union disintegrate? The seventeen republics that formed the Soviet Union were kept together by the force of the Soviet Union. When communism died and that force weakened, the constituent republics fell apart. There was nothing else to keep them together. They were different -- racially, ethnically, religiously, linguistically and politically. The same holds true for Yugoslavia.

Like these, India even today is divided by language, ethnicity, castes and regions, and of course, and sadly, still by religion also, -- more so now than fifty years ago. From admission in schools and colleges to the post of President everything is decided on the basis of ethnicity, caste and region, and of course, religion. The secessionist movements in Kashmir, Punjab (now under control) and the North East -- all non-Hindu majority states -- are religiously motivated and sustained despite the denial by the government of their being so. Despite all the attempts of the GOI in projecting India as a secular state, the World at large still regards India as a Hindu country. And for good reason, Hinduism is the only bond, the only link, that is keeping India together. Otherwise India is divided -- racially, ethnically, religiously, linguistically and politically. The day this bond of Hinduism weakens, not only will India and Pakistan not reunite, India will fall apart like the Soviet Union or Yugoslavia. Secularism was not able to hold India together in 1947 and it is not able to prevent the secessionist movement in non-Hindu majority states today.

Most Hindus view the partition of India in 1947 as something terrible for the Hindus and India. Actually, sad and bloody as it was, partition was the single best thing that happened for India in the past millennium which started with the raids of Mahmud and ended with India's humiliation in Kandahar. Otherwise the bloody religious riots, which were a common occurrence for most of the millennium, would have enervated the country and today India, given its size and diversity, would have been just another Afghanistan, if not worse. Partition gave India an opportunity to develop free of religious strife. Once reunited, the things in India will be worse than what they were before the partition.

The reunification of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh is neither a good idea nor does it have any similarity with the two Germanies. Let the Hindus and the Muslims live peacefully and amicably in their own houses and realize their dreams and fulfill their aspirations in their own ways according to their own beliefs.

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