Nationalism between the great divide
Anayat Ul Lah Mugloo and Tanveer Ahmad Khan
Indian subcontinent had suffered enormous and countless attacks from outsiders in the past, at the same time, it has celebrated its internal cultural diversity, despite vicariousness of power by many of its inhabitants. Ultimately, it came into the hands of Britishers. To rescue the nation from the hands of these alien masters, nationalism was imagined and invented as anathema. At that time Britishers were treated as a dangerous enemy by all irrespective of caste,colorur, creed, gender, or more significantly religious dichotomies, but the idea of India was fragmented because of improper consideration towards the plurality of British Indian society. This uncelebrated pluralism, more often than not, created a suspicion of assimilation and hegemonization among minorities. To unearth the motives of the dominant category majority community of Hindus within the Indian subcontinent, Muslims worked out a blueprint for their future nation.
Though such design was regarded as groundwork for the nation based on religion by many but at the same time, it needs to be noted that the coder and preacher of this blueprint was a highly western styled secular person. Here a question pops out: Can a secular person imagine a religious state? The likely answer seems that Jinnah may have envisioned a nation with some secular stance but the dominant category, to delegitimize his vision of nationalism, presented him and his concept of nation and nationalism in a communal guise. Here it needs to be noted that the issue of parting away from a single soul emerged out of minority accommodation question.
Thereby, they succeeded in maintaining the status quo and collapsed his envisioned secular hood. On the other hand, Jinnah was never able to give up his secular staunch. On August 11, 1947, he explicated his secular hood when he addressed the first democratically elected Constituent Assembly of his newly independent nation, “if we want to make this great state of Pakistan happy and prosperous we should collectively concentrate on the well-being of marginalized… If you will work under one spirit that every one of you, no matter to what community he belongs, no matter what relations he had with you in the past, no matter what is his color, caste or creed, is first, second and last a citizen of this state with rights, and obligations, there will be no end to the progress you will make”. This secular outlook was tied up with celebrated diversities when he said in the same speech, “you are free, you are free to go to your temples, and you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the state … We are all citizens and equal citizens of one state.”
In such infancy and out of an immature articulation, Indian subcontinent witnessed a stroke on the deportation of 14 and arrival of 15 August 1947, to part away from a single soul in two pieces. These two pieces of the single soul were once compared with two eyes of a bride by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan. What was worth considering is this event was simply the birth of two separate nations, i.e., India and Pakistan. It was the first incident in the world history whereby two separate nations had been carved out on religion! Here Indian religion was secularism with fanatic tendency, and the idea of Pakistan was already bannered under Islamic interpretation by the dominant part of self and even by followers.
Genealogically speaking, though born at the same time out of single self, they were and are heavily dependent on each other to prove and assure what they stand for. The politics of both nation-states was generating a variety of ideas in contradiction and collision with one another. If one country among these two countries ends its life, the dependent one will die a natural death. To have an everlasting finish to their conception of “who they are” and “what roles did they play”. Both countries finally landed on the political landscape of Jammu and Kashmir to prove who they are and what powers they probably share. Indian project of Secularism is said to be incomplete without the presence of Jammu and Kashmir within it; and without same, Pakistan’s “Two Nation Theory” is rendered useless by admirers. The game of nationalism, at a time when its adherents and admirers were nearer to abandon it, came to occupy prominent space in South Asian political spectrum. What comes to fore out of the unfinished agenda of partition are two fluctuating national identities without a final finish, and, for them, the ultimate grounds were these incomplete identities would get proper recognition is Kashmir. In this dilemma of testing their nationalistic tendencies on the ground of Kashmir is generating new tendencies of regional nationalism among the masses of Kashmir at large scale. This might lead to the third division of nationalism from the same single national soul.
Put simply, what was most astonishing in this tyrannous episode, the idea of nation and definition of nationalism of both countries solely a product of binary division. In the binary game as such nation and nationalism are constructed by silencing the “other.” This silencing others created enormous problems to the “Parted-National Selves”. Both Indian and Pakistan started galloping hard issues of people’s survival and sustainability under the vision for the nation and nationalism. If both the countries would be put on a question about existential radar, they will have to face such issues whereby they will be held responsible for their words and deeds. What is most important to the citizenry of both the countries went under rust but what is irrelevant came to occupy the core. No doubt both countries on the international platform occupy significant space, but there are countless issues galloped under the rubric of nationalism. There are many growing issues like terrorism, civilian casualties, crime and rape, the missing basics, uncertain returns to farmers, insecure work, ineffective institutions, and isolation of ethnic and linguistic communities, and loss of indigenous and tribal people’s rights needs to be tackled, and the acceptance and incorporation of them in the constitutional scheme is must for the sustainability of both nations.
If the pace of such fake nationalism continues, both sides are not far away from losing their existence completely. Nationalism, if not appropriately directed, leads a nation to meddle with those issues which are of no use as it is the case with both. All in all both the sides have ruined and rusted the secular–democratic parameters as envisioned by the founders and social reformers.
Anayat Ul Lah Mugloo, Research Scholar at Department of Political Science, University of Kashmir; and
Tanveer Ahmad Khan, Research Scholar at Department of Sociology, Aligarh Muslim University.
Disclaimer: Views expressed are exclusively personal and do not necessarily reflect the position or editorial policy of Oracle Opinions.