U S President Trump’s latest statement that “Kashmir is a very complicated place. You have the Hindus, and you have the Muslims, and I wouldn’t say they get along so great… it is a complicated situation. A lot has to do with religion. Religion is a complicated subject…Well they have been having these talks for hundreds of years. You have millions of people who want to be ruled by others …may be on both sides… and you have two countries that haven’t gotten along well for a long time…” has created enormous misgivings in India. Nevertheless, a dispassionate analysis of this statement can be described in terms of partly hyperbole, partly truth, and wholly in American strategic interests.
Muslims are not a monolith entity
President Trump should hold his close ally Britain for imparting the narrative of Kashmir being a Hindu-Muslim problem. Trump would know that Britain is guided by the colonial mindset, wherein colonialism in the Indian subcontinent thrived on Muslim separatism. The Indian Constitution rejects this whole idea of Muslim separatism based on the indigenous perspective of subcontinental Islam.
The reality of Kashmir is that Islam in the subcontinent, particularly Kashmir, has many strands and shades. In J&K, there are Sunnis, Shias, Pahari Muslims, Gujjar Muslims, and Bakarwal Muslims. Then there are various religious sects, i.e. Wahabis, Ahl-e-Hadis, Sufis, Deobandis, and Jamait-e-Islami. The Islamic State has also registered its presence. Most of these Muslims, with the exception of Wahabis and followers of Ahl-e-Hadis and Jamaite-Islami, are devout Indians. In addition, there is a very large Kashmiri Muslim population that retains emotional links with their ancestors and Kashmiriyat. This is the segment which has been the victims of terror and global jihad.
The main problem of the Kashmir Valley is that Arab colonisation has tried to replace British colonisation, as most of anti-India groups draw their ideological sustenance from ‘fundamentalism’ of the Arab variety.
It is also a reality that Muslims in India have never been a monolith entity. It may be reiterated that within 150 years of its foundation, Islam had split into three streams. The British, in order to perpetuate their rule, projected the Muslims of the subcontinent as a monolith entity. They prodded Jinnah to demand Pakistan. Jinnah was a Shia, and today Shias are a persecuted community in Pakistan. At one point of time, the British also encouraged Ahmedias to be part of the Pakistan project. Today, Ahmedias are constitutionally non-Muslims in Pakistan. Internally in Britain, radicalisation in jihadi terrorism is a product of Muslims of the Indian subcontinent and not the Muslims of West Asia, Central Asia, Africa or elsewhere.
UK and Pakistani votebank
The political class in the UK is too scared of the Pakistani expatriate vote-bank. The population of Pakistan-origin Muslims has increased more than 150-fold in the last seven decades, i.e. from 10,000 in 1951 to an estimated 1.5 million in 2019. The Pakistan-origin Muslims in the UK is the second largest ethnic population. The Indian sub-continental Muslims in the UK were the highest contributors to the ISIS. Most of them live in ghettos and refuse to be assimilated in British society.
There were ugly protests by Pakistanis in front of Indian High Commission in London, in the wake of India’s abrogation of Article 370. The protest turned violent and there were no attempts to bridle the murderous protestors. The laxity of the administration is attributed to the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, of Pakistani origin.
It is, therefore, not at all surprising that the UK, like China, also wanted an ‘outcome statement’ during the informal meet of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), but finding its case vastly outnumbered, i.e. 13:1, it decided to maintain a collusive silence. Nevertheless, it did emphasise that any legal step that India takes on Kashmir should be done keeping international obligations in mind, thereby suggesting that J&K did not come under the domestic jurisdiction of India. It may be reiterated that Britain has been unstinted in its support to Pakistan on Kashmir. This game started with Lord Mountbatten. It was Britain, which had made the tribal invasion of Kashmir in 1947 into a convoluted issue at the UN.
Territorial fraud by UK and China
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