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India's Muslims Are Part of a Secular State

January 12, 2002

Mansoor Ijaz mentions the right of Kashmiris to self-determination in Indian-ruled Kashmir ("Pakistan Can Defuse the Kashmir Crisis," Commentary, Jan. 9). Pakistan rules the other third of Kashmir, and it is virtually devoid of non-Muslims, thanks to state-sponsored ethnic cleansing. The non-Muslim Kashmiris who were driven to secular India have rights, too. So do those who were driven out from the rest of Pakistan to India. Had India behaved like Pakistan, Muslims wouldn't be a majority in Kashmir and would be a tiny minority in the rest of India today.

Permanent peace between India and Pakistan requires far more than the resolution of the Kashmir conflict. It depends on the Pakistani Muslims learning to coexist with non-Muslims in the region.

Moorthy Muthuswamy

Coram, N.Y.

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Ijaz is right in arguing that Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's best strategy is to remove "each part of the argument New Delhi's hard-liners have used against Islamabad on the terrorism issue." While this series of moves may bolster Musharraf's support among "Pakistan's moderate political class," as Ijaz argues, it may also cause these moderates to view Musharraf merely as a puppet controlled by India and/or the United States.

The key is for Musharraf to accomplish all this before hard-liners in the military or Islamic radicals can seriously threaten his rule, while providing tangible evidence of progress in achieving a just resolution to the Kashmir dispute. If the world community is serious about a stable and secure Pakistan, then it should start becoming serious about Kashmiri self-determination.

Arif Rafiq

Greenvale, N.Y.

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Ijaz misses the point in arguing that Hindu nationalists "seek to control Kashmir's Muslims." The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party leads a coalition of different political parties and has been in charge of India for the last three years only. Kashmir's Muslims are just a tiny minority of India's Muslim population. Ijaz is wrong in painting a picture that undermines India's secular constitution by trying to justify Kashmir's crisis because of its Muslim majority. The logic may suit Pakistan because that country is an Islamic theocracy.

Prithvi Raj Singh

Chairman, Federation of

Hindus Assns., Diamond Bar

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