When Military Were Useless – By Abdulrazaq O Hamzat
The hate we instigate against each other will not consume the land we
live on, the tribe we belong or the religion we practice, it would
only consume us, the people, irrespective of tribe, region or
Although, I may not be able to tell you how we could solve the
herdsmen problem, but i know how we won’t ever solve it.
Instigating hate against each other will never solve the problem. This
is something we all know, yet we continue to do the same thing over
and over again. That’s bad.
Some myopic people are quick to claim that division is a way out. But
what do they know? I will only refer them to India and Pakistan. India
and Pakistan have hated each other for more than 70years. Here is why.
The British colonized Indian for more than 200 years and Indians
weren’t happy about it. All the people’s rage were directed at the
British and to put stop to such rage, British had an idea, ‘’divide
and rule’’. What does that mean?
Muslims against Hindu’s, against Sikhs, against Christians. They put
minorities in positions of power over majorities. The idea was, if you
are fighting each other, you won’t have the time to fight the British.
This is not to say that Indians don’t fight each other before the
coming of British over religion, but it is the first time that they
fight over policy. Religion became more important than language and
ethnicity and mistrust between religious communities became the norm.
Indian politician like the Muslim League Muhammad Jinah talked about
having a separate Muslim state if the British would ever leave. Then,
World Ward I began. The British promised to leave if the Indians
fought for them in the war and they did. While they fought as agreed,
British failed to fulfill it promise of granting them independence.
Then 20 years later, World War II started. Again, there was a promise
of independence if the Indians fought for them, but the Indians say no
way. This time, leaders like Mahatma Ghandi and Jawaharlal Nehru said
no. However, Jinah, the Muslim league leader wanted a British support
for a separate Muslim Country, so he convinced Indian Muslims to fight
for the British and they did. By the time World War II ended, it was
clear that the British would leave and grant India its independence.
Many Muslims began to fear living under the Hindu majority in a
democratic India and many Hindu were angry that Muslims wanted to
break up the country. This descended into brutal acts like killings,
forced conversion, abduction, arson, rape and ethnic cleansing. The
magnitude of this crisis scared the British and they promised to leave
India in 1948, but their exit from India was not going to be clear or
peaceful. The religious division they have stoked had turned into an
Jinah seized this opportunity to demand for a separate Muslim state.
Nehru also scared by the violence reluctantly agreed. Mahatma Gandhi
opposed it, but it was already too late. Thinking they had fixed
things, the British announced they would now leave in 1947, a year
earlier than planned. The British brought in a man, Cyril Radcliffe to
divide the country. Cyril, who is a lawyer draw a border that would
split India into two (2), taking into consideration religion, railway,
water, irrigation canal and others. The lawyer was given 36 days to
complete this task, which he did, 3 days ahead of schedule, but the
lines that created West Pakistan, India and East Pakistan were kept
secret until after independence.
Radcliffe didn’t quite finish his job though; he didn’t draw a line
for Kashmir, a territory within India and Pakistan. What could
possibly go wrong? Well, on August 14 1947, Pakistan gained
Independence and a day later, India also gained Independence.
Partition had become a reality.
However, if you think the story has a happy ending, you haven’t been
paying attention. Here is the catastrophe that Radcliffe’s border line
created on ground.
7 million people moved from India to Pakistan and another 7 million
people moved from Pakistan to India. In the process, over 1 million
people were killed, murdered, starved or poisoned. Mobs lynched trains
full of people, men, women and children. Families have been split
apart till this day. The military of the 2 countries were practically
useless; soldiers were struggling to survive on their own due to the
magnitude of the catastrophe.
From that day, August 1947 till today, the dust of violence has yet to
settle. Since then, India and Pakistan have fought 3 wars over Kashmir
and one war over East Pakistan, which eventually became Bangladash.
Both countries still fight over disputed border and water. These wars
drove both countries to become nuclear powers. Even cricket match
between them are politically charged. And over 70 years, the divide
between people who look the same, speak the same language, dress the
same, eat the same food and even sing the same song have become
To the war mongers in Nigeria, learn from history. To the hate
instigators, think again.
When there is a problem like that of herdsmen we are currently facing,
trading ethnic and religious blame is not the way out. Instigating one
ethnic group against the other is also not a way out. We must adopt
the joint problem solving technique to come up with a creative
By cursing, abusing and insulting others, you didn’t do anything
unique of special. Every one could easily cause and abuse. Even mad
men on our streets are specialist in cursing and abusing. Trying to
outdo each other is the use of vulgar, instigating and abusive
languages only brought our sanity into question, nothing special
really. We must demonstrate that we are better than the mad men on the
street, we must bring solution, not dissolution.
As for our government, which has proven over and over again that it is
incompetent and not responsible enough to perform its duty, you are a
Abdulrazaq O Hamzat is a Human Right Ambassador and Executive Director
of Foundation for Peace Professionals. He can be reached on
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