Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine

SAFAR
- RABI-UL-AWWAL 
1425 H
APRIL
2004
Volume 17-0
4 No : 208
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Editorial


Live Down this Bankruptcy
Muslims and the BJP

Live Down this Bankruptcy

By M. Hanif Lakdawala

The current phase of Indo-Pak ties marking the zenith of bonhomie in the post-1971 period is admittedly the most creditable achievement of statesmanesque leadership on the two sides of the border. There were engagements on the cricket ground even earlier. But such relaxed appreciation of the finer points and strengths of the two teams was never in evidence. The fluttering of the tri-colour on the Pakistan soil by wildly cheering Indian fans and warmth and hospitality shown by Pakistanis was as spectacular as amazing.

The formula that caused the happy turnaround was: allow the people to move across the borders, interact freely; pave way for their constructive engagement (cricket being one); let not the patriotic fervour be-fog the imagination to the extent that cricket pitch turns into a battleground and finally allow the media to de-emotionalise the debate on ties.

Some might find the Deputy Prime Minister L. K. Advani's linkage between Indo-Pak ties to communal harmony within India quite odious. Such observers are entitled to their view. It does inflict some amount of insult to patriotic credentials of Indian Muslims. But one has to grudgingly accept that better Indo-Pak ties do elevate the level of communal camaraderie between the two major communities in India. However poignant commentary it might be about Indian Muslims, there cannot be any gain-saying about Indo-Pak ties being directly proportional to the Hindu-Muslim relations in India.

India and Pakistan both gain from cultivating popular ties. The current thaw owes itself to Prime Minister Vajpayee's magnanimous gesture of initiating a composite dialogue with Pakistan and President General Musharraf's refusal to be a prisoner of Pakistan's old obsession of raising a grand alliance of Islamic states against 'a Hindu India'. Further cement was provided by the mutual realisation that any future conflict between these poorest yet nuclear nations of Asia would be an annihilation rather than just simple war.

Pakistan must realise that its cry of 'jihad' for Jammu and Kashmir embarrasses Muslims in India who are as numerous as the Muslims in Pakistan. And clearly this cry is raised by those who see Pakistan as a member of the Muslim crescent stretching from Khyber to Casablanca. But history, geography and culture hinge Pakistan's destiny with South Asia. This basic difference in perception has so far be-devilled the ties between the two neighbours who thereby fail to realise the benefits a durable friendship and cooperation could yield. Equally sinister is the ideology that espouses Indo-Pak conflict as a psychological tool to demoralise Muslims in India and thereby encash it electorally or politically. Both India and Pakistan would need to live down this course towards bankruptcy.

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Muslims and the BJP

Anxious to be recognised as a pan-Indian party, the Bharatiya Janata Party is courting Muslims. The change is welcome inasmuch as the party is trying to put up a secular facade, addressing their non-identity related concerns and inducting whoever comes forth on his/her volition. In its worry to fill the slot being increasingly vacated by the Indian National Congress, the BJP realises the need to be seen as the ‘party of all’ at least in its principal base of the Indo-Gangetic basin. Only then it can perhaps lay claim for expansion in the Dravidian South where it solely relies on its regional allies to ride to the power at the Centre.

The very negation of plural character of the Indian society that inspires and informs the ideological foundation of the BJP is sure to come in the way of the party being embraced en masse by the Muslims. However a beginning has been made by those few vagabond politicians who were on lookout for a political asylum. Here and there a few persons of substance too have joined the party in the hope that they would bring about a change in the direction of the party if not the radical shift in the ideology. They harbour the pious hope that change is easier from within than from without. One would wish them success.

But a few words of caution are necessary. Dilution in ideology is inevitable in the process of expansion. The BJP may be in the process of this change. BJP’s need to emerge as the mainstream party too cannot be denied. However, the negative ideology of hate on which the party has erected its edifice and grown to its current legislative strength, belies the sweet noises it is currently making to woo the minorities. Third, the BJP’s extremist core would require several decades before it begins to reflect a wider social spectrum. This offers fewer hopes of any substantial change in the party’s ideology and policy in foreseeable future. Fourth, the party leaders still flip-flop on key issues such as uniform civil code, resolution of Ayodhya dispute and cow slaughter. Whenever the party finds its original votebank at risk, it cannot resist the temptation of falling back on the original agenda. Yet there seems to be a palpable urge within the party to give up the lumpen and patently communal ways and slogans of yore and harp on development and vision of a progressive India. This is mainly due to the personality of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and perhaps the behind the scene influence of the President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam. If indeed these could bring about an about turn in the BJP’s ideology, the party could effectively replace the Indian National Congress. But for the present, it seems to be a long haul. The ensuing election would prove a litmus test.

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News Community Roundup Editorial Letters to the Editor Exclusive Making Difference Open House Trends Debate People Track Community Development Men, Missions and Machines Children's Corner Just for the Young Muslim Perspectives Quran Speaks to You Hadith Reflections Question Hour - Dr. Zakir Naik Religion Quran and Science Guidelines Women in Islam Muslims and Cyberspace Back to the Past Harmony Journey to Islam Job Hunt Matrimonial
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