Enter the dragon

Published: April 20, 2014
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The writer is Editor of The Express Tribune

The writer is Editor of The Express Tribune

I am surprised at the Indian electorate. How can it justify electing as its prime minister a man who was responsible for the deaths of thousands of people — irrespective of which religion they belonged to, by inciting hatred against the Muslim community and stopping the state machinery from intervening in a bid to save them. In fact, if nothing else, the police joined in the orgy of violence. How can memories be so short?

The election of Mr Modi as India’s next PM will shake the country’s secular foundations. Possibly the Hindu majority has had enough with the 165 million-strong Muslim community. The Muslims are troublesome, ill-educated, largely poor and usually problematic. But they are also Indians first.

Never since the fall of the Babri Masjid have India’s Muslims felt so insecure. Many are terrified with what’s in store. They fear a crackdown in the same manner that another great democracy, the United States of America, went after Muslims in the aftermath of 9/11. Babri Masjid changed India’s politics forever. We are now told that Mr Advani knew of the plan to demolish the mosque in the events of 1992. It was from the ruins of Babri Masjid that the BJP rose to new heights. Unfortunately, Mr Advani was sidelined after he started seeing things in a different perspective.

In the same manner, ten years later in 2002 from the ashes of the riots of Ahmedabad, the political career of Narendra Modi sky-rocketed. One can only wonder at the peace-loving people of Gujarat, the land from where came Mahatma Gandhi, electing and financing him. They have deep pockets. But how can they imagine that Modi will take their country ahead in a manner that other governments did not. Maybe I’m missing something here.

Now let’s come to Pakistan. Unlike the older generation, known for their humility and common sense, new generation Indians have little patience for their neighbours. They accuse us of being extremists and trouble-makers. Many say that the talk of Pakistan and the importance that Pakistan is given in India has to do with the Punjabi nostalgia on both sides. We need to move on, an Indian journalist once told me.

I recall a conversation with Sachin Pilot some years back when he was a budding MP in the Indian parliament. He was describing to us a plan by the government to help generate jobs for unemployed people in rural areas. I asked him how he would prevent misuse and corruption in the scheme and he just rolled his eyes and said “we are not like Pakistan”.

I have seen Indian diplomats snicker at a conference in Delhi and exchange notes about how the only request Pakistanis put forward to them is to get Indian visas. What is worrisome is that the Indian establishment equates Pakistanis in the same category as their Muslim population: troublesome, ill-mannered and poorly educated. A problem. What the Indian electorate now wants is that Mr Modi and his brigade come in and solve this problem.

The one thing that can be said about the Pakistani voter, and maybe because the voter has not been given as many chances to vote as has the Indian counterpart, is that in Pakistan voters tend not to vote for extremists or mass-murderers. Can you imagine Pakistan electing a prime minister who is responsible for the deaths of thousands from a minority community? We would be taken to town over this.

In the build-up to the elections, some myths that need to be shattered. For example, the belief that relations between India and Pakistan are at their best when there is a BJP government in Delhi and a PML-N government in Islamabad. In reality, more progress is made when the Congress is in power. In India, there is also the belief that Muslims are holding back their country. Rubbish.

In the final analysis, the election of Mr Modi may well be a good thing for India. With voters expecting him to change the country from the Third World to the First World in a matter of years, let us see how things move ahead. We wish India well. At the same time, we can caution them. The route they are taking may be one they will regret in years to come.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 21st, 2014.

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Reader Comments (40)

  • Its (still) Economy Stupid
    Apr 20, 2014 - 10:52PM

    In the same manner, ten years later in 2002 from the ashes of the riots of Ahmedabad, the political career of Narendra Modi sky-rocketed.

    Politician arouse emotion to gather crowd by declaring either nation, culture, religion or economy need to be saved. Same thing has occurred in France, Quebec, Germany, Yugoslavia etc. Fair question is why do Muslim by there action generate negative feeling all over the world? How come Muslim do not raise similar outcry if the sad event happens to be in a Muslim Country be KSA or Nigeria (kidnapping of Girls by Islamic hardliners), Bahrain etc?

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  • SRK
    Apr 20, 2014 - 11:02PM

    “The one thing that can be said about the Pakistani voter, and maybe because the voter has not been given as many chances to vote as has the Indian counterpart, is that in Pakistan voters tend not to vote for extremists or mass-murderers. Can you imagine Pakistan electing a prime minister who is responsible for the deaths of thousands from a minority community? We would be taken to town over this.”

    Seriously ? Didn’t Pakistani Voters elected & eulogized a leader named Z.A.Bhutto who was very much part of a regime which was responsible for one of the largest Genocide of contemporary history ?

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  • someone
    Apr 20, 2014 - 11:10PM

    Mr. Siddiqui, let me start by asking you if you yourself have made some sort of investigation on Modi episode or your whole thesis is based on Indian media reports? Because in India, the news media is pretty much in bed with corrupt ruling congress party. It won’t let any stone remain unturned when it comes to malign BJP and Modi. They would not talk about how in last 12 years, there have not been a single incident of communsl violence in Gujrat.They won’t talk about the hindus who were burnt by the mob in Godhra. They won’t talk about how all these so called secular parties would use muslim voters and ignore them once elections are done. They won’t talkmabout how muslim poverty rate is among lowest in Gujrat.They would not talk about those hindus that were killed by Muslim mob in those 2002 riots. They would not talk about that none of the neighboring states sent the reinforcement to Gujrat when Modi asked for it. Above all, before calling him a mass murderer, you should have at least checked court’s verdict on him whether Modi was directly or indirectly involved in the riots. Now since you made an opinion on Modi by reading about him in media, may be Sachin Pilot made a similar opinion about Pakistan by reading in pakistani media.

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  • MSS
    Apr 20, 2014 - 11:16PM

    @Author
    Sir,
    Indian electorate do not elect Prime Ministers unlike the US where the electorate elect presidents. India people elect members of parliament (just like Pakistan) the rest is arithmetic based on numbers. Second, “Abhi Dilli door ast”. Modi may or may not be the PM and elections have not finished yet. The inherent problem with democracy is that it elevates all kinds of actors to power some brilliant, mostly mediocre and occasionally tyrants. Remember, Hitler came to power through an election. We are preached everyday that democracy is the best form of governance. That is just brain washing as it suits those who have been successful at manipulating the system. In many parts of the world, democracy is not the most suitable way to manage the country because it is prone to manipulation of the poor, the illiterate, the educated illiterate, the religiously different and so on.
    I take liberty to quote from Hindustan times where Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson wrote “the ballot box accepts the innocence of the faithful and delivers a genie”. That says it all. More than half of India will be disappointed if Modi becomes the PM as will many abroad including some governments. And frankly, many could not care less since they are more worried about their next meal.

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  • Guest24
    Apr 20, 2014 - 11:21PM

    Mr. Author, Minorities are being killed, abducted and converted. Stop preaching and start analyzing your grave situation.Recommend

  • Parvez
    Apr 20, 2014 - 11:23PM

    What prompted you to write this……….it comes across as pitch for the Congress Party.

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  • zoro
    Apr 20, 2014 - 11:31PM

    There is a thing called homework …. The author seems completely unaware of this….
    No wonder he is from Pakistan

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  • Jat
    Apr 20, 2014 - 11:58PM

    Can you imagine Pakistan electing a prime minister who is responsible for the deaths of thousands from a minority community?

    ZA Bhutto.

    How can memories be so short?

    Look above.

    In India, there is also the belief that Muslims are holding back their country. Rubbish.

    The above statement has just one truth – Rubbish. The India in which I live has no such belief. Our belief is that mismanagement and poor governance is the internal reason for holding us back. A terrorist entity in our neighborhood, backed by couple of super powers, is the external reason. But we will overcome our problems and move forward.

    Mr Editor, you lost my respect today.

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  • Kaur
    Apr 21, 2014 - 12:15AM

    Please don’t worry about India.mr. Modi is a man of vision.india needs leader not reader.you can’t judge him on the basis of one unfortunate riots. Modi is reelected for three times due to his works for all sections of society. hundreds of riots has occurred during congress rule. Thousand of people died,and some sickulars called them secular.where are minorities in your country.they are forcibly converted into Islam.let Indians decide whom to elect and they have already elected.

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  • Indian economist student
    Apr 21, 2014 - 12:26AM

    First of all India is not a third world country(may be for a pakistani ppl but World see India as next Potential Superpower)…second Indian ppl voting for him not becoz of so called Anti-muslim behavior but for his Gujrat model of development whr growth rate is more than 10% since last decade.Indian muslims are very nyc ppl they r not extremists.

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  • G. Din
    Apr 21, 2014 - 12:34AM

    ” Can you imagine Pakistan electing a prime minister who is responsible for the deaths of thousands from a minority community?”
    Are you talking about the dad of “shehzada” – Rajeev Ghandy – and the Sikh pogrom of 1984?

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  • Javed Qazi
    Apr 21, 2014 - 12:56AM

    Yep…as journalists are shot at in our Pakistan, let nothing stop us from dishing out advise to Indians !!

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  • Vijay K
    Apr 21, 2014 - 2:01AM

    Sir, Im against “politics of religion” and therefore I don’t support RSS and BJP who have stirred up trouble time and again. Having said that, no court or inquiry and none of the opposing political parties could come up with any evidence that Modi had anything to do with the Gujarat riots (Congress would have buried him by now if they could have found even a shred of evidence). I think it is unfair to blame him for the riots if he has been cleared by the courts.

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  • Sandip
    Apr 21, 2014 - 5:29AM

    Wasn’t this question more pertinent to ask when India elected Rajiv Gandhi as its PM after his hands were wallowing in Sikh blood?

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  • Ramesh Powar
    Apr 21, 2014 - 5:51AM

    So as per you Modi is a mass-murderer? Maybe you should name a missile after him.Recommend

  • genesis
    Apr 21, 2014 - 6:07AM

    Thousands of Hindus too were killed prior to the Gujarat riots and in 26/11 Mumbai attacks and while ,26/11 is quietly forgotten and yet expect India leaders to develop trust. A difficult conundrum!

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  • mahakaalchakra
    Apr 21, 2014 - 9:33AM

    @Author, “But how can they imagine that Modi will take their country ahead in a manner that other governments did not. Maybe I’m missing something here.”

    Yes, you are missing the obvious; 12 years of peace, development and good governance in Gujarat since 2002 under Modi. If you still think like 2002 in 2014, you may have wasted 12 years.

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  • Rao
    Apr 21, 2014 - 10:07AM

    If a person under whose watch several thousands of Sikhs were killed in 1984 could become the Prime Minister of India with astounding majority of 80% seats in the lower house of the Parliament – why not Modi, whose guilt is not established even after several years of investigation?

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  • Ravan
    Apr 21, 2014 - 10:50AM

    Really Author?
    Most of the Muslims in India identify themselves as Muslims firsts and then Indian. People of other community identify themselves as Indian first and then anything other. I wish they would have all gone to Pakistan.

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  • Apr 21, 2014 - 10:53AM

    BTW India today is not a “Third World” as author claims.Look at many world report categorization of India as Third World are gone forever..India today as of 2014 is $2.128 trillion (Nominal) 8th and $5.451 trillion (PPP) 3rd largest in the world,soon to become 8th largest share holder of IMF may be next year and already 3rd largest shareholder of Asian Development Bank,major power in G20 major economies,BRICS grouping.And the author claiming India 3rd world shows author and pakistan cannot digest India rise in strength and status in the world.

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  • BlackJack
    Apr 21, 2014 - 11:26AM

    One can only wonder at the peace-loving people of Gujarat, the land from where came Mahatma Gandhi, electing and financing him.
    The peace-loving people of Gujarat have just enjoyed their first peaceful decade with zero riots and curfew after Modi has taken over – I advise the author to do some elementary research on the history of riots in Gujarat before coming up with such a propagandist piece.

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  • Dare U..
    Apr 21, 2014 - 11:35AM

    We’ll c who regrets wat…u dont know quarter of India’s capabilities…

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  • Suresh R
    Apr 21, 2014 - 12:47PM

    At the outset I wish to clarify that I’m not a supporter of the BJP or Modi.
    I voted differently last week.

    Still, I find your article reflects unfamiliarity about India and the Indian
    democratic system.

    1) Modi is a known Hindu sympathizer as is the case with most of the BJP.
    Being sympathetic towards Hindus is different from killing people from other faiths.

    2) The Gujarat riots happened in Feb 2002. Modi had taken over as chief
    minister in October 2001, just a few months in office. He had never worked in government before.

    3) The incidents of Gujarat – 2002, are well known. It is not possible to
    cover them in detail here.However, it is a fact that they were an unfortunate accident, rather than an intentional killing.

    4) Even his worst critics do not accuse him of killing Muslims. They only
    accuse him of slowness in acting on the day riots broke out. In India, a CM can never
    order killings. At the most, he can be slow. In a riot situation, when both Hindus and
    Muslims are killing each other, Modi as CM would not gain anything by remaining
    inactive. Both Hindus and Muslims get killed.

    5) Since 2002, Gujarat has not had a single incident of riots. The state is
    the most peaceful in the country. Muslims in Gujarat have prospered, much better than other
    states.

    6) You have accused the Hindu majority of having enough of Muslims. Hence
    they have voted for Muslims. India is a secular country. Nobody can sideline or harm
    Muslims.

    7) The only reason why they may vote for Modi is: he has developed the state
    very well.His development record is the best among all states. People are sick of the
    poor record of the Congress govt at the center. Hence they feel attracted by
    Modi.

    8) The 2002 riots were the first riot which was covered by 24X7 television.
    India has a very large secular, liberal population which includes the media. They have
    harassed Modi for the riots. Nobody has been harassed to the extent Modi has been
    subjected to.

    9) It is true that Muslims are viewed with some amount of negative feelings.
    However, in a land of thousand religions, languages, cultures, sects, castes etc.
    Muslims are not alone.Everybody views others differently. Nothing serious about it. Life goes on.

    10) It is true that Pakistan is viewed negatively. Most Indians do not know that Pakistanis
    are much less conservative in religion than Indian Muslims. Most Pakistani Muslim women
    do not wear burqa. Almost all Indian women do.

    11) To conclude, even if Modi becomes PM, nothing much will change. Even
    small actions by him will come under the scanner. The media is going to make a huge scene about it.

    12) Muslims in India are safer, and their religious freedom more secure than in Pakistan,
    whether with Modi or without Modi.

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  • sabi
    Apr 21, 2014 - 1:49PM

    @Suresh R:
    We’ll said you are really an educated person kudos.

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  • Rex Minor
    Apr 21, 2014 - 3:44PM

    We read the article of Mr Siddiqi, which is well written and well explained and describes the Truth with reasoning, intellect and vision which people around the world rarely have. He refers to the people of India with respect and is expressing his bewilderness about them opting for the world wide known notorious office holder of so called democracy, where the Brahanic onslaught went into the destruction of the holy Babri mosque, followed by thousands dead simply to reverse the historical process of enlightenment in the subcontent. Mr Modi watched this carnage and did not move a finger to show unrest; nor did the central Government run by the Congress some of whom were disgusted with this piece of ethnic cleansing. The western Governments acted by putting a ban on Mr Modi travel.

    Are the authors apprehensions are unjustified, Certainly Not!I Are those who have voted for Mr Modi are all bigots and racists, certainly not. People usualy vote against current Governments and not for the newcomers who have nothing to show in their bag. Most youth shown on Tv networks in Europe were seen asking for employment or better wages for livelihood.

    Rex Minor

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  • Rex Minor
    Apr 21, 2014 - 4:45PM

    @Vectra:

    And Pray, what will India do with its illetrate and undernourished population, the largest in the world. They cannot be all unloaded in the rest of world. It is not sustainable nor tolerable by the richer Nations.

    Rex Minor

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  • MAD
    Apr 21, 2014 - 5:29PM

    @SRK: ZAB was elected via 1970 elections (before Bangladesh) although he took office of PM in 1973.

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  • RBaruah
    Apr 21, 2014 - 6:13PM

    I am surprised that the writer has not mentioned that so far 119 people have been convicted to life terms following due process after the 2002 riots. Many, including a minister has received the capital punishment. I am not aware of any such comprehensive trials following riots in india including the 1984 riots. Recommend

  • Sunny
    Apr 21, 2014 - 8:46PM

    @Rex Minor: process of enlightenment???? ha.. We can all see how enlightened the people of Pakistan are. Do you even watch international news channels for then you would have known how the rest of the world views you enlightened people.

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  • Apr 21, 2014 - 11:35PM

    I would advise the author not to press the panic button. Today one more nail was driven into the congress coffin. The sikhs protesting against the massacre of 1984. I called home a few days ago and asked my sisters who they were voting for and they replied as usual -congress. They are not aware of what’s happening in India at present I think. They are in for a very unpleasant surprise!

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  • G. Din
    Apr 22, 2014 - 12:30AM

    @Rex Minor:
    “@Vectra:
    And Pray, what will India do with its illetrate and undernourished population, the largest in the world. They cannot be all unloaded in the rest of world.”

    You need not beat your brains on that “problem”. India has always taken care of its problems and not “unloaded in the rest of world”. Take care of your own problems, first!

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  • Rex Minor
    Apr 22, 2014 - 11:51AM

    G Din,I

    I am just a tax payer and supporting the asylum seekers from your country: Please tell your new supremo to take back the Indian citizens who are living on social system of Europeans.

    Rex Minor

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  • J T
    Apr 22, 2014 - 1:13PM

    “I am just a tax payer and supporting the asylum seekers from your country:… “

    @Rex Minor:

    Regardless of the European country you live in, I’m fairly certain that it hosts a lot more asylum seekers from among your “enlightened” brethren from around the world. I guess they seek asylum away from their “enlightened” lands because the light is too bright there, eh?

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  • Strategic Asset
    Apr 22, 2014 - 1:14PM

    @Rex Minor: You must be talking about Pakistanis who top the list of immigrants with no marketable skills and who survive on governmental aid in Europe and particularly in the UK.

    As far as asylum seekers are concerned, pray enlighten me on what grounds will Indians seek asylum? India has neither religious persecution nor ethnic persecution. Yes, it is true that a number of Sikhs sought asylum during the Khalistan movement, but that was a long time ago.

    Please do no fabricate truths in the hope that others are gullible.

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  • G. Din
    Apr 22, 2014 - 5:32PM

    @Rex Minor:
    “Please tell your new supremo to take back the Indian citizens who are living on social system of Europeans.”
    Very simple, chum, if you don’t want them, stop issuing visas to them. Even better, ask your leaders to bar Indians by an act of your parliament, individual country or European. Trust me, we will take whatever you do in stride. We go where our talents and skills are needed. We don’t force ourselves on any society. There is no charity involved, simply the Law of Supply and demand in action. But, you are just an impotent windbag full of hot air, most probably a latter day Muslim citizen of Europe. You know your European social systems will collapse but for the infusion of Indian intellectual talent. Recommend

  • Go65
    Apr 22, 2014 - 6:07PM

    @Rex Minor: Please provide data that Indian Muslims are seeking asylum to Germany. It is more likely that Sias and Ahmadis from Pakistan are taking asylum in Germany.
    @MAD:
    Was he not re-elected in 1977 desp ite the events of 1971? Has his p arty which brought in the 2nd amendment to the constitution been rep eatedly voted o power? Has the ongoing forced conversions of Hindus in Sindh been a taken cognisance of? Does it make any difference o the PPP electabili ty?
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  • someone
    Apr 22, 2014 - 7:25PM

    @Rex Minor:
    Talking about your Pakistani brothers, aren’t you? By the way, congrats on being a chosen few , only handful of Pakistanis pays taxes,whether in Pakistan or elsewhere so you are one of those rare people.

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  • Rex Minor
    Apr 22, 2014 - 7:57PM

    @Strategic Asset:
    @J T:

    Long time ago; time has stood still for Indians ceturies ago, they are still running around the European landscape and absolutely not suitable for integration. This lot is beside the Indian Roma and Gypsies who long time ago arrived, speak Indian language and refuse to send their children to schools, roaming from one city to another. Let the BJP supremo allow this strategic asset to return to Bharatya.

    Rex Minor

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  • Malik
    Apr 23, 2014 - 10:42PM

    The fact is that Modi was responsible for attacking railway train carrying Muslim citizens of Pakistan and nobody has beenheld responsible

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  • hindu jinnah
    Apr 26, 2014 - 5:43PM

    well. well, well, you are suprrised at electing modi who will shake the secular foundations of india. Really? It was shaken in 1946 when M.A. Jinnah, called for pakistan, it was shaken in 1989 when all hindus were driven out of kashmir in secular india, so why do u criticise us pakistani? we are just following tyhe great leader, jinnah.
    As far as, indian muslims are viewed as “The Muslims are troublesome, ill-educated, largely poor and usually problematic.” EXACTLY how soooo very perceptive

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