Jagdish N Singh

 

There is a lot of substance indeed in what Indian President Pranab Mukherjee said to a section of the international media ahead of his current visit  to Jordan, Palestine and Israel. In his interaction with the Jordan-based Al Ghad, he said that  leaders of every country, belief and neighbourhood must take a “clear and public stand against intolerance of any kind”.  

 

Mukherjee said : “Tolerance and co-existence are basic tenets of our civilization. We hold them very dear to our hearts…Jawaharlal Nehru propounded the five principles of peaceful co-existence amongst nations…hate speech and fear mongering should come to an end. Our values should become part of our daily life. We must amplify the voice of moderation. We should not permit religion to be used as a mask to satisfy hunger for power and control of some individuals.” (  http://www.hindustantimes.com/india/stop-using-religion-to-satisfy-hunger-for-power-president/story-udWasQYqJ38T80PnRBXzFJ.html) .

 

In his interview to The Jordan Times  President Mukherjee  said  : “The reality of global expansion of terrorism, including in Syria and Iraq and globalisation of the supply chain of terrorism is a matter of great concern to India…Terrorism can be rolled back only through comprehensive and coordinated international cooperation combined with a strengthened and enforceable international legal regime.”

 

The President added : “ India will continue to strive for achieving progress in the finalization of the draft Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, proposed by us first in 1996. It will be our endeavour to see that our core concerns are addressed during the fifth biennial review of the UN’s Global Counter Terrorism Strategy scheduled in the 70th Session.” (http://www.india.com/news/india/president-pranab-mukherjee-expresses-indias-concern-over-instability-in-middle-east-612940/)

 

I hope the regional political leaders President Mukherjee has met during this ongoing trip would take to self-introspection,  genuinely consider his thesis on combating the evils of intolerance and terrorism and appropriately  formulate their policies and strategies to deal with the problems in question .  I am afraid the approach of most of the leaders in the region has so far not been very meaningful and promising .

The ideology of hatred and violence against minorities the terrorist organization  Hamas has been preaching and practicing , for instance, is no secret. Yet Jordanian King Abdullah II has hardly come out against them in the manner he should have. The King did ban the outfit in 1999 and strip some of its  leaders, including Khaled Mashal, of their Jordanian citizenship. But in 2012 he permitted Mashal to visit Amman and hold talks with him. Besides, I don’t know if  the King has ever condemned what Hamas has been doing in the Gaza strip and the entire region at the cost of innocent civilians .

Not only that , some  so-called moderate elements in the region have rather been encouraging the politics of hatred and violence .  Recently , Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has alleged the ongoing terror attacks against Israeli citizens in the region are  “ the result of wild and mendacious incitement” by the Palestinian Authority ( and Hamas,  several countries in the region and the Islamic Movement in Israel)

 

According to an analysis of an international think tank, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has at times referred to Jews as “ apes and pigs” intent upon destroying the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount. Recently, PA President Mahmoud Abbas has warned that Jews have no right to “defile” the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre with their “ filthy feet.”.  PLO Executive Committee member Mahmoud Ismail has declared that the settlers’( Jews ) presence is “illegal” and every measure taken against them is “legitimate and legal,"  a  “national duty.” http://www.theisraelproject.org/terror-attacks-continue-across-israel-as-palestinians-declare-day-of-rage/ ). The Palestinian leadership could abandon this brand of politics if they were really interested in containing terrorism and promoting peace and prosperity in the region.

 

Also, New Delhi would have to be realistically committed to curb the menace of terrorism . India has faced this evil, largely sponsored from across its border, for almost four decades. But it has virtually looked on just parroting the need for collective international action against terrorism . The successive dispensations in New Delhi have hardly gone beyond officially opposing  terrorism in all forms and manifestations.  New Delhi could invoke the doctrine of self-defence and take all appropriate action to save its citizens, who continue to suffer at the hands of the terrorists.

    

Besides , India’s governments--- both at the Centre and in the states--- would have to see to it that its  Constitution and policy against religious fundamentalism and extremism  are practiced on the ground . In the recent decades there have been cases that show Indian officials have defaulted in saving the country’s minorities---Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians all ( a group is a minority or majority depending on where it lives in India ) from the atrocities perpetrated by  a handful of miscreants belonging to majority religious communities in the areas concerned . The officials have at times failed also in providing due protection to some independent intellectuals in the country.

Pertinently, in the wake of the recent killings of some writers and an innocent Muslim citizen , some intellectuals have come out in the open ( I wonder why they did not do so in the earlier period in more or less similar situations ! ) to  protest against the government’s inaction .  One writer has gone to the extent of blaming India’s current Prime Minister.    She has been quoted as saying : “Justice drags its feet. The Prime Minister remains silent about this reign of terror. We must assume he dare not alienate evil-doers who support his ideology… India’s culture of diversity and debate is now under vicious assault. Rationalists who question superstition, anyone who questions any aspect of the ugly and dangerous distortion of Hinduism known as Hindutva – whether in the intellectual or artistic sphere, or whether in terms of food habits and lifestyle – are being marginalized, persecuted, or murdered.” (http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/columns/Ziya_Us_Salam/dont-shoot-the-messenger/article7743810.ece ).  


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