Secularism on Test

Developments in Afghanistan have put the doctrine of secularism on test in the 21st Century. It is bound to change the course of world history. All democratic values will need review and revision to face the challenge of religious fundamentalism. Terrorism is its time tested weapon. Brutality, violence, arson, anarchy, savagery, plunder etc. are its tools.  Autocracy in any form, whether Emirate, dictatorship or monarchy, is its proven vehicle to run regimes of destruction and devastation. Taliban violence is the last link in a long chain of inhuman acts of fanatics and fundamentalists.

Democratic countries, civilised societies, cultured communities, modern values, secularism, multi-sector development for better life, knowledge sharing and information dissemination will come under terrible stress. Open societies will be compelled to raise walls for security reasons.

The developments in Afghanistan since August 14, 2021 are a turning point in human history: after 200 years of advances in the field of science and technology the world is slipping back in to the Dark Ages. This is how history, mistaken as simply an account of past events only  and not accepted as a “living” entity of time, asserts itself. Nobody wanted it to happen the way it has happened. Nobody expected it to turn the way it has turned. World Wars earlier, pandemic later and Taliban coming to power on August 14, 2021 were deeds of history alone. Violence has always existed, it is another thing that it operated in different ways, which escaped universal recognition and remedy  when identified, such as climate change.

History seems to spring surprises many a time as in the sudden withdrawal of America from Afghanistan. Debates are being raised worldwide on the decision, timing and manner of the US government decision. Was anything different expected when America decided to enter Afghanistan in the first place? That decision was more questionable than her withdrawal on August 30, 2021.

Afghanistan’s geography is such that it will continue to see such upheavals from time to time. Geography- land, water, air- contribute to the making of human history and Afghanistan is no exception. Even if it were to decide on a policy of peace and co-existence with its neighbours, others will not allow it to do so. Afghanistan could become a flourishing democracy only if its neighbours practice it and respect democratic values. That is not in existence and is unlikely to be so for several decades, if not centuries. So, the debate whether the Taliban has changed or not is meaningless. Yet, it is not the same. Children twenty years ago are now the youth playing a decisive role in leadership and decision making. They are educated, speak fluent English, talk matters of conflicts of international issues and interests affecting other countries too and above all, possess a far better understanding of Pakistan’s games in Afghanistan. They will not play the dirty game of meaningless terrorism encouraged and financed by Pakistan even though the ISI of Pakistan might continue to inflame

Jihad.

America had unwittingly landed in a situation in Afghanistan, largely misled by Pakistan. What is this chase after one terrorist named Osama Bin Laden that brought America to Afghanistan without realising the role and patronage of Pakistan? America had fallen to the game of Pakistan against India on the Kashmir issue and played totally unethical against India in collusion with Pakistan and the price it has now paid in Afghanistan is the result of that misguidance. Had America maintained a non-partisan stand, this situation would never have arisen. Both Pakistan and America mistook India, its policy of peace, non-violence and democracy for weakness of a Great Nation. The retreating British had created Pakistan, forgetting one day it shall export terrorism to them and the world as well. The American miscalculations since the end of the WW-II are the direct result of developments in Afghanistan.

War is the need of the technologically advanced super-powers. They manufacture weapons. They need markets to sell them. Afghanistan like conflicts are big business and investment opportunity for them. That mentality is unethical. Such business is not informed by ethics or human consideration. No wrong can produce right results. Afghanistan was no right but only wrong to do. Earlier, other nations got entangled and suffered heavily. This time it was America, Next is China in all likelihood, trapped in the CPEC and strong friendship with Pakistan. The Taliban will get more educated in due course instead of acting mercenary soldiers for it and Pakistan to carry forward global terrorism. Besides, Afghanistan is not the land for the Third World War, if ever the situation goes out of hand.

14th August or 30th August 2021 will not be called as victory of one side or defeat of the other. It is defeat of liberal society, democracy, civilisation, gender equality, basic human rights, rights of children including right to education and secularism. It must be clearly noted that the times of Crusades and Jihad are long dead and any attempt at revival will invite bloodshed unsurpassed in human history.

Why is the American decision to call off its mission Afghanistan on 30th August being questioned as hasty or surprising or unexpected? The manner of withdrawal of the American troops from Afghanistan one day before the dead line of 31st August is another topic of TV studio debates. Why? Who other than America is entitled to take the decision? When America accepted the role of the Policeman of the World, the world was divided in to Communist and Capitalist groups. The USSR was in existence and enjoyed the support of LDCs and other developing countries whom America and its supporters found having a “tilt” towards the USSR. The air was filled with hatred. Calling each other Devil seemed real to many. Industrial revolution was enriching America and European nations as also the USSR and allies. Developing countries too were making gradual progress as they were denied access to the state of art technology, machinery, intermediate goods or raw material , which were the monopoly of the developer countries who exercised strict controls on their export. Knowledge was not only commercialised but weaponised too. Organisations like the NATO held threats matched by communist organisations of equal potential. Iron curtain versus open society was debated in the press, media and academia producing valuable literature for the curious and concerned inhabitants of the global village. The incidents in conflict zones, including Afghanistan, continued to fuel the hate mongering competing groups. The dissolution of the USSR was a historic moment which should have led to long lasting peace in the world. Instead it ended in increasing bitterness between nations which cannot be justified on any count. The media contributed liberally for widening the chasm between the two leading groups instead of bridging it. Had the intellectuals, writers, academics and journalists played their roles fairly, America would never have descended in Afghanistan nor withdrawn in the manner and style it was accomplished. That inappropriate attitude resulted in creating a China, feared by everyone. China has acquired enough traction to disturb the global economic order today. How it manages the Afghan developments in the coming months will determine the global response to peace efforts.

China, Russia, Pakistan, UK, France, Germany and other European countries wanted the USA to remain in Afghanistan as long as it could in their strategic interests only. When President Trump asked the NATO members to share the cost of their security with the USA, none of them came forward. Even after the USA declaring its intent to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan, it was not taken seriously by them. Had they woken up and acted well in time, none of them would have been complaining today about the suddenness and surprise in  America actually withdrawing on 30th August. The NATO ought to have evolved a strategic response to the emerging situation consequent upon American withdrawal. I fail to understand how the UK government can say now that it didn’t expect it to happen at least for one year! Same about the reaction of the other NATO members, unless they were misinformed by Pakistani sources that the USA can’t get out of Afghanistan for many more years! Pakistan has played dubious role in the developments of the last 20 years in relation to the Taliban, Afghanistan and world peace. It is shocked. It never expected America to leave Afghanistan like this! It has bought trouble for itself by playing intrigues all these years. It will be interesting to watch the developments to see if the Taliban lead Pakistan now or Pakistan continues to occupy that pride of place in running the terror factory of the world.

China and Russia too were surprised by the suddenness of the American move. They were not prepared for it. China is visibly trapped now and would find it extremely difficult to extricate itself irrespective of success or failure of the CPEC project. The world powers are not dealing with people or a country but a belief of a particular kind, that refuses to make any concessions to any country- China or another.

Afghanistan will need help, accommodation and good will of the rest of the world to survive. It will have to earn the trust of the nations. If it passes this test successfully, a prosperous nation shall emerge after so much of violence, bloodshed and devastation.

It need to be emphasised that crusade and jihad stand rejected by the modern world. Religion was job oriented before industrialisation created jobs, employment and livelihood opportunities. This gave immense authority over people to the religious structures. They became rulers, exercised civil and criminal powers, dispensed justice, punished others, provoked wars for religious expansion and “conversion” of others by deceit, inducement and blood bath. Torture was the usual method and in this century the Taliban has shown us its true format. In modern times, such acts of conversion are unlawful and outdated. It is time to modernise religion forthwith. It is time to be spiritual rather than religious. Torture is a sin, a heinous crime and savagery of the worst kind. Whipping women publicly is shameful act and must stop forthwith. It offends the Almighty. He stays with us on this Earth and keeps record of all our deeds/misdeeds. Women suffering such torture must first rise in revolt, if necessary by discarding the Burqa, which is a symbol of women’s slavery and treatment as an animal. If they are subjected to such inhuman atrocity, they must pray to God to help come to their rescue. Until they get relief, they can recite prayers to Him by saying “O Govind Damodar Madhveti”. Try and see the magic of prayer to the Almighty by the innocent and the helpless in terrible situations!

Religions have evolved. Islam too is churning. The Taliban are the example. No other Islamic country takes pride in such practices. Islam was not meant to be such a religion. The Almighty would not have conveyed the message of Islam for it to be practiced in this manner. Surely, it is the interpretation in a given situation for local application to solve a problem, but has been misappropriated by the religious order for its own interests. Just imagine a day when Islam will be discussed openly as a religion in the world assembly of religions. It cannot survive in isolation. It cannot outlive women. Human history is millions of years older than any religion, including Islam. Our world has a beginning. What begins must end too. But the Almighty has neither beginning nor end. That is why Indians call Him “Ishwar” or the One that exists forever, unlike His creations which are “Nashwar” or those not forever but sure to end. Human beings can’t dictate their will to God. He rules us, we do not. Still if some people think they are superior to God, they must suffer consequences. For them there shall never be any victory. They will be cursed to live and die in ignominy.

America has done well in its own interest to withdraw from Afghanistan compelling others to think and act according to their own wisdom. It ought not suffer any pain for loss of the sheen of the super power. The only super power is one that inspires love and respect for a person, people or country. Values need to be established for the New World Order, which should be in place by 2050.

Europe, UK, America and others like them have to realise the incongruity of the sense of superiority they seem to suffer. Unless these countries accept the virtues of equal treatment of all nations, cultures, civilisations and religions, there cannot be any peace.

Violence is meaningless. It does not prevail, only thrives because others do not subscribe to the cult of violence. It does not mean violence can’t be matched with violence. God might have been “killed” by modern men but the “Devil” survives. Is that the choice of the human society?             

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