As the governments of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh take hesitant half-steps towards complete normalization are the leaders of these nations aware of how the strife torn Middle-East nations are eying them?
|It is of course neither practical nor desirable that the countries of undivided India reunite. But it is both feasible and necessary that the walls of suspicion and hostility that divide them are broken down.
It has been repeatedly pointed out in these columns that India, Pakistan and Bangladesh have the potential to convert South Asia into the role model for other regions as the world moves towards a new global order. The creation of a South Asian Union having joint defence, common market and free movement of people and goods has been repeatedly advocated as a feasible proposition to undo the spirit of the Partition without compromising the sovereignty of SAARC member nations.
America and the rest of the western world cannot play the desired role to defuse the crises erupting in the countries of the Middle East. India and its immediate neighbours can. This truth was spectacularly vindicated to an Indian delegation of journalists who recently visited Syria. When some of them met with the Grand Mufti of Syria, Ahmad Badr Al-Din, they were startled by his remarks. Mr. Prakash Nanda, Editor of Uday India weekly, reproduced verbatim what the Mufti said. His remarks were stunning.
The Mufti said:
“Some vested interests are trying to replicate in Syria the terrible experiment that they undertook in India. They committed the greatest crime in India by dividing the country. I do not think that the people of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are different; they are one. Had they remained one, India would have emerged as the greatest global power. In fact, they divided India to prevent its emergence as the greatest power. That is why I openly tell the Pakistanis and Bangladeshis when they come to meet me that they must reconsider their divisions and reunite with India…. After all, I am not Mufti of only the Sunnis or the Assad regime. I am Mufti of Syria… Like they arm Pakistan to fight India, they are arming a section of our countrymen to fight against other sections… They want to make Syria an Islamic state. They want to partition Syria. I will not allow that to happen.”
It is of course neither practical nor desirable that the countries of undivided India reunite. But it is both feasible and necessary that the walls of suspicion and hostility that divide them are broken down. It is not only the common people of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh who yearn for the revival of cultural nationalism in South Asia destroyed by petty politicians. Many parts of the world in ferment are watching us. Are the leaders of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh listening?