India-Pakistan Conflict Is Seriously Misunderstood

India and Pakistan have been, since their independence, in a state of war, either with or within each other. In fact, if geographical boundaries are set aside for a moment, the people of the Indian subcontinent have now become entirely distinct groups, rather then religious powers, completely contrary to the founding ideology of their nations.

In the last few decades, the nations have taken some unexpected turns in an effort to reform their identities, becoming more inclined towards protecting nationalities rather than their founding basis; religion.

On one hand, the emergence of Pakistan, if worked out as planned, should have ended the on-going conflict between Muslims and Hindus of the Indian subcontinent. But then the idea of Pakistan, as planned, was not smoothly executed either. Two-thirds of the Muslims migrated to Pakistan upon partition, while third decided to stay in India. Later the ratio further divided after the separation of East Pakistan, now Bangladesh.

The 1951 Indian census showed that there were about 8.3 million Christians, 35 million Muslims, and 304 million Hindus, making the share of Muslim population about 10 percent in India. By the time of the 2001 census, that share had risen to 13.4 percent, or 138 million Muslims, more than half of the total population of Pakistan.

As twilight descended on the British empire in India, the ratio of Muslims in the Indian armed forces was about 30 percent. Just 6 years later, it had come down to 2 percent, according to the minister of state for defense of the time.

But over time, just like the Muslim’s population in India, that number should also have risen. It is believed that at any given moment, there are about 4.66 percent, or 60,000 Muslims in Indian armed forces ready to face Pakistani soldiers, revealed by Minority Affairs Minister A. R. Antulay while replying to a question in Rajya Sabha recently.

While on the other hand, Pakistan is profoundly ready to face those Muslim soldiers who are protecting the Indian land, same as the Indian Muslims on the other side. The fight then, if truly understood, is not of the religion anymore it had been 70 years ago. Rather the nations are now more aggressive towards protecting their national identities and values they have formed in these 70 years of their independence.

India, for instance, despite being a Hindu dominated nation, has witnessed Muslim President, Vice Presidents, Chief Ministers, Governors and heads of several Indian institutions including the army,  and their records and performances have been the envy of their counterparts. Under President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, a Muslim, the country saw its missile technology, military development and civilian space program reached new heights.

Pakistan, despite being portrayed as a home of terrorism, faced several devastating terrorist attacks in the last decade only, including an attack on APS in 2014 killing 150, including 134 children and school staff members. The attack involved six gunmen believed to be affiliated with the Tehrik-i-Taliban, Pakistan.  “Terrorism has no religion, no nation,” said Navjot Singh Sidhu, an Indian cricketer-turned-politician in an interview recently after the Pulwama attack in south Kashmir, believed by most Indians to have been engineered by Pakistan. Speaking as someone who has suffered most from terrorism, a Pakistani citizen, I believe what he says could not have been said better.

The fight really, as mentioned earlier, is not of religion anymore. The conflict between two nations is political, not religious. Due to long continued fight against each other, India and Pakistan have now started to protect their national interests more than their once core principles, but fight like the same they did 70 years ago.

What two nations fail to realize today, and so the people living in them, is that India and Pakistan have long been out of the conflicts that became their founding basis and broke the war out several times in their young history. They have now became ‘nations’, protecting their ‘national interests’ rather than religious ideology they protected when they were oppressed.

In fact, now the fight is much more progressive. The Kashmir conflict is not a matter of religion anymore, but a matter of national power for both nations, which is why China, too, has at times played a minor role in the fight several times.

Although the basis of war may have improved, the two nations still fight as they did decades ago. The attacks are still blamed on each other and of religious basis, forgetting that Pakistan, and its army no longer fight for religion, but for a national identity same as India, and are ready to face a Muslim Indian soldier in the battlefield if ever made to do so, just as on the other side of the border.

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