Context: Recently, after the controversy over controversial remarks on the Prophet, India’s top political and bureaucratic functionaries emphasised India’s stronger credentials as a secular democratic polity.
Recently, External Affairs Minister, S. Jaishankar, National Security Adviser (NSA), Ajit Doval and Prime Minister made statements that emphasised India’s stronger credentials as a secular democratic polity. All these remarks acknowledge that more damage should not be done to India’s image as a country that celebrates its diversity and plurality.
Lastly, in its statement, Supreme Court also held the former spokesperson “single-handedly responsible” for igniting emotions while asking her to “apologise to the country”.
Why the incidents like these should be avoided?
First, Government has been making efforts to improve ties with many West Asian/Gulf countries, in part to ensure energy security and to attract investment from there in the infrastructure sector.
Second, as acknowledged by Mr. Jaishankar there are elements desperate to “fish in troubled waters”. For Example, immediately after the controversy , the Al-Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) issued warning of suicide bombings in many Indian cities to protect the honour of the Prophet. The threat was aimed at a transnationalisation of local political tensions and conflicts. Thus, such issues have a ‘transnational’ mobilising potential.
Third, Muslims are closely integrated in Indian society, and have never empathised with jihadist organisations and their transnational aims. For example, foreign fighters from India are disproportionately outnumbered by their American, French or British counterparts. However, the issues like these will make Indian Muslims extremely vulnerable to the political use of Islam, known as Islamism. Islamism thrives on a transnationalisation of issues pertaining to the Islamic faith and practices. It led to the creation of Pakistan. Sharia-based Islamic state is a desired political order as per Islamism.
Fourth, after takeover of Afghanistan by Taliban, AQIS would like to capitalise on the ideological vacuum in the regional jihadist landscape. Taliban has no incentive to drive out AQIS, as it can be an important ally to combat their common foe, ISIS or the IS-K. Thus, Al Qaeda’s ability to navigate Afghanistan’s jihadist landscape will be a concern for India as it can be an indirect target of the former. This also explains India’s recent diplomatic efforts to engage the Afghan Taliban and maintain its presence in Afghanistan.
Source: This post is created based on the article “Clear signals the ‘fringe’ ought to read”, published in The Hindu on 2nd July 2022.