Searching for a balm in India, Pakistan and Kashmir


By Melvyn Kohn
December 1, 2008
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This year was ending on a good note. But then someone had to spoil it by organising a terrorist attack in Mumbai. Obamamania gave way to funerals, after 10 or more baby faced young men went postal, as they say in the US, and killed some 200. Only one of them survived, and now he is crying for his life, maybe having second thoughts about the 70 virgins he will have to spend his eternity with. I'm glad he is alive, as he can now share his thoughts with the Indian intelligence services. We are already learning the where, when and how.
But there is the why. And this is not so easily answered. It takes more than a broiges to get a model faced 21-year-old, who, apparently, is from a middle class background, and was able to sport Nike trainers and Versace. The well tempered terrorist, playing in every major and minor key. What drives them? Is it simply a matter of mad madrasas with fanatic teachers drilling them on the virtues of suicide for the Koran? Funny, but all the Pakistanis I have met, rich or poor, hate the fanatics. One even eats pork and drinks.
William Dalrymple sheds light on this well in yesterday's Observer (30/11/08, p.31). He brings up the nasty broiges that is Kashmir, and puts his finger on the problem. Pakistan and India both claim this territory, which would have by rights gone to Pakistan, if the Prime Minister of India had not been from Kashmir in 1947. It was agreed that a referendum would be voted on, but this has been forgotten. And in the years since, many atrocities, but official atrocities, have been committed by the peace and love Hindus. Hard to think of it like that, but there is guilt on both sides. We can send all the Homeland Security geeks in the world to Pakistan, but this will not solve the problem - my belief is that a Biblical command is being ignored here and we cannot get away with that - failing to do tzedakah. In the failure, tension mounts, until someone on one side does something utterly stupid and criminal, which is what this massacre was. But it is not without provocation, and I hope that we put pressure on the government of India to review its own massacres - or else, the innocent pay the price. The terrible attacks at the Jewish Centre are a stark example of that - Israel has nothing to do with Kashmir, indeed it was not a nation when that whole partition situation was being debated at the UN.
And neither is it part of the situation between Moslems, Hindus, Jainists, Buddhists and Christians in that part of the world today. If anyone was an innocent bystander, it was the rabbi and his family. But then again, these terrorists attacked a hospital too, forcing doctors to carry on a Caesarian under fire. They surely have not done their cause any good; maybe they are too young to understand that this is an own goal.
And so it would be easy to pour scorn on all Moslems, and on Pakistan and Kashmir to boot - but that would only increase the problem. And our sin, to borrow an expression from a padre, is one of omission; it may be less than those glaring sins of commission, but it is still sin. He who knows how to do good and does not does sin, the Bible tells us, and the way to do good here is to work as appropriately and diplomatically as possible for a resolution. We turn a blind eye to years of oppression by the Indian government, we hear little noise in the press when Hindus in Orissa routinely kill, maim, torture, rape and oppress Christians, and then react in shock when a bunch of fanatics take the law into their own hands. The law cannot be in the hands of such people. But it will end up in their hands if we do not take the law into our hands, by peaceful means first. At present, this is going to be hard to do. Prevention was ignored, and now we search, perhaps in vain, for a cure. I hope it is not too late.
Shalom to India, Pakistan and Kashmir. May they all be safe places to live - and visit - for all people.

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