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Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Indian Political Scene and its effects on Pakistan

JUSTUJU / “THE QUEST” [Social and Political Philosophies]


Monday, May 24, 2004

By: Hashim Syed Mohammad bin Qasim, Riyadh

For now, the Indian claims to a true secular democracy appear to be winning
the hearts and minds of thinkers and commoners all around the world. Pakistanis in general, and Indian minorities in particular, though wonder if this feel good factor can survive many tests facing the region in the near future.

Indian National Congress is experiencing a rejuvenation, similar to what Pakistani Muslim League is trying to achieve within Pakistan: prove themselves, to be the real leaders, who can work to the tunes of popular expectations. Show the empathy, and camaraderie to poor, at least talking sweet, if not giving it to them, and dance on their original laurels, as the Parties that won the independence from British in 1947.

As Sonia Gandhi tries to assume a long term role of a baby sitter for the new Indian Political setup including its coalition partners, she will still have to work hard to shed her alien perceptions in the mind of a large segment of Indian society; a role she has rehearsed well, and presented it on stage for the whole India to see, when she refused to exchange views in Italian language with a reporter.

While Indian democratic institutions appear to be getting healthier at the top, this façade is hiding many skeletons and dark secrets of Indian society. The India is still deeply divided in terms of Religions, Castes within its mainstream religion, and a not so hidden desire to be a major player in the new game of globo cops, spearheaded by USA and NATO allies.

The Indian military machine has become a behemoth, that would continue to gobble up a large part of India’s economic fruits. A few of the major Indian cities might be thriving, and its TV and Films giving a shining India picture to the world, but the truth is that its infrastructure is still under development when compared to its geographical size. India’s needs of energy for its existing and growing industrial base means that it would continue to seek a more aggressive regional role, like USA is doing for its future generations by playing it out in the deserts of Iraq, and planning to do so in other regions of its interests in future.

Indian political parties are still being funded through mostly un-disclosed means, and they are not required to reveal their real fund sizes and sources. The corruption is preponderous, and legal system works at a snail’s pace and is overloaded with pending cases, denying a justice in many cases through highly inordinate delays. The government works in a clandestine manner, and lacks the transparency necessary to provide an accountability in its operations. In fact a US think tank and study group, Center for Public
Integrity, in its latest Public Integrity Report, has placed India at 4, on a scale of 1 to 5 (1=Strong, 5=Weakest), as a weak democracy. That group has simply brought to light, what another Indian media group called ‘Tehelka’’ revealed a couple of years ago: a hidden mess of dishonest practices and lust for money at all levels, including the military institution.

Therefore, while the Indian Congress might try to re deploy the original principles of Mohan K. Das Gandhi, the political gamblers that use Hinduism ’s trump cards, will find that they can try to re coup their losses only through flaring up the Religious divide in the long term. On the other hand, the new Indian Prime Minister will continue to live in the shadows of Ms Sonia Gandhi, and will not dare to touch some of the most inflammable issues like Babri Mosque and Raam Mandir (Temple of Ram), Gujrat Genocides, and try to pacify the Kashmiri desire and resolve for an independent political life of their own.

As Russia, USA, Israel, and UK have signed a number of high priced contracts of military hardware and services with India, Mr. Manmohan Singh (the name means a “lovable lion” in Urdu and Hindi) will have a difficult time in shuffling the economic priorities, already chalked out by the outgoing NDA government spear headed by BJP. Greatest difficulty that the Indian National Congress might face is in trying to slow down the snow-balling effect of reducing the hostility between Pakistan and India, as the whole doctrine of inflating the Indian Military might floated around that hostility premise, and a role of a new ally in war against Islamic zealots. It would also be impossible for India to cancel many of those military contracts. Dr. Manmohan Singh has to now choose between Missile Silos or the Rice and Wheat Silos for India's teeming population.

Some political analysts have concluded that Sonia has tried to wash away the blood that the Congress had on its hands, due to the Sikh Golden Temple raid in 1984 to eradicate the militant Sikh movement for Khalistan. On the other hand, some believe that the somewhat meek Dr. Manmohan Singh is considered a safe bet, as a loyalist to the Nehru political clan, and can serve their interests in a best possible manner.

Dr. Manmohan Singh wears a non-customary light sky blue turban. That may mean that he wishes to always portray himself to be a different person, standing out in the crowd. A lover of Punjabi Poetry and an intellectual (like one of the previous Prime Ministers of India, Mr. Inder Kumar Gujral) Dr. Man Mohan Singh (PhD), born in the village of Gah, in what is now Pakistani Punjab in 1932, and who had an ancestral home in Rawalpindi – the
military headquarters of Pakistan, is a self made person, who migrated to new Indian territories at the age of 15, and achieved his higher education by studying in the street lights, earning foreign scholarships, and becoming an outstanding person out of a total of 10 siblings. In spite of his age at 71, he seems to be extra ordinarily energetic, a trait that Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee could not currently boast about.

Dr. Man Mohan Singh who has already made a history as the first Sikh Prime Minister of India, can now start to clarify a couple of things about himself first. His date of birth in his elementary school (at Gah, now Pakistan) is recorded as February 4, 1932, while press reports say that his date of birth is September 26, 1932. Some US newspapers have also listed him as the 13th Prime Minister of India, while all others say that he is the 14th! An economist, a banker, and a quiet bureaucrat, he has to yet establish himself as a successful CEO for the India Incorporated. The Indian Congress Party is expected to pay more attention to its internal issues of economics and foreign trade, rather than touching upon the sensitive foreign relations issues.

Across the border, the current Pakistani leader, General Parvez Musharraf, was born in Indian Punjab, in the metropolis of Delhi. So, it would be interesting to see if the Indian and Pakistani leaders can quickly strike a sweet and friendly chord, that can rise above the crescendo of the Global Political Orchestra conducted by USA; it would be also interesting to wait and hear, as to what new notes the bands of Hindu superiority preachers will now play to entice their voting constituencies. As for Pakistanis, they can now start to work on carving out a new Indian idol in their media, to replace a fallen one. The open worship of Indian Idols has to be carried on, if the minds and hearts of Indian masses have to be won.

In this storm of high pitched propaganda, Pakistanis, however, should not be carried away and forget that Pakistan came in to being as an Islamist country, and the so called secularism is not the fountain of life for its political stability: An enlightened, Islamic principles based democracy working with moderation, though, is another matter.

[End of the Article]

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