Secularism may be too difficult a concept for the US State Department to fathom
General Musharraf’s latest ‘off-the-cuff‘ solution for Kashmir lies in its Balkanisation on religious lines, in ‘a mischievous attempt to open up the now-healed wounds of Partition and create a huge rift in communal relations’ in India. Luv Puri substantiates this in Frontline, writing how such an obviously communal plan goes against the fundamentally secular nature of Jammu & Kashmir. The point is, India’s only Muslim-majority state is also its most secular (even after the ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits by Pakistan-sponsored terrorists).
The Indian side of Jammu and Kashmir has consisted of well-defined regions, namely Jammu, the Kashmir Valley and Ladakh, which are secular in character and are based on culture and geography. Pro-Pakistan groups in Kashmir and Hindu communal forces in Jammu have been consistently trying to undermine the regional identities and replace them with religious identities. Both get indirect support from some American think tanks, which have not realised the strength of the cultural diversity of the State. The State secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Mohammad Yosuf Tarigami, says: “It is no wonder that the U.S. State Department has hailed the latest formula of President Musharraf, which replaces regional identities by religious identities. This would not only be dangerous for the secular basis of the State but also pose a serious threat to the very basis of the Indian nation, which is based on secular values.”
Both uninformed international observers and US State Department officials (who hopefully do not belong to the first category) rely on the comfort of maps which are shaded according to simple, mutually-exclusive criteria — usually religion or ethnicity. And this often causes the ‘Sunni Triangle‘ effect. Most Iraqis were perhaps unaware of the existence of this enormous ethno-geometrical entity in their midst until the Americans liberated them. Something similar happened in India too, a long time ago, in 1947 — also the reason why it must not be allowed to happen again.
Indians are just about as enthusiastic about another Partition as Jews in another Holocaust.