By Zeba Noori
Afghanistan is an Islamic republic, where most of the inhabitants are Muslims. It is one of the countries that has strong roots within the Islamic civilizations that thrived in Khurasan, Persia and Indian Subcontinent. Therefore, its people have strong cultural roots in Islamic traditions and practices. In the same perspective, its people have strong feelings for Islam and Muslims throughout the world. The sentiments and feelings of people of Afghanistan are always hurt when they experience any sort of violence or even discrimination against Muslims.
Recently, the people of Afghanistan are highly saddened by the Indian policies of discrimination against Muslims. Indian discriminatory policy towards Kashmir left no margin to contradict the view that Indian incentive are to subjugate the Muslims as per the objectives of Hindutva ideology. Kashmir’s autonomous status was revoked by Modi government in August 2019, which followed a military control of the area, and violated the basic human rights of the Kashmiri people, as their movements were limited, their rights to protest against the move was cracked down, several thousand protestors were detained, and international human rights observers were not allowed to visit the area. India’s intention, as put forward by some Indian intellectuals themselves, are not for better governance rather for other ulterior motives; as Arundathi Roy wrote in NY Times:
“The dissolution of the legal entity of the state (Kashmir) also means the dissolution of Article 35A, which granted residents rights and privileges that made them stewards of their own territory. So, ‘being open for business,’ it must be clarified, can also include Israeli-style settlements.”
She goes on to write: “For Kashmiris, in particular, this has been an old, primal fear. Their recurring nightmare (an inversion of the one being peddled by Donald Trump) of being swept away by a tidal wave of triumphant Indians wanting a little home in their sylvan valley could easily come true.”
What happened in Kashmir influenced the people of Afghanistan to a great extent. They could see the clear discrimination against their Muslim brothers; however, the weak government in Afghanistan that does not have the courage to stand against the Indian atrocities, did not react as it had to. And, not doing so has left them with few options as India has continued its policy of discrimination of the Muslims.
The current Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in India has further clarified the ill intentions of Indian authorities to subjugate the Muslims. It clearly says that India is a homeland for Hindus while for other religions it only provides sanctuary. Obviously, CAA has not been welcomed by the Muslims in India and elsewhere. Muslims in Afghanistan, in particular, have been hurt by this step. Even Afghan ambassador to India, Tahir Qadiry, through veiled comments, criticized the step. He said in his statement, “In the last few years, since the fall of the Taliban, our government has been respecting minorities like Sikhs. They have seats in both houses of parliament and are represented at the Presidential Palace.” Tahir Qadiry clearly suggested that this has not been the case in India, as Muslim minorities are being discriminated through CAA.
Moreover, the response of the Indian government to the protesters who have been raising their voices against the Act have further provided the evidence that for the sake of Hindutva, Modi regime is ready to crush all sorts of protests, particularly, those from Muslims. This will definitely make the Afghan people and government further change their friendly tone towards India.
Reports and research suggest that the discriminatory behavior against Muslims in India has been going on for some time now. For example, in March 2018, the Reserve Bank of India, allowed the minority communities of Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who had long-term visa to purchase any immovable property in India; however, the Muslims from the above countries were not allowed to do so.
Earlier in 2019, India’s external affairs ministry announced that minorities from the above three countries could pay only ₹100 for their visas after an overstay of up to 90 days, ₹200 for more than 91 days, and around ₹500 for more than two years. Whereas, the Muslims from the three countries had to pay around ₹300 for up to 90 days, ₹400 for more than 90 days and ₹500 for more than two years.
These clear discriminatory policies towards Muslims is bound to make Afghanistan rethink its policy and stance towards India. If other events, like the intended humiliation of Afghanistan’s historical figures like Ahmad Shah Abdali, through Bollywood movies and the Indian government supported violence against Muslim celebrations like Eid-ul-Azha in India are also added to the above discriminatory policies, there is no room left for Afghan people and Afghan authorities to see the full picture of what India intends to do. Afghanistan does not need to search for improved relations with the country that consider its people as inferior, based on its religion alone. Therefore, Afghanistan needs to know its true friends and enemies, and needs to strive for better relations with the neighboring Muslim countries, where there are strong-rooted Islamic traditional ties at people-to-people level.
Hindutva Will Widen the Gap Between Afghanistan and India
By Zeba Noori