Last night, Pakistan’s south-eastern port metropolis of Karachi slept in darkness as authorities called a curfew due to Indian naval mobilisation in the Arabian Sea and the imminent threat that this represents. Likewise, India had spent roughly a 24 hour period mobilising tanks, heavy vehicles, weapons and aircraft near to crucial regions on the Pakistan border, as well as along the Line of Control in Indian occupied Kashmir. In order to protect innocent life from a potential surprise assault, Pakistan closed of all its airspace to civilian aircraft.
Not only have the events of the last several days appeared to be the beginning of what could potentially be a larger war than the one India and Pakistan fought in 1971, but because unlike in 1971, both countries are now nuclear powers, the danger of a nuclear war is something that at the very least, is a frightening theoretical possibility.
In order to realise the true danger of Narendra Modi’s India, international readers must first stop the false equivalency between India and Pakistan. Just because the countries were both formed in the same struggle against imperialism, does not mean that in the 21st century, the countries are equally mired in a post-colonial conflict. Likewise, the idea that it is impossible for a post-colonial state to harbour colonial ambitions of its own, is a dangerous assumption due to how very false such an assumption is.
The truth is that there is one clear aggressor and one clear victim in south Asia. There is one country whose ruling party dreams of conquering the other and there is another country that wants so much to live in peace, it has even largely forgotten the demand of occupied Kashmiris to hold a democratic plebiscite on self-determination as mandated by the United Nations in UNSC Resolution 47. There is one nation working with China, Russia and the United States to bring peace to Afghanistan and there is another nation that threatens to turn its own regions into sectarian bloodbaths. There is one nation whose political leader is a charismatic cricket and one nation ruled by a maniac of proportions not witnessed since the German takeover of Europe during the Hitler Reich. In each of these categories Pakistan is the dove and India is the proverbial war elephant in the room.
One must realise that India’s ruling BJP is not like a normal political party – especially not like one in a country aspiring to be a great world power. Like parties in countries facing civil war or some sort of resistance struggle, the BJP is intertwined with its militant wing RSS. And yet, who is it that the RSS is “resisting”? The answer is that it is resisting millions of Indian citizens whose only crime is to not subscribe to a militant, fascistic ideology which seeks to create a socio-economic hierarchy in modern India, in which religious high caste Hindus monopolise their rights and privileges at the expense of Muslims, Sikhs, Dalit Christians and even secular Indians of Hindu heritage.
Beyond this and even more frightening for the wider world, the RSS remains fixated on the concept of Akhand Bharat. Much like the Nazi theory of Lebensraum, Akhand Bharat is a theory that is intrinsic to the RSS and openly supported by many BJP politicians.
Akhand Bharat encourages India to conquer the sovereign states of Pakistan and Bangladesh whilst some versions of Akhand Bharat also call for the conquest of Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan, parts of Myanmar and parts of China. Far from being a fringe idea, Premier Modi himself has wrapped himself in the concept of Akhand Bharat just enough to placate his radical base, but just too little to arouse international condemnation. It goes without saying that if Akhand Bharat was realised, India would do to its colonial victims that which Japan and German did to the nations it conquered during the 1930s and 1940s.
And yet, last night’s mobilisation of Indian troops against Pakistan – totally without any legal justification, can be viewed in no other light than a violent pre-election stunt that clearly alludes to the horrors of Akhand Bharat. By whipping India into a jingoistic frenzy, the BJP and their millions of mass media supporters have pushed the world not only one step closer to war but one step closer to nuclear war. Even the allegedly respectable Times of India recently published a piece that was un-ironically titled “Pakistan Must be Destroyed!” It is impossible to imagine The China People’s Daily, New York Times, Times of London, Bild, Straits Times, Tass or any other major media outlet publishing a similar kind of piece.
For those who believe that such rhetoric is hyperbolic, one only needs to watch ultra-jingoistic news readers and so-called “debate moderators” who excoriate even moderately pro-government Indians as traitors if they seek anything less than Pakistan’s destruction. The combination of fake news and genuine feelings of aggression is the same lethal mixture of hatred and scapegoating that filled the propaganda films of Nazi Germany in the years before Hitler conquered all of Europe.
— SHAH 🚩 (@WarWounded__) February 27, 2019
Sadly, south Asian history is unknown to most Europeans and likewise, the history of Europe between the world wars is also not a major subject of study among many in south Asian schools. But to those who have studied both, there is little doubt that the saffron flag of the BJP is beginning to look like a nuclear armed version of the flags which flew over Nazi bases and death cams built throughout Europe in the first half of the 20th century.
Of course, before the Second World War, Hitler presented his international image as that of an economic reformer, a champion of indigenous people who previously got a bad deal, a modern leader destined to fix a corrupt system and a man who did not have ambitions against neighbouring states. Whilst Hitler tried to convince the world, including the United States, Soviet Union and British Empire, of his mild manner, at home, violence committed against political opponent and social minorities became ever more intense and soon this violence was exported to neighbouring states and then to all of Europe in the form of military conquest.
Therefore, when one heard reports of Indian ships sailing towards Karachi, one knew that unless outside diplomatic forces intervened, blood spilt in the name of Akhand Bharat would be on the horizon.
This is also why Pakistan’s Army should be thought of in the wider world as being the only thing which stands between Akhand Bharat on the one hand and regional peace on the other. Of all the states named as places ripe for conquest in Akhand Bharat propaganda, Pakistan is the one with the strongest military. As such, Pakistan is a bulwark against the kinds of aggression promulgated by the BJP, RSS and their other far right political and paramilitary allies. If Pakistan were to fall, many other nations would follow.
The solution is for India’s trading partners and the international community as a whole to call for restraint. Turkey was the first nation to do so and then Donald Trump revealed that he played a part in at least temporarily de-escalating the situation. Likewise, Saudi Arabia dispatched its Foreign Minister to New Delhi in a clear attempt to promote de-escalation. It may well be that China and Russia also played a role in forcing Modi to call off the dogs of war, at least for a while.
And thus, one realises the reality of the present situation. The nations listed above often disagree with one another but ultimately, these other countries are normal countries. India under Modi cannot be called a normal nation, any more than Germany was in the 1930s or that Democratic Kampuchea was in the 1970s.
Soon it must be up to Indians themselves to use the power of protest, democratic advocacy and in the case of the military, a mass refusal to obey illegal orders (inline with the precedent set at the Nuremberg trials), in order for India to take its rightful place at the peaceful table of normal nations in the international community. Such an event however, will not happen so long as those outside of Asia view India and Pakistan as countries that “just happen to have a dispute”. The reality is far more severe: India and Pakistan do not have a dispute, Pakistan is instead a victim of the kind of desired mega-aggression that the world has not seen since 1945.
Modi’s soft spoken performances before non-Indian audiences continues to deceive some as to his true intentions, but as the old aphorism goes:
“The loveliest trick of the Devil is to persuade you that he does not exist”.