Pakistan was created because its leaders said they could not live with Hindus and they needed a separate State. This is the basic truth, but we seem to forget this all the time because we are under the spell of a mirage called secular diplomacy.
Since its birth, the country gave us the Mirpur massacre, a Kargil and an unstable and volatile Swat Valley. There is more: they ‘gifted’ our 4,853 sq km of land to China, waged Operation Topac in Punjab and fuelled separatism and terrorism in Kashmir. But when they were badly bruised by their homegrown ‘freedom fighters’, they began playing the victim card.
Even after all this, it’s quite amazing that they have the guts to call themselves victims of terrorism. But what about those people who buy this argument? Whenever Pakistan has been buoyed by the US’s financial and military support, they have attacked us. They have also manufactured the Islamic bomb. Every single missile they produced (Ghauri, Ghazni, Qasim) was named after people who were known for their hatred against Hindus. And yet we have people who tell us that Pakistan too is a victim of ‘non-State players’ and the two countries should fight terrorism together.
What the Swat Valley is facing today must be seen in its historical context. Swat was a great centre of learning and it sent Buddhist monks all over the world to spread the message of peace and compassion. The original name of this beautiful region was Udyan and this finds a mention in ancient Buddhist and Hindu scriptures. Chinese travellers have written about Swat’s majestic beauty and more than 1,400 Buddhist monasteries flourished there. The Kushans and Hindu Shahis ruled till 1001 CE when Mahmud of Ghazni invaded the area.
Swat’s neighbouring areas are the Gilgit, Chitral, Kafiristan and Hindukush mountain ranges. As the names suggest, all these regions have an indelible Hindu imprint but the conquerors renamed the areas with a vengeance. Hindukush is a mountain where Hindus were crushed and Kapish was called Kafiristan, because the inhabitants were non-Muslims.
When an Afghan ruler invaded the area in 1895, he forcibly converted all and then renamed the region as Nuristan — the land of light. So, what Swat’s Hindus and Sikhs are facing today is a continuation of what happened to Hindus since the Muslim invasions began.
Guru Nanak faced the same barbarians. In 1523, Babar attacked India and after crossing Sindhu entered Saiadpur (now Amnabad), 15 kilometre south east of Gujranwala. His soldiers killed and looted, turning a city of life into a ghost town of dead bodies. Guru Nanak saw this, and used the word ‘Zabar’ (ferocious) for Babar.
You could say forget it, bygones are bygones. But this Hindu attitude of forgetting the bitter past and beginning a new friendship has always remained unreciprocated. Various armed lords are controlling Pakistan. Islamabad’s authority has lost its relevance except for the army and the US. Washington is once again fattening the army coffers, repeating the historical blunder of General Zia’s period. The only way to strengthen peace and plurality in the region is India’s democracy. Whichever party rules India, they must not allow any kind of extremism like we see in our neighbourhood. Pakistan has become self-destructive.
However, Delhi can’t say that it will not do anything. We are affected by Islamabad’s follies more than the US. Therefore, it’s our responsibility to check religious fanaticism in that country.
Tarun Vijay is Director, Dr Shyama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation, Delhi.