A Myth carried forward by vested interest groups ignores historical facts
Who wants Khaistan? The native Indian Sikh community in Punjab has absolutely no interest even to discuss the subject in the routine life. Sikh Diaspora attached with the main land has no interest in the issue. But some disgruntle anti-national set of people prompted by the foreign funding are running a futile campaign to instigate the subject with no support from credible places. The sikh community in India is the most progressive and prosperous community of the country. It has proudly represented the highest offices of the country – the president and the prime minister, army general, top bureaucrat, technocrats, and state heads. Independent India with a majority 80% Hindu population size has showered tremendous love and respect to 2% Sikh community in every sphere of life. It can be a unique case study model anywhere in the world wherein the overwhelming population majority has voluntarily offered respect and position to the almost dismal population size group. Sikhs have completely justified the faith and they have reciprocated the gesture with full commitment in every sector that it has represented. Sikhs have completely justified the faith and they have reciprocated the gesture with full commitment in every sector that it has represented.
Off course, there are differences of opinion and minute governance disputes within the family but the two communities have integrated well enough to be bifurcated by vested foreign interest. Desperate Pakistan led by ISI has put a lot of stakes in abetting the Khalistan movement since the operation blue star incident. There are western interest groups based in the USA, Canada, UK are putting up loop sided effort to flame the fire to keep the Indian progress in check and at the same time, they are keeping the Indian government in good humor to balance the new emerging world order. Frankly, the limited section of Sikh Diaspora aided by western powers and the rouge Pakistani ISI have wrongly evaluated the bond between the Hindu’s and Sikhs in India and surely one needs to spend time in India to understand the genuine cultural integration between the two communities.
Lately, the prominent countries where this mischief is played have decided to come up with clear policy of no support to Khalistan. Canada has rejected the idea of Khalistan. In a statement, it said: “ Canada respects the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of India, and the Government of Canada will not recognize the referendum”. The Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh said that the categorical stand taken by the Justin Trudeau government on this issue is exemplary. He hopes other nations and governments should come out, and be against SFJ as well—which has been banned by India as a terrorist organization. The founder of SFJ, Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, has been declared as a terrorist for actively promoting Pakistan-backed terror activities on Indian soil. The Chief Minister added that failing to oppose the separatist SFJ organisation could set a dangerous precedent for any country; this could be seen as covert support to an organisation that would freely be propagating secessionist activities. This was in the interest of global peace and security to reject forces, that are hell-bent on spreading terror, the Chief Minister added. Sikhs in Punjab had categorically rejected SFJ’s pro-Khalistan movement, which the outfit was spreading at the behest of Pakistan’s ISI, he concluded.
Dejected by the stand taken by the USA, Canada, EU countries to reject Khalistan, groups associated and funded by anti-India forces are desperate to fuel the unrest in Punjab, three ‘hardcore supporters of the ‘Khalistan movement’ were planning to execute targeted killings in several states of Northern India were arrested by Delhi police. on the KLF radar were several activists, politicians, and religious leaders, particularly from Punjab. During the interrogation of the three accused and further investigation, it was revealed that they were in contact with Pakistan ISI-sponsored Khalistan leader Gopal Singh Chawla and leaders of the banned Khalistan group Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), based in Pakistan and the US respectively. The dossier New Delhi shared with Islamabad about Khalistani anti-India propaganda led by Gopal Singh Chawla. Pakistani intelligence agency asset Go- pal Singh Chawla is the former General Secretary of Pakistan Sikh Gurudwara Prabhandhak Committee and President of Punjabi Sikh Sangat. Chawla is a well-known Khalistan element, who often spews venom against India in his speeches, and supports terrorism in Punjab. Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) is a lesser-known Khalistan group based in the US, which was banned by the Indian government in July 2019. SFJ has been involved in several recent anti-India protests in the US, UK and Canada, which have been indirectly sponsored by Pakistani agencies.
In October 2018, Gopal Singh Chawla,in a telephonic interview, had confessed to having knowledge of the role of Khalistan in the killing of RSS leaders in Punjab. “The killing of the RSS leaders will continue in Punjab. RSS leaders are our very first target. We don’t want any interference of RSS in our gurdwaras or in Punjab. The Indian government may do whatever it wants, but we won’t tolerate interference in Punjab in any way,” he had told this journalist. On being asked about the support of globally-designated terrorist and chief of terror group Lashkar- e-Tayyiba, Hafiz Saeed, Chawla said: “I have had relations with Hafiz Saeed and continue even now. Doesn’t mean we operate together. Hafiz Saeed is my ideal person. (sic).” While several ISI chiefs in the past have been vocal supporters of the Khalistan movement – including former Army General General Hamid Gul – the Pakistani deep state seems to have now embarked on the K2 (Kashmir and Khalistan) strategy with newfound hate and vengeance. A part of this hatred stems from the fact that diplomatically, Pakistan has failed to gather any global momentum against India. Post abrogation of article 370, the terror groups in Kashmir have been at their weakest in the last three decades, with Indian security forces killing about 116 terrorists in less than six months (including the top commanders of Hizbul Mujahideen who acted as the ground assets for Pakistani terrorists infiltrating India through J&K).
Misguided section of Sikh Diaspora plans unofficial vote in 2020
Sikhs for Justice says poll to be organized in Punjab and 20 countries abroad to press for a legally binding referendum on India but India has categorically rejected the demand since it is Pakistan sponsored activity to disturb peace in Punjab.
Diaspora group Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) argues Punjab is “currently occupied by India” and vows to organize a non-binding vote —both in Punjab and 20 countries abroad where Sikh diasporas exist on the issue of establishing an independent country, which they call Khalistan. The group believes that “an overwhelming ‘yes’ vote” would “start the process through which we will eventually conduct an official legally binding referendum in Punjab thereby peacefully establishing Khalistan.” SFJ says it aims “to get 5 million votes in support of independence for Punjab” in the unofficial vote, the result then “presented to the United Nations with a request for them to intervene and negotiate an agreement between the Punjabi peoples and India for holding an independence referendum in Punjab,” a legally binding one this time.
The group has not disclosed how it will be able to organize the vote in Pun- jab in the face of Indian opposition to it. Analysts say support for independence is more popular among diaspora Sikhs than in Punjab itself. In Punjab, the government has been traditionally dominated by either the nation-wide Indian National Congress or the Shiromani Akali Dal —a conservative, Sikh- majority, pro-autonomy Punjabi party currently not striving for independence, despite the fact that in past times some of its leaders and factions had been secession proponents. And the current Chief Minister of Punjab Capt Amarinder Singh of INC is the tallest nationalist leader having the support of the entire Punjab and Indian Sikh community so the so-called vote by SFJ remains a non century, however, Muslim conquests in the Indian subcontinent were more successful and saw the emergence of Islamic states over Hindu-majority populations.In the early 16th century, one such state was the Mughal Empire, founded by the successful king Babur in northern India. Meanwhile, in the later 15th century in the Punjab, Sikhism had been proclaimed by Guru Nanak as a new monotheistic religion that rejected both Hinduism and Islam, and rapidly gained followers. Perceiving the growth of the Sikhs as a threat, the Mughal authorities began to persecute them, and in 1606 Sikh leader Guru Arjan was executed by Mughal emperor Jahangir, starter in the mainland Punjab.
1947 partition to 1984 tragedy ignores history
The Khalistan independence movement decries Punjab partition between India and Pakistan in 1947. Still, SFJ is merely calling for independence from India, not Pakistan. Sikhs make up 58% of the population of the Indian state of Punjab, while they are a very tiny minority in Pakistan’s Punjab after most of them left the area at the time of partition while thousands were killed in inter-communal violence. Faced with the choice between India and Pakistan, most Sikhs went for the former. Yet blindfolded power-hungry traitors like Gopal Singh Chawla, Ranjeet Singh, Lakhbir Singh, Wadhawa Singh Babbar, Paramjit Singh with few of their followers are trying to defy the bare fact of the history by using the bluestar operation misadventure for political purpose and by forgetting the supreme sacrifices made by Sikh Guru’s fighting Mughal rulers for the protection of their religious rights.
Between the 7th and 11th centuries, Islamic armies conducted several campaigns into the Hindu-dominated Indian subcontinent, making conquests limited to present-day Pakistan and Punjab. From the 12th through the 16th apparently for helping prince Khusrau. Sikhism split into two movements: one led by Guru Arjan’s son Guru Hargobind began to regard Guru Arjan as a martyr, became more political and militaristic, and started organising armed rebellions against the Mughals; the other led by Guru Arjan’s older brother Prithi Chand focused on peace and nonviolence, and rejected uprisings. The Sikhs first raised their weapons against the Mughal Empire under Guru Hargobind. The tenth and the last Guru, Guru Gobind Singh organized Sikhs into a military sect called Khalsa (means “pure”), in 1699, against the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. Before his death in 1708, he sent Banda Bahadur to lead the Sikhs of Punjab. Banda Bahadur through his outstanding leadership skills weakened the Mughal grasp over the eastern Punjab. But he was later captured and beheaded in Delhi in 1716, during the reign of Farrukhsiyar. Thereafter, Sikhs became leaderless and were divided into Misls. Although their martial skills were enormous, their political disunity made them vulnerable to foreign attacks. In 1738, Nadir Shah of Iran, attacked India , looted Delhi and Mughals were never able to recover their power in Punjab. Later, Punjab was subject to constant invasions of Ahmad Shah Durrani of Afghanistan, who upon hearing of the persecution of Muslims of Punjab by the invading Sikhs, took it as his duty to protect the Muslims. Abdali tried many times to recover Lahore but ultimately had to return to Pashtun territories. After his final invasion of Punjab in 1767, he left Lahore which was when it was re-captured by the Sikhs. For more than three decades, Sikhs consolidated their power in areas of Punjab. But the decisive moment came in 1790, when Ranjit Singh of Sukerchakia misl became misldar. He started uniting misls and finally took Lahore in 1799. His coronation on 12 April 1801 marked the beginning of the Sikh Empire, which went on to conquer the whole Punjab, Kangra, parts of Kashmir and briefly, the city of Peshawar.
The tenth and the last guru of Sikhs Guru Gobind Singh organised themselves in jathas, who would see their first battle in 1621. The tenth Sikh Guru is remembered as the spiritual master, warrior, poet and philosopher. When his father, Guru Tegh Bahadur, was beheaded for refusing to convert to Islam, Guru Gobind Singh was formally installed as the leader of the Sikhs at age nine, becoming the tenth Sikh Guru. His four sons died during his lifetime – two in battle, two executed by the Mughal army. Guru’s mother Mata Gujri and his two younger sons were captured by Wazir Khan, the Muslim governor of Sirhind. His youngest sons, aged 5 and 8, were tortured and then executed by burying them alive into a wall after they refused to convert to Islam, and Mata Gujri collapsed on hearing her grandsons’ death. Both his eldest sons, aged 13 and 17, also killed in the battle of December 1704 against the Mughal army. After several decades, small Sikh states known as misls combined to form the Sikh Confederacy in 1716, that jointly fought against Mughal power. In 1735, the jathas would be combined into a single army, the Dal Khalsa. Though successes varied, the Sikhs contributed to the decline of the Mughal Empire during the first half of the 18th century. By the 1750's, the neighbouring northwestern Islamic Durrani Empire and the southern Hindu Maratha Empire had all but destroyed the Mughal Empire, which retained a small territory around Delhi. This is a glorious factual chapter of Sikh history that certain so called Sikhs are completely ignores to serve their vested interest.
Foolishly, ISI back Chawla and nine designated terrorists namely Ranjeet Singh Pakistan based Chief of terrorist organization, “Khalistan Zindabad Force”, Lakhbir Singh Pakistan based Chief of terrorist organization “International Sikh youth Federation”, Wadhawa Singh Babbar Pakistan based Chief of terrorist organization “Babbar Khalsa International”, Paramjit Singh Pakistan based Chief of terrorist organization “Khalistan Commando Force”, Gurmeet Singh Bagga Germany based key member of terrorist organisation “Khalistan Zindabad Force”, Bhupinder Singh Bhinda Germany based key member of terrorist organization “Khalistan Zindabad Force”, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun USA based key member of Unlawful Association, “Sikh for Justice”, Paramjit Singh United Kingdom-based Chief of terrorist organization “Babbar Khalsa International”, Hardeep Singh Nijjar Canada based Chief of “KhalistanTiger Force” have been declared terrorists under the provision of UAPA. All of them are blindfolded to read the script written by Pakistan to use them for destabilizing India. Likewise the confused Sikh Diaspora is affluent and well accomplished in the academics yet some of the anti-national community leaders are distorting the image of the community by their actions and ignoring the history of the great Khalsa Path. The tragedy of Sikhs is that they have not found a leader worthy of carrying forward the legacy of their illustrious Gurus since Maharaja Ranjit Singh The first work of Guru Nanak who is invariably referred to as the founder of Sikhism, maintained, propounded original teachings, established a new religion and gathered round himself a following drawn from both Hindu and Muslim. This continued for about a century till Guru Hargobind, the sixth guru whose period occupies most of the first half of seventeen century adopted the doctrine of ‘miripiri’ and resorted to an arm rebellion against the attempts made by Mughals to interfere and curb the religious rights of Non Muslims in India. He accordingly responded `to the Mughal threat of violent repression by arming his followers though nothing basic had, however, been changed. The tenth Guru Gobind Singh having observed the growing hostility of Mughal authorities reached a momentous decision to form a structured group of fighters to be named as Khalsa having military discipline.
Indian leaders blame SFJ over alleged links to Pakistan
Both the Indian and Punjab governments oppose referendum calls, claiming that SFJ is being helped by Pakistan to undermine the unity of its longtime regional foe. India CDS and Ex-Army Chief General Bipin Rawat referred to “external linkages” to “revive insurgency” in Punjab, as Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh linked SFJ with Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI. The row has reached Canada, the US, and the UK, where large Sikh communities live. The Indian intelligence agencies are on alert keening watching the overseas footprint of a group of foreign aided vested interest to fuel the movement and create unrest in the border state of India. It is a shame that Pakistan society is damaging temples, Gurudawaras, Churches with impunity having the full support of the establishment since it is a declared Islamic state yet traitors like Gopal Singh Chawla, Ranjeet Singh, Lakhbir Singh, Paramjit Singh are working against the overall interest of the Sikh community by collaborating with ISI and non-state players to hurt the Indian interest. Surely, they have virtually no support in Indian state of Punjab or in India but certain section of western supported Sikh Diaspora are fueling the fire by funding groups to weaken Indian state that is likely to be the most powerful nation in terms of military and economy in the next decade.
It is high time that his disgruntle group should shed the violence and anti-India activities by collaborating with overseas vested interest groups and seek pardon from the mighty Indian state so that they can be integrated with the mainstream Sikh community of the country that remains the pride of the country. The illusion of Khalistan completely ignores the history and it misrepresents the larger interest of the Sikh community. The glorious sacrifice made by the Sikh community for their motherland is unparallel in the recent past and contribution made the community in the nation-building remains second to none. Lastly, India is considered by many as a soft state till the narrative is altered by the current government of Narendra Modi hence it is highly advisable for the traitors working against the interest of the country to be on guard because Doval’s offensive-defensive strategy doctrine can really hurt them badly. As Prime Minister Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah has indicated to all the disgruntle elements to shun the violence and talk to government to secure peace on all ends, this is the only option left now.
By Prashant Tewari Editor in Chief with Prakhar Misra Political Editor: Opinion Express.
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh appealed to youngsters not to get swayed by the vicious propaganda of anti-India elements like terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannu and his Sikhs for Justice (SFJ). “You try to come to Punjab and I will teach you a lesson,” The Chief Minister urged all youngsters to not pay any heed to Pannu. “Some get emotionally swayed by such vicious propaganda,” he cautioned. Reacting to Pannu’s call for raising black flags to mark India’s Independence Day, the Chief Minister said the Punjabis in India were prosperous people and were not interested in indulging in such acts at the behest of someone sitting in Canada or America. “Why should they (the people of Punjab) do it, if you have the guts you come and do it,” he dared Pannu, adding that if the SFJ leader wanted he could make his Khalistan at the place where he was hiding out. “Pannu does not even look like a Punjabi, and does all this only for extracting money,” he warned youth.
Congratulating the people on the eve of Independence Day, Captain Amarinder said the unparalleled sacrifice and Valour of Punjabis and Sikhs was acknowledged by the whole world. The tales of their bravery could be found everywhere, he said, adding that the Andaman Islands’ `Kaala Pani’ was replete with their examples, and the Jallianwala Bagh massacre also bore testimony to the sacrifice of Punjabis. Nobody knows how many people died at Jallianwala Bagh, he said, adding that there was need to ascertain the number.
After Independence too, Punjabis have always led from the front in all the wars fought by India, be it 1962, 1965, Bangladesh war, or Kargil or even the recent skirmishes with China, Captain Amarinder said, recalling that Punjab’s brave son from Mansa Gurtej, of 3 Punjab, was brutally attacked but he took down 12 Chinese before making the supreme sacrifice. There is no region or state in the country where Punjabis have not excelled, be it industry, agriculture or services, said the Chief Minister.
Report filed OECEL News Services
Two Indian-origin Ministers are holding two of the most powerful offices in the UK. Their tasks are not easy though
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson may have been mocked by the liberal British media but his huge victory in the last general election has put the implementation of Brexit front and centre of his to-do list. Two of the core agenda of Brexit and one reason why the British voted to leave the European Union (EU) are “immigration” and “financial policy.” This is why Johnson has tapped two Indian-origin members from his party to deliver on both fronts. Priti Patel has been the Home Secretary (Minister) for a while but in a stunning announcement this week, Johnson appointed Rishi Sunak as his Chancellor, or Finance Minister in Indian lingo. Most Indians feel Sunak’s claim to fame comes from the fact that he is Infosys founder NR Narayana Murthy’s son-in-law but he has always been highly regarded inside the Conservative Party establishment. He was also former Chancellor Sajid Javid’s right hand man. At 39, he is the second-youngest man to take on the job in modern times, the youngest being George Osborne, who, with former British Prime Minister David Cameron, was the architect of the disastrous Brexit referendum that set in motion the political chaos that has engulfed the UK. Sunak has not been given unfettered powers as Johnson and his team will control the show. This is the reason why Javid resigned. However, Sunak has a hard task ahead given that he will have to draft Britain’s first Brexit Budget and present it within the next few weeks. This will not be easy with negotiations between London and Brussels taking longer than expected. The ongoing global economic contagion has been made worse by the actual contagion in China right now. Sunak may be a bright spark but his job ahead to convince companies to come and invest in Britain and not run away — as in the current state of affairs with financial institutions and manufacturers both looking at options on the continent — will be a tough one.
He should also be aware that Johnson, like several other charismatic leaders of nativist movements across the world, is not someone who takes the blame. While getting a big job, Sunak must not become the scapegoat tomorrow. That said, the rise into positions of prominence for Indian-origin Britons is a matter of pride. Indians are in prominent positions across the political spectrum in the UK and are a model immigrant community. The Indian Government should continue to engage with them and ensure that Indo-British ties improve even further.
(Courtesy: Editorial, The Pioneer)
The rising tension between the US and Iran is a litmus test of India’s new policy of multi-alignment within the region
The end of 2020 will be intensely awaited by the world as it seeks an answer to the burning question, will Donald Trump, who just triumphed in the impeachment proceedings, remain the President of the United States after the November elections? Significantly, Iran is also going to witness its parliamentary elections on February 21.
According to strategic thinkers, with the high-profile killing of Iranian Major-General Qasem Soleimani, the Trump presidency intended its Iran policy to be entirely different from that of his predecessors. The attack has ignited a debate whether or not it was worth the risk to kill Soleimani, who incidentally, was the face of armed resistance against the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria along with the US, Russia, Turkey and its European allies.
Previous US administrations also had the opportunity to take out Soleimani but chose not to, mostly because of concerns that it would lead to a series of dangerous escalations on both sides. However, it is clear from the economic sanctions imposed against Iran that Trump has adopted a different approach and has used his famed “maximum pressure” strategy.
Although, anti-Americanism in Iran has always remained a challenge for US foreign policy, Trump’s decision to take out Iran’s most popular military leader has pitched to a new high the anti-American wave on Irans streets. The much-loved General’s assassination will most likely be used by the Iranian regime to fan anti-American sentiments that are running high in the country. And this will have long-term consequences, which the US may or may not be prepared for.
Elections have long been used by the Iranian leadership under the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s watch as tools to create an illusion of public support and democratic legitimacy. And this time around, the regime is more desperate than ever to show its detractors at home and abroad that it represents the will of the Iranian people because over the last four decades, the gap between the people and the regime has gradually widened.
With every passing day, more and more Iranians are coming to the conclusion that the regime does not represent them and cannot be reformed and Iranians want and deserve a leadership that respects their wishes and protects their interests. Until Iran’s leaders understand this fact and hold free and fair elections, the gap between the people and their rulers will continue to widen, the protests will continue and the real voter turnout will remain low. So, the regime will use this attack by Trump as a means to cover its ruthlessness and shortcomings and fan anti-US sentiments to make itself relevant as elections loom large.
Interestingly, on the other side, in the US, where conspiracy theories abound accusing past Presidents of purposely creating foreign policy crises during an election year with an aim to divert public opinion from pressing and unsavoury domestic issues, the killing of General Soleimani is nothing new.
However, this time Trump may have taken things too far in search of short-term domestic electoral gains. Security experts caution that this incident will have a long-term impact and may endanger US’ security interests in West Asia. As per a latest development, a Democratic-led US House of Representatives committee had reached an agreement with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to testify at a public hearing on Iran and Iraq policy, after threatening a subpoena over previous refusals to appear. This will be in public domain soon.
The ongoing tension between the US and Iran has shaken the world as anything that happens in the Gulf region will have a severe impact on the oil-based economy of the world and more specifically Asian countries. However, security experts have signalled, based on Trump’s recent statement “calling on NATO partners to play a bigger role in the Middle East region” that he is willing to de-escalate tensions. On its part Iran, too, is not keen to ratchet up the issue as it has shown its willingness to submit to the International Atomic Energy Agency inspections and is not walking out of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
Notwithstanding these signals from the two countries, New Delhi is understandably worried about how Gulf tensions will impact India. This is because India has strategic interests in the region in the form of the Chahabar Port and the nearly 10 million Indians working in the Gulf, who send home over $40 billion as remittance.
In January, while speaking at the fifth edition of the Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif set temperatures rising as he called the US “ignorant and arrogant” and slammed the country for the assassination of the war hero. He also asked India for an aggressive backdoor diplomacy to safeguard its national interests in the region.
While promising that his country was not looking for a war with the mighty US, the Iranian Ambassador pushed India for a greater role in the efforts to de-escalate rising tensions in the Persian Gulf region. Allaying fears about the effects of the crisis on trade, Chegeni also assured India that Chabahar Port was fine and operative as it was a symbol of the friendship between India, Iran, Afghanistan, the Commonwealth of Independent States, Europe and the whole Persian Gulf.
Significantly, keeping in mind the strategic importance of developing the regional maritime traffic to Afghanistan and Central Asia, the US gave a written assurance to India that it would help facilitate the funding for the purchase of equipment worth $85 million for the Chabahar Port.
Also, tension in the region may cause a threat to the traffic that goes through the tiny Strait of Hormuz, which though just 21 miles across at its widest point, has major strategic and geopolitical relevance because it is situated between Iran and Oman. It is a financially crucial checkpoint because it is the world’s busiest shipping lane and there are limited alternatives to bypass it.
According to a report of the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), 21 million barrels of crude and refined oil pass through the strait, which is about one-third of world’s sea- traded oil. Thus, Iran can take revenge on the US and give its allies sleepless nights by shutting the strait or obstructing the oil tankers passing through it, which will ultimately disrupt supply and push up shipping costs and consequently energy prices.
India has an exceptional advantage here, being a nation with a multi-alignment approach in the Gulf region. As it shares close relations with Iran and the US alike, New Delhi can act as a mediator between the two nations.
Given its security and economic interests in the region, New Delhi has cultivated a strong friendship with most countries in West Asia like Israel, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Oman. This affords it an opportunity to initiate a dialogue in times of strife, with greater chances of success.
However, this recent episode of rising tensions between the US and Iran is a litmus test of India’s new policy of multi-alignment within the region.
The unfolding events in West Asia are being keenly watched by Russia and China because both have strong interest in the region. While Moscow sees itself as an emerging dominant power with West Asia being a major part of its plan, China is equally concerned as 50 per cent of its oil imports come from the region. However, its biggest worry is its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as Iraq has major geo-strategic importance because of its location.
There is speculation that Moscow is silently backing Iran as it has intelligence-sharing arrangements with it. This, more than anything else, should give the US cause for worry.
Is Trump’s proposed India visit an attempt to deflect from the constant coverage of his impending impeachment trial?
No matter what you think of Donald Trump — almost everybody in the world has an opinion about the one-time real estate mogul and reality television star who is now the 45th President of the US — one cannot deny the fact that the man has a nose for news. Rather he ensures that he stays in the headlines. After becoming the third President to be impeached by the US Congress, his impending trial in the Senate, the Upper House of the US legislature, is scheduled to begin shortly. The controversial targetting of Iranian General Qasim Solemani set in motion a series of events that led to the Iranians accidentally downing a Ukrainian civilian airliner, killing 176 people. At the same time, the race to choose who will stand against Trump in the 2020 US presidential election from the Democratic Party is getting hotter with the first few US States going to the polls in February and March. It may not be a bad time for Trump to spend a few days outside, particularly in a country whose leader is very close to him. Indeed, Trump was more impressed than most leaders when he attended Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally, Howdy Modi, in his country.
It is highly unlikely, although not impossible, that Trump’s impeachment will be passed by the US Senate given that the Republican Party has a majority in the Upper House. Trump’s visit to a major US collegiate event earlier this week also displayed how he remains popular among his base, no matter what the media might say. He remains the favourite in the presidential election, particularly with the US being one of the few large economies in the world that is continuing to do very well. His visit to India in late February will also shore up Modi’s image, which has taken a battering after widespread anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests. Of course, there is the old adage that birds of a feather flock together with regard to Trump and Modi. But there’s no doubt that India-US ties have been on the mend over the past decade with the Modi Government only strengthening it. If Trump visits with Melania, he could always go to the Taj Mahal for a photoshoot on the “famous” chair, something that his predecessor could not manage. But Trump should realise one thing: This is one country where his favourite fast food, a McDonald’s Cheeseburger, is not available. One wonders if he will still visit India after discovering this fact.
(Courtesy: The Pioneer)
Pakistan’s Islamic revolution is eating its own children. It needs to be reversed by an Ataturk-type of powerful leader but the Army has been thoroughly radicalized
The paroxysms of religious intolerance increasingly engulfing Pakistan and sections of its civil society, not to mention the frenzied anti-India exhortations of its favourite militant outfits, are inexorably pushing the nation towards political incoherence and religious apoplexy, from which return to sanity seems unlikely.
Two recent events best exemplify this trend. One is the attack on Nankana Sahib Gurdwara (January 3) led by the brother of Mohammad Hassan, the boy who allegedly abducted Jagjit Kaur, daughter of a senior gurdwara official, from her home in August 2019 and forcibly converted and married her. Reports suggest that ahead of the court hearing on January 9, police entered the Hassan family home and arrested some members. Enraged, Hassan’s brother collected a crowd, surrounded the gurdwara, pelted stones on pilgrims and threatened to convert all shrines into mosques. As authorities moved to control the situation, he issued an apology on video.
In India, the incident embarrassed political parties opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and forced them to condemn it. The ruling party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) protested near the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi, which was placed under tight security.
The second and more serious incident concerns Pakistan’s treatment of its own citizens. Junaid Hafeez, a teacher in the literature department of Bahauddin Zakariya University, has been languishing in solitary confinement since March 2013, after an Islamist group claimed he had made blasphemous remarks during a lecture.
A gold medallist, Junaid was studying medicine at Lahore’s prestigious King Edward Medical College when the poet in him surfaced; he moved to Bahauddin Zakariya University, Multan, to study English literature. In 2009, he went to study American literature at the Jackson State University, the US, on a Fulbright scholarship and returned to teach at his alma mater. Here, in the university’s growing Islamic environment, he pushed for secular debate around different topics. Though eminently qualified for a permanent faculty position, the Islamist student group on the campus, the Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba, wanted the post to Islamise the department. Suddenly, blasphemy charges prevented him from getting the job.
One accusation was that Junaid shared blasphemous content on a Facebook account, which has never been linked to him. Nevertheless, Junaid, then just 27-years-old, was jailed and his career ruined. When lawyer Rashed Rahman was assassinated (2014), advocate Asad Jamal courageously took the brief, despite several death threats. On December 21, 2019, Junaid Hafeez was sentenced to death for “outraging religious sentiments” (under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code that was introduced in 1986 by Zia ul-Haq). His parents have appealed to Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, pointing out many problems — from refusal to hear the case, constant transfer of judges and delay tactics by the prosecution — to deny justice to the young teacher. Many journalists and writers have supported them.
Within Pakistan, critics question the very need for this law, pointing out that it inhibits reforms in Islam and sanctions death for words, cartoons and other forms of free thought. They point out that critique of a religion does not mean violence against that faith or deny the rights of its adherents. Instead, the blasphemy laws undermine basic human rights.
Asiya Bibi, a poor Christian woman, received the death penalty in 2010 for alleged blasphemy, and Punjab Governor Salman Taseer was assassinated for supporting her and trying to take up cudgels against the well-known abuse of this law. Taseer said the Pakistan of Mohammad Ali Jinnah did not have such a law and such a cruel punishment. Claiming that Islam provided for the protection of minorities, he promised to take her appeal to the President, for pardon. As the case became an international cause célèbre, the Supreme Court of Pakistan acquitted her in October 2018, citing insufficient evidence. However, as frenzied mobs came on the streets chanting that they would not let her leave Pakistan, it was only in May 2019 that she was discreetly flown to Canada, where her family had already been given asylum.
It is an open secret that Pakistan’s blasphemy law is a weapon to harass individuals or groups for personal or petty agenda or to persecute religious minorities for vicarious majoritarian satisfaction. Invariably, the accused are unable to defend themselves and have to suffer painful imprisonment before receiving capital punishment, though the Supreme Court has often overruled judgments of the lower courts for having poor evidentiary value. At times, however, the apex court has upheld the sentence, leaving the luckless accused with no recourse but to beg for pardon from the President. Along the way, intrepid lawyers have lost their lives, fighting for justice, dignity and human rights.
Vigilantism, as seen at Nankana Sahib, has become the new confession in Pakistan. Rabble-rousers reminiscent of the Dominican monk, Girolamo Savonarola, but without his piety and learning, exhort intolerance of secular dissenters and minorities as a national creed. Mini-tyrants populate every village and city street, sniffing out potential victims. Former President Zia- ul-Haq’s tweaking of the British-made blasphemy law (that India junked because Hindu dharma has no canon and, therefore, no law, and Pakistan retained because it was a religion of the Book) has rained hell on its poor victims.
As of now, there is no one who can put the genie back in the bottle. Many lament that Jinnah’s plea for a secular nation, made on August 11, 1947, before Pakistan was officially born, was not honoured by the elite of the new country. Some say the speech was optics at the behest of Lord Ismay to stem the communal frenzy and bloodbath. Others say that the communal passions unleashed by Jinnah to achieve Pakistan had assumed a momentum of their own and could not be controlled.
Secular thinkers in Pakistan assert that there is no blasphemy law in the Quran or in any Hadith or in the writings of the dominant Hanafi school. Blasphemy is a man-made device to control dissidence or torment innocents, who may have earned one’s ire for some petty reason or other. In Asiya Bibi’s case, it was drinking water from a pot reserved for Muslims.
Pakistan’s Islamic revolution, like all revolutions, is eating its own children. It needs to be reversed by an Ataturk-type of powerful leader but the Army has been thoroughly radicalised. Islam has become Pakistan’s cul-de-sac; the way in is the only way out.
There has been a clear fissure in the traditional Labour preference among all subcontinental ethnicities with Indians warming up to the Conservatives in sizeable droves
Recently, the UK elected 650 members to the House of Commons on December 12 for the third time since 2015 even though Governments over there are elected for a five-year tenure. The history of the British Raj (1858-1947) and the subsequent imprint, relationship and presence of subcontinental diaspora in the UK have made these elections relevant for the diaspora community and the Indian subcontinent as well. Accounting for nearly five per cent of the approximately 68 million population, subcontinental ethnicities have a significant stake and impact in the impending Government formation in the UK. Indian diaspora is the largest foreign ethnicity in Britain, comprising 2.3 per cent of the total population. This is followed closely by Pakistan with 1.9 per cent and Bangladesh at 0.7 per cent. Subcontinental ethnicities contribute about 25-30 seats to the Parliament.
Till recently, subcontinental ethnicities have had an overarching bias towards the Labour Party, which accounted for nearly two-third of the subcontinental parliamentarians. However, there has been a clear fissure in the traditional Labour preference among all subcontinental ethnicities with Indians warming up to the Conservatives in sizeable droves. After the post of the Prime Minister, the number two and three positions of the Chancellor of Exchequer and the Home Secretary respectively were held by subcontinental ethnicities in the previous Conservative Government. Much earlier, four members of the Indian ethnicity were in the Conservative Theresa May’s Cabinet. Subsequently, there were three (out of the 32 member Cabinet) in the previous Conservative Boris Johnson Government.
This is symptomatic of a shift in ethnicity, acceptance and wooing of the Indian sensibilities within the Conservative ranks. The all-important post of Home Secretary was entrusted to Preeti Patel, who held crucial responsibilities such as national security, terrorism and immigration issues. Whereas Alok Sharma was the International Development Secretary and Rishi Sunak (son-in-law of Infosys co-founder, NR Narayana Murthy) became the Chief Secretary to the Treasury. In the latest “People’s Cabinet” of Boris Johnson, all three have retained their important positions.
A drift from the earlier Labour fixation had resulted in the Conservatives banking on one million ethnic votes for the first time in the 2015 national elections. However, by the 2017 national elections, post-election surveys showed that the Conservatives had probably raced ahead of the Labour in attracting Indian ethnicities. Data from an ethno-religious perspective confirmed a 49 per cent preference for Conservatives by the Hindu and Sikh communities as opposed to just 41 per cent for the Labour.
A change in global geopolitics, too, has evolved India’s narrative and perceptions have made it more amiable towards “traditionalist” Western parties. Take for example, the Conservatives in the UK or the Republicans in the US as opposed to “internationalist” parties like the Labour or the Democrats. The hard Left moorings of the Labour leadership under Jeremy Corbyn had the sort of “revolutionary” vocabulary that was anachronistic with agenda, including renationalisation, debating class wars and scrapping nuclear deterrents among others. This undid the sort of progressive direction set by the “New Labour” liberality of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, who had sought a balance between capitalism and socialism. This Labour extremism led to serious accusations of harbouring anti-Semitic sentiments and concerns prevailed over Corbyn’s “softness” on security concerns, including his description of the operation to take out Osama bin Laden as “yet another tragedy.”
From an Indian perspective, Corbyn’s positions, activism and actions have been a matter of concern with him signing multiple motions, expressing concerns on the happenings in India. The Labour Party had interfered in the Indian affairs and passed a party resolution that read, “Crucially, it calls on the Labour Party, the Government in waiting, to clearly and vocally support the Kashmiri people’s right to self determination and for international observers to be sent to the region immediately. The resolution also calls for an intervention of the party at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).” The implied intent and reference to the so-called “self determination” was clearly political overreach and loaded.
Expectedly, the Indian Government expressed its deep displeasure. The Indian High Commission withdrew its annual courtesy of inviting the UK’s Opposition leadership for Independence Day celebrations. The Chair of the Labour Party, Ian Lavery, was left to do the damage control and renege from the earlier stand adopted by Corbyn but the damage was done and was in the coming for some time.
Meanwhile, Boris Johnson dialled up his charm offensive towards the Indian diaspora. He made sure that he alluded to the reassuring future of the Indian doctors in the much-discussed, National Health Scheme (NHS). The gaffe-prone Johnson had half heartedly and conveniently referred to himself as the “son-in-law” of India, as the mother of his second wife was of Sikh faith. Johnson’s patent bluster had a decidedly ethno religious context and target that militated more in the face of ethnic Pakistanis in the UK. The ongoing public and very personal slugfest with his successor, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, (of Pakistani ethnicity) had not endeared him to the British Pakistanis either. In a deeply hyphenated framework of India-Pakistan divide, this pushed the Indian ethnicity even more towards the Conservatives and the Pakistani ethnicity towards the Labour Party.
Given that the Conservatives romped home with a thumping 80 member majority over Labour, this augurs well for the Indian diaspora. Many Indian community groups had willingly ousted even Indian-origin Labour parliamentarians as none of them stood up in favour of India in the House of Commons to denounce the violent protests in front of India House.
The Indian ethnicity has successfully swung votes in approximately 50 constituencies and oddly enough, it seems to be the pro-monarchy “Tories” who have caught the fancy and preference of the Indian diaspora in the latest elections. While the Conservative Party and Johnson in particular have a lot to account for in the past and in the future with Brexit uncertainty looming large, Labour has shot itself in the foot. Until the option of some sort of a progressive “New Labour” surfaces, the Indian ethnicity will continue to support the Conservatives.
The brutalisation of students has unnerved academic communities in Ivy League institutions and Oxford
There is reverse classism in the current establishment, negating the educated as prejudiced, damning liberalism as an elite obsession, diagnosing inquiry as a compulsive disorder and trusting the apparent as the only explanation. While humanism by itself wants an equitable society, it doesn’t come with dominance and subversion, it comes with a healthy respect for each other, dialogue and engagement. So though Home Minister Amit Shah may insist upon our Indic responsibility to save our people persecuted elsewhere, as promised by the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), he doesn’t want us to make much of the mindset behind the religion-based approach to asylum seekers. Or think that once linked with the National Register of Citizens (NRC), which relies on a complex process of documentation and could push out existing citizens as it has in Assam, it demonises the minority. Or that the majoritarian nationalism could swamp ethnicities as it has in Assam and Tripura. And if civilisational memory is what we need to revive, then exclusion was never our credo, something that students are reminding us because we ourselves have failed them in upholding what we preach. It is this failure to listen to the full story that is having a ripple effect on civil society. Now the protests in campuses over CAA have found echoes in top global institutions, including Oxford, Harvard, Yale and MIT. Over 400 students from different US universities have issued a joint statement expressing solidarity with Jamia and AMU students and condemned the brutal police violence as a gross violation of human rights. Students and scholars at Oxford University even staged a protest march to India House in London over a “direct attack on foundations of a democratic society.” Protests are also being planned in Zurich and Berlin, the last a crucible of how a polarised world could crumble under the weight of rigid lines. The Government would probably dismiss these as disruptive voices from the extended family of “urban Naxals” and consider them inconsequential to its larger purpose of Hindu revival. By that logic then, the entire community of academics and premium centres of learning are irrelevant to the Hindu cause simply because they don’t translate into votes. If the bull-headed short-sightedness of the Government is to be believed, then students everywhere have been delusional enough to be fooled by a country-specific agenda of India’s fragile Opposition. The establishment must realise that this is a collective conscience call of a democratic society that has come under the sharpest attack in recent memory. It is, perhaps, the first non-political hitback of the fear and distrust of the Modi Government in its current Hindu-only overdrive.
The brutalisation of students has clearly cost us our global perception as a tolerant society and though it would be easy enough to draw comparisons with crackdowns elsewhere, do we really want to be in the company of autocracies? Whether the Government admits it or not, it has had trouble explaining itself on lockdowns in foreign capitals, even in nations which had respected its right to abrogate Article 370 within its Constitutional space. Perhaps, more questions are being raised about India’s societal churn as we are blitzed with conquest-like images of a Howdy Modi event. But crushing students, who are the first-line protectors of a democratic legacy everywhere in the world, has been our undoing. Apologists would argue that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, someone whom Prime Minister Narendra Modi considers a personal friend, had to postpone the proposed summit meeting here because Guwahati was supposed to be the venue. Couldn’t that be shifted? Two Bangladesh Ministers called off their visits although their Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is “friendly” towards India. Anti-India travel advisories and positions taken in Western capitals against our sectarian approach have impacted our international image. The Government has clearly overreached itself in pushing both NRC and CAA down our throats. For a while, there has been no big bang talk of reforms or projects that fires the national imagination. What we forget though is that we do not have the heft of China yet to live down the war of perception. That’s precisely because the world respects us as a different Asian power and expects us to keep democracy alive.
(Courtesy: The Pioneer)
A record number of Indian-origin MPs were voted to the UK Parliament but not all might end up being friends of India
Fifteen of the newly-elected Members of Parliament (MPs) in Westminster will have Indian roots. And while 15 out of 650 MPs might not seem like much, this is an assertion of how influential the British Indian community has become. At least two or three MPs of the Conservative Party, which won a stunning victory, are expected to become members of the Cabinet, including Priti Patel and Rishi Sunak, the latter familiar to some Indians as Infosys-founder NR Narayana Murthy’s son-in-law. There were several Indian-origin MPs from the Labour Party as well and their number included Lisa Nandy, who some are pegging as a potential candidate for leading the Labour Party following the planned resignation of the current leader, Jeremy Corbyn. While most Indian-origin MPs of the Conservative Party are generally seen as pro-India — there was a concerted effort within the Indian community to consolidate behind the Conservatives after Corbyn’s statements on the Kashmir issue and his previous statements sympathetic to terrorist organisations — it is not as if Labour’s Indian origin MPs are anti-India. But given Labour’s extreme position on some issues, it is almost certain that its MPs will be critical of the Indian Government’s stance on several issues.
This is something that the Modi regime must be prepared for as such MPs, while being the biggest advocacy group for Indian interests, could also end up being the biggest critics of policies back home. The Chennai-born US Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal has been leading attacks in the US Congress against the Modi Government. Several first and second-generation Sikh immigrants in politics, particularly in Canada, have been openly advocating the Khalistani cause. Just because someone holds an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card does not make them a “friend” of India. Our diplomats and policy-makers should never forget this. At the same time, the Modi Government’s overt support to certain Indian organisations that are weaponising the Indian diaspora politically is a good move. For example, many of Jayapal’s constituents are from the Indian community working in the Greater Seattle area’s IT industry, dominated by Amazon and Microsoft. Hundreds of them have written to her criticising her stance on Kashmir, making her realise that she cannot take the community’s vote for granted. We should celebrate the success of our diaspora in every field, including politics, but we must not for one second forget that they do not owe their allegiance to India and are not “Indians.”
(Courtesy: The Pioneer)
Pakistani and Indian expatriates are far removed from the changing reality of domestic politics
Nine years ago, when I was heading the media department of a British organisation, I observed how most British expats in Pakistan voted in the UK 2010 parliamentary elections. Even though most of the Karachi-based Britons were reluctant to divulge which party they voted for, some eventually did tell. It turns out nine out of the 12 had cast their votes for the Conservative Party, two for the Liberal Democrats and just one voted for the Labour Party.
Two of them told me that since the early 1980s, a majority of British expats around the world have preferred to vote for the Conservative Party. British expats have the right to vote in their country’s parliamentary elections but this right lapses if they have lived outside the UK for more than 15 years. Last year in Washington DC, during a session on the electoral behaviour of expat Americans, most speakers were of the view that a majority of them tend to vote for the Republican Party. No significant data was shared to corroborate this but some former US ambassadors attending the session claimed that most Americans working in Asian and South American countries vote for the Republican Party and that this has been the trend since 1980.
The session concluded that expats — at least American and British — were likely to vote for conservative parties. This is interesting, because over the last few years, there have been many reports published and columns written about expat Pakistanis and Indians overwhelmingly exhibiting support for Centre-Right parties such as the PTI and the BJP.
Indian expats were given the right to vote in their country’s elections in 2010 but those holding dual nationalities still cannot. Pakistani expats were given this right in October 2018, during the by-elections. Though 7,461 expats registered online to vote, only 6,233 cast their votes.
The phenomenon of most Indian and Pakistani expats demonstrating support for the BJP and the PTI has been repeatedly observed but never fully studied. The answers may lie in a study published in the May issue of the Oxford Academic Journal.
The study, conducted by two American political scientists, AC Goldberg and Simon Lanz, concentrated largely on European countries but they argue that the results can be relevant for other countries too.
One of their conclusions was that the voting preferences of immigrants are often contrary to those at home. This is because their social, political and economic contexts are different. An issue in the country of origin will have a more abstract impact on expats residing in a different environment. The impact of the same issue on those living in the home country is more tangible. This might be the reason behind the somewhat different understanding of the issue among the two sets of voters.
A 2006 study, by the Dutch economist Jan Fidrmuc and econometrist Orla Doyle, came to the same conclusion after studying the voting behaviour of Czech and Polish migrants in Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America. The results of this study indicated that the political preferences of immigrants change significantly because they adapt to the attitudes prevailing in the host country.
Fidrmuc and Doyle found that most Czech and Polish migrants living in Europe tended to vote for Right-wing parties at home but interestingly, those living in African and Middle-Eastern countries preferred Left-leaning parties. The economic and political environment in Europe and Africa and the Middle East differ. So expats in Europe, after experiencing the advantages of developed economies, are likely to understand “progress” in their home country through the lens provided to them by their experience in developed countries. Thus they tend to support home parties promising progress along these lines.
But what about expats from developed countries opting to vote for conservative parties? Studies suggest that British and American expats voting for the Conservative Party and Republican Party largely vote to retain their countries’ rarely-changing external policies rather than the more fluid internal matters. They are more impacted by the foreign policies of their home countries than by their countries’ internal issues. Findings of both the studies also more than allude to the fact that, outside the voting patterns of US and UK expats, immigrant voting can be fickle. Since most are likely to vote for the Opposition, they can be quick to withdraw their support once the opposition comes to power and is slow to deliver. Both PTI and BJP enjoyed overwhelming support from Pakistani and Indian expats before both were voted into power. However, the support for the two ruling parties is now receding at home and there is restlessness within the pro-PTI and pro-BJP Pakistani and Indian diasporas respectively.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistani PM Imran Khan now apply separate rhetoric for their supporters within and outside the country. Outside their countries, to retain the diaspora’s support, they have to continue sounding like they did when they were in the Opposition, whereas the same rhetoric is now failing to stand up to a plethora of economic and political problems at home.
Indian historian Meera Nanda writes in The God Market that the changing world view of the Indian middle classes (and diaspora) is being shaped by the “State-temple-corporate complex.” Rich Indians are heavily investing in this by fusing Hindu nationalism with modern economics. This combination excites the Indian diaspora and they identify it with Modi.
On the other hand, what excited the Pakistani diaspora about Khan was the manner in which he tapped into the Pakistani diaspora’s engagement with contemporary identity politics by clubbing together displays of religiosity, anti-corruption tirades, populist post-colonialist rhetoric and lofty allusions to Scandinavian social democracy — which is curiously explained by him as an Islamic concept.
Whereas identity politics can lead to some awkward ethnic and sectarian tensions in Pakistan, it works well on the Pakistani diaspora. Therefore, the gap between the understanding of present-day Pakistani politics between the expats and the locals has continued to grow. Some locals have lamented that immigrants are still stuck in 2014, or in PTI’s more glamorous dharna years.
Konversations with Kapil
On Wednesday 25th September 2019 the cat was finally out of the bag. And what may you say am I referring to? It was the day when the British Labour Party under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn passed a motion during their annual conference that can only be described as anti-India and pro-Pakistan. The resolution was proposed by Uzma Rasool and Seconded by Cllr Neghat Khan and supported by Naz Shah MP and Kaneez Akhtar.JKSDMI (Jammu and Kashmir Self-Determination Movement International) led by Cllr Yasmine Dar, Chairperson JKSDMI UK and Mohammed Azam were active participants for the motion and Raja Najabat Hussain, Chairman JKSDMI, was also present at the Conference. I give you this information to show the infiltration that has taken place in British politics by the Pakistani community. I refer of course to the British Labour Party which one can say is increasingly becoming Sharia compliant.
There was outrage from NRI, PIOs, the HCIL and of course from Delhi. This was quite surprising to me. After all, why the outrage? The Labour Party has not hidden it’s anti-India, anti-Modi and even anti-Hindu credentials from anyone. They have openly campaigned against India and Indian interest. Infact, it was Labour Party MPs who put forward the motion to place a Visa ban on the then CM Modi. It was the same Labour Party that objected to PM Modi and his visit(s) to the UK. It was the same Labour Party that had tabled several anti-India and anti-Modi EDM (Early Day Motions) in Parliament.
We have ALL known for more than a decade that the British Labour Party under many of its previous leaders, including its present leader Jeremy Corbyn, has steadfastly followed a course of action that has been pro-Pakistan. They do so because the huge Sunni vote bank of Pakistani heritage has leveraged its position to such an extent that politically they now control the narrative of the Labour Party when it comes to India and Pakistan.
I have written several articles since at least 2014 in which I have explicitly made it clear to all the readers the anti-India underbelly of the Labour Party. I know that both HCIL and Delhi are fully aware of the politics of the Labour Party. Yet, and this is what is so astounding, we Indians have given a platform to our enemy at every given opportunity. Some Labour MPs and Councillors seem to have a free pass to walk in and out of HCIL. They are invited to all the key functions. They are wined and dined. They are given the stage to narrate their fake support for India to keep the Indian voters on side. Even Delhi is guilty of such practice. Some Labour MPs and Councillors have had access to the corridors of power since 2014. How is that possible? Ask yourself a simple question. The Government of PM Modi allowed MPs from the Labour Party to have access to Delhi for their photo-shoots, the very political party that sought a Visa ban on CM Modi and the same political party that campaigned against PM Modi’s visit to the UK. Think about it folks, what on earth is going on with us Indians? How stupid are we that we allow our enemy into our homes to exploit us? Is this any different to the invaders who enslaved Bharat for some 1500 years? They did so because the ‘Sepoys’ of Hindustan sold the people out for their own privileges. It seems very little has changed. The white man in London still wants to tell the Indian how to do things. Only this time it’s the Labour Party.
It was only after this public embarrassment that the HCIL cancelled its dinner at the Labour Party conference. Yes, you read that correctly, the HCIL has been hosting dinners at the Labour Party conference for many years. Why on earth would the largest democracy, one of the biggest emerging economies belittle itself to a British political party that spits in its face? Is there no honour? Where is the Lion of Bharat? It has become a little kitten being patted by the British Labour Party that treats all Indians with utter contempt. Is this going to be the new emerging superpower called India?
So why is this happening? Well let’s be clear. We have operatives representing India in London, as well as those who run Delhi who have quite honestly let the side down. They have relied on their friends as advisors. The only problem, these so-called friends are in fact members (or ex-members) of the Labour Party. Think about it, we have got Indian officials who are advised by people whose first loyalty is to the British Labour Party.They know who they are, as do I. I have just heard that some of them are claiming that they had left the Labour Party many years back. Interesting because those very same people have been campaigning for the Labour Party at local elections, General Elections and in fact, even for the Pakistani Labour Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. Yes, the same Sadiq Khan who sat on his backside whilst the Pakistani goons were violating the peace outside the HCIL on the 15th of August. Think about it, the Indian Consulate was attacked by Pakistani goons whilst the Pakistani London Mayor turned a blind eye and the Police stood by and watched. Indian men, women and children at one point had to seek sanctuary within the HCIL building itself. And even after such open provocation, the HCIL thought it would be a great idea to host a dinner at the Labour Party Conference. Think about the utter madness of those in senior positions. Would a British or American consulate ever allow anything like this to happen? Never.
I highlight this uncomfortable truth so we can set the developments taking place in some sort of context. In my view Pakistan has played this brilliantly. They have over the past 4 decades spent millions of pounds to ensure that grassroots organisations, and grassroots champions of Pakistan are resourced well. Many are full-time operatives. Their sole purpose to fight the battle against India. They have infiltrated the Labour Party which is now becoming Sharia Complaint. This infiltration is embedded to such a degree that proportionately Muslims are represented significantly more when it comes to positions as Councillors, or MPs or even in the Lords. A terrorist nation such as Pakistan has used the oldest trick in the book, spend money and it has resourced its supporters so they can fight the local battle. And what has India done? Nothing in comparison. In fact, the champions of India who have fought the battle with one hand tied behind their back have never been supported. They continue the fight because they are true Indians. They do so at their own expense and they put their lives at stake each and every day. And for all their effort what do they get? Nothing. Why you may ask. The answer is the ‘Sepoys’ who are the gate keepers to the Indian hierarchy ensure that no one of competence gets through, lest they outshine them. If the PM of India wants to know whose advice he should seek when it comes to the UK (or even America) then one call to Dr Swamy will do the trick. He will tell them the facts as they are on the ground.
Whilst I have outed the HCIL for their oversight, let me turn to the hundreds of organisations representing Indians in the UK. These might be Mandirs, Mosques, Gurdwaras, community centres and so on. How many of their presidents have written to Jeremy Corbyn to demand that the motion be rescinded? How many of these organisations will entertain Labour MPs and Councillors during our upcoming Dussehra, Navratri and Diwali celebrations? You see, we are our own worst enemies. These Labour MPs who have stabbed us, not in the back – but directing in our chest facing us, will be invited to contaminate our sacred religious and cultural events. The modern day ‘Sepoys’ thrive in our organisations because we the public could not care less about what they do. Every one of us who shouts and screams temporarily on this Labour Party motion will be the same people who will remain silent when these Labour anti-India politicians come to visit our events. Not all organisations are the same though. Thankfully we have got some organisations like the Hindu Forum of Britain and the National Council of Hindu Temples that have historically exposed the true face of the British Labour Party. They get attacked from both the lovers of Labour as well as the ‘Sepoys’ from within. I take this opportunity to commend them for their efforts. If only all our organisations and leaders had the same Dharmic courage, then so much that is wrong can be put right.
Let us come back to the original point of the Labour Party passing a motion that is anti-India with respect to Jammu and Kashmir.As early as 2009 I traced an EDM in the British Parliament that is anti-India on Kashmir. It was signed by Jeremy Corbyn who was just an MP at that time. Now he is the leader of the Labour Party that wishes to form the next Government. Meaning Jeremy Corbyn wants to be the next British Prime Minister. Just take a breath and give that idea some thought. Now do you see how far back the Pakistani hand stretches. For decades they have patiently invested time, money and energy in cultivating the Labour Party so that when the time comes, they would have their support. Of course, the game is not over yet! But it’s time for India and Indians to grow up. British Indians who continue to vote for the Labour Party, let us be clear, you are traitors. Yes, that is indeed a strong word, but it represents my genuine belief of their actions. When people vote for a political party that is hell bent on destroying your ancestral heritage, then what else can we call them but traitors. I say to all of them, you alone are responsible for the mess you help to create when you vote for this anti-India party. The buck will stop at your door.
For India, for how long will you give privilege and access to those who undermine the nation? I know the Indian Government is securing advice from certain PIOs and NRIs. Let me make it clear, these people are or have been members of the Labour Party for years. Their best friends are the seniority in the Labour Party as well as in the House of Lords. Do you honestly think their advice will ever be truthful? These PIOs and NRIs might be friends of the BJP hierarchy, but they are traitors to India and Indians. It’s time people in Delhi woke up to ground reality and understand what is really at stake. With respect to the UK I have conducted a straw poll on Indian origin politicians in the Labour Party. I wrote to the MPs and also to Labour Councillors in Leicester (the city which has such a huge Indian population). Let me list out these people for your reference: Indian Origin Labour MPs: Keith Vaz, Virendra Sharma, Lisa Nandy, Valerie Vaz, Seema Malhotra, Thangam Debonnaie, Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi and Preet Gill. Leicester City Indian Origin Labour Councillors:DeepakBajaj, Padmini Chamund, Ratilal Govind, Rashmikant Joshi Manjit Kaur Saini, Rita Patel,Hemant Rae Bhatia, Vijay Riyait, Gurinder Singh Sandhu, Kulwinder Singh Johal, Nita Solanki and Mahendra Valand.
Having sent them reminders to ensure they understood their response was required to my questions to them, to date only two have responded. What does that tell you about these Indians in the Labour Party? When faced with the truth of their treachery, they exhibit cowardice of the highest order.
The two responses (I thank them for their response):
“I am very disappointed that this motion passed at Labour Party Conference. I was not at Conference I was instead working in my constituency with schools, community groups and the police. Kashmir is a matter for India to address internally as decided by their own constitution and laws. Britain cannot preach the rights of self-determination but deny them to India itself.” Virendra Sharma MP And ‘I’m actually very pained and shocked by this motion taken by the Labour delegates. I firmly believe that it is India’s internal matter and no foreign political party has any right to intervene in such a manner. I’m writing a letter to Jeremy Corbyn along with many other Cllr colleagues and copying our respective MPs to object to it and seeking for it to be withdrawn. I have also posted my rejection on Twitter.’ Cllr Hemant Rae Bhatia.
I suspect if I were to ask every single Indian origin Labour Councillor the same questions, the vast majority no doubt would go into hiding. They care more for their seats than their heritage, their faith and their bloodline. As far as I can assess, I believe not one Indian from the Labour Party stood up on that momentous Wednesday to defend India at the Conference. Some might have been away from the conference but that still does not mean they cannot object to this absurd motion of lies and fake narrative by the Labour Party.
Where does this leave of us as far as the UK is concerned. Well fortunately the Conservative Party is actually on the side of India, broadly speaking. If you recall, it was the Tory PM Cameron who invited and gave an astounding welcome to PM Modi. Who can forget the scenes at Wembley Stadium? British politics is in a bit of a pickle at the moment. In this climate it is now inevitable that a General Election will take place. Probably in November. Under normal circumstance one would be fearful that the Labour Party might come into power. However, my reading of the situation is that when a General Election is finally called, the Conservative Party will win and come in with a working majority. This is great news for India and all Indians, but it’s no thanks to PIOs or NRIs. The proportion of NRIs and PIOs still voting for the anti-India Labour Party is still too high. I am hopeful that this final shameful act by the Labour Party has exposed its anti-Indian mindset. That as a result we will see a dramatic shift of Indian voters to the Conservative Party. We Indians need to put in power the Party that is more likely to be on our side. It may not be the perfect Party with the perfect manifesto, but our bottom line should be, will they stand by us? And if the answer is yes, then that’s where your vote goes.
The Jewish community has almost as a whole now transferred their allegiance to the Conservative Party. They faced racist antisemitic behaviour by many in the Labour Party. They saw the Labour Party passing motions against them and in the end, as a community they realised their well being in the country would be dependent not on the Labour Party, but the Conservative Party. It’s time we took a leaf out of their play book, it’s time to nail our colours to the Conservative mast.
If India and Indians cannot see the writing on the wall, then we know only too well who to blame.
Kapil Dudakia – Writer is prominent Indian voice based in U.K. & Bureau Head of Opinion Express.