Kashmir is not Palestine, India is not Israel

Discussion in 'Defence & Strategic Issues' started by ejazr, Feb 12, 2010.

  1. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    This is a 2005 article but still relevant as some right wingers in both India and Pakistan like to compare the situation as such. A pretty accurate writeup.

    Kashmir is not Palestine, India is not Israel

    In recent weeks, Pakistan's military dictator, General Parvez Musharraf has been claiming that the situation in Kashmir is akin to Palestine. Such a position is not new because some Islamists, particularly in the US have been arguing for many years that just as Palestine is occupied territory, so is Indian Kashmir.

    As a reaction to such misguided polemics, some Hindus frustrated with Pakistan's machinations against India, (and the inability of many in the Islamic world to distinguish fiction from reality in Kashmir) are beginning to identify with Israel.

    But nothing could be further from the truth. Kashmir is not Palestine, India is not Israel. While parallels do exist, they are not the ones touted by the advocates of the two-nation theory in Pakistan or by Islamic chauvinists (or revivalists) and other sectarian Islamic elements elsewhere in the world.

    For one thing, unlike the Palestinians, who were neither consulted, nor given any choice in the creation of the state of Israel, the people of Kashmir voluntarily chose to merge with India under the leadership of the secular and progressive Jammu and Kashmir National Conference. When Pakistan invaded Kashmir after 1947, the people of Kashmir formed their own civil-defense committees and thousands of National Conference activists and supporters fought tooth and nail against Pakistani invaders. The Indian Army was welcomed with open arms, and Kashmir was integrated into the Indian nation with some special constitutional rights and privileges. (See Self-Determination in Jammu & Kashmir)

    Thus, Kashmir became an equal member of the Indian Federal Union, and this merger took place through the democratic will of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, unlike in Palestine where the state of Israel was formed on a thoroughly undemocratic basis, where the will of the Palestinian people was simply ignored. The state of Israel was foisted on the people of Palestine - it was presented to them as a fait accompli - as a colonial imposition that would eventually leave them refugees in their own ancestral land. India did not impose any such unity on the people of Kashmir - it invited the people of Kashmir to merge, who did so in full volition, and full support of the ideals represented by secular and democratic India.

    Unlike Israel which was founded on the sectarian ideology of Zionism, that privileged Jews and Judaic religion and culture over other belief-systems of the Middle East, India was not founded on any such narrow and limiting ideology. Unlike Israel, which unabashedly defends the rights of Jews over all others, India (as a state) has never claimed religious exclusivism for it's Hindu citizens.

    India was envisaged as a nation where democratic rights were to be broadly respected - and the Indian constitution explicitly calls for the respect of ethnic, religious, linguistic and cultural diversity. Unlike Israel, India was not a unitary state founded on the basis of religious hegemony, but a highly pluralistic state that brought together a very diverse group of people in a hard fought and delicately wrought political unity.

    Not only did India bring together people who spoke many different languages and followed a variety of regional customs and traditions, even India's Hinduism was too diverse and too varied to allow for any sort of over-arching centralism or hegemony as is provided for in the mono-theistic religions of the world. Hindus worship a variety of gods and goddesses, they have no single holy book, no single holy place of pilgrimage, nor do they believe in just one messiah. The philosophical systems of the Hindus are equally varied, with some schools rejecting all belief in a super-natural entity.

    In India's mosaic of religions and cultures, there has been as much space for the people of Jammu and Kashmir as there is for the Tamilians of the South, for the Goans of the West Coast, for the Mizos of the North East hills, or for the Hindi speakers of the plains. The Indian constitution recognizes several Indian languages as official languages, and India's currency notes are printed with denominations marked in several different languages. And anyone truly intimate with the contemporary history of India will know that no one religious or ethnic group has succeeded in complete political domination of the country. Any time any single group attempts to monopolize power, a coalition of forces rises up to combat such a would-be usurper. Thus attempts at religious or regional bullying have invariably been confronted and resisted by opposing factions. That is why, in recent years, India has had to be ruled by multi-party alliances that represent different regional aspirations, and coalitions change with each new election. And each coalition government has demanded sacrifices and compromises from political entities that might otherwise try to dominate the political landscape.

    But in the conflict between the Palestinians and the Israeli state, there appears to be little possibility of such give and take, of such checks and balances. Unlike in Israel, where all the top political posts have always been assigned to Zionist Jews, India has had a Muslim President, a Sikh President, a Muslim Vice President, and Sikhs, Muslims, Parsis and Christians holding senior cabinet posts, as well as senior leadership positions in the Indian military and the Indian judiciary. It should also be noted that three of India's Prime Ministers have been Kashmiri or part-Kashmiri - i.e. Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. Many of the leading icons of India's Planning Commissions have been Kashmiri and Kashmiris are also represented in the Indian Armed Forces and Police Forces. India's current Minister of State for External Affairs Omar Abdullah is a Kashmiri.

    Whereas the state of Jammu and Kashmir will always find allies in India's fractious politics, Palestinians cannot count on such fractiousness within Israel to give them any hope or confidence in the future. Although to some extent, the people of Palestine have been compelled to see their oppression in religious terms because of Israel's Zionist ideology, religious differences are not the best way to understand the complexities of the Indian situation. Just as Muslims make up a significant percentage of the Indian population (there are roughly 150 million Muslims in India), roughly one-third of Kashmir's population is non-Muslim i.e. Hindu, Sikh or Buddhist. Whereas the Palestinian Intifada enjoys widespread support throughout the towns and villages of the West Bank and Gaza in Palestine, the cause of Islamic separatism attracts the support of only a minority of the people living in Jammu and Kashmir (who are mainly concentrated around the Srinagar Valley). (See this essay on Kashmir) And while the Arabs still living in Israel overwhelmingly support an end to the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, India's Muslims are not in favor of Kashmiri religious separatism.

    There are other important points of departure. Unlike the West Bank and Gaza where the Israeli state has built a network of exclusive settlements for it's Zionist citizens, (through the illegal and arbitrary expropriation of Palestinian lands), the constitution of Kashmir prevents non-Kashmiri Indians from buying up land in the state. Unlike in Gaza and the West Bank where the Israeli state routinely confiscates weapons from struggling Palestinians, the Indian state (in recent years) has provided small arms to tens of thousands of villagers (Hindu, Muslim and Sikh) who make up the thousands of village-defense committees scattered across Jammu and Kashmir.

    If there is any parallel in the Indian situation with Palestine, it is between how both Israel and Pakistan were created on the basis of artificially hyped religious contradictions by the same former colonial power - Great Britain. In the Indian subcontinent, it was Pakistan that was imposed in an undemocratic manner on the people. (See this essay on partiiton). Just as Palestinian Christians and Muslims became refugees upon the creation of Israel, Hindus and Sikhs became refugees when Pakistan virtually drove out it's entire non-Muslim population to create a religiously "pure" state. Similiar attempts at creating purely Muslim conclaves have also been made in parts of Kashmir. But if any part of Kashmir is occupied by another nation, it is the part of Kashmir that is under Pakistan's military rule. (See this essay on Kashmir).

    Although the Kashmiri separatist movement has received considerable publicity, separatist movements are just as active within Pakistan (in Baluchistan, Sindh and the Pathan and Pakhtoon regions). Nationalist activists in Gilgit and Baltistan particularly resent Pakistani military occupation. Abdul Hamid Khan, chairman of the Balawaristan National Front has asserted that Gen. Musharraf and other Pakistani generals and political and religious leaders should be booked as "war criminals for the genocide" carried out by them in this region. The Balawaristan leader has stated that more than 900 youth have been killed, 1000 have become disabled and wounded, while 40 were still missing, and several civilian buildings had been destroyed as a consequence of Pakistan sponsored terrorist activities. He said that the region had been denied all political and human rights activities as a result of which more than 100 political activists were facing sedition cases and "no impartial judicial system existed in Balawaristan." (From a report in the Times of India, Aug 3, 2001)

    Hence, a more appropriate comparison is one between the undemocratic Islamic militaristic state of Pakistan and the Zionist militaristic state of Israel. Rather than India being an oppressor in Kashmir, both India and Kashmir are victims at the hands of Pakistan sponsored terror. And just as the US has invariably sided with Israel against the Palestinians, the US continues to defend General Musharraf against India and against those fighting for democracy in Pakistan.

    Kashmir is not Palestine, India is not Israel

    Note: Some Indians have also noted how both nations - India and Israel - have been homes to refugees fleeing from persecution - Jews from anti-Semitic Christian Europe, and Hindus and Sikhs from Islamic Pakistan and Bangladesh.

    These Indians are thus torn between sympathy for a people who only 50 years ago were the tortured Pariahs of Europe, and sympathy for the Palestinians who languish in refugee camps - without a country to call their own.

    But unfortunately, the Jews who may have had every justification for fleeing from the horrendous and catastrophic crimes in imperial and fascist Europe were unable to transcend the ideology of Zionism, and help create a secular and democratic state that could have united Jewish refugees and Jewish Palestinians with Muslim and Christian Palestinians. This has been the tragedy of the Jews, who must now live in a state of perennial war in Israel.

    A secular, democratic and pluralistic nation comprising Jews, Christians and Muslims in Palestine could have put all the other Islamic fundamentalist and despotic nations of the Persian Gulf to shame, but instead, the oppression of the Palestinian people has legitimized the existence of some of these socially backward and politically undemocratic regimes. It is precisely for this reason that many of the so-called backers of the Palestinian cause at best offer only lip-service to the Palestinian struggle - largely leaving the beleaguered Palestinians to fend for themselves. And this is the tragedy of Palestine.

    Of course, the US role in the Middle East has been far from helpful. US policy in the region has been especially duplicitous, targeting Iraq, one of the most modern and secular amongst the Arab nations, while backing regressive monarchies and regimes based on sectarian chauvinism or religious fundamentalism and exclusivity.

    Source: http://www.india-defence.com/reports-1086
     
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  3. Agantrope

    Agantrope Senior Member Senior Member

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    Those stupids people keep on talk like this. Lets not take it serious and have some fun in the peace talk kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk
     

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