In his column of Sept. 27, Syed Wasimul Haque says that Pakistan was formed on the basis of religion, while “India declared itself secular with no affiliation to any religion.” In the same breath he says “Sadly, Hindu extremists now dominate the whole spectrum of daily living in India.”
Is he also sad because Pakistan has never been secular? Constitutionally, India remains a “secular, democratic republic.” Yes, BJP has gained political power to form a government at the national level and in different states. But “the whole spectrum of daily living” in India does not run according to its philosophy. Fifteen years ago the BJP government helped elect APJ Abdul Kalam, a Muslim, as India’s president. There are Hindus just like jihad Muslims and fundamentalist Christians who would like to see everyone converted to their faith. India as a whole does not wear saffron colors.
Haque says that Muslims have ruled India since the 11th century. He needs to reread his history book. The entire area between Peshawar and Rangoon (that is Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Burma) was dotted with kingdoms of various sizes whose boundaries fluctuated frequently. A few of the principalities were first invaded and then ruled by Muslims. The Moghuls during their regime co-opted Hinduism and expanded their reach. There have been cruel tyrants among Muslim rulers who plundered and demolished Hindu temples and taxed them heavily because of their religion. The history of India is the story of invasion from the West — from Mahmud to Alexander the Great — and the resistance by local people and their rulers set against each other. It was the British who brought all of them under one umbrella and made the subcontinent a geographic unit.
Haque says “Extremism has ... permeated all groups of people.” I agree. However, it does not help if educated people like him refrain from being objective.