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A Puzzle
A friend writes:
"It would be well not to discuss even by way of joke the possibility of a war between our two States. But you have gone so far as to express the opinion that in the event of a war between the two, the Muslims of the Union should fight against those of Pakistan. Does it not then follow that the Hindus and other non-Muslims should do likewise? Now if such a war arises out of the communal question , no argument is likely to make the Muslims of the Union fight those of Pakistan and likewise the Hindus and the Sikhs of Pakistan. If, however, a war takes place between the two for other than the communal cause, you will not contend that the Hindus of Pakistan and the Muslims of the Union should fight Pakistan."
It is undoubtedly true that the possibility between the two States should not be discussed by way of a joke. The adverb 'even' does not fit in. For if the possibility is reality it would be a duty to discuss it. It might be folly not to do so.
It is my firm opinion that the rule applies to the Muslims of the union must in the same circumstance apply to the Hindus and other non-Muslims of Pakistan. I have expressed this view in my after-prayer speeches and also in my talks with friends here.
Of course, behind the opinion lies a train of reasoning. Loyalty cannot be evoked to order. If circumstances do not warrant it, it may be said impossible to achieve. There are a large number of people who do not believe in the possibility of such genuine loyalty and hence laugh out my opinion. Surely, there is nothing to laugh at in conceiving such a possibility. The Muslims of the Union will fight those of the Pakistan when they regard it as a duty, in other words when it is clear to them that they are being fairly treated in the Union and that the non-Muslims are not so treated in Pakistan. Such a state is not beyond the range of possibility.
Similarly, if the non-Muslims of Pakistan clearly feel that they are being fairly treated there and that they can reside there in safely and yet the Hindus of the Union mal-treat the minorities, the minorities of Pakistan will naturally fight the majority in the Union. Then the minorities will not need any argument to induce them to do their duty.
It was our misfortune that the country was divided into two parts. The division was avowedly by reason of religious cleavage. Behind it might be economic and other causes. They could not have brought out the cleavage. The poison that fills the air arose also from the same communal cause. Irreligion masquerades as religion. It sounds nice to say that it could have been better if there had been no communal question. But how could the fact be undone?
It has been repeatedly asked whether in the event of a war between the two, the Muslims of the union will fight against the Muslims of Pakistan and the Hindus of one against those of the other. However, unlikely it may appear at present, there is nothing inherently impossible in the conception. There is any day more risk in distrusting the profession of loyalty that in trusting it and courageously facing the danger of trusting. The question can be more convincingly put in this way: Will the Hindus ever fight the Hindus and the Muslims their coreligionists for the sake of truth and justice? It can be answered by a counter question. Does not history provide such instances?
In solving the puzzle the great stumbling block in the way is that truth is at a discount. Let us hope that in this holocaust some there are who will stand firm in their faith in the victory of truth.
Harijan, 17-10-1947