Quest for Peace

One may not believe in the ideology of historical materialism, but the dialectics of historical process is not difficult to comprehend. Eric Hobsbawm, one of the best historians of the previous century classified 1948 to 1974, as the golden years of the twentieth century. Since then we have not seen a single year when it could be said to be a relieving phase of history. The rise of Islamic revolution in Iran, to counter it other religious movements, equally strong spreading in our sub-continental Muslim societies, and then the waves of migrations towards the western countries, all have created imagined nationalism standpoints, which created problem for multicultural societies. It has been good bye to regenerative politics of welfare society in the world. It was a departure from the old  social movements for creating access to power and resources. The close of century ushered globalization with free flow of goods, ideas and money, but with discretions in the mobility of humans. Its impact was that the new social political consciousness was a mixed baggage of identity and genealogy .It was retreat in history, primordial in nature to create new binaries of self and the other. It weaved into the camouflage of new social movements, like environmental, child labor, gender discrimination and human rights movements to get legitimacy to the notions of Order making. The new social movements are global in nature claiming to be concerned about common heritage and future, in fact are divisive and conflict generating movements in democratic plural nation-states. This is the inherent contradiction of the new social movements, unlike the old movements; these are not dissent movements against economic deprivation and poverty, but pressurizing movements to accept the global conditionality of neoliberal policies. Internationally, these movements help trade controlling movements and within the nation states these are generating cult leadership on identity bubble. Consequently, the leadership of the countries emerges out of the assembling genealogical threads on identity plank. Since it has to win over sentiments of discourse; it is based on the populist perceptions of imagined majority. It has given the ruling leadership an element of narcissism. Since economics is out of rails, the discourse is on issues that can divert the attention from the basic concerns of hunger, health and education. Since, there is  no fervor over the thinning of the basic requirements; the absence of dissent assures the leadership that it is indispensable.  The countries, which have representative elected members, think of changing to the presidential form of governments and those who were already having presidential form have made their tenure lifelong. We have such examples across the regions all over the world. This precisely has made world leaders all the time vulnerable, worried about how to remain in power, suppressing dissent and creating the other of the religion or the other of the nation. The stage is thus set, where power comes from using majority sentiments with divisiveness, the sufferer are the multitudes, which are economically marginalized and are unable to be functional in this market rationale consumer society. Life finishing mechanisms have gained currency over the life giving process. It is nobody’s triumph but loss of every one, irrespective of religion and nationality.

The tragedy is when states are compelled by economic derailment and external belligerences; the discourses on media change to trivialities. This is post truth times, a new normal. The televising talk shows, debates and print media articles remain seducing with sensationalism. Despite its saturation, state seems to be falling on media falsification. To flow with the current might be politically correct,  but to be accountable to the sensitive issues of life and life chances is to work for sustainable future. Dissent gives space to diverse viewpoints. The state policies can think over the dissenting voices, rather than putting it in a binary of self and the other. It is a survival of one and all or death in pieces and patches. The choice of topics, the selection of speakers and the write up preferences should reflect the objective truth, how much relative it might be. It is finally life to humanity. During the eighties and the nineties of the previous century, the end of ideologies and the power balance of bipolarity collapsed, the region also witnessed the emergence of the religious nationalism. It posed a huge challenge to the secular and evolved fabric of nation the states, instead of gluing it. The end of the ideologies with the disintegration of Soviet Union had created space for religious revivalism of one sort or other giving rise to peripheral movements of de-centering mode, challenging the viability of pluralistic diverse nation states. Even then, the sane voices did not fade away. During those years, in Times of India, Giri Lal Jain and Sham Lal, similarly Cowasjee and Ayaz Amir in The Dawn, with their regular write-ups not only would try to brush off the dust from the blurred realities, but their cynicism as it would look, was insightful  premonition of the future. Had their voices been listened to, the sub continental politics would have been different. Pakistan would have not grown a puzzle of its identity crisis, but would have grown out of Asian microcosm Umma identity that many Islamic scholars foresee in the world to happen. And India would have lived with its evolving glorious pluralistic traditions, hassle free and rupture free. Pakistan is central for the peace of the region and for the prosperity of the people. If for the last seventy years its tested policy of bleed each other and construct the notions, which would be culturally and socially different did not materialize. Should we not change the paradigm? Hate India and to be different than India socially, politically and culturally has not made Pakistan attain parity with India or become superior to India. In fact it has emerged since 1953, a caged country without independent foreign policy. On one hand, it has been in client sate relationship with US previously and now with China, and on the other, its affiliation with the Arab countries is ‘Master-dependent’ relationship. In no case, its loss of dignity has developed the country in a linear progression. It is better to have regional peace paradigm that recognizes Pakistan as a dignified mini umma on Islam on south Asian form and India a pluralistic democratic nation-state, both living in intended peaceful atmosphere. Even India-China relationship in public sphere, people to people level can be very amicable and future looking, more cordial than Pakistan China relationship. Similarly India Pakistan public relationship is also strong at all levels.  We have polluted the mind sets of our people against each other to promote the game plans of big powers, presuming hating each other is the only option given to us since partition. China would go on giving irritants to India, so that power establishment in Pakistan and some people in the valley remain speculating all the time. We have done it over decades. Should we go on repeating it for another century, when we know the war is a final catastrophe, loss to all stake holders? This is not the way our people should behave. It is time to think of peace and prosperity after COVID-19 leaves us. A  time to have compassion, love and understanding, the moral core of our religions, rather than to mix it with political religion to prompt only political ideology of new brand. Quaid-e-Azam and the Father of the Nation knew it well. Why should not the visionary leadership of both the countries accept ground realities for better life chances and dignified lives of our unfortunate people? Let us give a try to the new paradigm of peace. It can happen if there is will in the ruling establishments of both the countries. That is called statesmanship.

Ashok Kaul, Professor, Department of Sociology, Banaras Hindu University