An IDC Analysis


New Delhi, 11 September 2002

While hundreds of Heads of State journey to New York to attend a Memorial Service at Site Zero, where once the World Trade Towers stood as a symbol of American pride, the high and low, all over the world would take stock of the year that has gone by since Islamic militancy bared its barbarous fangs. To the American nation, it was an experience full of thrombosis. As President Bush puts it, "the threat of terrorism is a permanent condition" that "is a challenge as formidable as any ever faced and the problem is not faced by the USA alone as no nation is immune, and all nations must act decisively to protect against this constantly evolving threat".

No one understands it better that the Indian nation which has been grappling with foreign supported militancy for more than a decade and lost 10 times more lives than on that dreadful day. But Sep 11 did the world a favour by bringing home the dire truth to the sole super power, which till date rested at ease in the relative safety of home. After all, one lasting message of 11 September was that conducting large and dramatic terror attacks –– and the inevitable disruptions that follow –– enables even small groups to challenge great powers. Whilst the coalition forces put together by the US have been able to clear most of Afghanistan from the supporters of militancy –– Taliban and Al Qaeda, their top leaders and the roots remain invisibly intact. Osama bin Laden and Mullah Muhammad Omar, are yet to be found dead or alive! The concept of ‘jihad’ as taught to the young militants has not been tackled at the grass roots.

On the geo-political chessboard, the US has made concrete gains out of this unfortunate event by being the camel in the Afghan and Pakistani tents, thus extending its tentacles ever strongly around the Gulf and Central Asian oil. The infusion of US military forces with all their modern technology weapons and sensors deep into the region makes the place look like an American colony.

Pakistan may take comfort in Musharraf’s transformation from a pariah to thorough-bred but at the price of losing near total sovereignty where even an Armitage can go anytime and twist their tail. For India, it is the projection of American might both in its front and back yards breathing down the neck.

As for Kashmir, our body sore, the US surgical intervention is but inevitable. We can only hope that the US administration and the people understand India’s position and how critical Kashmir is to its nationhood. Towards this end, we reproduce below a piece, which graphically presents the Indian cause.

To the survivors and families of those who died on that fateful day we convey our condolences. To nearly 50,000 people who worked in the World Trade Centre which was a city of their own, even a home, and its destruction rendered them near refugees, we say, have faith in the dynamism and strength of American society which has been rehabilitating millions of people from all over the world since Columbus set foot on its soil.

What’s the Kashmir Problem?

A way to Explain to Americans

By Arvind Sharma*

When I arrived in the United States in 1968 to pursue a doctoral program at the University of Syracuse, the way married student housing was set up ensured that one got to know one's neighbour, which in this case consisted of an American family. Once we got to know Bob, as I shall call him, and his wife well enough, he asked me one day, "Why can't you Indians and the Pakis get along?"

I did not at first quite know whether to take this as an accusation or a question. I decided to field it as a question and asked myself, “How might one answer this question in a way emotionally intelligible to an American?” Then I tried the following tack.

"Bob", I said, "I believe the U.S.A. has a sizable black population, even ten to fifteen percent of its population".

"Yes", he said, "sounds about right".

"Then suppose the blacks claimed a part of the U.S.A. for themselves based on the belief that blacks and whites cannot live together, even though the whites said there is no need for this and all your rights will be safeguarded. And suppose they went ahead anyway..."

"But how could they?"

"Well. Suppose, Bob, the American Revolution has failed and the British were still here. And they introduced measured self-government in response to the agitation that had led to the attempt to overthrow them but had failed. But as they proceeded to do so, they said: you American whites will always outvote the blacks. You don't like them anyway. You don't marry them. You don't even eat with them. You don't even drink with them. So we will designate a set number of seats in the House of Representatives for blacks only, to be elected only by blacks".

"But why?" Bob asked, incredulously.

"To prevent the black minority from being overwhelmed by the white majority."

"This is paranoid", he said.

"Yes, but paranoids have real enemies too. But anyway remember the British are in control. They are the ones introducing the legislation for constituting the House of Representatives not you, although it will be your House and you will vote for it."

"O.K. What next?"

"Then somehow it is time for the British to leave America. When they get ready to leave, the blacks say to them, what are you doing, leaving us to the wolves. The whites will overwhelm us. They are more than us. They are more educated than us. They are more wealthy than us. If you leave, we want our own country to live in".

At this Bob shifted in the chair. "Their own country!" he cried, "but blacks are all over America. It is their country too".

"Yes", I continued, "but they are more concentrated in certain parts of the south. 'At least we are majority here', they said. 'Give this to us and if you don't do so, we built this country and we will tear it down. You owe us this much'".

"What next?" He asked, after trembling in mock fright.

We both laughed. Then I resumed. "So nobody wants bloodshed. So the British say, let's divide the country. A part of the south will be one country: black. The rest of America will be another country. You can still call it America. It will be white".

"This is crazy", Bob cried, "what about the whites in black America and the blacks in white America?"

"The British shrugged their shoulders and said: 'That's your problem. We are leaving. Live in peace.”

Finally Bob couldn't take it any more: "Why are you telling me all this? I asked you why Indians can't get along with the Pakistanis?"

"Well, if all that I said came about, what kind of relations would such a black and a white America have?"

Bob pondered the matter for a while. "Not very friendly, I guess. You Indians somehow always manage to end up blaming the British".

At this point Bob's wife spoke up and said: "Now let me also get into the conversation at this point and tell you what that part of the country was called".

"What?" I asked. She smiled and said: "Kashmir. Here, try this apple pie".

*Arvind Sharma is Birks Professor of Comparative Religion at McGill University, Montreal, Canada

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