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Exploiting Indian fault lines The Excelsior 15 Feb 2022
Any protest in India is exploited on fault lines by adversaries for creating turmoil within the country or for their own gains, the Hijab controversy being no different. The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests were flagged by Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan as a threat to Pakistan. He stated that India could conduct a false flag operation against it to divert public attention from the ongoing protest. He even commented on the CAA claiming it ‘violates all norms of international human rights law and bilateral agreements with Pakistan’ and that ‘it is part of the RSS Hindu Rashtra design of expansionism.’ The violence which occurred when President Trump was in the country was, as per intelligence reports, orchestrated to impact Indian global image.
There was no logical reason for Pakistan to even comment as CAA was to support non-Muslim refugees from Muslim majority countries where they were harassed, and Pak headed the list. However, Pakistan saw the act as a means of claiming Indian partiality towards non-Muslims and an opportunity to ferment internal trouble. Further, as PM Modi stated, the law exposed Pakistan’s treatment of minorities.
Pakistan dramatized the abrogation of Article 370, despite the article having no role in the ongoing Indo-Pak dispute. The article was included in the constitution in 1954, while UNSC resolutions on Kashmir were of 1948. Further, the Shimla agreement and Lahore declaration had made the dispute bilateral, overriding UNSC resolutions. Pakistan blocked trade, withdrew High Commissioners and linked everything with the restoration of the article.
It appeared to project that removal of the article was intended to change demography in the region, something which is being implemented in POK. It hoped that its actions would garner sympathy in the valley and increase numbers joining terrorist ranks which could then be projected as an internal uprising. It even requested senators from the US and members of parliament from UK to back its claims on the grounds that the government was suppressing dissent in the valley. However, if failed to draw support from other Muslim nations including its erstwhile backers Saudi Arabia and UAE. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation has yet to comment on the subject.
On both, CAA and abrogation of article 370, Pakistan attempted to break India’s internal fabric. For Pakistan, a strong central government in power in Delhi is a major threat. The present dispensation in Delhi, by following a forward foreign policy has isolated Pakistan from its traditional allies leaving it with only China and Turkey as supporters. Pak being ignored by the US is also partially due to growing Indo-US proximity. It is frustration which makes Imran Khan term the current government as ‘fascist’ heading towards ‘Hindu Rashtra,’ under a ‘Nazi-inspired RSS-BJP government.’
The recent protests over Hijab in Karnataka drew comments from Pakistan’s foreign minister SM Qureshi. He tweeted, ‘to deny anyone this fundamental right (education) and terrorize them for wearing a Hijab is absolutely oppressive. World must realize that this is part of the Indian state plan of ghettoization of Muslims.’ The Pak foreign office also summoned the Indian chargé d’affaires and ‘conveyed their grave concern over alleged religious intolerance, negative stereotyping, stigmatisation and discrimination against Muslims in India.’
Pakistan funded Indian American Muslim Council conducted a webinar titled, ‘Worsening Hate Speech and Violence in India.’ It invited Indian baiters to participate. As expected, the webinar was only targeting the current Indian government. Pakistan’s Ulema Council and International Islamic Conference also observed last Friday as ‘Solidarity Day with Indian Daughters.’
Pakistan has been attempting to become a spokesperson for world Muslims. On the contrary it is labelled as a nation funding and employing terrorism as an instrument of state policy. It has been insisting in global forums that Islamophobia is on the rise and nations must act to stem it. It has never been taken seriously as it itself is hypocritical. It has never commented on Chinese suppression of Muslims in Xinjiang. Whenever questioned on the subject in a televised interview, Imran Khan and SM Qureshi stumble and change the topic to Kashmir and Palestine, on which they commence rambling.
Since it is dependent on China for survival it readily endorses Chinese anti-Muslim policies in Xinjiang, on occasions even claiming that there is no suppression. The joint statement issued post the recent Imran-Xi meeting in Beijing stated, ‘The Pakistan side expressed its commitment to One-China Policy and support for China on Taiwan, South China Sea, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet.’ Simultaneously within Pakistan, minorities face backlash. They are falsely charged under Blasphemy laws, kidnapped, raped and forcibly converted.
Pakistan will attempt to use every incident within India to exploit Indian religious and cultural fault lines thus impacting internal stability. It has added as a partner the Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) forum. SFJ members join Pakistan supporters in the UK and US in anti-India protests. One of their members was recently arrested in Germany for sending explosives into Punjab to create disturbances during elections.
SFJ provided social media support during the farmers agitation including involving paid influencers, Mia Khalifa, Rihanna, Malala and Greta Thunberg. In the ongoing Hijab controversy, SFJ chief, Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, began propagating lies claiming that the Indian government is seeking to ban Hijab across the country and hence there was a need to split India and create an Urdustan. The SFJ recently conducted a Khalistan referendum in UK and Pakistan. Pannu is known to be backed by the ISI.
Anti-India elements, both within and outside, will seek to exploit Indian fault lines thus impacting national unity and integrity. Social media is the most ideal tool available to them as its reach is vast and impacts all levels of society. From the government’s side there is little being done to counter these threats especially by sharing the truth and projecting its views. It is thus left to the individual to draw their own conclusions. Lack of government response adds to confusion.
Maintaining silence is equally damaging. It is time for the Indian government to take this battle seriously and create an organization to counter this growing threat.