World

Misplaced Liberalism

Is it true that Islam has taken a hit from all four corners in the last 20 years? Yes, but one has to look from a different perspective and then judge Muslims who are facing some of the most visceral hatred in many parts of the world.

This hatred has now got compounded with the advent of ISIS and this group has taken the interpretation of Islam to such levels, even Al Qaeda thinks they are too violent. Now this has to be the height of Irony where a terror group responsible for many an acts of terror and violence cannot stand the atrocity of its scion in the Middle East.

Many Muslims all over the world have already publicly condemned the actions of ISIS without being afraid of backlash and I do not know what more they should do. Should they take up arms and go to Iraq and Syria to fight ISIS?

But to paint and portray an entire religion of Islam as vile and repugnant and equate them to Mafia is uncalled for. Yes there are problems in certain quarters of Islam, but if we check, problems exist in all religions. It seems America does not have any problem when Saudi Arabia the home to the harshest form of Islam beheads people. Why, they are allies and as long as the oil flows, all is well.

The response given by Hollywood Star Ben Affleck to what Bill Maher and author Sam Harris was totally justified and must be applauded. The comments made by the host where racist although Muslims belong to several races all over the world but the term Racist fits right.

Bill Maher is a very good standup comedian and an atheist and I enjoy his brand of comedy very much. Especially when he takes dig into many rightwing American politicians who are known for their hypocrisy and bigotry towards black, immigrants and women.

He often rips apart the American foreign policy and former President George Bush who has been the butt of his jokes and political satire many times and I do not mind. He also comments about leaders and heads of state of other countries and gives valuable insights with his humorous commentary. But his all out offensive against Muslims and using profanity was beneath him.

Now he may disagree with me, but if I am not an expert in American politics and the American society in general, then he is not an expert in judging more than 1.6 billion people who belong to the religion of Islam. I am a better expert because I live in India which is home to nearly 200 million Muslims of different denomination.

Does Bill know how many denominations in Islam exist and the different school of thoughts which people all over the world follow? I am finding it very difficult to give him the benefit of doubt.

But the ranting which he gave on his show proves he may lack some crucial information. I say this because I am Indian, a Hindu who works with Muslims and have friends who are Muslims.

How many Muslim friends Bill Maher have?

We in India are home to perhaps all the Muslim denomination and the different school of thoughts which guide our Muslim brothers and sisters.

Yes there have been problems in our country but somehow we have always managed to work out a balance and live in harmony because all humans are inherently kind and full of compassion be it any religion.  We understand this in India and this is something America is fast losing.

I am not saying Mr. Maher cannot criticize the actions of some Muslims just as he has the right to criticize and poke fun at the Christen right in America. But does it give him the right to accuse all Muslims just as it is not ok to hold every Catholic priest responsible for molesting children.

By many accounts Islam was and still is one of the fastest growing religions in the world and most who convert do not prescribe to violence. On the other hand more people have died under tyrants who were allowed to rule because it suited American Interest. How many people have died because of American interest? The current problem is the direct manifestation of American actions in the Middle East.

The reason which might have prompted Bill Maher to get so extreme is because ISIS has taken terror to whole new level and it is simply not easy to digest anymore. Bill Maher is a good man I am sure he has never hurt anyone in his life but I think he has taken this whole Islam bashing to a level which is only expected from the Rightwing.

In many ways Islam is going through a change, call it a Renaissance. Muslims living in Islamic countries or anywhere want the same thing as Americans or Indians. They want jobs, security and a peaceful life to see their children grow. There will always be a fraction in every religion which only expresses its wants and need through hatred and violence.

Just as all Italians are not Mafia, all Muslims are not ISIS who only believes in killing and pillaging. This outpouring of blind ignorance is not going to do any good for anyone.

Pakistan as a nation was conceived partly out of ideology and part fear has definitely reached cross roads. The very existence of this nation depends upon the decisions its leaders will have to take in the coming months. With so many changes happening in international relations in the wake of Prime Minister Modi meeting various heads of states, it is possible Pakistan could want another Kargil.

And if we are caught unaware this time, then it would be a matter of National Shame and who knows if we will be as successful as the last time.

The debacle of Pakistan delegation in the United Nations is still fresh and the success of PM Modi’s visit to America is now a major concern for them. So what does people or countries do when they are faced with overwhelming odds, they react the same way they have reacted in the Past. Start a conflict with a touch of nuclear flashpoint scenario and with Pakistan it’s all about “Muscle Memory.” I think Pakistan suffers from Attention deficit disorder (ADD) and constantly creates fracas to achieve this objective.

Back in 1999 the Pak army under the leadership of Parvez Musharraf conceived the idea to occupy Kargil on the Indian side of Kashmir which led to a serious confrontation and things got so out of hand the same man who is the current PM of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif had to run to the US and seek help from Bill Clinton. This happened because the army did not want peace.

There were reports of the Pak army deploying nuclear tipped missiles to attack India just in case things got out of hand. Matters became more interesting when many experts thought the operational control of nuclear missiles was in the hands of field commanders completely negating the nuclear launch protocols. You do not have to be an expert to conclude that the nuclear trigger and the authority to launch does not reside with the Pakistani Prime Minister.

But Kargil happened 15 years ago and a full fledge nuclear war was averted. But somehow it seems history might repeat itself again and there could be another Kargil like situation created this time to draw attention. Already since Narendra Modi has taken the office of PM, the incident of unprovoked attack on our border posts and on the civilians at the Line of Control has increased.

And the question is how long this will continue?

How long can Pakistan sustain it?

What end result are they expecting?

  1. Pakistan cannot continue these border theatrics for long and this is just a ploy to bring India back to the negotiating table and then sell this as a victory.
  1. If Pakistan wants to keep attacking Indian post at the LOC, then it will eat away precious munitions which they will need to fight the Pakistan Taliban. Also if India intensifies its response at the border by no means PM Modi will back away from a fight and even if International pressure is applied, I am afraid it is Pakistan which will have to sound the retreat.
  1. The end result will not be what Pakistan envisions. America will not intervene, China has its own problem and poking India would only create problems for them.

The last time India and Pakistan came close to achieving friendly relations was again in 1999 and the Delhi-Lahore bus initiative was the right way forward. But the threat of peace would mean no more free meal from America. The army will lose its single greatest enemy which is counter to the Pak army’s business interest.  This time the relations have worsened and now Pakistan could be facing more isolation.

In reality the world and more importantly America has released, Pakistan is a very deceitful partner. On the one hand it takes aid earmarked for development but instead diverts the money to buy military hardware and every month presents a bill to America for all the spending it had done against fighting terrorist.

Since 9/11 America has given over 11 billion dollars in aid to Pakistan and this is public knowledge and most of it was used to buy weapons to counter Indian threat. It is now clear to everyone when Osama Bin Laden who was caught living right in the heart of Pakistan military establishment both the ISI and the army were oblivious to this fact, it is safe to conclude and it is extremely probable they may even know the whereabouts of Ayman al-Zawahiri.

But if all the major players are killed or captured, America will not have any reason to keep funding Pakistan. Hence, it is in the best interest of Pak army to portray India as the number one enemy and give clandestine support to terror organizations for keeping the wheel rolling.

The current fighting at the Kashmir border between Indian Security forces and Pakistani Rangers and army will not serve any purpose for them and only hurt their economy. Right now in Pakistan there is outbreak of Polio, a decease which no longer exists even in third world countries except for Nigeria and Afghanistan. But these are perhaps a non issue for the army whose solders are probably inoculated against polio.

With America seeking more partners in Afghanistan and all attention are being given to fight the Ebola virus and ISIS, it’s possible they might stop paying Pakistan lunch money. With so many problems Pakistan faces internally and at international level, this unfounded and blind hatred and fear against India must come to an end. So it is quite possible that Pakistan in order to get attention would need another front and India is the prime candidate and a Second Kargil war looks quite likely and India should be ready.