With hostile relations between the two sides, made worse by war-like situation on the line of control (LOC), there had been fewer moments when India and Pakistan agreed on anything in the past three years. But, on Wednesday, there seemed the first sign of thaw as Islamabad and New Delhi have agreed to release and return elderly prisoners, women and those with special needs. In a statement on Wednesday, the Pakistan foreign office said they had accepted Indian proposals also on the revival of a judicial committee mechanism which would oversee the speedy release of prisoners. Both countries also agreed to facilitate “visits of medical experts (from both sides) to meet and examine the mentally challenged prisoners for their repatriation”. A spokesperson Indian foreign ministry said Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj had suggested to the high commissioner of Pakistan “that the two sides could progress on humanitarian issues related to elderly, women, children and mentally unsound prisoners. We note that today Pakistan has responded positively to EAM’s suggestion…” What however makes it more important is that along with the statement, Pakistan has also tagged its wish for a resumption of official dialogue which has been shut since the Pathankot terror attack. The development followed some eight weeks after the National Security Advisors of the two countries met in Bangkok in December last. The meeting between the two NSA’s–Gen (retired) Nasser Janjua of Pakistan and Indian NSA Ajit Doval was held, though in a third country, to arrest the downslide in the relations between the two countries. Though the meeting was kept a secret but the top hierarchy of the foreign ministries of the two countries was in the loop about the meeting. However, officials that time were not hopeful of any major breakthrough given the level of hostilities between the two countries. The latest development has opened a window of opportunity for the two countries to think seriously of restarting the dialogue process. Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif recently wrote a letter to his Indian counterpart Suhsma Swaraj seeking political intervention from the top by the two sides to reduce border tensions. That gives one the sense that the two sides are very keen to see peace on the borders. While it needed to be appreciated as positive development, a section of media, more particularly TV news channels, are trying to play spoilsport by opposing any initiative for dialogue. It is quite sad to note that a small but vocal constituency led by mad-media has high-jacked the agenda of the government and they formulate the foreign policy in TV studios. This is a reflection on the thinking and wisdom of the people in office that they get affected by this jingo-brigade. Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj’s latest statement that no dialogue with be held with Pakistan till the borders fall silent can conveniently called as ‘media-influence’. It does need a Socrates’ mind to imagine about that central government is holding back from dialogue with Pakistan for the fear of this warmongering group. It is time that saner voices be heard and understood sans preconceived notions. The domestic squabbles and internal political exigencies have relegated the once vaunted India-Pakistan peace process to the proverbial square one. It is rather the domestic compulsions that make India and Pakistan to tread on hostile path. If the drift in Indo-Pak relations is not arrested it would appear that in the not too distant future the process may well be denuded of the proverbial fig leaf that has afforded it a semblance of respectability of sorts. Government of India might have a genuine case when they say that talks could be held only after Pakistan stopped ‘exporting terrorism’. But India is not the only country which faces terrorism. Pakistan has faced the wrath of terrorism more than India. Pakistan has publicly accused India of supporting and sponsoring terrorists in Pakistan. A former officer of Indian navy is in custody of Pakistan, who, the Pakistani authorities say, was on a terror mission in Pakistan. The allegations and counter-allegations would go on indefinitely unless some reasonable steps are taken to get people out of the caged mentality. The first step, in this regard, is to restart the dialogue process. That is the only way forward.
Promises for power continue
As parliamentary elections are underway, election promises by the candidates and their campaigners are all time high. They are promising everything under the sun. National Conference leadership, the state’s key pro India party, is leading the election campaign with all the promises it knows would never be fulfilled. National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah once again repeated his rhetoric of abolishing Public Safety Act(PSA) if his party comes to power. The former chief minister, during a rally in Khanabal,Anantnag, said the party will withdraw all the cases against the stone pelters and will also abolish Public Safety Act (PSA) if it is voted to power. Interestingly, the party has made similar promises in the past as well but once attaining power, it, like its rival PDP, has put the issue on the back burner. Instead, the draconian law that PSA is has been used with more impunity than ever in the recent years. In north Kashmir alone, official data reveals that as many as 779 persons have been slapped with PSA from 2009 to 2017.Omar and president of his rival party PDP, Mehbooba Mufti, both served as J&K’s Chief Ministers during these years. The law was introduced during the Sheikh Abdullah government in the 1970s, initially to discourage timber smuggling. However, it has often been used by the successive state governments against their own people, drawing severe criticism from human rights groups at home and abroad.At present, according to January 2019 figures, there are as many as 230 people who have been booked under the Public Safety Act in 2018 alone. Recently, after Government of India banned the socio-religious group, Jamaat-e-Islami (J&K), the authorities detained hundreds of its members and slapped PSA against many of them. Other than this protection of special status of the state has been the scoring point for valley based political parties. Kashmir-centric political parties, on threatened to fight against BJP’s election commitment of abrogation of the Article 370 and annulling the Article 35A. The BJP has made the promise in its election manifesto .Peoples Conference leader, Sajad Lone, whom the BJP has been supporting, has also criticised the move and said it would be a “disaster”. National Conference chief, Farooq Abdullah, who is seeking re-election to the Lok Sabha from Srinagar, said abrogation of Article 370 will pave way for “Azadi” (independence) for the people of the state. Pakistan has also warned that abrogation of the Article 370 will not be accepted. Pakistan’s foreign office spokesman Mohammad Faisal had, on Saturday, claimed that abrogation of the Constitutional provision by India is violative of UN resolutions.PDP president Mehbooba Mufti is using the special status of the state and the buzz surrounding it to stage a comeback after her party’s coalition government with the BJP fell last year.She has adopted a more hardline posture than any of the regional parties on the issues related to Article 35A and Article 370. “The relationship between our state and the country is based on our special constitutional position that legitimises it. If we remove, what legalises this relationship, it will turn into an occupation and colonization,” she recently said. On the other hand Sajad Lone, who was a minister in the PDP-led coalition government in the state from the BJP quota, has also vowed to defend the state’s special status.”Article 35A is a matter of faith and dignity for the people of the J&K through which the Constitution of India guarantees to safeguard the special identity and unique status of Jammu & Kashmir. In matters of pride and identity, profit and loss is immaterial. Can a country allow a foreign country to undermine its sovereignty and national pride just for the sake of some monetary gains,” Lone asked.Although Congress leaders in their campaign have focussed more on issues dominating the discourse at national level, the local leaders have made it a point to raise the issue of protecting the special status in electioneering in the valley.”No power in the world can revoke Article 370 and Article 35-A,” state Congress chief Ghulam Ahmad Mir, who is contesting from the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat, claimed.
Imran Khan is right
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is not altogether out of place when he said that there might be a better chance of peace talks with India if Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wins the general election polling for which began on Thursday. Hindu nationalism is the fundamental plank of Modi and his party BJP’s election campaign. An atmosphere of sorts has been created all across the country by the BJP leaders and cadres where elections are seen as crucial to Hindu existence and assertiveness. “Pakistan and Musalman” are the main targets of all this new wave of Hindu bravado. Only the other day, Amit Shah, the BJP president said that the party’s new government at the Centre would implement National Register of Citizens (NRC) across the country and would scrap Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir. Addressing an election rally at Kalimpong in Darjeeling district, Shah said the BJP government will throw out every infiltrator from the country barring Hindus, Sikhs and Bhuddists. “We have made a promise in our manifesto that after the Narendra Modi government is formed at the Centre for the second time, we will implement NRC across the country and will throw out every single infiltrator from the country. The BJP government will also grant Indian citizenship to every Hindu and Buddhist refugee across the country,”. On the scrapping of Article 370, which gives Jammu and Kashmir a special position in Indian union, the BJP leader (to a thundering response from the audience) said, “They (Opposition) say that Article 370 must remain in the country. Tell me whether Article 370 be removed from Kashmir or not? Modi ji has decided that Article 370 will be removed from Kashmir once BJP government is formed at the Centre).” Narendra Modi himself on many occasions in the ongoing election campaign said that Article 370 would be repealed as it was hindering the development of Jammu and Kashmir. The Article 370 besides Article 35-A of Indian constitution have been challenged in the court of law as well by Hindu extremist individuals and groups seeking their annulment from the constitution.
During his 2014 campaign, Narendra Modi promised jobs, development, and growth. Hopeful Indians handed the BJP India’s first single-party parliamentary majority since 1989 and a mandate for reform. But at the end of mandate period, these promises remained unfulfilled. For having failed to keep its word on the promises of economic development, the BJP has no other option but to resort of populist and emotional agenda. The recent heightened military tension with Pakistan is also the main issue in the election campaign of Modi and his party. With all out support from the media, mainly from TV news channels, BJP’s ‘nationalist’ agenda has pushed the opposition parties mainly Congress on the defensive. The opposition parties are finding it difficult to take a reasonable position on issues. Their idea of secularism, the very basis of Indian constitution, is at times projected as anti Hindu and anti national. In this context Imran Khan’s assertions cannot be dismissed arbitrarily. The Pakistan Prime Minister argued that if the next Indian government were led by the opposition Congress party, it might be too scared to seek a settlement with Pakistan over Kashmir, fearing a backlash from the right. “Perhaps if the BJP — a right-wing party — wins, some kind of settlement in Kashmir could be reached,” he told a small group of foreign journalists in an interview. It goes without saying that hard-line Hindu nationalism has become a norm in India through draconian cow protection laws, renaming of cities and streets with Muslim names and appointment of extremist Hindus like Adityanath Yogi to powerful positions. It would be quite a difficult task for any non-BJP government to reverse this “new” India. Imran Khan is right the best bet in this context is only and only Modi.
Moderation in Islam
The word “Moderation” generally means “to avoid the extreme” in every matter. The action of just avoiding the excessiveness does not convey the exact implication of this term, as it could be taken in the context of both good and bad. For example, we normally take telling lies while joking as appropriate whereas we consider it only wrong being in serious conversation.
The true gist of keeping balance in one`s life in the light of Islamic principles is a lot whole different than the common perspective. Speaking falsehood is forbidden altogether, whether one verbalizes it seriously or jokingly.In the same way, everything which surpasses the threshold of morality needs to be avoided having the faith in the religion of peace. Allah SWT says in the Holy Quran:
And thus we have made you a just community that you will be witnesses over the people and the Messenger will be a witness over you. And We did not make the qiblah which you used to face except that We might make evident who would follow the Messenger from who would turn back on his heels. And indeed, it is difficult except for those whom Allah has guided. And never would Allah have caused you to lose your faith. Indeed Allah is, to the people, Kind and Merciful. [Quran, 2: 143]
There is a common misconception that Islam is a strict religion and is against modernity. While in fact, it never opposes having possessions which benefit a man and the whole society. Had it been against the usage of such property, our Holy Prophet (PBUH) would not use a horse for travelling. As, a horse used to be the best mode of journey in that time, same way a person can use the one of supreme object for its ease in this day and age. The verity of the subject is to keep the right level of equilibrium between one`s needs and wants.
But seek, through that which Allah has given you, the home of the Hereafter; and [yet], do not forget your share of the world. And do good as Allah has done good to you. And desire not corruption in the land. Indeed, Allah does not like corrupters.” [Quran, 28: 77]
One must not become too much indulged in the materialistic world that it forgets the remembrance of God and its other religious and moral responsibilities. That is why Zakah (charity) has been made obligatory to perform so that the love of worldly possessions could be moderated through it.
Although one must strictly fulfil its spiritual duties like offering prayers five times a day to get closer to the Almighty, fasting for sake of pleasing the Lord, performing Hajj etc. but one is also excused not to complete such acts being in a state of some difficulty. Allah SWT tells us in Furqan e Hameed:
“O you, who have believed, when you rise to [perform] prayer, wash your faces and your forearms to the elbows and wipe over your heads and wash your feet to the ankles. And if you are in a state of janabah, then purify yourselves. But if you are ill or on a journey or one of you comes from the place of relieving himself or you have contacted women and do not find water, then seek clean earth and wipe over your faces and hands with it. Allah does not intend to make difficulty for you, but He intends to purify you and complete His favor upon you that you may be grateful.” [Quran, 5: 6]
It means that if someone has some problem and cannot accomplish the actually required level of cleanliness due to some unavoidable circumstances, there is no compulsion in this matter, and one can do as much as it can, as intentions decide the outcome of the deeds. Moreover, God, the Exalted says that He does not want to create any kind of complexity for us, rather He wishes only what is good for us.