B Raman is the one to read to understand matters of security. His analysis is accurate and dispassionate. So do yourself a favor and read his recent paper (March 8th) at the South Asia Analysis Group site on “Aurangzebs of Today.” He delves into the history of how Aurangzeb is perceived in Pakistan and why.
Here’s Mr Raman:
3. The Pakistani jihadi organisations such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI), the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM), the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM) and the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ), which are members of Osama bin Laden’s International Islamic Front (IIF), project Aurangzeb as the greatest ruler in the history of the Indian sub-continent and describe their aim as the “liberation” of the Muslims of India and restoration of what they view as the golden era of Aurangzeb in the sub-continent.
4. This glorification of Aurangzeb was actually started by the Pakistan Government after the birth of Pakistan in 1947. The text-books got written and prescribed in schools by different Pakistan Governments depicted that there was no civilisation or culture in India before the Muslims came to the sub-continent and glorified Aurangzeb. In September 1996, Murtaza Ali Bhutto, the younger brother of Benazir Bhutto, was allegedly killed by the police of Karachi after he had returned from Islamabad, where he allegedly had a fierce quarrel with Benazir and her husband Mr. Asif Ali Zardari over his demand that he should be appointed as the Vice-Chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party. In a piece on the rule of Benazir, the “Economist” of London compared her to Aurangzeb.
I did not know that about Benazir. I can now understand why she used to spew venom against India in her speeches and promise death to Hindus. (Watch the video in this post: Benazir the Benevolent.) She wanted to be Aurangzeb.
Of course, this is why the “secular” Indians wept copiously at her assassination, correctly identifying her as a great leader. That she must have been to Pakistanis — and to the “secular” Indians. But she was not the original Aurangzeb. So if an Aurangzeb wannabe is admired, surely “secular” Indians admire the original Aurangzeb even more. That is why one of the major streets of the capital of India, New Delhi, glorifies Aurangzeb.
Now we know why Aurangzeb cannot be portrayed as a murderous thug and has to be spoken of in India as a hero.
Just to be clear, who are these “secular” Indians? It is not a matter of religion. It is a matter of attitude. You are “secular” if you consider Aurangzeb to be a hero, regardless of whether you are a Hindu, Muslim, Sikh or Isahi. If you think that it is not a matter of supreme shame that the names of invaders and mass murderers should grace present day “free” India, you are a “secular” Indian.
Following the text of Raman’s analysis are a few annextures. First, there are two pieces on Aurangzeb — one from the Columbia Encyclopedia (Dec 2007) and the other from Wikipedia. Again, I learnt stuff that I did not know. (Does anyone doubt the power of the internet and the world wide web?)
Even if skip over those, go to the last one which is a March 2005 article from “Dawn,” the Pakistani newspaper, by Prof Shahida Kazi, “The Myth of History.”
We, in Pakistan, are a breed apart. Lacking a proper mythology like most other races, we have created our own, populated by a whole pantheon of superheroes who have a wide range of heroic exploits to their credit.
But the difference is that these superheroes, instead of being a part of a remote and prehistoric period, belong very much to our own times. A seemingly veritable mythology has been created around these heroes, their persona and their achievements, which is drummed into the heads of our children from the time they start going to school. So deep is this indoctrination that any attempt to uncover the facts or reveal the truth is considered nothing less than blasphemous.
It is meant for Dawn’s Pakistani readers but I think that Indians could well learn something. Go read it all.
(Hat tip: Seriously Sandeep.)