The Politics of Food, Islam and the West

Wednesday 11th September 2019 07:27 EDT

As Pakistan tries to make Kashmir a religious issue and fails miserably to succeed, it fails on various fronts. The reason is, and I hope they are reading this in their High Commission in London, and report back to Islamabad – their approach is hopelessly outdated. Their attempt to weaponise Islam, is a trick that is practiced by the Taliban era.

 When I visited Kashmir most recently, I took a snap shot of where I was, near the LoC and where Osama Bin Laden was captured in Abottabad. There is a reason the HQ of ISI and Bin Laden were a walking distance to the LoC. In exchange for ISI protection, Bin Laden’s job was to inject terrorism into Kashmir. But this war is over. Pakistan lost the war with India.

 Consider, for instance, there is one man who has saved more Muslim lives than any other man in history. One individual who without fear or favour has been singularly responsible for why there are more followers of the faith today than any other man since the Prophet. One man who can rightly be called defender of the faith. No, it is not Saladin nor Nasser, nor the physician in the Middle Ages Ibn Al-Baitar, nor is it the discoverer of pulmonary circulation – Ibn Al-Nafis or the botanist Al-idris. The name of the man, a Christian, is Norman Borlaug and he died in 2009. Borlaug moved governments to use his invention of high-yield varieties of grains. Before him it was said that India would never be able to feed itself. He is credited with having saved one billion souls.

 Put aside your religious leaders, your gurus, popes, rabbis, imams, kings and presidents. This man saved one billion lives.

 He will not be given a sainthood by followers of his faith, as they will say there has not been any miracle since his death, as required by Christian ordinance for a saint-hood. Yet a million miracles walk this earth each day because of him. Could it be that not only do the great religions fight amongst each other, but these seekers of godliness cannot see it around them and in the actions of their followers. “Give us today our daily bread” is the prayer of his creed – he made it a reality for followers of the Book and non-followers alike. Borlaug was one of only five people to have won the Nobel Peace, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Medal. He stands alongside Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, Elie Wiesel and Nelson Mandela.

“Food is about people,” he said. “And people are political”. We are reminded of this because this past week global food prices are reaching crisis levels. We are reminded of this because food inflation is one of the causes for political unrest in the Islamic Republic of Egypt. We are reminded of this because the British Prime Minister is reported this week requesting the Muslim community in Britain not to tolerate extremism.

 He should tell them the story of Borlaug. The extremists will not like it, but a white Christian from America has done more for Muslims than the young British Pakistani man identified by the Security Services readying himself, as I write, preparing to bring terror to the streets of Britain and the Kashmir Valley.

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