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Hindutva, Modi, and The Tehelka Tapes: The Communal Threat to Indian Secularism

By Neil Gray

“Communal politics is essentially the manipulation of social consciousness based on religion for political purposes.”
K.N.Pannikar1
“The danger to India, mark you, is not communism. It is Hindu right-wing communalism”.
Jawaharlal Nehru 19632

Hindutva is a communalist Hindu Nationalist ideology seeking to equate the very idea of ‘Indian-ness’ with ‘Hindu-ness’. The chief exponents of Hindutva are organised under the umbrella of the Sangh Parivar organisation, avowedly inspired and influenced by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a “social and cultural organization” with a known fascist pedigree and a Hindu majoritarian political agenda. The importance of this movement can be gauged by the presence within its ranks of the former ruling party of India, now the main party of opposition, the Bharitiya Janata Party (BJP), and the fact that over 80% of the Indian population identify themselves as Hindu (when asked to proffer a religious identity). This represents a potentially enormous vote-bank for Hindu fundamentalist groups to draw from. The undoubted crucible of Hindutva hegemony in India is the state of Gujarat, “a laboratory of hate”3, held by the notorious BJP Chief Minister Narendra Modi. For many people, a religiously communalised Gujarat represents, in microcosm, the deeply problematic “Face of India’s future”4.
Evangelical neo-liberal advocates and boosters, fronted by the bought media worldwide, are busy extolling the ‘competitive’ and ‘dynamic’ virtues of India’s de-regulated economy, boasting year on year 9% growth rates, while leaving (in a less celebrated statistic) 77% of the population living on less than half a dollar a day. Disavowal is a necessity for the perpetuation of neo-liberal narratives, and the concomitant emergence of this virulent form of ultra Hindu Nationalism (Hindutva) has been largely neglected in the celebratory discourses surrounding the Indian economy.
The horrific pogrom of over 2,000 Muslims in Gujarat (December 2002) by Sangh Parivar activists, assisted and abetted at all levels of the state, has gone down in infamy. Investigations by NGOs and Indian State Commissions have revealed complicity and culpability in the highest levels of state government, right up to Modi himself. The state courts however, under Modi’s tenure and reportedly at his behest, have so far failed to satisfy civil rights groups’ demands for justice. The issue recently erupted again after the celebrated ‘sting’ of late October 2007 by Tehelka magazine. A Tehelka reporter managed to infiltrate a rightwing Hindu organisation for six months, to obtain damning spycam video footage of Hindu activists bragging about killing Muslims and detailing the support they received from the highest echelons of state government.
These confessions were the first time that members of Sangh Parivar had openly admitted their culpability, and the crucial new evidence helping to substantiate the reports of various civil rights and human rights groups following the Gujarat genocide of Spring 2002.

Sangh Parivar Combine – ‘The Family’

Gujarat, under the BJP, is the experimental “petri-dish” in which Hindutva has emerged most violently. It is important to acknowledge its historical development within the wider network of Sangh Parivar groups. This broad alliance (Sangh Parivar translates as ‘Family of Associations’) provides right-wing Hindu fundamentalist groups with a varied base of platforms from which to advocate communalist positions. A hegemonic “constellation of forces”, produces fluid and varied discourses around Hindutva, and allows it to maintain a face for every occasion – from the outright sectarian hatred of the Bajrang Dal to the ‘respectable’ parliamentarianism of the BJP. Established in 1980, The BJP led the ruling NDA (National Democratic Alliance) coalition government from 1998 until its electoral defeat in 2004 by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA). The party is now recognised as the main opposition party in India and is a political force of undeniable weight and influence, ruling five states without need of political allies and forming part of a coalition government in four others.
Understanding the ideological role of the RSS-led Sangh Parivar in the BJP’s political ascendancy is crucial for an understanding of contemporary Indian politics. L.K Advani, current leader of the BJP and long-time member of the RSS, elucidated the links between the RSS and the BJP position in 1990: “There has been a conscious effort on the part of the swayamsevaks [RSS volunteers] who are working in the BJP to make each one understand the ideological base to which we belong, and our connections with sister organizations […] which are all based on the inspiration from RSS5 [my italics]. He continued; “We have to intensify our efforts to project the viewpoint of the RSS, which is not being reflected, so that with the instrumentality of the BJP in politics it gets more acceptance…”6 [my italics]. This instrumentalist, entryist, line (from an allegedly non-political organisation) is openly acknowledged on the BJP’s Gujarat state Government website. The website declares that the RSS participates in politics, “…most often by deputing its pracharaks [apparatchiks] to BJP and other supplementary organizations”7. The former Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Vajpayee, the current BJP President, Mr.Advani, and the Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi were all deputed to the BJP in this manner8.
More generally the Sangh Parivar, of which the BJP is but one component, consists of innumerable sister organisations with connections to the RSS. The main groups, however, are the Parivar ‘trident’ of the BJP, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), and the Bajrang Dal, each performing their own function under a ‘division of labour’ for the promotion of Hindutva. The VHP also known as ‘The World Council of Hindus’, clearly stated its objectives on its inception in 1964. These were, “…To consolidate ‘Hindu society’, to spread the Hindu values of life, to establish a network comprising all Hindus living outside India, and to, ‘welcome back all who had gone out of the Hindu fold and to rehabilitate them as part and parcel of the universal Hindi society’”9. The VHP have been at the centre of most of Hindutva’s major National mobilisations, and were the central organising force behind the hugely significant demolition of the Babri Masjid mosque – a conspicuously sordid cause celebre for the communalist cadres.
Completing the trident is the Bajrang Dal, the “violently energetic youth wing of the VHP”10. Paul Brass, an authority on Indian riots, has characterized the Bajrang Dal as “a fighting ‘protection’ squad for the other organizations, a somewhat pathetic, but a nevertheless dangerous version of the Nazi S.A”11. The Bajrang Dal are the ‘goons’ of the Sangh Parivar; an ‘uncontrollable’ element known for their provocative agitations, and enthusiasm for violence at the service of the Sangh. Often operating outside the formal structures of the ‘family’, their actions (appreciated in private by ‘respectable’ elements within the Sangh) can be publicly disavowed and characterised, if need be, as the ‘spontaneous’ and emotional response of “the will of the people” operating outside the jurisdiction of the main Hindutva organisations.
The central ideological role of the RSS in the Sangh Parivar is an open secret. Advani’s statements above are but one manifestation of that. The declarations, on the record, of M.S.Golwalker, an RSS founding father and key influence on Sangh Parivar ideology, baldly intimate the nature of that link.

Golwalker – The Fascist Face of The RSS

The RSS was founded by Dr.Hedgewar in 1925. He was succeeded on his demise by M.S. Golwalker, who led the organisation from 1940 to1973. Inheriting the title ‘Supreme Leader’, Golwalker was a defining influence on the Sangh Parivar over a thirty-year period. The central themes and concerns of the Sangh are unambiguously championed in his writings: a demonised Muslim ‘Other’, religious nationalism, anti-secular, anti-democratic ideology, and the prevalence of typically lamentable unscholarly forms of historical revisionism. In 1951 the academic Jean Curran described Golwalker’s ‘We Our Nationhood Defined’ (1938) as ‘The Bible’ of the RSS. His admiration for Nazi Germany is evident from frequent references to it in this text and others. He clearly intimates that the concept of ‘German National pride’ in 1930’s Germany was widely discussed, and admired, by his comrades in the Hindu nationalist camp: “German national pride has now become the topic of the day. To keep up the purity of the Nation and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races – the Jews. National pride at its highest has been manifested here” [my italics]12.
For Golwalker, the instructive value of the Nazi’s genocidal policy was clear: “Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences […] to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by” [my italics]13. According to Golwalker, the alleged violation of Indian racial purity and national pride had its defining moment with the arrival of Muslims in the sub-continent: “Ever since that evil day, when Moslems first landed in Hindu-sthan, right up to the present moment, the Hindu nation has been gallantly fighting on to shake off the despoilers…The Race Spirit has been awakening”14.

This ‘race-spirit’, in an important departure from Nazi racism, has a specifically Hindu sectarian character in the Hindutva formulation; the religious basis of which allegedly provides the correct social and political context for the Indian nation: “…in Hindusthan, Religion is an all-absorbing entity… With us, every action in life, individual, social or political, is a command of Religion. We make war or peace, engage in arts and crafts, amass wealth and give it away, indeed we are born and we die – all in accord with religious injunctions”15.
Crucially, Hindu nationalist politics are to be conducted as ‘a command of Religion’. The secular Nationalist politics fought for and instituted in the Indian constitution by the Indian Congress Party “…put the race on the wrong track”, by propagating the concept of Territorial Nationalism rather than Hindu Nationalism (or Hindutva): “The idea was spread that for the first time the people were going to live a National life, the Nation in the land naturally was composed of all those who happened to reside therein and that all these people were to unite in a common ‘National’ platform and win back ‘freedom’ by ‘Constitutional means”16.
Jawaharlal Nehru was a pivotal figure in the Indian independence movement and the first Prime Minister of independent India. His generous vision of India as “an ancient palimpsest” embracing all layers of religious and racial groupings, and his notion of a non-sectarian, secular, democratic India, which including all these groups on an equal basis, is lambasted by Golwalker: “…we began to class ourselves with our old invaders and foes under the outlandish name – India – and tried to win them over to join hands with our struggle. The result of this poison is too well known”17. According to Golwalker, the antidote to this ‘poison’ is an authoritarian and sectarian, pseudo-inclusive Hindu Nationalism. What the ‘Hindu Nation’ should entail, he makes abundantly clear: “The foreign races in Hindusthan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but those of the glorification of the Hindu race and culture, i.e., of the Hindu nation and must loose their separate existence to merge in the Hindu race, or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation, claiming no, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment – not even citizen’s rights18.
The current RSS website openly acknowledges the organisation’s debt to Golwalker: “With his great erudition, he cogently propounded the historical and sociological background and the logicality of the concept of Hindu Rashtra [Hindu nation or polity]”19. The political leaders of the BJP (“India’s largest political party” according to the BJP website) who were deputed from the RSS, can lay equal claim to this abhorrent heritage.

Gujarat – A Hindu Jihad

“Last night a friend from Baroda called. Weeping. It took her fifteen minutes to tell me what the matter was. It wasn’t very complicated. Only that a friend of hers, Sayeeda, had been caught by a mob. Only that her stomach had been ripped open and stuffed with burning rags. Only that after she died, someone carved ‘OM’ on her forehead”.
Arundhati Roy20


“… We made the whole plan… to start a Hindu jehad [sic]… we were successful in Gujarat…”
Dhimant Bhatt, BJP21

Over 2,000 people, mainly Muslim, were slaughtered in the Gujarat riots of 2002, with more than 150,000 people forced into refugee camps. One refugee camp with 6,000 residents was located on the site of a Muslim graveyard leaving residents to sleep in the open between graves. The riots severely affected at least twenty-one cities and sixty-eight provinces throughout Gujarat22.
Ostensibly, revenge was the reason for the carnage. The violence in Gujarat was triggered after a Muslim mob’s torching of two train coaches on the Sabarmati Express at the Ghodra train station on February 27, 2002. Fifty-eight passengers, including Sangh Parivar activists returning from Ayodhya, were killed in the horrific attack. The immediate reaction of Narendra Modi, the BJP Chief Minister of the Gujarat state government, was to claim that the massacre had been engineered by the Pakistan ISI (Inter Services Intelligence). No evidence was given for this highly inflammatory revelation. The situation was further provoked by his decision to publicly parade the charred bodies in an emotive and provocative cavalcade from Godhra to Ahmedabad23.
The Concerned Citizens Tribunal hold Chief Minister Modi culpable for inciting the brutal revenge attacks which followed, claiming that the evidence collected was: “…not sufficient to come to any conclusion that the attack on S-6 coach was a pre-meditated one”24. Despite the Hindutva leadership’s preferred line of an “ISI hand” behind the attack, evidence gathered from eye-witness reports and the Banerjee Committee indicate that the horrific massacre was a spontaneous gross over-reaction by a Muslim mob to provocations from Hindutva activists returning from Ayodhya. A Muslim ‘conspiracy’ remains unproven in the courts, despite reports of bribery and coercion by Sangh Parivar activists in an attempt to prove that high-ranking Muslims were involved25.
A Human Rights Watch (HRW) report based on testimonies collected by the Citizens’ Initiative, a coalition of over twenty-five NGOs, confirmed the scale and savagery of the ensuing genocide. In Naroda Patia, located just across the road from the State Reserve Police (SRP) quarters, “…at least sixty-five people were killed by a 5,000-strong mob that torched the entire locality within minutes”. Sexual abuse and gang rape were rife: “We were 400-500 people on the terrace… The girls were stripped and then two men held them down by legs and arms. Those who raped were 20-25 in number. The girls screamed so loud that even now when I remember my blood boils”. Other residents related similar experiences: “They took young girls, raped them, cut them, and then they burned them”; “Some girls even threw themselves into the fire, so as not to get raped”. A Human Rights Watch report summarised: “Gravediggers testified that most bodies that had arrived – many were still missing – were burned and butchered beyond recognition. Many were missing body parts – arms, legs, and even heads. The elderly and the handicapped were not spared. In some cases, pregnant women had their bellies cut open and their fetuses pulled out and hacked or burned before the women were killed”26.
In the Chamanpura area of Ahmedhabad, 65 people were slaughtered when they attempted to shelter from the riots at the home of Ehsan Jaffrey, a former Member of Parliament who had previously criticised the BJP government. Mansoori Abdulbhai lost nineteen members of his family in the attacks: “First they cut people so they couldn’t run and then they set them on fire. One or two women were taken aside and gang-raped. After five hours the police came and brought us here. It was so well planned”. Mehboob Mansoori lost his whole family: “They burnt my whole family […] Eighteen people from my family died […] the bodies were piled up. I recognized them from parts of their clothes used for identification. They first cut them and then burned them”. Before the slaughter started in earnest, the attackers pelted stones at the building and victims testified to hearing the mob chanting religious slogans eulogising Ram, the hero of the Hindu epic, ‘The Ramayana’: “Ram, Ram, Jai Ram [Ram, Ram, Praise Ram]”27.
The police participated in the atrocities alongside the rioters. A thirteen-year old boy saw police murdering young men: “The police was with them. The police killed seventeen- and eighteen-year-olds. The mob also burned down our home. At 10 a.m. they went after our mosque….”. A father witnessed the police shooting his son: “My son was running to save his life and the police shot him […] no one was answering the police phone. The police took their side and not ours”. Many victims testified that the police led the mobs directly to their homes and places of business. Emergency calls to the police went unheeded or were met with responses such as: “We don’t have any orders to save you”; “We cannot help you, we have orders from above”28. The attacks were clearly part of a “meticulously planned pogrom”29 against the Muslim community. Witnesses testify that the mob specifically targeted Muslims and their businesses. Computer printouts of Muslim voter lists and business addresses, reportedly obtained by Sangh Parivar cadres from the Ahmedhabad Municipal Corporation, were an integral part of the carnage30.
While Narendra Modi characterised the pogrom as a “spontaneous reaction”, this implausible description of events was repudiated by Human Rights Watch who maintained that, “…the attacks on Muslims throughout the state were planned, well in advance of the Godhra incident, and organized with extensive police participation and in close cooperation with officials of the Bharatiya Janata Party (Indian People’s Party, BJP) state government”. The report further stated: “The groups most directly responsible for violence against Muslims in Gujarat include the Vishwa Hindu Parishad [VHP], the Bajrang Dal, the ruling BJP, and the umbrella organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Volunteer Corps, RSS)…” These organisations – The Sangh Parivar – are described in the report as “militant groups that operate with impunity and under the patronage of the state”. The report emphatically concluded: “The attacks against Muslims in Gujarat have been actively supported by state government officials and by the police”31.
Despite the findings of Human Rights Watch and the National Human Rights Commission, Narendra Modi was re-elected as Chief Minister soon after the riots with a majority of 127 out of 182 seats.

The Tehelka Sting

The Tehelka sting operation, revealed just prior to the Gujarat December election of 2007, compounded the allegations of NGOs after the Gujarat riots of 2002. This time, however, the testimony came from the perpetrators themselves. Several members of the Sangh Parivar were caught on tape admitting their role and that of the state government in the Gujarat genocide. Based on the evidence obtained from covert spycam footage, the case alleging Sangh Parivar collusion with the government of Gujarat in the riots of 2002 is overwhelming.
Bajrang Dal leader, Babu Patel, had this to say about police complicity in the riots: “By the end, there were about 700-800 bodies. They were all removed… The Commissioner came that night and said that if there were so many dead at one place, it would create trouble for him… So he had the corpses picked up and dumped all over Ahmedabad…”; “The Muslims kept making calls to the police, kept running to the police… They had one man called Salem […] he got into a police jeep… got right inside… I myself caught him and dragged him out… The cops said kill him, if he’s left alive, he’ll testify against us… He was taken a little way away and finished off right there…”. Patel also admitted that Chief Minister Modi perverted justice to get him released from jail: “Narendrabhai [Modi] got me out of jail… He kept on changing judges… He set it up so as to ensure my release…”. Modi allegedly enforced a change of judges three times until the ‘right’ one was found: “Next he posted a judge named Akshay Mehta… He never even looked at the file or anything… He just said [bail was] granted… And we were all out… We were free…For this, I believe in God… We are ready to die for Hindutva…”32.
Suresh Richard also gave evidence of police complicity: “The police were with us…I can tell you so myself even now […] That day was great… They were shooting right in front of us… They must have killed 70 or 80 or more… didn’t even spare women…”. Richard also claims that the police informed the rioters of Muslims hiding in a sewer: “…That was when the police called us… They said some Muslims were hiding in this sewer […] we closed the lid and weighted it down with big boulders… Later, they found eight or ten corpses in there…”. Crucially, Richard alleges on tape that Chief Minister Modi arrived on the evening of the riots at Naroda, where 200 people had been “butchered and burnt” to ‘bless’ the rioters: “…around 7.15, our Modibhai [Modi] came… Right here, outside the house […] He went around to all the places… He said our tribe was blessed… He said our mothers were blessed [for bearing us]…” Babu Patel corroborated that Modi visited and encouraged the rioters: “Narendrabhai [Modi] had come to see that things didn’t stop the next day… He went all around Ahmedabad, to all the places where the miyas [Muslims] were, to the Hindu areas… told people they’d done well and should do more…”33.
The VHP’s Ahmedabad president, Rajendra Vyas, corroborated allegations that Modi tacitly approved the riots: “…he gave us a free run to do whatever we wanted […] the police was with us… Please understand what I’m trying to say — the police was on our side…”. Haresh Bhatt, a BJP member of the legislative assembly for Ghodra, confirmed a widely held suspicion that Modi allowed the rioters a fixed period to take their revenge: “He had given us three days…to do whatever we could. He said he would not give us time after that… He said this openly…” Ramesh Dave of the VHP also stated that Modi, enraged by the Ghodra massacre, ensured that the cadres could unleash their ‘revenge’ without undue restraint from the already communalised police: “…He was in a rage… He’s been with the Sangh from childhood… His anger was such… he didn’t come out into the open then but the police machinery was turned totally ineffective […] the police were very helpful… very helpful […] because, after all, what were the police? … The police were Hindu too”34.
The Tehelka operation substantiates, with self-confessions comprising crucial evidence, what was revealed by a host of media reports – the investigations of Communalism Combat; the Concerned Citizens Tribunal report; the Human Rights Watch report; and the National Human Rights Commission – before and after the genocide. Teesta Setalvad of Communalism Combat is one of India’s most trenchant critics of Communalism. She believes that what the spycam tapes “blatantly revealed” could have been exposed as early as 2003, “…if the trials that have been stayed since November 2003 had been re-investigated, transferred and prosecuted. If the deliverance of justice had been speedy and fair. If the courts had responded to the victims’ plea for justice and not succumbed to the state’s efforts at delay and digression”35.
The Sangh Parivar, however, were well prepared for the battle to subvert legal processes after the genocide. Dhimant Bhatt and Deepak Shah, members of the BJP, told Tehelka that key members of the Sangh Parivar – including the BJP, VHP, Bajrang Dal, and RSS – met on the night of the Ghodra incident to make a plan of action for retaliation and to constitute a panel of advocates to defend the rioters. Narendra Patel and Mohan Patel of the RSS told Tehelka that after the riots the RSS had formed a body to provide legal aid to Hindu rioters. The VHP ensured that lawyers with sympathy to the VHP represented both the prosecution and the defence in many cases involving the rioters. The VHP general secretary of Gujarat, Dilip Trivedi, also admitted to Tehelka that he had organised the Sangh Parivar response to all the riot cases in Gujarat, “…from coordinating with government lawyers and defence advocates to talking to cops who were reinvestigating the riot cases”. Everybody knew, he boasted, that after the riots, he had camped in every district holding meetings with government prosecutors, his own workers and police officers36.
The Gujarat Advocate General, Arvind Pandya, also made a series of astonishing revelations to Tehelka. Pandya has been selected to represent Modi’s Gujarat government before the Nanavati-Shah investigative Commission. In the Tehelka report Pandya claims that Modi had given oral instructions to the police to “be with Hindus”. That had it not been for Modi the Hindutva mobs could not have taken their “revenge” for the Godhra killings. That had there been a non-BJP government in power in 2002 the riots would never have happened. Pandya himself said that the mass killing of Muslims in Gujarat should be celebrated every year as “victory day”, and that crippling Muslims was better than killing them, as a crippled Muslim would also serve as a “living advertisement” of what Hindus were capable of. For Pandya, having a “Hindu-based” government at the time of the riots was a “happy coincidence”; “The people were ready and the state was ready”, he told the reporter37.
How much more evidence is required to oust the BJP government in Gujarat and imprison the parties guilty of murder, one might ask? The Gujarat electorate again answered this question with a comprehensive turnout for Modi in the December elections of 2007, re-installing the BJP government, and Narendra Modi as the Chief Minister for his third term, with 117 seats out of a possible 182.

Congress Demise and Hindutva Hegemony

That Narendra Modi and the Hindutva right have been returned to power for the third time is a severe indictment of the political system and rule of law in India. Many have pointed the finger at the Congress for its ineptitude, lack of coherent policies, and moral surrender in facing the challenge of Hindu fundamentalism. Radhika Desai, researcher and writer, argues that while the Congress, the traditional party of the poor in India, have played vote-bank regionalist politics, pandering to shifting constituencies according to exigency, the Hindu right has successfully consolidated a middle caste and upper middle-class/caste constituency in Gujarat and elsewhere in India. Hindutva, according to Desai, performs a “major service” to the Gujarati propertied classes by increasing violent competition with the Muslim bourgeoisie of the state: “Among the 9% Muslims of Gujarat, there is also a large bourgeoisie and riots provide plum opportunities to settle business scores”38. She also notes how sectarian ruptures in the new ‘religious borders’ have reconfigured Gujarat’s urban geography, through riots, “…with blatant connections to real estate transactions”. Muslims, who no longer felt safe after the riots, left behind property and position “…to be grabbed by those who feel secure in current conditions”39.
For Desai, one of the major political tragedies in India is that the lower classes and castes with the deepest investment in secularism and egalitarian economic development “…have only ever been offered populist and opportunistic forms of political mobilisation”. Indira Ghandi’s 1970’s re-institutionalisation of the Indian National Congress (INC) towards spectacular, nominally welfarist and populist sloganeering, and the failure of her Garibi Hatao (Abolish Poverty) campaign to alleviate inequality has led to a middle-class alienated from the Congress, and a crisis of faith in the Congress among the poorer parts of the electorate. The Indian National Congress, “evading its vocation” as a party of the poor, an always fragile position given their faustian pact with industrial and rural elites in the nationalist independence project, has become nothing more than a “protest vote repository” trading on the reputation of its more progressive founders, while providing little or no hope for an impoverished multitude. The failure of the Congress-led coalition central government to take the legal action within its power on Gujarat, underscores its vacillating fear of losing the ‘Hindu vote’ and deeply undermines its credibility as a secular force40.
While the Left dithers the poor suffer. In stark contrast to the neo-liberal rhetoric of ‘Shining India’ and ‘Vibrant Gujarat’, the poverty and inequality statistics in India are devastating. A Frontline magazine report by Parful Bidwai declares that: “…income and wealth inequalities are rising alarmingly in India”. The statistics beggar belief. The 77% of the Indian population on less than half a dollar a day translates into 840 million citizens. In the global hunger index India ranks 94, way below China, and lower even than the basket case of Pakistan. Almost one half of India’s children are malnourished and underweight. A recent analysis of ‘Patterns of Wealth Disparities in India during the Liberalisation Era’ (Economic and Political Weekly, September 22nd, 2007) shows that there was: “…a perceptible (and probably underestimated) increase in inter-personal wealth inequality in India between 1991 and 2002”. In the same period, the top ten per cent of the population increased its overall share of the national wealth to 52 per cent, while the share of the bottom fell to 0.21 per cent. 100,000 HNIs (high net-worth individuals with assets over $1 million) now hold $350 billion in assets, or approximately half of India’s entire gross domestic product. Patwant Singh, author of The Second Partition: Fault Lines in India’s Democracy, sums up: “…Several hundred million have been left to starve…while the country’s new urban rich, indifferent to – if not contemptuous of – their luckless fellow countrymen – coarsely flaunt their new found wealth”41.
Narendra Modi and the BJP government in Gujarat have consistently pointed to Gujarat’s apparently healthy economic status as proof of their administrative success, but disavowal is again the major alibi. Shivam Vij points out that Narendra Modi has consistently swelled Gujarat’s growth rates to 12% in public declarations, while the real figure, according to his own government’s statistics is nearer 8%. To achieve this figure, Gujarat’s debt burden has detonated; the state is now: “…one of the highest indebted states in the country”42. Farmers are reeling from the debt. In the year 2006-2007 alone, 148 farmers were driven to suicide. Gujarat has also taken a nationwide lead in privatising health infrastructure. In the 6-35 month age group, 80.1% of all children suffer from anaemia. In ‘Vibrant Gujarat’ though, poverty doesn’t exist. In order to mask its real extent the Gujarat government has expediently re-adjusted poverty lines. The generally accepted international figure is a measly $1 dollar a day. The Gujarat government, however, has deemed that urban dwellers on more than $0.45 dollars a day are no longer poor. Village dwellers fare even worse with a rate of $0.30 dollars a day deemed a satisfactory figure. The impact on the ‘re-adjusted’ is severe. Those gerrymandered above the poverty line now receive no benefits from poverty alleviation and development programmes43.
This is the punitive, polarised, neo-liberal economic context in which Hindutva has emerged. Radhika Desai argues that neo-liberalism can find within its own operations no “adequate hegemonic ideology” to mask such ferocious social fissures. She places the emergence of Hindutva alongside the growth of New Right, neo-conservative discourses which emerged under Reaganism and Thatcherism in the ’80s. For Desai, Hindutva, like neo-conservatism, is the, “…counterfeit answer to the accelerating universalism of capitalism, which it supports and promotes”44. Hindutva, as a culturalist discourse, provides the means to mask the savage material realities wrought by economic liberalism under an increasingly authoritarian capitalist class. Emerging as a keen neo-liberal alibi, Hindutva successfully transmogrifies rage and resentment borne of inequality and poverty into spiritual reflection and partisan identity politics. Meanwhile it provides a ‘ready-made’ scapegoat in the form of a demonised Muslim ‘Other’.
The success of Hindutva, however, transcends the mobilisation of the disaffected masses. The stabilization of the Hindutva vote amongst India’s “…richest, most educated and socially elevated sections has, in recent years, become fully clear”45. Hindutva features all that this powerful class could wish for: “Neo-liberal economic policies, Hindu assertion, [and] the full range of stances towards Muslims and others with the capacity to disturb their comfortable position by demanding their rights”46. For Desai, the hegemonic influence of particularist cultural discourses overlaying and obscuring the murderous edges of ‘integrated world capitalism’ represents: “the ingenious reality of the right today”. Hindutva, both supplementing and obfuscating neo-liberalism, epitomises this tendency in its own particular form. The failure of the Congress to represent the needs of the labouring poor and sub-alterns, and the concomitant failure of the new social movements, to find an adequate hegemonic replacement, has, for the moment, opened up the ground for the religious right.

4000 Baloch inducted in Pakistan Army

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UoTjD7ieo0A]

The Baloch should have a bigger role in the Pakistan army and have a larger role in containing the insurgency in Balochistan. We need more recruitment both in Sindh and Balochistan.

Fernaz.

Zaid Hamid on Blast in Darra AdamKhel

This is a video of Zaid Hamid explaini ng the situation in Pakistan. I support Zaid Hamid on many things and that there foreign interference in our country and the quistion that how the Taliban are surviving year after year even when operations are being done against them. However I disagree on some things.

1) One that Afghan taliban are very noble and should rule in Afghanistan. I believe more Nationalist Afghan Govt in the country that is hostile to the occupying forces is a much better solution. Taliban are unreliable and if we can’t tolerate their evil laws we can’t have it for the Afghans though I do agree under them the situation for Pakistanis was little better. However remember the Taliban in afghanistan kill innocent afghans too, ban womans education and very bad for development because they kill Shias and any other person who oppose them. It is better to have a Nationalistic government in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

2) Two islamic Shariah law should be imposed in Pakistan. We ourselves can’t live with that anymore. We need Nationalist government.

I also don’t like war mongering. Its just better for him not to give ideas about what we should and shouldn’t do but I like his knowledge of history and the information of Islam he has. Also its good to hear a voice with a different thinking than what western media wants to bombard us.

Salman Niazi

Liberal Fanaticism in Pakistan

Destroying Pakistan in the name of liberalism

By Havi Zayed

It is the duty of every Pakistani to point out the wrongs and issues in Pakistani society and accept them because only by accepting our problems we can address them. It is also our duty to address these wrongs and ensure that these issues in our society are eliminated for a bright future for our Nation. Unfortunately several people in Pakistan have started using this as a tool to bring the Nation to its knees. They hide under the guise of intellectuals, thinkers, scholars or social workers in order to fling dirt on Pakistan. There is no solution being pointed out. Just mud slinging aimed at Pakistan without proof. Such elements were the most active during the Mumbai Attacks. Article after Anti Pakistani article went up as Nationalists watched in horror how their country and people were blamed even while the attacks were taking place. The versions of news varied so much and were filled with so many discrepancies that it seemed almost foolish to admit the attackers were from Pakistan.

It is understandable that the Indian terrorist elements, propaganda artists, American Neo Cons and other fifth columnists and their fellow Pakistan hating class often find the time to fling dirt at Pakistan and blame the country for all their ills and issues but it is absolutely another when certain Pakistanis themselves display hatred for their own Nation and try to dismember it.

Unfortunately certain individuals who eat and sleep in Pakistan have a false assumption that whatever case it is taking an Anti Pakistani stance will make them seem progressive and enlightened. These people pride themselves over tarnishing the image of the country and taking an Anti Pakistani stand thinking that they will be seen as liberal and knowledgeable as a result.

Where on one hand we are cursed with the presence of gun totting terrorists who want to impose their version of Islam at the cost of much human life we are also cursed with the presence of such people. These people instead of using the gun use filth from their mouth as their gun and the filth from their pens as daggers to spread dirt internationally which costs Pakistan dearly in the International Arena.

The propaganda that certain people living within the borders of Pakistan and calling themselves Pakistani can engage in is surprising.

Has our media become infested with such individuals?

Where we would imagine the media would ignore such elements it has become a hub for these people. Dawn News and GEO have given themselves up to such elements completely.

Nadeem F Paracha for instance has become the mouthpiece of Dawn. He is known as a cultural critic but is more famous for his Pakistan bashing lately and his writing style uses a mix of satire and mock journalism to bash individuals who he disagrees with. It is surprising that this immature individual has been provided a voice in one of our largest newspapers but this is not the only case where a few individuals acting as highly educated professionals can attack National Interest.

Ayesha Siddiqa the controversial writer of Military Inc has gone a step further and calls the founding father of the country and the National poet a “homosexual” in a conversation with Subroto Roy on Facebook. The woman is known to be very critical of the founding fathers of the Nation. Unfortunately this same “intellectual” is a teacher in the Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad one of the largest institutions in Islamabad but is not the only such “intellectual” who is found in Pakistan today.

The message this gives the younger generation is increasingly worrying. When our elders have no hope in Pakistan and have no respect for our founders what is the chance that we the coming generation are expected to maintain faith in our country and do anything good for it?

The Problem: Are liberals really liberals?

Terrorism has divided Pakistan into two different groups. Either we see people who completely support the Pakistani Taliban, other terrorist fronts or are unwilling to condemn terrorists the way they are supposed to be condemned while on the other hand we have people who think of themselves as liberals and activists but are actually simply flinging dirt at their own Nation believing it would make them appear broad minded and liberal.

Today it amounts to taking a stand at the cost of forgetting one’s own identity. Anyone willing to take a path that is against their own mindset is an ignorant person according to them.

This fanaticism on both sides has turned into a worrisome issue. Anything that takes up a principle that is out of line from the mainstream media or questions aspects of American or Indian behaviour is basically rubbished by them as a conspiracy theory. On the other hand they play a hand in the reports of ISI being a dangerous rogue intelligence agency while the nuclear weapons of Pakistan are at risk. They are in fact in the frontline when it comes to such baseless reports. The military is their other enemy which is now the focus of much speculation.

It is unfortunate that many Pakistanis still have to understand that calling every other person who does not agree with them and seeks to refute the International media’s claims a conspiracy theorist or an illusionist does not make them modern or progressive. They don’t realise that it makes them seem as ignorant as the Taliban. That is the Taliban without the drive of any ideology. These people seem to believe in nothing. They bash Pakistan because the World does so. They believe Pakistan’s nuclear weapons may fall into terrorist hands because certain media outlets seek sensationalism and say so. They believe the ISI and Military are dangerous organizations on the verge of destroying Pakistan because that is what some media outlets portray. The fact is these individuals are incapable of thinking for themselves and of questioning why?

Personally I have lived outside Pakistan my entire life with only some of my time spent in Pakistan but I simply find the behaviour and claims of these individuals worrying at best rather than to be a representation of an evolved mindset. If they cannot stand to defend the interests of their own Nation then what will they stand for? When such learned individuals have no belief in Pakistan and miss no opportunity at bashing their country hiding under the cloak of “modernism” then what are we the coming generation expected to do?

Can we ever put our own interests first?

No doubt the terrorists are a major threat to Pakistan but is it not our duty to verify who is supporting them? They can continue calling us propaganda artists or conspiracy theorists but the fact remains there are major issues on which our theories are based. There are huge question marks over the way USA has waged this war and has released terrorist commanders. There are major question marks over the constant blame we have heard from India.

When on one hand we cannot have terrorists telling us what we should do we can also not have the Americans who sponsored them in the first place and killed Millions of people across the World for their own petty goals dictating our future as their toy soldiers.

The response of these people will always be “ISI and Pakistan’s military sponsored terrorism all along” but they should be reminded that when Zia did not want to join this war it was an American team that came and convinced him to wage war in Afghanistan. It was the USA that armed these same terrorists and sent billions of dollars to Pakistan for them to be armed. Estimates over the amount of money transferred by the USA to the terrorist organizations vary from 15 Billion to 25 Billion. We cannot continue taking the blame on ourselves and stifling every voice that thinks differently. It is clear that Pakistan was used at that time and when the war was over we were abandoned.

This is analogous to the situation we are faced with today. If we call the actions of the 1980’s a mistake then is it not a mistake to bow before Americans again knowing that they have abandoned us in the past? We cannot be hypocrites and take only one side of the story.

The Taliban and Al Qaeda are no doubt sworn enemies of Pakistan and hatred for them only increases with every bombing and every bullet they fire. So much so that if Pakistanis had a choice they would be lynched and their bodies hung across a huge picket line all the way from Chitral in the north to Karachi in the south.

However we must also remember the crimes of USA against the Pakistani state. If we could not trust them in the past the last thing we can do is trust them now or we will simply be repeating mistakes. We must also understand that a Nation that we have fought 3 wars with is definitely not a well wisher. No doubt there is a thirst for both peace and an end to hostilities on both sides but this should not blind us to such an extent that we forget that our National Interest is what comes first.

Every nation looks after its interests and its people display a semblance of patriotism in difficult times instead of trying to focus on bashing their country for their own interests.

So the question is why are Pakistanis sacrificing their National Interest and why are the so called intellectuals trying to misdirect us and trying to ensure that we lose faith in Pakistan? Why do such “intellectuals” even hold a sway on Pakistani society and why is legal action not taken against them when they insult the very founding fathers of the country and the principles we hold dear?

Aren’t the USA and the terrorists two sides of the same coin?

Although many Americans have a great hatred for their government’s lifelong allies the Al Qaeda and Taliban the policies of the two groups are very similar. The violence and bloodshed they are both capable of in order to complete their objectives and strategic interests are starkly similar.

When considering the Taliban was formed by the CIA and trained in causing maximum bloodshed including car bombings and assassinations it isn’t hard to understand where their barbarism actually comes from.

While one side may see itself as highly civilized the barbarism they represent is starkly similar to the Taliban. The terrorists are well known to use immense brutality against innocent civilians and non combatants without regard for humanity. In fact the brutality of the Taliban and the ideal of massacring all who come in their way or even those who don’t is very similar to the use of force USA uses against its enemies. The same recklessness is seen in the Taliban who massacre Afghan and Pakistani civilians in the name of the War against the occupying forces or even worse “The war for Islam”

However it must be noted being more technologically advanced the USA has managed to get much further ahead in terms of genocide of civilians and is the only Nation in the World that has used nuclear weapons. The Atom bombs used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki which killed over 220,000 people stand as a clear example of how much violence the Nation can use and how many innocents can be slaughtered for the USA to complete its goals and objectives. When Michael Walzer suggested that the attack was War terrorism and genocide a typical “proud” American Robert Newman came in to defend the bombings that destroyed thousands of lives. Perhaps then the Americans would have celebrated the 9/11 attacks in the same way claiming it was a “necessity” like the murder of 220,000 civilians in Japan.

Furthermore who in the World made the same irresponsible Nation that took part in the murder of over 3.5 Million civilians in Vietnam because it could not accept the will of the Vietnamese people? Who made the Nation that used nuclear weapons to bring a painful death to 220,000 civilians simply for the survival of 10,000-30,000 of its own soldiers the upholder of World Peace? Can that same Nation even squeak about Iran, Pakistan or North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons?

It is hard to understand who is a worse enemy of humanity. A terrorist country that bombs innocent’s, massacres Millions in their own homeland and then uses its monetary power and influence to bully the rest of the Nations of the World into submission or use the terrorist organizations that fall into the trap and allow themselves to get used by the United States.

Is there an end?

In the end who suffers? Not the USA but people within those countries where they interfere. It is painful to see that day after day Afghans, Iraqis and Pakistanis are falling prey to American foreign policy that once created the terrorists used them for their own gains and abandoned them to be cleared out by the local people.

The ideal of the USA to purposely incite and enrage the Islamic World by continuously supporting Israel and showing great discrimination towards Islamic states and interfering in their affairs is to incite terrorism. With increasing rage and frustration against American double sided policies towards Muslims the rage will only increase and the ranks of the terrorists will increase. The process is never ending and the local population will continue suffering until one side relents.

The terrorists will continue using the excuse of foreign occupation and their atrocities to recruit new members to wage their pathetic war while the US will continue waging a war that is hurting the Nations they are occupying rather than helping them in the name of a war that has no end.

Who Suffers?

To bring World peace USA’s support for terrorism needs to end completely and its policies need a huge shift.

USA must stop using the Taliban to fulfill its strategic goals in the region and adopt a policy of letting other Nations live peacefully without interference in their affairs or sponsoring insurgencies in their land as an excuse to occupy it. The CIA specially needs to be curbed.

Perhaps the only way to bring back the American name it is sensible they should adopt an isolationist policy and stop scaring their own people into believing that terrorists are about to blow them up or if they don’t interfere in Afghanistan or Iraq everyday will be a 9/11. Those from the lands where this insurgency is being waged can very clearly say this is completely false. The victims of this war are our people who have taken more losses than America. Afghan, Iraqi and recently even Pakistani causalities have crossed American causalities including those in the 9/11 Attacks. Therefore the United States must stop victimizing itself. Even if it is the victim it has made others a victim of its own policies.

The fact that the USA is hated worldwide speaks a great deal about who is seen as the aggressor today. There is no use denying it even if it is out of courtesy. We have been too courteous to the United States because its actions only call for us to treat it as a rogue selfish state that has made a mess of the World we live in now.

The immense dislike of the US does not come from support for the Taliban. It comes from US double standards and policies over the years. Until the United States understands the World and stops interfering in World Affairs where it has no business it will continue being seen as an evil and ignorant Nation.

This ignorance is where the terrorists draw their support from. And their victims are the Pakistanis and Afghans because they are the ones who are now in a precarious position right in the middle of the two.

A befitting response to Nadeem F Paracha

A Befitting Response to Nadeem F Paracha.

While the Pakistani Nation is cursed with the presence of terrorists and murderers who want to impose their mindset on to others and enforce their twisted understanding of Islam on us by the sword we are also cursed with the presence of people who have an interest in purposely putting Pakistan down.

Any reference to a foreign link to the militants for them means the person is a conspiracy theorist and it matters little what proof the person has to give. Do the Indians deliberate so much when they are told that our government is spreading terrorism within their borders? The fact is several people who pose as neo liberals have an interest in isolating and destroying Pakistan.

True religion should be a personal matter and so should the beliefs of the person. However hatred for the murderous Taliban and Al Qaeda has now reached such a fever pitch that these unfortunate individuals would do nothing rather than hate them and slander people who would claim there is more to these thugs and murderers than just this.

It is not understandable why they would rather believe what USA says as true or India says than their own countries version of events? Our Army Chief, Rehman Malik and Shah Mahmood Quraishi themselves have made claims about Talibans link to Indian intelligence. Do we see the Indians deliberating so much when told that all their problems stem from Pakistan?

It may be true that the media has a major role in bringing forward the problems and the issues of the Nation which is necessary because by accepting our issues we can address them. However on the other hand the media also has a role in defaming and destroying the morale of the Nation and ignoring certain aspects of a situation to paint a picture the it prefers to show to the public. We all know that in the 1980’s we made a mistake by supporting the Taliban but who was supporting Zia at that time? If it was a mistake to interfere in Afghanistan then was it not a mistake to do so now? True we should never have let terrorists breed in our country in the first place but are we the only ones to blame and will we keep taking the blame for being used by superpowers and being pushed around on ourselves?

A person who regrettably represents a very Anti Pakistani line of thinking is Nadeem F Paracha. It may be true that religion must be kept separate from the state. No one denies this but the madness that is becoming a norm in his articles putting the blame on the country is unfortunate. This is a link to his latest article:

http://blog.dawn.com/2009/11/12/a-nation-of-sleepwalkers/

I went through the article and thought a response was necessary. This is my befitting response to madmen like these who represent neo liberal facism and contribute to the media campaign against Pakistan that is now becoming a headache for the nation when we already on one hand have murderers such as the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

The Response

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Nadeem what should we do? Commit suicide? How should we display our anger at the Taliban? Tear our hair and scream?

To speak the truth if we had the choice we would tear the Taliban apart, torture them in the streets and hang their bodies in the street corners for the murder and brutality they have brought to our land. These creatures are unworthy of life.

But the fact is there is terrorism on both sides. While they represent murder and suicide bombing you represent another form of bigotism spawned from hatred for the murder these animals have brought to our land.

Basically we are being locked up into a little box where we are simply supposed to believe the stand the international media takes and say no more as anything other than it is classified as a “conspiracy theory” even if our own military claims that RAW has a role in destabilising the Nation why should we believe it? Only the Indians have the right to believe that ISI is infiltrating terrorists and Mumbai terrorists were from Pakistan. We don’t have this right do we?

The question is did the CIA not pump 15 billion dollars in order to form the taliban and used them for their own interests to see a soviet defeat. Haven’t many Taliban commanders been released from US prisons and guantanamo bay only to come and massacre Pakistani civilians. Where did muslim khan spokesperson of ttp live? From where did the taliban gain so much money to spend $ 800 billion on weaponry and bomb making. Do you know how much money is required to procure material and make even a 2 kg bomb while the Taliban is using up to 2000 kilograms of explosives in blasts. Every talibani foot soldier is paid about $200 every month while a policeman is paid $80. Was’nt this article published in dawn itself? A suicide bombers family is paid $20000 while a policeman’s family is paid $6000 for his death.

I am sorry to say we refuse to be blinded in hatred that we stop thinking completely. Our theories are based on evidence we have been researching for years. I am also sorry that I don’t feel it is sensible to blame ISI for everything. ISI and the military have been used. In fact the entire nation has been used and & abandoned in the past. This is a repeat of the 1980’s.

As for the people celebrating these articles I don’t have much to say. Conduct some research of your own. We take responsibility for too much.

Neo liberal terrorism is becoming as much a problem as are the Taliban. Hate the Taliban for their brutality yes but don’t be so blind that we just can’t come to believe that they can’t be supported by anyone else. After all the CIA did form them and use them against the Soviets just like they used Pakistan as a puppet country to fight the soviets and Afghanistan as a battleground where 4 million civilians died in the same Afghan-Soviet war.

GEO and Dawn are unlikely to give us a place on their channels and our voice is being silenced purposely. We don’t just open our mouths to shoot off without any proof or understanding of the situation. The articles we write are the work of several years of research.

If loving our country and standing in defence of our Nation is a crime I am a very proud criminal. Thank you Paracha.

Havi

Supreme Leader.

Pakistan Nationalist Association.

Are we not hypocrites when it comes to Pakistani Media?

Are we not hypocrites when it comes to Pakistani Media?

It was a normal Wednesday afternoon in Karachi and unlike our other days in Pakistan when there was always something to do there was very little to do that day. I had just taken off from my internship early and had decided to spend some time with my friends before heading home back to Defence.

So while everyone was sitting bored in the drawing room talking about stuff that barely concerned us it was decided that we’d check out what was on the television. While we were flying across the channels trying to find something useful that we could watch we came upon Play TV. We watched the channel for about 10 minutes but we stayed on the channel for this time only because I complained that I was going to Dubai and wouldn’t be able to see these music videos there. Unfortunately no one had any interest in any of these channels. First we watched a song called Sitara by Mizmaar. The discussion turned to how the Pakistani music could not compete with Indian music and was simply “useless.”

The next song however had a significant impact on a rather sinful lot of people. Dumbstruck, I gaped in alarm as a song by Sahar known as Bheega Mausam turned a rather unspiritual group of young people into religious zealots complaining that Pakistani musicians had “no shame”. I could barely find anything wrong with the song considering the fact that only a few minutes ago everyone was drooling on about Pamela Anderson and Salma Hayek.

Excuse to change the channel or not just 5 minutes later we were watching B4U music on the 24 inch tv screen where a group of women were dancing in a club sporting something that was close to a bikini with short skirts and a top that leaves little to the imagination.  No member of our group either male or female had any qualms watching and the air was filled with appreciation about the way Kareena Kapoor danced and her “sweet relationship” with Shahid Kapoor. Since we had women amongst us the discussion inevitably veered on to Shahid Kapoor, Shahrukh Khan, Kajol and Katrina Kaifs eyes, makeup and jewellery… that’s when I took my leave and said I’d be taking a bus and going home as people at my defence home would be waiting for me.

In any case being perplexed by this phenomenon I raised the point several times with my friends. One person seemed to have a very bizarre clarification of the behaviour that pervades our society. Unfortunately his explanation made me lose faith in the entire population of Pakistan when it came to supporting our own artists and music industry. His explanation for not listening to Pakistani music was “We all love girls dancing around and all that stuff but no one’s going to say it. That’s why we watch the Bollywood videos. But we are in a religious society. We can’t say that in public now can we? This isn’t Canada obviously”

I was completely dumbstruck by this explanation and I understood that the reference to Canada naturally was more about my being a student there for some time even though it had no connection to what I had just questioned. It also proved that there were certain bigots who believed that spending 6-9 months outside the country simply for the benefit of the Nation meant you weren’t a Pakistani which sufficiently managed to annoy me. This isn’t Canada simply meant to ask me “why would you actually care?”

But unfortunately this is just one example of the hypocrisy that pervades Pakistani society today. People are looking for reasons to ignore their own people and music industry. Other examples are even more extreme.

I had with the help of some backers once funded and hosted an event for Pakistani youth. I was sitting on the table discussing the penetration of Indian media in Pakistani society and its negative consequences with some of my friends. In that time a girl keen to introduce herself came up and soon joined our conversation. She agreed with most of what was being said and to conclude the conversation said she never watched Indian movies or their songs and disliked Bollywood because Pakistani movies and musicians were better

The reason she had come to our Pro Pakistani table was because she wanted favours from me. One was to get her on the stage as a model using my links with Yaseen Modelling Limited and the other was that she wanted to sing on stage. Bold girl you might say but unfortunately she didn’t really have the striking looks we associate with models. In any case we managed to become friends and I gave her the stage in my next event to sing and she did have a fine voice.

Then later on I noticed that she was going to watch a Bollywood movie and saw her with her friends discussing Indian movies. Gajini was the name of the movie she was discussing and when I questioned some of her friends if she just started watching they pointed out that this girl watched every Bollywood movie that came out. At that point I broke the friendship. When she called me the next time I told her I would have equally been her friend if she hadn’t lied to me and that also just in the hope of getting a few favours. I said our friendship could have lasted longer had she not had the impulse to lie. I told her I had Indian friends and many of my Pakistani friends did watch Indian movies and I never told them not to do so.

No doubt the fact that Nationalists were all across the table may have impacted her and made her want to fit in but that doesn’t mean one has to give up what he or she believes in?

The reason I broke my friendship is obviously not that she watched Indian movies but because of the fact that she lied and thought those lies would help her get a few favours and develop friendship with a person who could help her with her future career. This is sadly the way people see Pakistani Nationalists.

Can we blame the TV channels and artists for the videos we see today?

I have always been a believer of media freedom in all its forms and believe that everyone should be free to not just think but also watch or hear what he or she wants. But what surprises me is the hypocrisy prevalent in some sections of Pakistani society. The use of a fake display of piety as an excuse to avoid Pakistani videos and in other cases lies and putting another person down to present oneself as patriotic have become a useful way to avoid everything Pakistani and putting the game on one who questions the hypocrisy.

When on one hand people in Pakistan are often heard saying that Pakistani television is unwatchable these days as Pakistani channels are not portraying “our culture” the same people feel no shame watching Bollywood and English movies.

The question is don’t they simply ignore the fact that they themselves watch Indian movies and listen to Indian music. Don’t many of them watch English movies? What culture does all that show? In Pakistan Star Plus has the second highest viewership than any other channel. B4U music has a higher viewership in Pakistan than the total viewership of Pakistani Music channels combined!

Despite these channels having fewer restrictions on what type of “culture” they can show are they not being watched? Won’t artists be more inclined to produce videos that the general population seeks to watch?

Producing songs and music is a business after all. Would an artist keep producing videos that are completely ignored by the general public, neither give him fame and don’t even cover the massive production costs involved for one video? It is natural that several channels have changed the way they operate and today’s dramas and music videos by Pakistani artists have accommodated according to what Pakistanis are only too keen to watch on Indian channels.

Today the unfortunate phenomenon with Pakistani people is that we are seeking excuses to ignore our own industries. Nations are built when there are citizens within them willing to support their own people, industries and economy rather than trying to find all sorts of excuses to avoid them.

Being Pakistani is not simply about raising a flag on our roofs on the 14th of August. Neither is it about supporting our team in cricket matches. Those aspects are definitely part of it but that does not even cover half the picture. Until all of us Pakistanis resolve to change their attitudes and bring forward a society that cares starting with ourselves things in Pakistan will continue the way they are. As Pakistanis we must remember that this land is our responsibility and no one will fix it except us.