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Oppressed Hindus and Sikhs have a moral duty to fight back and seek justice: POK activist Amjad Ayub Mirza

Author and human rights activist Dr Amjad Ayub Mirza

Author and human rights activist Amjad Ayub Mirza, who hails from Mirpur in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), says that Hindus and Sikhs who have been persecuted outside India have a moral obligation to fight back and seek justice.  He also said that the powerful Pakistani army has been unable to control the Baloch armed rebels despite using helicopter gunships and ground forces.

In an exclusive interview to India Narrative, Mirza, who lives in exile in the UK fearing a threat to his life from Pakistani intelligence agencies, says that the current debate over Islam shows that the Hindus are seeking answers to Islamic invasions and destruction of temples, and contesting narrative to Islamophobia.

IN: Does Islamophobia actually exist?

I don't believe that there is Islamophobia in the world. On the contrary, India has suffered Islamic terrorism for almost 70 years now. The way to counter terrorism is to tell the world that Islamophobia is a convenient cover and a hoax. 

The reality is that the people being persecuted inside India and also outside the country are actually the Hindus. One has to ponder over the question – where did terrorism start from? Terrorism started from Pakistan. And this is the country which ironically also talks about Islamophobia.  

IN: How do you see the balance of power in Balochistan where there is a strong uprising against the Pakistani army? 

We have to look at Balochistan in the light of the progress of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as well as exploitation of its natural resources by the Pakistan military. Earlier, it was the Pakistani bureaucracy that was plundering Balochistan. Now China has joined in and is taking over and replacing Pakistan as the major exploiter of the province.

Balochistan will gain independence if Pakistan becomes unstable. This will happen because the Pakistani military will not be able to sustain its hold over the province. Even though there are several military operations going on in Balochistan with ground forces as well as air power to crush Baloch resistance, the military has made little headway against the Baloch rebels.

The world community must raise its voice in support of Balochistan, which was never a part of Pakistan. It's freedom is directly proportional to the support from the global community, therefore, the global community should support the Baloch people. It was on 27 March 1948 that Balochistan was forcibly annexed to Pakistan by military action. Currently, it is the fifth uprising going on in Balochistan to seek independence.

IN: What is your view about the two-nation theoryare Hindus and Muslims two separate nations?

Pakistan was made out of the two-nation theory, which said that Hindus and Muslims are two different nations. I think, to call a community a nation just on the basis of their religion is very communal and racist which leads to communal violence. A country that has come into being on the basis of communal violence and communal hate has taken upon itself the task to purify itself of any non-conformists and non-Muslims.

Therefore, every non-Muslim—a Hindu, Sikh or a Christian is basically living in defiance of the two-nation theory. So, if the Hindus or Sikhs or Christians are able to live in co-existence with the Muslims, then the whole idea of the two-nation theory falls apart. The simple point is why could the Muslims not live in harmony with the Hindus, the Christians and the Sikhs before the Partition of India?

IN: Why is the global community silent about the treatment of minorities in Pakistan?

I don't think the global community is silent over the treatment of minorities in Pakistan. People are raising their voices at UN sessions and even in the Parliaments in the UK and France. The only problem is that these voices are not being consolidated. Such voices are not being propagated by media channels. This gives a false impression that nobody is raising their voice.

IN: Why is there no outrage over the genocide of Kashmiri Hindus?

When communal riots engulfed India in 1947, Jammu and Kashmir was peaceful. In fact lots of Hindus and Sikhs came and took refuge in the state in places like Mirpur and Muzaffarabad. We Kashmiris did not know any such thing as communal violence. We were a peaceful state and people were not aware about communal violence.

Things changed after the Pakistani army and tribals attacked the independent state of Jammu and Kashmir on 22 October 1947. They made sure that they are going to clean the area of non-Muslims or "infidels". So right from Muzaffarabad to Baramulla, nearly 100,000 people of the Hindu and Sikh faiths were butchered. In my district of Mirpur alone, tens of thousands of Hindus and Sikhs were rounded up and butchered within days. Women were raped and kidnapped, even children were killed.

There is no outrage over the communal killings in Kashmir in 1947 because the world community has not been informed adequately about these atrocities. Like the holocaust, this information too needs to have a platform.

IN: Has the Indian continent witnessed the Hindu Persecution that many Hindus talk about now?

Someone has to delve into history and dig out the root cause of the animosity in South Asia and the root cause of Hindu persecution in the sub-continent. We notice that because of social media, because of the rise of Indian nationalism and the Babri mosque, the Hindu community is waking up to the fact that it is being converted into a minority in its own country.

The issue of mosques being built over temples is that invaders like Ghazni or Arab invaders in Sindh not only wanted to demolish all temples and build mosques over them, but also wanted to destroy all concepts related to Sanatan Dharma. Sanatan concepts had to be destroyed and ridiculed so that Islamic culture could hegemonise the narrative of our region.

Today, the Hindus are challenging this thinking, these double standards.

If a Hindu stresses on his right to understand history there is a lot of hue and cry. But if the temple is broken in Sindh in Pakistan and the idols are dislocated, then nobody pays attention to that. But this is not going to carry on for long. Now in Pakistan and Afghanistan, if Hindu sites are demolished there is a hue and cry about that. Gradually the Hindus are waking up to the fact that they not only have a right to know about their history but that they have to fight back.

IN: What is the way forward for the Hindus to seek justice?

There are two ways in which the Hindus can become effective globally. The Hindus should get involved in local politics of the country they live in. They should also get involved in local community work. This would give them a good opportunity and opening to mingle with and contribute to the local society. Their social work will be recognised in such a way that this is a community that contributes to society, as opposed to those people who blow  innocent civilians in the name of religion.

The second thing is that the Indian government should not look at the UN or the US and Europe as competitors. We should have close diplomatic, strategic and trade ties with both the US and the European Union (EU). We should be partners in containing the spread of Chinese economic and territorial expansionism. We have to help Europe rebuild its manufacturing sector and help ourselves and the world in reducing reliance on Chinese manufacturers.

More US companies should relocate to India and employ local people while the Indian government should create special economic zones. Also, US companies should eventually transfer their technologies to India at a suitable time.

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