What Imran Khan forgot

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What Imran Khan forgot

Wednesday, 09 January 2019 | Prafull Goradia

What Imran Khan forgot

It is ironical that the Pakistan Prime Minister should want to teach India how to treat its minorities when the country has created a new minority with the passing of every decade

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has offered to teach India how it should treat its minorities. Is it not likely that when he said this, he was experiencing a flashback to his cricketing days, when our fast bowlers were not comparable to his country’s pace attack? Traditionally, in the undivided India, it was Punjab that produced pacemen. The one outstanding name that comes to this writer’s mind is that of Mohammad Nissar, the fastest opening bowler the sub-continent had produced. Certainly, even now, the pack of speed merchants may have something to teach our players.

An Oxonian had once said: Imran is cricket and cricket is Imran. Similarly, Zubin Mehta is music and cannot be imagined in terms of cricket. It is also difficult to reconcile Imran Khan’s image with prime ministership. It is not possible that while he was talking of minorities, he was thinking about how to teach India play cricket and to play in India at the Eden Gardens? It goes without saying that Imran Khan has not seen the holocaust of Hindus and Sikhs, starting with Rawalpindi in 1947, nor would he know how his Christian compatriots had rejoiced at the birth of Pakistan only to subsequently regret it, plus, of course, being frequently accused of blasphemy. The Communist Party had wholeheartedly sponsored Partition, only to later beat its breast — it was simply eliminated by the torrent of Islam.

The Ahmediyas, whose hero, Sir Muhammad Zafarullah Khan, had drafted the Pakistan Resolution of March 1940, also had their taste of ‘glory’ of the state they helped birth. Imran Khan was certainly not born then to witness the magnificent work done by Zafarullah Khan. Nor perhaps in 1953, when the latter’s house in Lahore was set on fire, which induced him to flee to Pakistan to not return until his dying days. The rest of the years he spent at The Hague in the Netherlands to bring majesty to the glittering Benches of the International Court of Justice. In the meantime, the charismatic Prime Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, expelled the Ahmediyas from the sanctified garden of Islam.

Another Ahmediya hero who brought glory to Imran Khan’s country was Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, whose thuggish doings in the Netherlands enabled him to obtain the secrets of atomic bomb — all, of course, in the cause of Khidmat-e-Allah, the first Islamic nuclear bomb. He too was rewarded by his faith being expelled.

This writer was educated by two men. The first was his grandfather, one of whose friends was Ahmed Ali Jinnah. He relished Parsi humour and claimed to culturally be a Parsi. Although he was not a practicing Muslim, he acquainted my grandfather with his insights into Islam. That when a Muslim wishes to convert someone, it is with the best intention of opening a possible chance of the convert entering jannat. No other god can enable a non-believer to cross the gateway of heaven.

The second gentleman who taught this writer was his spoken Urdu teacher who did not overtly suggest a conversion, but did say that the future lay with Islam. Just extrapolate the progress of a number of religions. The Yehudis (Jews) have reduced in number and shrunk to a fraction of what they were. The Christians have scattered into many denominations. Many a worshipper in Europe has given up worship. Christianity’s priests have come to Asia, where according to the late Pope John Paul-II, there are innumerable souls to harvest. Contrast these performances with the progress of Islam, whose tide is continually rising.

It is ironical that Prime Minister Imran Khan should want to teach India how to treat its minorities. He has held out Pakistan as an example of good treatment. He is probably unaware that Dr Rafiq Zakaria, in his widely read book, The Man Who Divided India, clearly stated that but for the Muslims of Uttar Pradesh (especially Aligarh), Bihar and Mumbai (then Bombay), Pakistan might not have been. Young men from Aligarh went all the way to Punjab to campaign for the 1945-46 general election, which proved decisive for Partition. They propagated Pakistan as the new Medina. Moreover, if India should seriously follow the Pakistani example, it should reduce its minority population to three per cent from the 22 per cent in Pakistan of 1947. Does the cricketing legend expect his country, with its vast land space, to absorb up to 25 crore Muslims now in India? He could not have forgotten his cricket and probably believes that greater the population, higher are the chances of throwing up more players. If not, the new Prime Minister has forgotten that his country has created a new minority with the passing of every decade.

The saga of creating ever new minorities began with the Sikhs at Rawalpindi; soon thereafter, the Hindus. Then came the turn of the Ahmediyas at Lahore. Pakistan’s Christians, who had backed Partition, in due course became unpopular enough to be frequently accused of blasphemy and awarded the death sentence by being stoned. The Balochs, of course, were never fully trusted but gradually became suspected if not also positively distrusted. The latest is the turn of the Shias, who are routinely killed by bombs while praying. There is also a proposal to expel Shias from the fraternity of Islam. They are followers of Imam Hussein, who was the grandson of Prophet Muhammed. A distinguished Shia was Qaid-e-Azam Jinnah without whom Pakistan might not have been.

Even since his college days, this writer has been told that all Sunni Muslims of the world belong to a single community, which is their first loyalty. It is, therefore, a mystery why most Pakistanis are callous about the safety, security and welfare of their brethren in India. Regimes in Islamabad pursue their own interests without caring for any repercussion in India. Earlier, their great guru was the US. Now, they look to China for direction; ostensibly, others be damned. This is as old a syndrome as 1947. Within two months, Pakistan had no compunction in invading the Kashmir Valley.

As long ago as in 1951, Dr  Zakir Husain, the then vice chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University and later Rashtrapati, took the lead along with 13 other Muslims eminences to submit a memorandum to Dr Frank P Graham, the United Nations representative in Kashmir on August 14, 1951 said:

“It is indeed a pity that India has never thought of taking the help of its Muslim citizens, most of whom can be the country’s useful allies against Pakistani misdemeanour. There is no doubt a problem. The only viable Muslim leadership in the country is ecclesiastical. The luminaries, who are not maulvis, do not have sufficient following. Addressing Muslim citizens through the ulema has its limitations. The substantive interest of the masses lies in a peaceful life where the individual and his family can try and prosper, to educate the children and so on. Whereas the thrust of the ulema would be to protect and promote the influence of Islam, leaders in India should, therefore, find a channel of informing and seeking cooperation of our Muslim brethren directly.”

The memorandum was also signed by Sir Sultan Ahmed, Sir Mohammed Usman, both former members of the Viceroy’s Council. The signatories included the Nawab of Chhatari, Chief Justice of Allahabad, Sir Iqbal Ahmed, Sir Fazal Rahimtoola, AK Khwaja, TM Zarif, BH Zaidi and Hafi-ur-Rehman; the last two were MPs. Their submission also said: “If the Hindus are not welcomed in Pakistan, how can we, in all fairness, expect Muslims to be welcomed in India? Such a policy must inevitably, as the past has already shown, result in the uprooting of Muslims in this country and their migration to Pakistan, where as it became clear last year, they are no longer welcome, lest their influx should destroy Pakistan’s economy”.

There was also a background to this fear. Several Muslim League leaders had repeatedly emphasised in the years preceding Partition that when the country was divided, there must be an exchange of population. Sir Feroz Khan Noon had gone to the extent of threatening the re-enactment of the violent orgies of Chengiz Khan and Hulagu Khan.

(The writer is a well-known columnist and an author)